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July 22, 2013

Minor League Update

Games of July 19-21

by Zach Mortimer

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Games of Friday, July 19

Pitching Prospect of the Day: Clayton Blackburn, RHP, Giants (High-A San Jose): 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 K. Blackburn is a strong-framed pitcher who has the potential for two plus pitches, fastball and changeup, and is having success in a hitte- friendly league. Blackburn is considered to have more polish than most his age, and he continues to develop his curveball. He profiles best as a mid-rotation starter.

Position Prospect of the Day: Gregory Bird, 1B, Yankees (Low-A Charleston): 4-5, 3 HR, 3 R, 7 RBI, K. Bird has plus raw power, but most scouts wonder if he will be able to translate his power into production against quality pitching; .405/.532/.946 with 1 3B and 6 HR in last 37 at-bats.

Other notable prospect performances on July 19:

“The Good”

  • Hanser Alberto, SS, Rangers (Double-A Frisco): 2-4, HR, R, 5 RBI. Alberto was able to make a lot of contact in the lower minors, but he has struggled to make consistent contact this year at Double-A. Scouts never believed he had the loudest tools, which makes it a bit troubling to see him struggling at the advanced level.
  • Christian Bethancourt, C, Braves (Double-A Mississippi): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, K. Bethancourt is looked upon as one of the top defensive catchers in the minors. If he is able to incorporate a bit of power into his game, he will project as a surefire everyday catcher; .316/.333/.737 with 4 2B and 4 HR in last 38 at-bats.
  • Carlos Correa, SS, Astros (Low-A Quad Cities): 2-5, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI. Like it or not, the Astros selected Correa No. 1 overall in 2012. He is playing the entire season at the age of 18. At the plate, Correa offers the potential for a plus overall offensive package (hit/power). In the Futures Game, Correa did not make the smoothest plays at SS, but from all the scouts I’ve spoken with, Correa is going to be a future All-Star; .361/.442/.530 with 6 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR and 1 SB in last 83 at-bats.
  • Daniel Robertson, SS, Athletics (Low-A Beloit): 2-4, 2 2B, R, RBI. I have a trusted source that really believes in Robertson and his ability to hit. Ultimately, he feels Robertson will have to move to third base defensively, and with that move, he will have to show enough power to profile for the position.
  • Adam Walker, RF, Twins (Low-A Cedar Rapids): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. Walker’s raw power is his calling card. I have spoken with scouts that feel he will be challenged and have to make adjustments against higher-level pitching. Defensively, he has successfully transitioned to right field; .372/.404/1.000 with 3 2B and 8 HR in last 43 at-bats.
  • Mason Williams, CF, Yankees (High-A Tampa): 2-5, 2 2B, R, RBI. I believe this is Mason Williams’ first appearance on the good side of this article. I know he has tools, but I really wonder if the swing will work. When I saw Williams, he was bailing out early against everything and not able to make any consistent hard contact; .386/.413/.500 with 5 2B and 2 SB in 44 at-bats.
  • Christian Yelich, LF, Marlins (Double-A Jacksonville): 3-4, HR, R, RBI, BB, K. I love Yelich, I just do. I was going to include him somewhere in the article just because I wanted to. I have zero concerns about the swing, and will attribute any struggles he’s had this year to him not being in rhythm or being injured. It’s serious, and it’s just about big-league ready.

“The Bad”

  • Angelo Gumbs, 2B, Yankees (Low-A Charleston): 0-5, 4 K. Not the performance I like to see from Gumbs. He has bat speed, but can get himself out by being overly aggressive at the plate.
  • Robert Hefflinger, OF, Braves (Double-A Mississippi): 0-5, 3 K. Hefflinger has some length in his swing and can be taken advantage of by quality pitches.
  • Victor Roache, OF, Brewers (Low-A Wisconsin): 0-4, 4 K. I’ve spoken to some scouts that just do not see “it” with Roache.

“The Confusing”

Tyler Matzek, RHP, Rockies (Double-A Tulsa): 6.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 5 BB, 4 K. Matzek has stuff that can be just flat-out nasty and make it very difficult for hitters to hit. However, other times, he just cannot find the zone at all.

Games of Saturday, July 20

Pitching Prospect of the Day: Keyvius Sampson, RHP, Padres (Double-A San Antonio): 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 12 K. Sampson has really gotten it going in July. I’m not sure what San Diego’s ultimate plan is for him, but he’s back on the radar as someone who will eventually contribute in the majors; 25.0 IP, 12 H, 7 ER, 6 BB, 34 K in four July starts.

