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July 25, 2014

Minor League Update

Games of Thursday, July 24

by Jeff Moore

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Hitter of the Night: Gabriel Guerrero, OF, Mariners (High Desert, A+): 3-4, 3 R, 2B, 2 HR.
Many times with offspring of former players, we get lazy and take the path of least resistance to the easiest comp we can find and compare a player to his father/uncle, etc. When people compare Gabriel to his uncle Vladimir, it’s not laziness. No, he may not be as supremely talented, but few were as gifted as the future Hall of Famer. What we do see, however, are the same mannerisms, styles, and instincts that can only be transferred through DNA. He’s got the Vladdy starter kit, which makes him pretty lucky. What he does with it from here is on him.

Pitcher of the Night: Tyler Anderson, LHP, Rockies (Tulsa, AA): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 8 K.
Primarily a fastball/changeup guy, Anderson gets by on command and control rather than velocity. He’s not a strikeout guy and profiles as a back-end starter, but he should be able to eat innings and keep the ball on the ground at Coors Field.

Best of the Rest

Mark Appel, RHP, Astros (Lancaster, A+): 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 7 K. Much like it’s been far too early to completely write him off like so many have based on an admittedly horrific season, it’s also not enough to see one good start and deem him back to normal or blame his home park because his best start of the year came in his first road start in over a month. It’s going to be a long road to turn things around for Appel, who could be battling anything from physical to mental issues as he adjusts to pro ball, but it’s good to finally see him take a step in the right direction.

Victor Roache, OF, Brewers (Brevard County, A+): 2-4, R, HR, 2 K. Roache’s game is pretty one-dimensional, as is his swing, but he does have plus raw power and continues to run into his share of home runs despite a complete lack of an approach at the plate. He could struggle in Double-A and stagnate there, but there’s a chance of him finding a niche as a platoon outfielder with some pop off the bench.

Charlie Tilson, OF, Cardinals (Springfield, AA): 3-5, R, 2 2B. Tilson recently left the Florida State League behind to see if his small-ball skills would translate at the next level of the minor leagues. Tilson knows his strengths (speed, contact) and weaknesses (power), and adjusts his game appropriately, though he still strikes out more than you’d like for a player in his role. He hit over .305 in High-A ball, but while his BABIP is likely to be higher than average thanks to his speed and percentage of ground balls, it’s not likely to stay as high as .374. If he settles in as a .270 hitter, his aggressive approach may not allow him to get on base enough to hit atop a strong lineup.

Javier Baez, 2B, Cubs (Iowa, AAA): 2-5, R, HR, 2 K. We all remember the rough start to the season for Baez, but his OPS has risen each month, and it’s up to .951 in July. Even as a .250 hitter, Baez could put up upper-echelon numbers for a second baseman if that’s where he ultimately ends up.

Pierce Johnson, RHP, Cubs (Tennessee, AA): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K. The Cubs don’t have a lot of front-of-the-rotation arms in their system, but they do have a number of interesting candidates that can help fill out the back of a rotation down the road. Johnson is one of those candidates as a pitcher who gets by on pitchability and a four-pitch mix and could move quickly.

Brandon Nimmo, OF, Mets (Binghamton, AA): 3-5, R, 2 2B, K. It’s been a rough transition to Double-A for Nimmo, which isn’t shocking. His game is based around getting ahead in the count thanks to an extremely patient eye at the plate. Double-A pitchers don’t have the same control issues that Nimmo took advantage of in the Florida State League, which has led to him being down in the count a lot early on. Nimmo has an extremely polished approach at the plate for a young hitter and will make the necessary adjustments, but it’s not shocking that it’s been a rough month.

Kennys Vargas, 1B, Twins (New Britain, AA): 3-3, 2 R, 2B, HR, CS. Vargas is a big, one-dimensional slugger whose entire value is tied to his bat, though he moves well for a bigger guy and sometimes likes to think he’s a faster baserunner than he really is. He may never be an impact player, but he’s going to hit for enough power to justify some serious playing time.

Jose Berrios, RHP, Twins (New Britain, AA): 7 IP, 3 H, R, BB, 4 K. The knock on Berrios last year was that he lost velocity down the stretch, but here we are at the end of July and he was still sitting 93-95 on Thursday. There are some mechanical issues that cause his command to waver from time to time, but he’s also still just 20, and there’s plenty of time to smooth those things out. He’s going to be very good.

Greg Bird, 1B, Yankees (Tampa, A+): 2-3, R, HR, BB, K. Bird can do some damage to the baseball when he decides to pull the trigger. His ultra-patient approach has gotten him into trouble this year, as he’s often falling behind in the count after taking pitches he should hit then being forced to swing at the pitcher’s pitch. It’s a bat-only profile, but if he can get the process down straight at the plate and get in the 20-25 home run range, his on-base skills should make for a nice offensive player.

Fight Another Day

Tyrell Jenkins, RHP, Cardinals (Palm Beach, A+): 5 IP, 12 H, 6 R, 0 BB, K. You watch Jenkins, with his ideal young pitcher’s frame and lopse arm action, and wonder why he doesn’t miss more bats, but hitters just aren’t fooled by his fastball velocity or movement. It’s a command issue at this point, as he generates weak contact when he hits his spots but becomes very hittable when he misses over the plate and/or up in the strike zone.

Clint Frazier, OF, Indians (Lake County, A-): 0-4, 2 K. So often we want to rush to label prospects. First a guy is struggling, then he’s red-hot. He’s developing well, but then he hits a bump in the road. It’s important to remember that with 19-year-old kids, the roller coaster of development can happen all in one game, and when it does, you go 0-for-4.

Notable Pitching Performances

  • Daniel Norris, LHP, Blue Jays (New Hampshire, AA): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 6 K.
  • Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Blue Jays (GCL, R): 2 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, K.
  • Justin Nicolino, LHP, Marlins (Jacksonville, AA): 7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 BB, K.
  • Henry Owens, LHP, Red Sox (Portland, AA): 4 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 6 K.
  • Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds (Pensacola, AA): 4 1/3 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 7 K.
  • Jonathon Crawford, RHP, Tigers (West Michigan, A-): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K.

Jeff Moore is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jeff's other articles. You can contact Jeff by clicking here

Related Content:  Prospects,  Minor Leagues

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