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April 9, 2014

Minor League Update

Games of Tuesday, April 8

by Jeff Moore

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Best of the Day

Jesus Aguilar, 1B, Indians (Columbus, AAA): 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, K. The general consensus on Aguilar over the years has been that his hit tool is going to hold his power back enough to keep him from being an everyday player, and that as a right-handed-hitting first-base-only player, he doesn’t fit well on the bench. If that’s going to be wrong, he needs to put up really great offensive numbers, because his defense and baserunning will provide little to no value. If Aguilar keeps hitting like he did this winter and is thus far this season (now hitting .563), he’s going to prove us all wrong.

C.J. Cron, 1B, Angels (Salt Lake, AAA): 3-6, R, 2B, HR. Picking up where he left off as the Arizona Fall League MVP, Cron has come out hot to start this season, now hitting .321 and notching his first home run of the season.

Rafael Montero, RHP, Mets (Las Vegas, AAA): 5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, BB, 9 K. You can’t get too worried about earned-run totals in the Pacific Coast League, and especially when pitching in Vegas, but nine strikeouts in five innings is a great sign for Montero.

Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers (Albuqerque, AAA): 2-3, R, 2B, HR, BB, K. Pederson can do a lot of things well but none of them greatly, which has led to him being labeled as a tweener. The one thing he does better than most is draw walks, an important ability that should allow his bat to play at a corner spot if his defense doesn’t work in center, where it’s fringy. Of course, none of that matters in L.A., where the Dodgers already have more outfielders than they have room to play. Unless injuries open a door for him, Pederson could be the most sought-after prospect on the July trade market.

James Ramsey, OF, Cardinals (Springfield, AA): 3-6, 2 R, 2 2B. Speaking of outfield prospects in organizations with no room for them, there’s Ramsey (or any of the Cardinals other stable of outfield prospects in the upper minors). He doesn’t have the upside of Oscar Taveras or Stephen Piscotty, both of whom are ahead of him on the organizational depth chart, but he would fit nicely on a major-league roster in a part-time role, perhaps as early as this year.

Aledmys Diaz, SS, Cardinals (Springfield, AA): 4-5, R, 2B, 3B, K. There’s still much we don’t know about Diaz, but most reports questioned his ability to be an impact bat and said he had limited power, so days like this are a good sign against both.

Maxwell Muncy, 1B, A’s (Midland, AA): 2-5, 2 R, HR, BB, K. Muncy is patient at the plate and has developed good power, but after struggling in Midland last season after a late-summer promotion, he needs to prove his power will play outside of the California League.

Eddie Butler, RHP, Rockies (Tulsa, AA): 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K. Butler is known for pounding the zone with a boring two-seam sinking fastball, but his combination of missing bats and throwing strikes (one walk in 12 innings now) makes his power arsenal even better.

Matt Wisler, RHP, Padres (San Antonio, AA): 5 IP, 4 H, R, BB, 7 K. When injuries struck the Padres rotation late in spring training, Wisler was in the consideration to provide relief. The Padres sent him to Double-A instead, but he’s still just a phone call away despite being just 21 years old.

Billy McKinney, OF, A’s (Stockton, A+): 2-5, 2 R, HR, 2 K. McKinney continues to show more power than was expected from him this early in his career, with three blasts already on the season despite making the jump all the way to High-A ball.

Austin Barnes, C, Marlins (Jupiter, A+): 3-5, 2 R, HR. The lone standout hitter in a weak Hammerheads lineup, Barnes has a quick, compact stroke that generates mostly gap power, though he can run into one every now and again, and he controls the strike zone extremely well.

Eric Jagielo, 3B, Yankees (Tampa, A+): 2-5, 2 R, HR, K. It’s been feast or famine for the 2013 first-rounder thus far, as he is now hitting just .150 on the young season but already has a pair of home runs to go along with 10 strikeouts in five games.

Courtney Hawkins, OF, White Sox (Winston-Salem, A+): 3-5, 2 R, 2B, HR, K. There are still major questions about the hit tool, but being the appropriate age for a level certainly helps.

JaCoby Jones, SS, Pirates (West Virginia, A-): 3-3, 3 R, HR. It’s good to see Jones producing early on, as he’s been tagged in the past as a player whose numbers don’t always add up to the tools. He’s now hitting .444 with three extra-base hits in six games thus far.

Fight Another Day

Brian Flynn, LHP, Marlins (New Orleans, AAA): 4 1/3 IP, 10 H, 8 ER, 3 BB, 5 K. It wasn’t Flynn’s night, as he was victimized for a home run by Astros catcher Max Stassi, among numerous bad pitches he made on the evening. Regardless, he still serves as depth for the Marlins major-league rotation.

Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Twins (New Britain, AA): 5 IP, 9 H, 5 R (4 ER), BB, 4 K. Gilmartin wasn’t a high-ceiling guy when the Braves drafted him, but his stuff has regressed to the point where he’s having trouble being effective.

Sean Manaea, LHP, Royals (Wilmington, A+): 3 1/3 IP, 3 H, 4 R (3 ER), BB, 5 K. The performance by Manaea was better than the numbers would suggest, as he was pulled due to a high pitch count and inherited runners ran up his final line. His velo was down in in the 88-90 range on a cold night in Wilmington, but he still managed to miss bats despite the diminished velocity, which is a positive sign. (H/t to C.J. Wittmann (@CJWittJR) for the scouting report.)

Notable Pitching Performances*

  • Allen Webster, RHP, Red Sox (Pawtucket, AAA): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K.
  • A.J. Cole, RHP, Nationals (Harrisburg, AA): 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, BB, 0 K.
  • Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Blue Jays (New Hampshire, AA): 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K.
  • Jesse Biddle, LHP, Phillies (Reading, AA): 7 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, BB, 6 K.
  • Branden Kline, RHP, Orioles (Fredrick, A+): 6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K.

*The point of the Minor League Update is to keep you, the reader, up to speed on how prospects are doing throughout the minor league season with scouting reports and explanations along with a daily stat line. Sometimes, however, you just want to know the result, especially with pitchers who were neither spectacular nor terrible on a particular night. This is that section.

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

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