Position Prospect of the Day: Jason Rogers, 1B, Brewers (Double-A Huntsville): 4-5, 3 HR, 3 R, 6 RBI, K. Obvious raw power, but I’m not sure Rogers has what it takes to consistently hit against quality pitching.

Other notable prospect performances on July 20:

“The Good”

  • Miguel Almonte, RHP, Royals (Low-A Lexington): 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 K. If you want a guy that is ready to take a major step forward in 2014, look no further than Miguel Almonte. He has a plus fastball and an easy plus changeup. Almonte’s breaking ball lags behind, so much so that the Royals have him tinkering with both a curveball and slider, but he shows the ability to spin it, so it’s just a matter of finding consistency. Almonte has top-of-the-rotation potential; 14.0 IP, 12 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 17 K in last three starts.
  • Matt Barnes, RHP, Red Sox (Double-A Portland): 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 10 K. This season has not been smooth sailing for Barnes. I saw him on a day earlier in the season where he did not have his best stuff, but it flashes. Barnes’ fastball works in the low-to-mid 90s, and he flashes a plus curveball. I worry about the consistency and command, because Barnes has a pronounced stab at the back of his arm stroke.
  • Mookie Betts, 2B, Red Sox (High-A Salem): 2-4, 3B, HR, R, 2 RBI. I know Jason Parks saw Betts and felt he needs to be discussed like a legitimate prospect. See what scouts said about Betts and others here.
  • Jackie Bradley, CF, Red Sox (Triple-A Pawtucket): 3-6, 2B, 3B, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, K. Bradley is going to be a fantastic major-league regular one day. I’ve always described him as a guy who is going to mean more to a team than his stats suggest. He may not have a plus tool, but he is very well rounded. I think Bradley can be an average hitter and provide Gold Glove-level defense in center going forward.
  • Slade Heathcott, CF, Yankees (Double-A Trenton): 2-5, 2B, 3B, R, RBI, K. I saw Heathcott play on Friday night, and I finally saw “it.” Heathcott flattened himself out, and took out all of the movement in his load before the swing. I’m still not sold, but I can understand what people who like him see. Heathcott can fly—I clocked him at 4.07 on a ground ball to the second baseman—and he can provide more “punch” than his frame would suggest. Ultimately, I believe Heathcott is an excellent extra outfielder.
  • Robert Hefflinger, OF, Braves (Double-A Mississippi): 4-5, 3B, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB. After being mentioned in “The Bad,” Hefflinger bounced back. He has incredible raw power, and when he is able to get extended, it really works. I’m not sure he’s much more than a Quadruple-A, up-and-down guy, but he’s on the radar.
  • Jason Martinson, SS, Nationals (Double-A Harrisburg): 2-4, 3B, HR, R, 2 RBI, 2 K. Martinson is very raw for his age, but he has tools. He has plus raw power and can run a little bit. I like Martinson going forward, and he could be a guy that continues to develop despite an advanced age.
  • Luis Sardinas, SS, Rangers (High-A Myrtle Beach): 3-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI, BB. Some have said that Sardinas has more in the way of tools and defensive ability than Profar, but does not have the drive to succeed like Profar. Sardinas has hit all the way up the scale, and looks to have a potential easy plus hit tool. Sardinas also profiles to be a plus defender, but some question how much punch he will be able to deliver and questions of work ethic are never good, especially at the minor-league level.
  • Daniel Winkler, RHP, Rockies (High-A Modesto): 6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 8 K. Winkler relies on his plus slider to get High-A batters out. He has a solid-average fastball, but lacks a consistent changeup and most likely ends up in a relief role.

Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Royals (Double-A Northwest Arkansas): 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. Zimmer has flipped on the switch in the past two months. He has really been attacking hitters with his fastball and curveball. The numbers are starting to match up with his stuff after he struggled early in the season.

“The Bad”

  • Byron Buxton, CF, Twins (High-A Fort Myers): 0-5, RBI, 4 K. Buxton is a highly overrated prospect. I’m not sure why everyone talks about him so highly, because he struck out four times tonight.
  • Billy Hamilton, CF, Reds (Triple-A Louisville): 1-5, 3 K. Billy Hamilton isn’t even fast.
  • Eddie Rosario, 2B, Twins (Double-A New Britian): 0-4, 3 K. Why are all these people telling me Rosario can hit. Don’t they see that he struck out three times tonight?
  • Miguel Sano, 3B, Twins (Double-A New Britian): 1-4, 2B, RBI, 3 K. Not sure why everyone says Sano has power; he only has 24 home runs this season.

