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April 29, 2014

Minor League Update

Games of Monday, April 28

by Jeff Moore

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Hitter of the Night: Brandon Nimmo, OF, Mets (St. Lucie, A+): 4-4, 2 R, 2B, HR.
Nimmo’s big day found him over the .400 mark on the season, but the real rarity on Monday night was that he actually didn’t take a walk. The extremely patient Nimmo takes a Votto-esque approach even to RBI situations, refusing to expand the strike zone for any occasion en route to 24 walks already this season and a .530 on-base percentage. How much power he will develop is still up in the air, but at the very least, he can hit atop a playoff-caliber lineup.

Pitcher of the Night: Alex Meyer, RHP, Twins (Rochester, AAA): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 11 K.
Meyer is pitching about as well as the Twins could have hoped for, with this being his second-straight 11-strikeout, scoreless start. There’s little doubt that Meyer is one of the five best starters in the Twins organization right now and is certainly better than Kevin Correa or Mike Pelfrey at the moment, but both of those guys have money committed to them. With a combined 6.04 ERA for their starting pitchers, the Twins need Meyer, but they don’t have a place for him unless they make a move. That may be enough justification to keep him in the minors until summer.

Best of the Rest

Robbie Ray, LHP, Tigers (Toledo, AAA): 5 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K. Ray caught a lot of the flak this offseason for being the centerpiece of what was considered to be too light a return for Doug Fister. It wasn’t his fault, of course, but with a potential open spot in the Tigers rotation, we may get to see just how big the dropoff is between Fister and Ray sooner rather than later.

Javier Baez, SS, Cubs (Iowa, AAA): 1-3, R, HR, 2 BB, K. It’s nice to see Baez get the power bat going again, but it’s an even better sign to see him draw a pair of walks. Baez’s biggest flaw at this point is his over-aggressiveness and the window that gives opposing pitchers to exploit him. Baez doubled his walk total for the season on Monday night in what is hopefully the beginning of the adjustment he needs to make to more advanced pitching.

Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals (Memphis, AAA): 2-4, 2 R, 2B, HR. Taveras hasn’t had the adjustment period to Triple-A the way Baez has, but he also doesn’t quite have Baez’s power potential. Still, scouts see more power in his game than he’s shown thus far. With two home runs in as many nights, he now has five on the season.

Jonathan Gray, RHP, Rockies (Tulsa, AA): 5 1/3 IP, 4 H, 0 R, BB, 6 K. Gray has now allowed a total of one run over his last three starts while striking out 19 batters in 17 innings. Gray’s premium fastball velocity certainly helps, but it’s his plus slider that really separates him from the pack.

Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Blue Jays (New Hampshire, AA): 6 1/3 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K. Sanchez still features the mid-90s fastball that has put him on the prospect radar for the past few years, but he’s commanding it better this year than ever before, and the results show it. When paired with his plus curveball, the gas can dominate a lineup.

Corey Black, RHP, Cubs (Tennessee, AA): 6 IP, 3 H, R, BB, 5 K. The solo home run that Black allowed on Monday night is the only blemish in his past two starts, a stretch over which he has recorded 13 strikeouts in 12 innings. He still projects as a reliever due to his frame and durability concerns. but he can definitely miss bats.

Cam Bedrosian, RHP, Angels (Arkansas, AA): 1 IP, H, 3 K. It typically takes more than a one-inning save to make the update, but this is a cumulative award for Bedorsian. Promoted to Double-A 10 days ago, Bedrosian has struck out 11 batters in five innings since his promotion after fanning 15 batters in 5 2/3 innings in A-ball. That’s a whopping 26 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings against just three walks.

Preston Tucker, OF, Astros (Corpus Christi, AA): 3-4, 2 R, 2B, HR. As a polished college hitter with a strong track record, it’s no surprise that Tucker has put up good numbers as a professional. Scouts, however, aren’t sold that his bat speed will generate enough power at the major-league level against good pitching to support his one-dimensional game.

Sean Manaea, LHP, Royals (Wilmington, A+): 5 IP, 4 H, R, BB, 8 K. Manaea has alternated bad starts with strong ones thus far, but on Monday night, he commanded his 93-mph fastball despite the rainy conditions in Wilmington.

Tyrone Taylor, OF, Brewers (Brevard County, A+): 3-4, R, HR, BB. High-A ball has been an adjustment for Taylor, who is not developing the power the Brewers had hoped to see, but he’s still quite young (just turned 20) and is controlling the strike zone adequately, so there’s still a chance he could grow into more pop.

Fight Another Day

Jesse Biddle, LHP, Phillies (Reading, AA): 4 IP, 4 H, 6 R (4 ER), 5 BB, K. Biddle had been unfairly omitted from the update after three strong starts in a row, during which he had his control issues, well, under control. Unfortunately, two wrongs don’t make a right. Biddle’s control issues resurfaced on Monday with a five-walk performance. It’s just one bad start, however, and hopefully it ends up being more of a blip on the radar than a trend.

Notable Pitching Performances*

  • J.R. Graham, RHP, Braves (Mississippi, AA): 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, BB, 6 K.
  • Michael Lorenzen, RHP, Reds (Pensacola, AA): 5 IP, 7 H, 2 R, BB, 3 K.
  • Marco Gonzales, LHP, Cardinals (Palm Beach, A+): 6 IP, 7 H, R, 2 BB, 4 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.

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