May 5, 2014
Minor League Update
Games of May 2-4
Friday, May 2
Javier Baez, SS, Cubs (Iowa, AAA): 0-4, 2 K. When Baez homered in the I-Cubs’ final April game, we all hoped it would be the boost he needed to turn the page on a rough month. Instead, Baez is now 1-for-16 with nine strikeouts in May, including an 0-for-12 weekend that included eight punchouts. He’s not close right now.
C.J. Cron, 1B, Angels (Salt Lake, AAA): 3-5, 4 R, HR, K. Cron will likely be back in Triple-A at some point, but if he never looks back in the rearview mirror, he chose a heck of a way to go out. Cron was called up to the majors on Saturday afternoon.
Wilmer Flores, SS, Mets (Las Vegas, AAA): 4-5, 3 R, 2 HR, K. Flores has already proved he can hit in Triple-A, and posting big numbers in Vegas proves exactly nothing. What is he doing in the minors? Ruben Tejada can’t hit and Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda could both use some days off against lefties. There are enough at-bats to go around for Flores.
Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians (Akron, AA): 2-4, R, 3B, HR, K. Lindor finished the weekend hitting .301/.376/.466. If he does anything near that in the big leagues, he’ll be a perennial All-Star and one of the best shortstops in the game.
Maxwell Muncy, 3B, Athletics (Midland, AA): 3-3, 2 R, 2B, HR, BB, SB. He’s probably not a third baseman, which will dramatically limit his ceiling, but he’s increased his walk rate and lowered his strikeout rate, to the point where the former is significantly higher than the latter this season.
Jorge Alfaro, C, Rangers (Myrtle Beach, A+): 3-4, R, HR. Alfaro’s extremely aggressive approach is going to lead to a lot of outs, but he’ll hit for a high enough average to get away with it and for enough power to justify it. In the meantime, he’ll also run well and throw incredibly well, so it’s a minor quibble.
Clint Frazier, OF, Indians (Lake County, A-): 3-4, 2 R, 2B, 2 BB, K. There’s been a slight adjustment period for Frazier to full-season ball, as should be expected of most prep draft picks in their first full seasons, but he’s controlled the strike zone well and avoided being over-anxious. It’s going to click for Frazier real soon.
Raimel Tapia, OF, Rockies (Asheville, A-): 3-4, R, 2B, BB. Hitters hit, and Tapia is beginning to hit like we know he can, including a 6-for-13 weekend.
Saturday, May 3
Brian Goodwin, OF, Nationals (Syracuse, AAA): 2-3, 4 R, HR, 2 BB, K. The Nationals have to be somewhat disappointed that Goodwin didn’t get off to a hotter start in Triple-A this season, given that injuries have forced them to resort to the likes of Kevin Frandsen in the outfield. Goodwin would be in over his head in the majors, however, with contact issues that would be badly exposed at this juncture.
Trevor Bauer, RHP, Indians (Columbus, AAA): 7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K. This is what the Indians have been waiting for, right? There’s not much else Bauer can do to prove he’s ready for an extended shot in the big leagues. He has a 1.10 ERA in five starts, he’s throwing strikes, and he even has a big-league spot start under his belt. It’s time for the Indians to make a switch before they fall too far out of the race. I don’t know if he’s the answer or not, but I know that the Indians aren’t going anywhere without him being effective in the big leagues soon.
Perci Garner, RHP, Phillies (Reading, AA): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K. Garner’s biggest issue has been consistency, and he doesn’t usually miss bats to this extent despite a powerful fastball. He’s 25, but he’s throwing more strikes than ever, which is a positive sign.
Kyle Crick, RHP, Giants (Richmond, AA): 3 IP, 6 H, 5 R (4 ER), 4 BB, 5 K. Speaking of throwing more strikes, it’s reasonable to begin asking how long the Giants plan to watch Crick walk too many batters and fail to make it past the fifth inning. He’s walked more than a batter per inning this season. No amount of arm strength can overcome that.
Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs (Tennessee, AA): 4-5, 2 R, HR. Every time Bryant has a small stretch in which his strikeout numbers spike, he goes off and puts together a game like this. He’s going to be very good. He may be great.
Sam Selman, LHP, Royals (Northwest Arkansas, AA): 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K. Selman lacks command and is probably a reliever in the long run, but his power fastball can miss bats.
Christian Binford, RHP, Royals (Wilmington, A+): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K. Binford doesn’t have the highest ceiling, but he has good command and good downward plane, which should take him to the back end of a major-league rotation.
Rio Ruiz, 3B, Astros (Lancaster, A+): 2-4, R, 2B, HR, K. Big-time power and a big-time arm—and hopefully enough of a hit tool to make both of them work.
Sunday, May 4
Christian Bethancourt, C, Braves (Gwinnett County, AAA): 3-4, 3 R, 2B, HR, BB. Bethancourt isn’t going to provide a ton offensively other than occasionally running into a home run, and those will come with of a ton of outs. It’s his glove, however, that is going to get him to Atlanta at some point this year. He is probably ready to be a more effective backup for Evan Gattis than Gerald Laird.
Adam Duvall, 3B/1B, Giants (Fresno, AAA): 2-5, 2 R, HR. Duvall’s power returned this season much the way it does for many players who have to take a year off between the California and Pacific Coast Leagues. If he can stay at third base (a big if), his power bat should be enough to play. If he has to move to first base, he won’t be more than a second-division regular.
Rymer Liriano, OF, Padres (San Antonio, AA): 3-5, 2 R, 2 HR, K. Even a hot weekend only has Liriano up to .238 on the season, but he gets a slight pass while still working to get his timing back after a year off. It appears the strength is back in his rehabbed arm, however, with five home runs on the season.
Marco Gonzales, LHP, Cardinals (Palm Beach, A+): 8 IP, 7 H, 0 R, BB, K. Gonzales doesn’t miss a ton of bats (though this was low even for him), but his plus changeup helps make up for a lack of premium velocity, and his command allows everything to play up. He’ll be a nice change of pace in the Cardinals’ right-hander-heavy rotation sometime soon.
Victor Roache, OF, Brewers (Brevard County, A+): 3-3, 3 R, 3 HR, BB. Clearly the performance of the weekend, Roache showed what he can do when he makes contact. He has some serious swing-and-miss in his game, but there is plus raw power to go along with it.
J.P. Crawford, SS, Phillies (Lakewood, A-): 4-5, 2 R, HR, BB. There are questions about how much power Crawford is going to have, and it’ll never be a plus tool, but he controls the strike zone like a much older player, which is a great sign.