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August 7, 2014

Minor League Update

Games of Wednesday, August 6

by Jeff Moore

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Hitter of the Night: Greg Bird, 1B, Yankees (Trenton, AA): 4-4, 3 R, 2 HR.
Bird has the potential to be a well-above-average offensive player because of his combination of power and plate discipline. He gets himself in trouble by being too patient at times, taking pitches that he should be driving. This was his first big game since being promoted to Double-A, where pitchers can expose a patient approach with more ability to throw strikes. As he develops a better plan and learns which pitches to drive and which to lay off of, he could see his power spike and max out close to 25 home runs per year.

Pitcher of the Night: Jesse Biddle, LHP, Phillies (Clearwater, A+): 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 5 K.
Biddle gets a bit of an asterisk here because he’s back in the Florida State League after making 42 Double-A starts the past two years, but after leaving the Reading Phillies due to mental issues dealing with his struggles, it’s just good to see Biddle back on the field and having success. The Phillies haven’t announced what’s next for Biddle, but right now it’s most important for him to have success, with his development taking a back seat for the time being.

Best of the Rest

Jason Hursh, RHP, Braves (Mississippi, AA): 5 1/3 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K. The Braves are still using Hursh as a starter, but he’s not missing anywhere near enough bats despite a low-to-mid-90s fastball. His secondary stuff isn’t good enough to remain a starter at higher levels, but the arm works well enough that he should be effective in a bullpen role.

Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers (Chattanooga, AA): 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2 K. It’s only 14 games, but for those of us waiting to see just how much of Seager’s incredible first half had to do with playing in the California League, we’re finding out that it apparently wasn’t all that significant. It took Seager this long to hit his first home run in Double-A, but everything else has been there. If you can hit, you can hit anywhere.

Jose Urena, RHP, Marlins (Jacksonville, AA): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 5 K. Urena doesn’t miss a ton of bats, but he does throw a ton of strikes and is pitching as well as ever right now. He’s gone three straight starts without giving up a run.

Aaron Nola, RHP, Phillies (Reading, AA): 5 IP, 6 H, R, BB, 4 K. The Phillies challenged Nola with an aggressive assignment straight from the SEC to the Florida State League. Nola handled the challenge well, so the Phillies pushed him further, with the right-hander making his first Double-A start on Wednesday. This should be his final destination for the season, but he’s maintained his stuff through the end of a long season and continues to throw strikes and do what he does best, which is a positive sign for his development. He’ll continue to be a fast-mover.

Austin Meadows, OF, Pirates (West Virginia, A-): 2-3, R, HR. Much was expected of Meadows at the start of this season, but injuries derailed things from the start. Still playing catchup, Meadows is doing what he’s always done: hit.

Nick Williams, OF, Rangers (Myrtle Beach, A+): 2-3, 2 R, HR. Our guys that have seen Williams assure me that his approach (111 strikeouts to just 11 walks on the season) won’t slow Williams down because his hit tool is good enough to overcome it. Those players are few and far between, but there’s no reason Williams can’t be one of the few able to get away with that kind of approach. They also assure me that the power is coming, which will be necessary to overcome making a lot of outs. It’s a tough profile to pull off, but there are guys in the majors getting it done this way, and Williams’ ability to put the barrel of the bat on the baseball is among the best in the minors. He’ll be one of the most interesting guys to watch make the jump to more advanced pitching in Double-A, most likely next season.

Jaime Schultz, RHP, Rays (Charlotte, A+): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 4 K. If you want to get promoted as a 5-foot-10 right-hander who was selected in the 14th round, you have to do extreme things like strike out 14.1 batters per nine innings. That’s exactly what Schultz did in Low-A ball, and he got rewarded with his FSL debut on Wednesday. He has a live arm that touched 95, though his fastball command is sub-par. He also featured a two-seamer with a lot of life and a curveball that flashed plus potential when he didn’t overthrow it. It’s a very interesting arm that will continue to miss bats, and he could be a legit starter if he can command his fastball better.

Fight Another Day

Roberto Osuna, RHP, Blue Jays (Dunedin, A+): 2 2/3 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 3 K. Osuna has battled injuries and has bounced around the Jays farm system the past two years, but after showing that he’s healthy, the Jays bumped him up to the Florida State League. It hasn’t gone well in two starts, though he’s missing plenty of bats in the short sample, so that’s a good sign. It’s a live arm that is still a long way away.

Corey Littrell, LHP, Cardinals (Palm Beach, A+): 7 IP, 8 H, 5 R (3 ER), BB, 6 K. The newest Cardinals prospect deserved a better fate on Wednesday, as he pitched significantly better than his line would suggest, suffering from poor defense and terrible umpiring behind the plate. With a fastball that tops out around 91 mph (though with good cutting action), Littrell’s ceiling isn’t huge, but he flashed a plus curveball and a diving changeup that could be a plus pitch as well.

Notable Pitching Performances

  • Francis Martes, RHP, Astros (GCL, R): 3 IP, 2 H, 2 R (0 ER), BB, 5 K (acquired in Jarred Cosart deal)
  • Dylan Covey, RHP, Athletics (Stockton, A+): 5 IP, 9 H, 4 R, BB, 6 K.
  • Braden Shipley, RHP, Diamondbacks (Mobile, AA): 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 5 K.
  • Ben Lively, RHP, Reds (Pensacola, AA): 6 IP, 6 H, 5 R, BB, 3 K.
  • Rafael De Paula, RHP, Yankees (Lake Elsinore, A+): 5 1/3 IP, 8 H, 4 R, BB, 8 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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