April 28, 2014
Minor League Update
Games of April 25-27
Friday, April 25
Jesus Aguilar, 1B, Indians (Columbus, 1B): 3-5, R, HR, 2 K. Aguilar’s power has come in streaks this season, as he followed his home run on Friday with another on Saturday, giving him seven on the young season. He’s still striking out in bunches, too, but he’s also walking at a higher rate, making it an acceptable tradeoff.
C.J. Cron, 1B, Angels (Salt Lake, 1B): 2-3, R, 2B, HR. Cron has not only carried his power over from a strong Arizona Fall League, hitting his fifth home run of the year on Friday to go along with 11 doubles, but he’s hitting more consistently. Friday was the start of a 6-for-11 weekend that included three extra-base hits and two walks.
Tommy Joseph, C, Phillies (Reading, AA): 2-5, 2B, HR. It was a bittersweet weekend for Joseph, who homered on Friday, his third bomb in four games, but ended it on the minor-league disabled list after taking a foul ball off the mask. Joseph, acquired by the Phillies from the Giants in the Hunter Pence trade, has a history of concussions and the Phillies are taking every precaution with him.
Matt Wisler, RHP, Padres (San Antonio, AA): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K. It’s typically difficult to rack up strikeout numbers on par with Wisler’s without occasionally expanding the strike zone, but Wisler refuses to walk batters and has managed to miss bats at the same time.
Aderlin Rodriguez, 3B, Mets (St. Lucie, A+): 2-4, 2B, HR, BB, K. Rodriguez is huge and has two extreme tools—a 70 arm and 70 power. Unfortunately, he’s not a third baseman and isn’t going to become one, and he has virtually no pitch recognition. He can hit a fastball as far as anyone in the minors, but he can’t recognize offspeed pitches of any variety and can’t lay off them when they are out of the strike zone, leading to lots of bad contact and tons of swings and misses, and thus limiting the extent to which his power can play in games.
Parker Bridwell, RHP, Orioles (Frederick, A+): 6 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. There are some players that just look like they should be so good and yet they simply aren’t. Bridwell is one of the poster children of this group. Scouts have loved Bridwell for years and have been waiting for him to put it together for years, but at this point, it just may not happen. His secondary stuff still needs work and his fastball command is nowhere near where it should be at this point, and it causes him to get hit more than a player with his stuff should.
Nick Travieso, RHP, Reds (Dayton, A-): 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K. The second time through Low-A ball is going much more smoothly for the former first-rounder, who now has a 1.23 ERA through four starts and has walked just three batters in 22 innings.
Drew Ward, 3B, Nationals (Hagerstown, A-): 3-5, R, 2B, HR. Ward has big time power and it’s transitioning well into full-season ball. With home runs on Friday and Saturday, Ward is now slugging .508 as a 19-year-old.
Saturday, April 26
Arismendy Alcantara, 2B, Cubs (Iowa, AAA): 5-7, 3B. We all know what the Cubs are doing, and we all know what Matt Garza was saying over the weekend about the difficulties of a rebuilding process, and neither of them is wrong. That said, it’s difficult from all angles to watch a player like Alcantara hit over .300 in Triple-A while Darwin Barney is 4-for-33 (.121) on the season. Alcantara’s return to aggressiveness this season has turned him into a big-time out-maker despite hitting .300, but it’s also come with additional power. He’s got about six more weeks to find a happy medium.
Mike Montgomery, LHP, Rays (Durham, AAA): 8 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 9 K. Montgomery has taken a long road from a top prospect to a trade chip to rebuilding project to whatever he is now. He’s turned in four good starts out of five with Saturday being by far his best outing, limiting additional base runners at a better rate than he has recently. Plus, there was that whole not allowing any hits thing.
Archie Bradley, RHP, Diamondbacks (Reno, AAA): 4 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 3 K. We can’t put too much stock in numbers, especially numbers inflated by the hitter-friendly environments of the Pacific Coast League, but considering that the knock on Bradley had been the development of his control, it’s not a good sign to see him walking a batter every other inning to this point in the season. The stuff is still potent, but despite the Diamondbacks struggles and calls for a promotion, he’ll struggle in the majors until he learns how to harness it properly.
Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs (Tennessee, AA): 2-6, R, HR, BB, K. Bryant had gone seven games without a home run, something that isn’t notable for most players but is for a player with Bryant’s power. Despite the brief power outage, however, he was still a productive hitter, which is a good sign.
Adam Walker, OF, Twins (Ft. Myers, A+): 2-4, R, HR, 2 K. Walker has had a rough go of things recently, expanding the strike zone far too often in an attempt to try to do too much, but when he gets a pitch to hit, he has plenty of power to do damage.
Courtney Hawkins, OF, White Sox (Winston-Salem, A+): 2-3, R, HR. Hawkins has even less of a feel for the strike zone than Walker, but in his second trip through the Carolina League, he’s getting better results, connecting on his sixth and seventh home runs of the season over the weekend. The strikeout numbers are still extreme, however, at over one per game.
Sunday, April 27
Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals (Memphis, AAA): 2-4, R, HR. We’re beginning to see the Taveras we’ve been awaiting for over a year, as he connected on his fourth home run of the season to go along with a .313 average and just 10 strikeouts in 80 at-bats. When healthy, there has never been a question about Taveras high-end ability.
Henry Owens, LHP, Red Sox (Portland, AA): 5 IP, 9 H, 6 H, 3 BB, 4 K. This is why Owens is so maddening. He has two starts this season with nine strikeouts but three with at least three walks. It all adds up to solid numbers, but the Red Sox are going to need more consistency before they can count on Owens for anything.
Michael Taylor, OF, Nationals (Harrisburg, AA): 3-4, 4 R, 3 HR, BB, K. Taylor has been on this list a few times in the past few weeks for multiple strikeout evenings. He still has 36 strikeouts in 21 games, a number that is way too high, but it’s days like Sunday that give the Nationals reason for optimism. He’s never hit more than 13 home runs in a season, but scouts see more in his game, and his big day gives him five already this month.
Justin Nicolino, LHP, Marlins (Jacksonville, AA): 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K. These are the kinds of outings we can expect from Nicolino. He’s not going to miss a ton of bats, but if he commands his fastball properly, he can generate enough weak contact to be effective.
Josh Bell, OF, Pirates (Bradenton, A+): 2-4, R, 3B, HR. Bell has big-time raw power, especially when he can get his arms extended, but he’s still learning how to use it. Unlike many young, aggressive hitters, Bell does not struggle with swinging and missing. His problem is his ability to get the bat on the ball, which actually leads to too much bad contact.
Trevor Story, SS, Rockies (Modesto, A+): 3-4, 2 R, HR, BB. The thing that held Story back from reaching his lofty expectations last season was his extreme lack of contact. That hasn’t really changed this season, with 31 strikeouts in 24 games, but he’s managing it better and finding a way to be productive in spite of it. As long as he continues to hit for power at a premium defensive position, the Rockies will put up with the strikeouts, but he’ll have to rein them in slightly to not get exploited by better pitching.
Ryan McMahon, 3B, Rockies (Asheville, A-): 2-5, R, 2B, HR, 2 K. McMahon has exploded into full-season ball with authority, hitting his ninth home run of the season over the weekend. He should be able to stick at third base, making him a potential impact power bat at a position without too many of them.