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August 14, 2014

Minor League Update

Games of Wednesday, August 13

by Jeff Moore

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Hitter of the Night: JaCoby Jones, SS, Pirates (West Virginia, A-): 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 K.
There are two ways to look at Jones. On the one hand, he’s on pace to be a 20/20 shortstop, which is impressive and rare. On the other hand, he’s probably not going to remain a shortstop by the time he gets to the majors and there are enough questions about his pull-happy, aggressive hit tool to wonder how much his raw power and athleticism will play. Jones does a lot of things well on a baseball field, so there’s a future here, but his adjustments between now and the big leagues will determine his role and his ceiling.

Pitcher of the Night: Julio Urias, LHP, Dodgers (Rancho Cucamunga, A+): 5 IP, 6 H, R, BB, 9 K.
This is the California League, yet Urias, who has been 18 years old for all of two days now, has a 2.86 ERA through 72 1/3 innings of work. If he were an American teenager, he’d be entering his senior of high school. Instead, he’s flashing three present average-or-better pitches and dominating the toughest pitchers’ league in the world.

Best of the Rest

Nick Tropeano, RHP, Astros (Oklahoma City, AAA): 7 IP, 6 H, R, BB, 7 K. Tropeano has a back-end ceiling and won’t be anchoring the Astros rotation anytime soon, but his plus changeup has helped him make up for only average velocity once again at a new level, allowing him to continue to have success. And given some of the pitchers the Astros have run out there this year, it’s hard to believe Tropeano won’t get a chance soon.

Dwight Smith, Jr., Blue Jays (Dunedin, A+): 2-2, 3 R, 2B, 3 BB. Because of his left-field profile and lack of home run power, this is the kind of production that Smith will need to have to be an everyday player. He’s not going to be perfect at the plate too often, but drawing walks, hitting the gaps, and scoring runs will allow him to make up for not having power at a power position. If not, he’ll be a tweener or fourth outfielder, but one who has a spot on a major league roster.

Aaron Blair, RHP, Diamondbacks (Mobile, AA): 6 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 3 K. The Diamondbacks have pushed Blair aggressively, and the 2013 first-rounder is currently at his third full-season level this year and still holding his own. The arsenal isn’t that of a high-ceiling prospect, but he’s built like a starter with an arsenal to go with it and is mostly a finished product without too much development left in his game. He could continue to move quickly.

Amir Garrett, LHP, Reds (Dayton, A-): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 12 K. Normally strong numbers from a 22-year-old in Low-A ball would be taken in context, but Garrett is behind the developmental curve because he’s been splitting his time on the mound with the college basketball court. Well, that’s no more, as Garrett is pitching full-time now, which should allow his development to progress quickly. His left arm has as much potential as anyone’s in the Reds system, and that includes Robert Stephenson.

Hunter Dozier, 3B, Royals (Northwest Arkansas, AA): 2-4, 2 R, 2B, HR. Despite being built like a power hitter, the power has yet to show up in games for Dozier the way many scouts believe it will. We could chalk some of that up to starting the year in Wilmington, but since his promotion, he hasn’t hit much at all. The profile is still strong and he should be an everyday third baseman with plenty of power once he makes the adjustment.

Sean Manaea, LHP, Royals (Wilmington, A+): 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 7 K. Manaea has a pair of plus pitches that help him miss bats and generate weak contact at the same time, but the more impressive part about his performance on Wednesday is that he threw strikes, an issue that has plagued him this season.

Carlos Rodon, LHP, White Sox (Winston-Salem, A+): 3 2/3 IP, 3 H, R (0 ER), BB, 7 K. Rodon has been pushed quickly to High-A ball and could be pushed further if he has the innings left in his arm this season. For now, he’s throwing strikes and missing bats, which is all we want to see from him at this point.

Notable Pitching Performances

  • Marco Gonzales, LHP, Cardinals (Memphis, AAA): 5 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 2 K.
  • Parker Bridwell, RHP, Orioles (Frederick, A+): 6 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 9 K.
  • Aaron Nola, RHP, Phillies (Reading, AA): 4 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, BB, 2 K.
  • Edwin Escobar, LHP, Red Sox (Pawtucket, AAA): 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, BB, 6 K.
  • Kohl Stewart, RHP, Twins (Cedar Rapids, A-): 4 IP, 3 H, R, 0 BB, 4 K.

Final Note: On Wednesday, the game’s top prospect, Byron Buxton, collided with teammate Mike Kvasnicka on a fly ball in the outfield, lost consciousness on the field for an extended period of time, and was carried off on a stretcher. The news ended up being okay (relatively speaking) in that Buxton suffered only a concussion and no broken bones or other physical injuries, but a scary scene played out on the field over the course of about a half-hour that included an ambulance being driven out to carry Buxton off. It’s been a rough season for Buxton both with injuries that have kept him off the field and struggles upon his return, but that means little in the context of events like this. The severity of the concussion will determine if he will return during the minor league regular season or if we will next see him in the Arizona Fall League, but in the meantime the MLU wishes Buxton all the best in his recovery.

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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