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April 30, 2014

Minor League Update

Games of Tuesday, April 29

by Jeff Moore

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Hitter of the Night: Tyrone Taylor, OF, Brewers (Brevard County, A+): 5-5, 5 R, 2B, 3B, HR, BB.
Yes, that’s a cycle. Taylor’s offensive outburst came as part of a 20-run onslaught for the Manatees on Tuesday. Taylor is a doubles collector, but two of those potential doubles have cleared the fence in the past two days, a good sign for his future power development.

Pitcher of the Night: Marcus Stroman, RHP, Blue Jays (Buffalo, AAA): 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 10 K.
If this is the swan song for Stroman’s minor-league career, he went out with a bang. There has been speculation that Stroman could get the call this week to take the place of Dustin McGowan. After struggling this spring, he has his three plus pitches working, and the continued development of his changeup could give him a fourth.

Best of the Rest

Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Red Sox (Pawtucket, AAA): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K. While we can’t really give him credit for a complete game since the game was shortened to five innings, we can’t blame him for not going deeper either, since he was cut off at just 82 pitches. It’s the second scoreless outing for Ranaudo, who continues to be a model of inconsistency from start to start.

Gary Brown, OF, Giants (Fresno, AAA): 2-5, R, HR, 2 K. Brown’s prospect status has plummeted over the past few years during his struggles to consistently hit better minor-league pitching, but this should be the year he finally cracks the major-league roster. He won’t be an impact hitter, but his speed and defense can allow him to carve out a niche as a role player.

Mookie Betts, 2B, Red Sox (Portland, AA): 3-4, 2 R, HR. We have to be cautious in the way we handle Betts right now, as his ridiculously hot start sets us up for hyperbolic exaggeration. What we are realistically learning, however, is that Betts’ hit tool will be enough to carry him to the majors, and that with 15 extra-base hits already on the season, he may have enough power to become an impact bat.

Rymer Liriano, OF, Padres (San Antonio, AA): 2-5, 2 R, 3B, HR, K. Liriano has struggled in his return to game action after missing all of 2013 with Tommy John surgery. It’s not terribly surprising given Liriano’s struggles immediately after ascending to each new level, but his second home run in four games could be a sign that he’s getting his timing back.

Trevor Story, SS, Rockies (Modesto, A+): 3-3, 3 R, 2 2B, 2 BB. Sometimes it just takes a prospect a second chance to master a particular level, like Story appears to be doing with the California League this season. Three more hits on Tuesday give him 10 in his last three games. He still swings and misses more than you’d like, but he’s also walking a lot more, which makes it worth the tradeoff.

Joe Ross, RHP, Padres (Lake Elsinore, A+): 6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K. For a pitcher whose biggest knock has been his inability to miss bats, starts like these are an excellent sign. Pitching to contact is difficult to do in the California League, but Ross has increased his strikeout rate this season.

Lance McCullers, RHP, Astros (Lancaster, A+): 5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, BB, 10 K. There’s little doubting McCullers’ ability to miss bats, but it’s more impressive to see it come with just one walk for a player who has struggled with his control as a professional.

Jonathon Crawford, RHP, Tigers (West Michigan, A-): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K. The walk-less outing means Crawford was repeating his delivery well on Tuesday, something he struggles with from time to time. When he does that, he has a chance to stick as a starter, though his fastball/slider combo profiles well in a relief role and would allow him to move much more quickly through the Tigers system.

Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees (Charleston, A-): 3-4, 2 R, HR. Judge’s size can be an asset and a detriment, as it fuels his power but also makes him easy to tie up at the plate. What he does do well, however, is control the strike zone and put himself in good hitter’s counts.

Fight Another Day

Alen Hanson, SS, Pirates (Altoona, AA): 0-4, 3 K. The jump to Double-A is the true test along the minor-league journey. Hanson struggled last season in Altoona and has had even more issues in a return trip this year, seeing his lack of plate discipline exposed.

Notable Pitching Performances

  • Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Astros (Oklahoma City, AAA): 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 3 K.
  • Tyler Anderson, LHP, Rockies (Tulsa, AA): 5 IP, 3 H, 3 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 5 K.
  • Alex Reyes, RHP, Cardinals (Peoria, A-): 5 IP, H, 2 R, BB, 8 K.
  • Hunter Harvey, RHP, Orioles (Delmarva, A-): 5 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 6 K.

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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