April 15, 2014
Minor League Update
Games of Monday, April 14
Hitter of the Night: George Springer, OF, Astros (Oklahoma City, AAA): 2-3, R, HR
Pitcher of the Night: Sean Manaea, LHP, Royals (Wilmington, A+): 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, BB, 5 K.
Best of the Rest
Mikie Mahtook, OF, Rays (Durham, AAA): 5-5, 2 R, 3B. The power hasn’t developed for the former first rounder the way the Rays had hoped it would, leaving him as a right-handed-hitting right fielder with single-digit home run potential and an aggressive approach at the plate—a tough profile to succeed with.
Michael Taylor, OF, Nationals (Harrisburg, AA): 3-5, R, 2B. The jump to Double-A is the hardest part of the trek through the minor leagues, and it’s even more daunting for a player who already had to repeat the Carolina League. Monday was a good day for Taylor, but even with it, he’s a speed-based player with contact issues who has 17 strikeouts in his first 11 games.
Matt Wisler, RHP, Padres (San Antonio, AA): 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K. Wisler out-pitched fellow prospect Eddie Butler on Monday night in a matchup we could see in the NL West in a few years. The knock on Wisler over the years has been his splits against lefties, and thus far they are 7-for-15 (.467) against him this year.
Joey Gallo, 3B, Rangers (Myrtle Beach, A+): 1-2, 2 R, HR, BB. There are still contact issues for Gallo, but he’s limited his strikeouts thus far on the early season to around one per game, which is actually a significant improvement. He’s coupled that with an increased walk rate, and the difference is showing thus far. Gallo now has five home runs in 11 games, and we’re already getting close to a “Did Joey Gallo Homer?” section of the MLU.
Victor Roache, OF, Brewers (Brevard County, A+): 2-5, 2 R, HR. Roache showed off his plus power with 22 home runs last season, but those came with an awful lot of swings-and-misses for a college hitter in Low-A ball. His contact rates are slightly better in the early going this season, but the low average remains a constant.
Jorge Alfaro, C, Rangers (Myrtle Beach, A+): 2-5, 2 R, 2B, HR. Alfaro was actually playing first base on Monday, which the Rangers did to get him more at-bats throughout the season. Putting his arm at first base is like making Billy Hamilton wear roller blades, but it’s at-bats he needs to continue to refine his aggressive approach. He has legitimate power and ran into his first home run on Monday, but currently has a 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio on par with his career norms.
Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres (Lake Elsinore, A+): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 K. Renfroe is going to have a ton of stat lines like this before it’s all said and done, with power and strikeouts coming all at once. He’s still swinging and missing as much this year as he did in his brief time as a professional last year, but at least this year’s strikeouts are coming with his fair share of walks.
Alex Wimmers, RHP, Twins (Ft. Myers, A+): 6 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K. 25-year-olds in A-ball don’t usually make the MLU, no matter what they do, but when you’ve survived two elbow surgeries and a bad case of the yips, you get a little leeway. The former first-rounder is back in action after two lost seasons, and while he was never an elite prospect with a high ceiling, he could still turn himself into something the Twins can use.
Cody Kukuk, LHP, Red Sox (Greenville, A-): 5 IP, 4 H, R, BB, 8 K. The biggest knock on Kukuk is his control, so any time he walks just one guy in a start it’s a good sign.
Fight Another Day
Henry Owens, LHP, Red Sox (Portland, AA): 5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 K. This is the knock on Owens: great one day, hittable the next. It’s an issue of mechanics, not talent, for Owens, and it’s one that most tall pitchers battle during their development. The good news for Owens is that the good starts are outweighing the bad ones more and more these days.
Julio Urias, LHP, Dodgers (Rancho Cucamonga, A+): 4 1/3, 6 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 6 K. Most players would try to forget about a start like this with a few beers or a fresh tin of Skoal. Urias isn’t old enough to buy any of that stuff, but I imagine he’ll get over it all the same anyway. If his worst start of the year still includes striking out over a batter per inning, then he’s every bit as good as we think he is anyway.
Rougned Odor, 2B, Rangers (Frisco, AA): 0-4, 2 K. One day after making the list with a two-home-run game, this happens. It’s tough being a prospect. You could even say it stinks.
Notable Pitching Performances*
*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.