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May 19, 2014

Minor League Update

Games of May 16-18

by Jeff Moore

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Friday, May 16

Miles Head, 1B, A’s (Midland, AA): 3-4, R, HR. Head is struggling once again, now in his third go-round in Double-A. It was already a tough profile as a right-handed-hitting first baseman, but Head’s power outage is enough to diminish his status as a prospect. For what it’s worth, Head also homered again on Sunday.

Daniel Norris, RHP, Blue Jays (Dunedin, A+): 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, R, BB, 6 K. Norris and his power arsenal have been plagued over the years by control problems. He’s made great strides in that area, however, and the on-field product shows with a sub-1.00 ERA.

Josh Prince, 2B, Brewers (Huntsville, AA): 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR. Prince is running out of time to still qualify as a prospect and doesn’t have the hit tool to play every day. Howver, he does have plus speed, a good eye at the plate, and the experience and ability to play all three infield positions and every spot in the outfield, so there could be a spot for him in Milwaukee.

Breyvic Valera, 2B, Cardinals (Palm Beach, A+): 5-7, BB. With no power whatsoever, nor any attempt to hit for any, Valera’s ceiling is limited. He makes up for it with a plus hit tool that could allow him to hit .300 in the majors, though it would be relatively empty. He’s also stuck at second base because of his below-average arm. Valera went 4-for-4 on Sunday to finish the weekend hitting .339.

Paul Blackburn, RHP, Cubs (Kane County, A-): 6 IP, 2 H, R, BB, 8 K. Blackburn has taken a huge step forward with his control this season. He’s a potential mid-rotation starter who could move more quickly now than previously expected.

Braden Shipley, RHP, Diamondbacks (South Bend, A-): 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 8 K. Shipley is getting hit around a little harder than the Diamondbacks probably anticipated, but he’s throwing strikes and missing bats in his first attempt at a full-season league, which are good signs.

Kyle Crick, RHP, Giants (Richmond, AA): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K. Crick doesn’t get hit very hard, so when he throws strikes, he can be incredibly effective. That’s now back-to-back starts with just one walk, although this one went twice as long as the last outing.

Joey Gallo, 3B, Rangers (Myrtle Beach, A+): 4-4, 4 R, 3 HR. No player in the minors is making as big of a jump as Gallo has thus far this season. The big hypothetical was what would happen if he cut down the strikeouts and allowed the power to play. We’re finding out this season. Gallo also homered on Saturday, and on Sunday, he struck out for the first time in a week.

Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds (Pensacola, AA): 7 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, BB, 8 K. Stephenson has battled his control this season, but even with the inconsistencies, he’s managed to miss bats, giving the Reds little reason for concern.

Saturday, May 17

Carlos Correa, SS, Astros (Lancaster, A+): 2-5, R, 2 2B. Correa has picked up this season right where he left off last season, hitting everything in sight with little issue. The only real question about Correa is just how much power he’s going to develop, as we’ve yet to see him tap into the power that many believe is in his 6’4” frame.

Dylan Covey, RHP, A’s (Beloit, A-): 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K. The ceiling isn’t high and Covey isn’t missing many bats, but he throws a lot of strikes and gets a couple of above-average breaking pitches over the plate, which gives him a chance to move up as a starter.

Christian Bethancourt, C, Braves (Gwinnett County, AAA): 2-3, 2 R, HR, K. Bethancourt has one of the best catcher arms in all of baseball, and Evan Gattis has thrown out just 28 percent of would-be base-stealers. It’s not that simple, of course, given that Bethancourt won’t be slugging .492 like Gattis is, but there’s some way to make it fit when a starter and a potential prospect/backup’s strengths and weaknesses complement each other so well.

Javier Baez, SS, Cubs (Iowa, AAA): 1-3, 2 R, HR, BB, K. We’re nowhere near out of the woods with Baez, but it’s a good sign to see him connect with one given how long it’s been since he’d last homered.

Gabriel Guerrero, OF, Mariners (High Desert, A+): 5-5, 3 R, 2B, SB. Much like his uncle Vladimir, Guerrero is ultra-aggressive at the plate and has an uncanny ability to but the barrel of the bat on the ball. Very few people can make that an effective approach, but Gabriel has a good example to follow. He’s not Vladimir, but the style is similar.

Andrew Heaney, LHP, Marlins (Jacksonville, AA): 7 2/3 IP, 8 H, 2 R, BB, 8 K. Heaney’s days of rest didn’t line up for what the Marlins needed when they called up a replacement for Jose Fernandez’s spot in the rotation, otherwise they might have considered him. It’s only a matter of time before he makes the jump straight from Double-A to the majors, something the Marlins have had no problem doing with prospects in the past.

A.J. Cole, RHP, Nationals (Harrisburg, AA): 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K. Cole’s strikeout numbers are down this season, but he’s been more consistent than ever from start to start.

Joe Ross, RHP, Padres (Lake Elsniore, A+): 5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 1 R (0 ER), BB, 8 K. Ross is putting it all together this season, in the California League of all places, with peripheral stats that match his ERA. He’s a potential mid-rotation starter, and he appears to be taking a big step toward reaching that ceiling this year.

Sunday, May 18

Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Astros (Lancaster, A+): 6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 7 K. After having his innings restricted tightly in the Astros tandem-starter system early in the season, Folty has now gone six innings in each of his last three starts.

Andrew Chafin, LHP, Diamondbacks (Mobile, AA): 7 IP, 5 H, R, BB, 7 K. Chafin hasn’t been missing bats the way someone with his fastball/slider combo is expected to, though he has been remarkably effective this season in spite of it.

Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers (Rancho Cucamunga, A+): 4-5, 2 R, 2 2B, HR, K. If Seager hits like this, it won’t matter if he has to move to third base. He’s still very aggressive at the plate, so it’s time for him to start taking what pitchers give him, which may begin to include four straight balls in key situations.

Jorge Bonifacio, OF, Royals (Northwest Arkansas, AA): 2-3, R, 2B, HR. Bonifacio shows little bursts of power like this, but they aren’t coming nearly as quickly as the Royals had hoped.

Gregory Polanco went 3-for-4 on both Friday and Satruday night, is hitting .389 on the season, and is now trolling you, me, the Pirates, and Major League Baseball all at once. He didn’t collect any hits on Sunday, but only because his game was rained out, though it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that he'd beaten all of his teammates in Spades and then rescued some babies from flooded homes.

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