July 14, 2014
Minor League Update
Games of July 11-13
Friday, July 11
Christian Villanueva, 3B, Cubs (Tennessee, AA): 2-4, R, HR. Villanueva was struggling in his first taste of Triple-A this season, which made it easy to send him down a level to make room for Kris Bryant. Still, Villanueva is a legitimate prospect in his own right who gets overshadowed in the Cubs system. He's getting back on his feet in Tennessee and will get another shot at Triple-A soon.
Brandon Drury, 3B, Diamondbacks (Visalia, A+): 3-3, R, HR, BB. Drury could turn out to be the saving grace of the Justin Upton trade if he ends up becoming an everyday third baseman, something that is looking like a better possibility with his improved power production and dismissed strike out rate. Hitting in the California League helps, but his power is real and he's built like a prototypical third baseman. He also homered on both Saturday and Sunday as well.
Clint Frazier, OF, Indians (Lake County, A-): 5-5, 4 R, 2 HR, SB. Frazier got off to a slow start this season, and because of our reliance on immediate gratification, many people jumped off the bandwagon. He just missed our top 50 (after being no. 36 on the pre-season list) but he’s heating up of late. Much is expected from the former fifth-overall pick, but .268/.337/.435 isn’t a horrible showing for a 19-year-old in full-season ball, and it’s heading the right direction. For good measure, he went 2-for-5 with a triple and another home run on Saturday.
Carlos Tocci, OF, Phillies (Lakewood, A-): 4-6, 2 R, 2B, 2 SB. Tocci has a good swing and a good idea of his strengths and weaknesses (power) at the plate, but his incredibly thin frame and small-ball approach keep him from driving the ball with any authority. He needs to gain weight, but I’m not sold he’ll ever hit for much power. He also went 3-for-4 with two more doubles on Saturday, and could develop good gap power instead of over-the-fence power.
Alen Hanson, SS, Pirates (Altoona, AA): 3-5, 2 R, HR, SB. The Pirates are going to make every attempt to keep Hanson at shortstop because they have a glaring need there at the major league level, but he’s more likely destined for second base. He’s never going to be a strong on-base guy, but he has enough power to produce above-average offensive numbers at the keystone. He also homered on Saturday.
David Dahl, OF, Rockies (Asheville, A-): 4-6, 3 R, 2B, K. Don’t look now, but Dahl is hitting over .300 with power. The hit tool is enough to carry him, but he’s got more to offer than that, with the ability to be a plus defender in center field.
Saturday, July 12
Richard Urena, SS, Blue Jays (Bluefield, R): 2-6, R, HR, K. Young and extremely toolsy, Urena is off to a good start in his first stint off of the complex. His strong wrists should allow him to hit for some power as he grows into his frame, but he should be able to remain at shortstop.
Alex Jackson, OF, Mariners (AZL, R): 2-5, R, 3B, K. It hasn’t taken Jackson long to get accustomed to professional baseball, and he is now hitting over .300 and is already showing power.
Dilson Herrera, 2B, Mets (Binghamton, AA): 3-5, R, 2B, K. There’s been a lot of excitement about Herrera lately, and rightly so, as he’s had a fantastic first full season with the Mets, forced a promotion and continues to hit. The excitement needs to be tempered, however. Herrera has not yet established enough with the bat to be a guy the Mets can play their future around. He has the potential to be an everyday second baseman, but he’s not there yet, and it’s not a given that he gets there. He’ll have a role in the big leagues, but whether or not he’s a future everyday player is still yet to be determined.
Manuel Margot, OF, Red Sox (Greenville, A-): 2-3, 2 R, 2B, HR. There’s a lot to like about Margot, even if it doesn’t completely manifest itself yet on the field. He’s once again holding his own at the plate despite being young for his level, controlling the strike zone admirably, and showing that he’s growing into some power. Even if he doesn’t hit a ton, his speed and range in center field will be enough to warrant playing time.
Raimel Tapia, OF, Rockies (Asheville, A-): 5-8, 3 R, 2 2B, 2 K, SB. Not to be outdone by his teammate Dahl from the day before, Tapia one-upped him on Saturday with a five-hit game. He doesn’t offer Dahl’s present power or his up-the-middle defense, but his hit tool is even better and allows him to get away with an extremely aggressive approach at the plate.
Sunday, July 13
Jorge Soler, OF, Cubs (Tennessee, AA): 3-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 K. At some point recently, I was asked why we at BP had “given up” on Soler. I assure you that we have not, and games like this point to why. After missing the majority of the first half with a hamstring injury, Soler has come back with a vengeance and is terrorizing the Southern League. His power potential further complicates the future for the Cubs, in the best way possible.
Preston Tucker, OF, Astros (Oklahoma City, AAA): 4-4, 3 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, BB. Tucker doesn’t have loud tools but all he’s done as a professional is hit. He’s now getting a chance to do it at the highest level of the minors, which shouldn’t be a problem for him either. He gets overlooked on most prospect lists because he’s not toolsy and lacks projection, but there’s something to be said for a guy who can go out and give you 25 home runs a year.
Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Cubs (Kane County, A-): 2-5, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 BB. Not all of the Cubs prospects can dominate, and Candelario is one that has struggled this season, warranting a demotion back to the Midwest League. He struggled with Florida State League pitching, but at just 20, there’s plenty of time for him to get straightened out.
Jen-Ho Tseng, RHP, Cubs (Kane County, A-): 7 IP, 3 H, R, 0 BB, 7 K. Tseng is extremely refined for a 19-year-old and it’s showing against raw Low-A hitters. His command of four pitches is simply more than that level can handle.
Stryker Trahan, OF, Diamondbacks (South Bend, A-): 3-5, 2 R, 2 2B. Trahan lost a ton of value when the Diamondbacks gave up on the effort to make him a catcher, but they felt his bat might play in a corner outfield spot. He has power, but 130 strikeouts in 326 at-bats is far too little contact to allow it to play in any significant way, and those kinds of swing-and-miss issues in the low minors don’t usually end up well.
Kyle Crick, RHP, Giants (Richmond, AA): 6 IP, 9 H, 2 R, BB, 6 K. Fewer strikeouts and more contact may keep Crick from being as dominant, but it keeps him out on the mound a lot longer. If he wants to remain a starter, he’ll need more of that, though his arm is built to be a swing-and-miss reliever much sooner.