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April 7, 2014

Minor League Update

Games of April 4-6

by Jeff Moore

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Friday, April 4

Kevin Gausman, RHP, Orioles (Norfolk, AAA): 4 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K. Gausman was on a strict pitch count, leaving the game after 71 pitches, and it’s likely that the Orioles are going to build his endurance up early in the minor-league season so that he has something left in the tank for when he’s in the majors down the stretch, hopefully in meaningful games.

Trevor Bauer, RHP, Indians (Columbus, AAA): 6 IP, 2 H, R, 2 BB, 9 K. Two walks in six innings is a big step in the right direction for Bauer, as is missing bats. He spent the offseason refining things in his mechanics, but otherwise, there’s not much left for him to prove in the minors.

Kyle Parker, OF, Rockies (Colorado Springs, AAA): 3-4, 2 R, HR, BB. Power has never been a question for Parker, and it appears he’s going to hit enough to let it play at the highest level. He’ll never be a high-average hitter, but he’ll hit for enough power to make up for it and fit the corner-outfield profile.

Daniel Corcino, RHP, Reds (Pensacola, AA): 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, BB, 8 K. After he stumbled badly in Triple-A last year, the Reds sent Corcino back to Double-A to begin 2014. He’s already had success at the level, but he needs to prove he can throw more strikes.

Addison Russell, SS, A’s (Midland, AA): 2-2, R, HR. There’s a debate going on in the halls of the BP campus about which shortstop prospect you’d want to start a team with, and Russell is in the discussion.

Adam Walker, OF, Twins (Ft. Myers, A+): 1-5, 2 R, HR. Walker hit an easy home run to left-center, powered by his plus bat speed, long arms, and natural uppercut. He also had a well-hit ball to right field that should have been scored a double but went as an error.

Courtney Hawkins, OF, White Sox (Winston-Salem, A+): 2-3, R, HR, BB, K. There is some debate within the scouting community about whether Hawkins’ hit tool will ever be strong enough to allow his power to play, but that power is in there, and he can still put a charge into the ball when he runs into one.

Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres (Lake Elsinore, A+): 2-4, R, 2B, HR, BB, K. The Padres jumped Renfroe, the team’s first-round pick last year, all the way to the California League, where he could put up some silly offensive numbers. He’s more than just a power hitter, but his ability to drive the ball is his calling card.

Billy McKinney, OF, A’s (Stockton, A+): 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, K. Another 2013 first-rounder, McKinney is also in the California League but is jumping there straight out of high school, at least partially due to a strong spring. The hit tool is what got him to this point, but he could be a real impact bat if he shows power like this consistently.

Saturday, April 5

Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Astros (Oklahoma City, AAA): 1-3, R, HR, BB, 2 K. Astros first basemen are currently hitting .111/.158/.278 in the early going. That won’t force the Astros’ hand, but Singleton is going to be a significant upgrade after the Super Two cutoff.

Rubby De La Rosa, RHP, Red Sox (Pawtucket, AAA): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K. It’s just good to see de la Rosa throwing again, let alone throwing this well. We still can’t be certain that he’ll be a starter, but the Red Sox are committed to developing him as one. He has the arsenal to start but possibly not the durability. If forced to convert, he could be a dynamic late-inning reliever.

Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians (Akron, AA): 2-4, R, HR, K. My pick in the BP shortstop debate, Lindor is known for his defensive prowess but is no slouch with the bat. He’s not expected to hit for a ton of power, but he’s not Elvis Andrus at the plate either. In fact, Andrus with more power isn’t the worst comp—and would be a heck of a player.

Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds (Pensacola, AA): 5 IP, 1 H, BB, 11 K. Stephenson was utterly dominant on Saturday night, blowing hitters away with his fastball with ease. He’s got more than that, of course, but there are days when the pitch is so good that it’s all he needs.

David Washington, 1B, Cardinals (Palm Beach, A+): 3-4, R, HR. Washington showed a whole-field approach, but the highlight was when he squared up a 92-mph fastball off of Mets right-hander Michael Fulmer for a home run. He’s inexperienced for full-season ball and still has a lot of inconsistencies, but the power was easy.

Ronald Guzman, 1B, Rangers (Hickory, A-): 3-5, R, 2B. Having spent 49 games in Hickory last season, Guzman got a taste of full-season ball, but he’s back at the level, at least for the time being. He has a ton of power but is still very much learning how to use it.

Ismael Guillon, LHP, Reds (Dayton, A-): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 6 K. Guillon is repeating Low-A ball as a 22-year-old, his third stint at the level. He has a powerful left arm, but has battled major control issues, making this first start a good initial sign.

Sunday, April 6

Gregory Polanco, OF, Pirates (Indianapolis, AAA): 3-5, 2 R, HR. With the news that Jameson Taillon will miss the year due to Tommy John surgery, Polanco remains the sole impact reinforcement for the Pirates this season. Luckily, he’s really stinking good. His power is the final tool to develop, but it’s well on its way.

Jesus Aguilar, 1B, Indians (Columbus, AAA): 2-3, 2 R, 2B, HR, BB. Aguilar was the star of the winter league season, going on a power binge that showed us more than we’d seen from him to this point. After a difficult spring, Aguilar picked up right where left off when the games counted again and is now hitting .583 after the first weekend of the minor-league season.

Javier Baez, SS, Cubs (Iowa, AAA): 1-2, R, HR. Baez is off to a very slow start in Triple-A, with his aggressiveness at the plate getting exposed by more advanced pitchers. He got a day off on Sunday but was used as a pinch hitter and ran into one, as he’ll do even when he’s struggling.

Nick Kingham, RHP, Pirates (Altoona, AA): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K. With Taillon out, Kingham is now one of the better pitching prospects the Pirates could call on this season. He doesn’t have a ton of flash, but he profiles as a mid-rotation starter. He’ll spend half the season in Double-A and could be in Indianapolis by midseason awaiting a potential phone call.

Kyle Crick, RHP, Giants (Richmond, AA): 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 K. When Crick throws strikes, he’s among the best in the minors. For some guys, it’s just that simple.

David Dahl, OF, Rockies (Asheville, A-): 2-4, R, HR. After getting a late start to full-season ball, Dahl is one of the biggest breakout candidates in the minors. His tools are loud and he’s ready to make up for lost time.

Carlos Correa, SS, Astros (Lancaster, A+): 3-4, 3 R, HR. All four shortstops from our debate made the list this weekend, with Correa being the furthest from the majors but perhaps the most well-rounded of the bunch. The hit tool is legit, and he has plus plate discipline to go with it. If the power comes in as expected and he doesn’t outgrow shortstop (both strong possibilities), he could be a true star.

Stryker Trahan, OF, Diamondbacks (South Bend, A-): 2-3, 2 R, HR, BB. Having moved out from behind the plate, Trahan’s bat will now have to carry him. He has power potential, but it’ll need to develop much more than it would have if he were a catching prospect.

Jeff Moore is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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