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May 27, 2014

Minor League Update

Games of May 23-26

by Jeff Moore

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While I hope everyone had a wonderful long weekend, and I know I did, let’s not forget that we got the extra day off not so our big-league heroes could wear camouflage uniforms, but to honor the real heroes who wore those colors because they had to.

Friday, May 23

Domingo Santana, OF, Astros (Oklahoma City, AAA): 2-6, 2 R, HR, 3 K. You’re going to have to take the good with the bad with Santana, who is going to have his strikeout issues and won’t hit for a terribly high average but will do his fair share of damage via the long ball. Santana would go on to hit two more home runs on Saturday, giving him nine on the season.

Clint Coulter, C, Brewers (Wisconsin, A-): 2-5, 2 R, HR, K. Twenty extra-base hits at this point in the season is impressive, especially for a catcher, but having almost as many walks as strikeouts is even more of a positive sign. If he can stay behind the plate, Coulter could be a real asset with the bat.

Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals (Memphis, AAA): 2-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, BB, K. For those who were wondering if other outfielders on the Cardinals depth chart had jumped over Taveras while he was injured, he’s now hitting .319/.369/.527 on the season, and even that feels a bit disappointing. He’s still the man for the Cardinals, as soon as they decide they’re ready for him.

D.J. Peterson, 3B, Mariners (High Desert, A+): 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR. When Peterson’s aggressiveness at the plate doesn’t get the best of him, he can do some real damage. The power is real, and he has enough raw power even if he has to move over to first base, though it remains to be seen if enough of it will play in games.

Colin Moran, 3B, Marlins (Jupiter, A+): 3-5, 2 R, HR. Moran should hit enough to get himself to the majors, but the tools simply aren’t there to suggest that he was worth the most recent sixth-overall pick in the draft. He’s going to struggle against lefties and won’t have enough power to be an impact bat at third base.

Saturday, May 24

Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Blue Jays (New Hampshire, AA): 0 IP, 0 H, 6 R (3 ER), 4 BB, 0 K. With the multi-day updates, I try to stick mainly to the positives, but an outing like this one needs to be mentioned. Sanchez’s stuff remains as good as anyone’s in the minors, but at some point, he has to throw strikes and stop turning in stinkers like this once a month. He’s now walked at least four batters in three straight outings and hasn’t been able to hang around for more than 6 1/3 innings all season.

Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Cubs (Daytona, A+): 1-3, R, HR, K. Few question Vogelbach’s hit tool, which is good since it’s the only thing he does well, but he hasn’t shown it off this year the way many expected. He’s still controlling the strike zone adequately but not nearly as well as he has in the past. It’s early yet, but Vogelbach has little room for error if he wants to have value as a prospect.

Justin Nicolino, LHP, Marlins (Jacksonville, AA): 7 IP, 7 H, 3 R (1 ER), 0 BB, K. It’s not fancy with Nicolino, but throwing strikes and featuring an above-average changeup goes a long way against minor-league hitters. He’s still a back-end guy, but one who could have some real success pitching to contact in Marlins Park.

Kevin Plawecki, C, Mets (Binghamton, AA): 3-3, R, 2B, HR, 2 BB. One of the more well-rounded catching prospects in the game, Plawecki has shown a potential plus hit tool and a plus eye to go along with just enough power to keep pitchers honest.

Sunday, May 25

Javier Baez, SS, Cubs (Tennessee, AA): 2-4, R, HR, K. It’s been a big week for Baez, offensively, as he finished the weekend with an 11-game hitting streak to help him get his batting average back toward respectability. The strikeouts still come and go in waves, but when the power is there with them, no one seems to care. His patience will always be an issue, but he can hit enough to overcome it.

Corey Seager, SS/3B, Dodgers (Rancho Cucamunga, A+): 2-5, R, HR, K. Seager is going to hit no matter what position he plays, and while the Dodgers don’t want to rush him, the California League simply doesn’t provide a test for some hitters.

Angel Villalona, 1B, Giants (Richmond, AA): 2-4, R, HR. It would have been easy to write off Villalona a long time ago (mainly after the murder charges in his native Dominican Republic), but he’s returned to being a productive player and is still just 23 years old. He’s still all power at this point and little else, but a .775 OPS in the Eastern League (especially playing your home games in Richmond) is worth taking note of.

Hunter Harvey, RHP, Orioles (Delmarva, A-): 4 IP, 3 H, R, BB, 7 K. Putting away hitters is often one of the last things young pitchers learn how to do, but Harvey is having no problem learning it on the fly in professional baseball, striking out well over 10 batters per nine innings.

Stetson Allie, 1B, Pirates (Altoona, AA): 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, K. It’s hard to believe that after not hitting for his first few professional seasons (he literally didn’t hit; he was a pitcher) that Allie is hitting for this kind of power (10 home runs this season), though it is believable that it’s coming with a .227 average.

Jesse Winker, OF, Reds (Bakersfield, A+): 4-5, R, 2B. The pure hit tool that the Reds put their faith in with Winker is already rewarding them, as Winker has the potential to hit .300 and control the strike zone at the same time.

Eddie Butler, RHP, Rockies (Tulsa, AA): 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, BB, 3 K. Whether striking hitters out with his power fastball or getting them to beat the ball into the ground with his power sinker, Butler has had no problem with Double-A this year.

Monday, May 26

Kyle Crick, RHP, Gianta (Richmond, AA): 4 IP, 5 H, 5 R (4 ER), 4 BB, 2 K. Crick’s poor outing may not be as drastic as Sanchez’s above, but the same problems apply. For a guy with the stuff that anyone else in the minors would kill for, shouldn’t we see some occasional dominance? Crick doesn’t get hit and strikes out a ton of batters, but he’s only thrown more than five innings once this year, and no one can get by walking over seven batters per nine innings in any role at any level.

Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres (Lake Elsniore, A+): 3-5, R, HR, 2 K. Renfroe is putting up some serious strikeout numbers (61 in 50 games), but the power that’s coming along with it is making it much more acceptable. He’s also been extremely aggressive at the plate—which could hurt him down the road against more advanced pitching—but for now, he’s getting away with it. His development will be fun to watch.

Related Content:  Prospects,  Minor Leagues

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