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July 24, 2014

Minor League Update

Games of Wednesday, July 23

by Jeff Moore

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Hitter of the Night: Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Cubs (Daytona, A+): 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR.
Vogelbach put on a power display in Palm Beach on Wednesday, hitting a pair of opposite-field home runs to the left-center gap at Roger Dean Stadium, which is no small feat. The big first baseman wants to get his arms extended and is at his best when he’s trying to go up the middle. He had a tendency to reach on balls on the outer half when he gets pull happy, but when he stays up the middle, he can drive the ball to all fields, which is what happened last night. He missed a third home run by less than a foot, pulling one just foul down the right field line.

Pitcher of the Night: A.J. Cole, RHP, Nationals (Syracuse, AAA): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K.
After bouncing back and forth from Washington to Oakland and back, Cole has finally settled in with the Nationals and is now just a phone call from the majors. His premium fastball continues to carry him, and he commands it well enough to get away with average secondary offerings, even at the highest levels of the minor leagues.

Best of the Rest

Matthew Dean, 1B, Blue Jays (Lansing, A-): 2-5, R, 2B, HR. Dean is stuck in a first-base-only profile as a right-handed hitter with contact issues and not enough plate discipline, but he has power, which is a scarce commodity in this game. He’s only 21 and is loading up on his doubles, perhaps a sign of further development to come.

Javier Baez, 2B, Cubs (Iowa, A+): 2-3, 3 R, 2B, 2 BB. I actually find it more impressive when Baez has a good game without homering. We know he’s going to hit his home runs, but it’s the fear of him becoming too one-dimensional that gives us cause for concern. A Baez that is collecting multiple hits, drawing walks, and adding in some power is a very scary player.

Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers (Albuquerque, AAA): 1-2, 2 R, HR, 2 BB, SB. This is Pederson at his best, hitting for power and getting on base the rest of the time. Pederson owes the PCL a fruit basket for the .325 batting average, but the on-base skills are legitimate and will make him a formidable offensive contributor even if he ends up hitting closer to .270-.280.

Clint Frazier, OF, Indians (Lake County, A-): 3-3. 2 R. HR, BB. Frazier now has more home runs in July than he did the first three months of the season combined as he learns to rein in his aggressive approach and unleash it on the right pitches. It’s a work in progress for the talented outfielder, but the recent power display has been impressive for a 19-year-old.

D.J. Peterson, 3B, Mariners (Jackson, AA): 2-4, R, HR, K. There’s a reason why teams are asking about Peterson and a reason why the Mariners are saying no. He’s not ready to be the answer to their lack of right-handed power just yet, but he probably will be by this time next year.

Austin Barnes, 3B, Marlins (Jacksonville, AA): 2-4, 3 R, 2B, HR. A former catcher, Barnes repeated High-A ball to start the season because he was blocked organizationally behind the plate. He hit his way out of Jupiter but was still blocked, so the Marlins have been trying him out at second and third base since his promotion. He’s not a big power hitter, but he hits for average, gets on base, and controls the strike zone. His production would be below average at third base but would fit nicely at the keystone, though his ability to play all three positions could be an incredibly valuable asset on a major league roster.

Wilmer Flores, SS, Mets (Las Vegas, AAA): 2-4, R, HR, BB, K. The Mets have zero shortstops in the major leagues that can hit while Flores has an OPS over .900 in Triple-A. No, he’s not really a shortstop, but Ruben Tejada isn’t really an everyday player, so what’s the difference? The Mets needed to see what kind of major league hitter Flores was this year, and they simply haven’t done it. We already know what he can do in Triple-A, and dominating some more there isn’t proving anything.

Trea Turner, SS, Padres (Fort Wayne, A-): 4-4. There wasn’t much else to Turner’s day, just a ho-hum four-single evening, but that’s what we’re going to see form Turner. It’s not an impact bat in terms of power, but it’s his impact legs that will turn those singles into doubles and runs on most nights.

Raimel Tapia, OF, Rockies (Asheville, A-): 2-5, 3 R, HR. Some guys just hit, and Tapia may be the best example. His approach is still ultra-aggressive, but some players are good enough to get away with that. Tapia’s pure hitting ability and bat-to-ball skills are strong enough that he’s not only getting away with it but thriving without any refined plate discipline whatsoever.

Jake Thompson, RHP Rangers via Tigers (Erie, AA): 5 IP, 5 H, R, 2 BB, 5 K. In his final start in the Tigers organization before being traded to the Rangers for Joakim Soria later in the evening, Thompson continued to excel despite being continually challenged by an advanced level of competition. Just 20 years old, I had a scout predict to me this week that Thompson would be in the majors by next season.

Fight Another Day

Jacob Gatewood, SS, Brewers (AZL, R): 0-4, 3 K. We were told that Gatewood would have contact issues, but we didn’t know he was going to have Merrill Hess contact issues. He now has 39 strikeouts in 103 plate appearances and just three extra-base hits to show for his trouble.

Notable Pitching Performances

  • Alex Reyes, RHP, Cardinals (Peoria, A-): 6 IP, 3 H, R, 2 BB, 5 K.
  • Touki Toussaint, RHP, Diamondbacks (AZL, R): 3 IP, 4 H, R, 2 BB, 2 K.
  • Steven Matz, LHP, Mets (Binghamton, AA): 7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, BB, 4 K.
  • Eddie Butler, RHP, Rockies (Tulsa, AA): 5 1/3 IP, 8 H, 6 R (4 ER), 3 BB, 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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