July 28, 2014
Minor League Update
Games of July 25-27
Friday, July 25
Matt Olson, 1B, Athletics (Stockton, A+): 1-3, 2 R, HR, 2 BB, 2 K. This is a very Matt Olson day, taking five plate appearances and achieving one of the three true outcomes each time. That’s Olson’s game, hitting home runs and drawing walks. The strikeouts will keep his average down, but as long as he’s walking in almost 20 percent of his at-bats and slugging over .500, no one will care. It will be interesting to see how his power holds up when he transitions to Double-A Midland, as that jump has been trouble for A’s power prospects in the past, but his power is more legitimate than many of his predecessors’.
Tyrone Taylor, OF, Brewers (Brevard County, A+): 3-5, 2 R, HR, SB. Taylor still flashes tools across the board, but his ceiling will depend on just how many of his doubles, of which there are a ton, turn into home runs. We won’t see it this year, as the FSL isn’t the best place to develop power, but next year will be a strong test to see if he’s going to be more of a leadoff-type hitter (which he doesn’t quite have the plate discipline for) or a middle-of-the-order hitter. Either way, it’s a nice potential package.
Addison Russell, SS, Cubs (Tennessee, AA): 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 K. It’s been a strange year for Russell, who was just getting his season going when he went down with an injury, then returned only to get traded and have to get going again. He’s finally settled down in one place now, and he’s heating up.
Kyle Crick, RHP, Giants (Richmond, AA): 6 IP, 5 H, R, 4 BB, 11 K. It’s taken most of the season, but Crick is beginning to figure out Double-A. He still walks far too many batters, but it doesn’t typically keep him from being effective, just from working deep into games. With high strikeout totals and extra baserunners, he’ll never eat many innings, but he’s trending in the right direction over his last seven starts toward at least being able to remain a starter.
Bradley Zimmer, OF, Indians (Mahoning Valley, SS): 3-5, R, 2 2B, SB. Zimmer likely won’t be a game-changer in a lineup, but he’s off to a good start in his professional career and profiles as an everyday player down the road.
Lucas Giolito, RHP, Nationals (Hagerstown, A-): 6 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K. The talent has always been upper-echelon, but there were questions surrounding Giolito’s development and health when the season started. Those questions are all but gone as he finishes up his first full season and is working deeper into games, and he’s on his way to being one of the (if not the) best pitching prospects in the game.
Saturday, July 26
A.J. Reed, 1B, Astros (Tri-City, SS): 2-2, 3 R, HR, 3 BB. It’s surprising not to see the Astros challenge Reed with a slightly more aggressive assignment, given his success in short-season ball. He’s an accomplished collegiate hitter who should be hitting well against much younger competition, though his time split with his pitching responsibilities in college could factor into things. Still, if the Astros so choose, he could probably handle an assignment to full-season ball for the final month of the season.
Renato Nunez, 3B, Athletics (Stockton, A+): 2-4, R, HR, K. Nunez has broken out with his power this year, but it would be nice to see him draw a few more walks, because two-true-outcome hitters aren’t terribly successful. He will be in for a real test in Double-A, where the pitching will be more prepared to expose his aggressiveness and challenge his power.
Jose Peraza, 2B, Braves (Mississippi, AA): 3-4, 3 R, 2B, K, SB. There’s always concern with players who have virtually no power, like Peraza, about how they will transition to facing more advanced pitchers who aren’t afraid to pound the strike zone against them. Peraza still isn’t striking fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers, but his small-ball approach is working just as well in Double-A as it was in the lower minors, which is a good sign for his potential development.
Javier Baez, 2B, Cubs (Iowa, AAA): 1-3, R, HR, BB, K (Game 1); 2-4, R, 2B, HR, 2 K. We all know about Baez’s slow start to the season, and he’s now as hot as he was cold. Like most things, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle, which likely means a moderate batting average, slightly below-average on-base skills, and a ton of power. That all makes for a damn good second baseman, if that’s where he ends up.
Aaron Blair, RHP, Diamondbacks (Mobile, AA): 7 IP, 4 H, R, BB, 7 K. Blair has taken well to Double-A after keeping his head afloat in the California League. Since making the jump, he’s allowed just two runs in three starts and walked just two batters. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, which makes his strikeout numbers (23 in 20 2/3 innings) a positive sign.
Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians (Columbus, AAA): 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, BB. This isn’t Lindor’s game, but games like this remind us that he has slightly more power than defense-focused players like Elvis Andrus, the player to whom he’s most often compared.
Dilson Herrera, 2B, Mets (Binghamton, AA): 3-5, 3 R, HR. I’ve liked Herrera since I saw him last year but haven’t been sold on him as a surefire everyday player. The jump to Double-A was supposed to bring out his flaws, but instead he’s played better than ever. He’s even increased his walk rate and power since the promotion. I’m still not certain that he’s a guy the Mets should be planning their future around, but he’s getting closer.
Sunday, July 27
Julio Urias, LHP, Dodgers (Rancho Cucamunga, A+): 4 IP, 2 H, R (0 ER), 2 BB, 6 K. It’s tough to gauge Urias, who is accomplishing things at a younger age than we have seen in some time, but whose arsenal doesn’t necessarily translate into a frontline ceiling. Urias is a fantastic prospect and what he’s doing is impressive, but we can’t extrapolate that past where his stuff projects him to end up. Still, despite the innings restriction the Dodgers have him on, you can’t deny the talent of a 17-year-old having success in the toughest league for pitchers in all of professional baseball.
Jose Osuna, 1B, Pirates (Bradenton, A+): 4-4, R, 3 2B. Osuna doesn’t get a ton of love on prospect lists because of the Pirates deep farm system and his first-base-only profile that relies almost exclusively on his bat. He also hasn’t produced the power numbers that he needs for that profile, but he projects to have more power than he’s shown thus far. It likely won’t be enough to ever be an everyday player, but power is hard to come by, and he has enough of it to keep things interesting.
Amir Garrett, LHP, Reds (Dayton, A-): 6 1/3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 10 K. It’s still going to be a long battle for Garrett, who is well behind most players his age on the developmental spectrum because of his college basketball commitments, but the arm remains as intriguing as any in the minors and he’s handled a full year in full-season ball quite well for an unrefined player.
Devon Travis, 2B, Tigers (Erie, AA): 4-4, 3 R, 3B, CS. Well, we couldn’t really expect him to keep hitting .350, but now that he’s come back down to Earth, it’s nice to see that Travis is still a productive player. He hits well enough and has enough on-base skills and just enough pop to profile as a potential everyday player at second base.