“The Unfortunate”

John Lamb, LHP, Royals (High-A Wilmington): 2.0 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. I’ve seen Lamb countless times this year. In the most recent start, his fastball was working at 81-85 mph. That simply is not going to be enough to get hitters out at the highest level, no matter how good his pitchability is. John Lamb is proof that Tommy John surgery is not a sure thing.

Games of Sunday, July 21

Pitching Prospect of the Day: Archie Bradley, RHP, Diamondbacks (Double-A Mobile): 6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K. Bradley has an athletic delivery with major power stuff. The fastball can touch the upper 90s and he couples that with a plus-plus power curveball. The changeup has been better, and he is our top pitching prospect in all of baseball. I haven’t posed a question on here in a few weeks, but I really enjoy getting everyone involved. If the Diamondbacks feel they need an extra pitcher, should they trade for someone, or should they just call up Bradley and let him go? 82.0 IP, 65 H, 20 ER, 36 BB, 80 K in 14 Double-A starts.

Position Prospect of the Day: Mike Olt, 3B, Rangers (Triple-A Round Rock): 2-3, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB, K. Olt has returned and hopefully the eye issues are cleared up. He will always have some swing-and-miss involved in his game, but he has plus power potential and can be a very solid third baseman. Although it’s not often discussed this way, right-handed power is very valuable. I wonder if that will be the Rangers’ selling point when talking to other teams about Olt this trade season; .290/.410/.710 with 4 2B and 3 HR in last 31 at-bats.

Other notable prospect performances on July 21:

“The Good”

  • Jake Marisnick, OF, Marlins (Double-A Jacksonville): 3-6, 2 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 K. Marisnick shows all five tools. He has the potential to be a power/speed option who bats toward the top of the Marlins’ future lineup; .333/.356/.548 with 3 2B and 2 HR.
  • Seth Mejias-Brean, 3B, Reds (Low-A Dayton): 3-3, 2 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB. Mejias-Brean is an advanced college bat feasting on inferior pitching. I think he has some ability, but I’m ready for him to do this at a higher level in order to really be considered a prospect.
  • Richie Shaffer, 3B, Rays (High-A Charlotte):2-5, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI, 2 K. Shaffer has had a so-so first season as a professional. He was considered one of the top college bats available in the 2012 draft, and the Rays had future-regular expectations. Shaffer will have to convince scouts he has enough power to profile at third base going forward.
  • Dwight Smith, LF, Blue Jays (Low-A Lansing): 3-6, 2B, 3B, R, 3 RBI, K. Smith is the son of a former big leaguer. I’ve never been the biggest fan because I don’t like the fact that he’s limited to a corner outfield position, and he lacks plus speed or power. Overall, I think the best-case scenario is that Smith is able to carve out a career as a solid extra player.
  • Jesse Winker, LF, Reds (Low-A Dayton): 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI, K. Winker can really hit. Some question how much overall power he has, but he will be able to tap into it all because the hit tool is that good. The issue again is he’s stuck in left field and will have to provide enough power to stay in the lineup, because he is a fringy runner at best.
  • Tony Wolters, C, Indians (High-A Carolina): 3-3, 2B, 2 R, RBI. Wolters and the Indians made the decision to change positions and have him move behind the plate in 2013. He was a middle infielder in the past, but the bat was not going to profile there. I received a review that spoke to him improving behind the plate, and I will see him at some point in the near future.

“The Bad”

  • Nolan Fontana, SS, Astros (High-A Lancaster): 0-4, 3 K. Fontana did not have his best effort on this day.
  • Kyle Kubitza, 3B, Braves (High-A Lynchburg): 0-3, 3 K. I’m not all the way off Kubitza; I still think he has something.
  • Michael Ynoa, RHP, Athletics (High-A Stockton): 2.0 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 6 BB, 1 K. Well, this is the guy who got the highest-ever bonus in the history of Latin America.

“The #Followmort Campaign”

I just want to thank everyone who has chimed in positively about the work that I’ve contributed to Baseball Prospectus. I also want to thank anyone and everyone who has helped me get to the position I’m at today. Okay, enough about me; this is about you, the readers. I’ve been contacted a few times on Twitter with the million-dollar question: “Well, how do you get to where you are?” I have no specific answer to this, but if anyone ever wants to talk about scouting, feel free to send me an email. Thank you all again.

Zach Mortimer is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Zach's other articles. You can contact Zach by clicking here

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