August 18, 2014
Minor League Update
Games of August 15-17
Friday, August 15th
Jesmuel Valentin, 2B, Dodgers (Great Lakes, A-): 3-4, 2 R, 3B, HR. Valentin is getting his footing back this season after a struggle last year in his first full season and is holding his own as a 20-year-old in the Midwest League.
Gabriel Guerrero, OF, Mariners (High Desert, A+): 3-4, R, HR. Guerrero is flashing the power that was expected of him, though at least part of the credit goes to playing in High Desert. There is no knocking his bat-to-ball skills, a genetic gift from his future Hall of Famer uncle, and it may just be good enough for him to get away with his aggressive approach. He also had three more hits and another home run on Saturday.
Brandon Nimmo, OF, Mets (Binghamton, AA): 2-5, R, HR, 2 K, SB. Nimmo struggled to make the initial adjustment to Double-A pitching, but even while his hits weren’t falling, he was getting on base. A cerebral hitter, he’s made the expected adjustments and has hit .333 over his past nine games.
Andrew Knapp, C, Phillies (Lakewood, A-): 3-4, 2 R, 2 2B. Knapp has rebounded nicely from a rough attempt to jump to the FSL with a solid season at Lakewood. He projects to have more home run power than he’s shown so far, but Lakewood’s home stadium is a difficult park for hitters. Another attempt in Clearwater could help turn some of his doubles into home runs.
Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds (Pensacola, AA): 5 IP, 4 H, R, 2 BB, 5 K. Stephenson still has an incredibly special arm, but his lack of command and need for a better changeup make the bullpen a possibility. It may depend on how quickly the Reds want to move him. He’s just 21, so there’s plenty of time to fix those issues if the Reds give him the time in the minors to develop.
Raul Mondesi, SS, Royals (Wilmington, A+): 1-3, R, HR, BB, K. Near the end of a second rough offensive season in a row, Mondesi is coming on strong in the power department, homering in four straight games last week, and then again on Friday. Power will never be his game, but it’s good to see the raw abilities coming out to give opposing pitchers something to worry about.
Saturday, August 16th
Jaycob Brugman, OF, Athletics (Stockton, A+): 4-5, 4 R, 2B, HR, SB. Brugman handled his full-season debut nicely in Beloit this year and earned himself a promotion to Stockton. As expected, his power took off in the California League, though it was hardly nonexistent before. As a corner outfielder, he’ll need every bit of his power to be legitimate.
Luke Voit, 1B, Cardinals (Palm Beach, A+): 2-4, 2 R, HR. Voit offers some power, but he’s a completely different hitter when facing left-handers compared to righties. It’s a tough profile as a right-handed-hitting first baseman with potential platoon issues, but power is always attractive.
Eloy Jimenez, OF, Cubs (AZL, R): 2-4, R, HR, K. Jimenez projects to hit for power, which he’ll need as a big-bodied corner outfielder, but that’s going to take time. He’s just 17 and already stateside after receiving a huge bonus from the Cubs last summer, but they have plenty of time to be patient with him.
Mike Papi, OF, Indians (Lake County, A-): 3-5, 2 R, 2B, HR. It’s been a struggle for Papi making the transition to pro ball and he doesn’t project as a middle-of-the-order impact bat, but he should be a major leaguer. His bat will have to carry him with his corner profile, but it should be enough once he makes the adjustment to better pitching. He had two more doubles on Sunday, so perhaps that transition is taking place as we speak.
JaCoby Jones, SS, Pittsburgh (West Virginia, A-): 3-4, R, HR. Jones continues to hit for power from the shortstop position, but there are questions about his hit tool, as evidenced by his high strikeout totals, and he’ll have to move off the position eventually. Still, it’s an interesting package.
Ronald Guzman, 1B, Rangers (Hickory, A+): 4-5, 2 R, 2B, HR. Despite repeating Low-A ball, Guzman is still struggling to make consistent contact and allow his raw power to play in games. He’s hitting just .206 with just six home runs and almost a strikeout per game. He’s still quite young and the raw tools are still there, but this is his second straight disappointing season.
Sunday, August 17th
Kyle Schwarber, LF, Cubs (Daytona, A+): 2-5, 2 R, 2B, 3B, 3 K. Schwarber has finally come back down to earth in the Florida State League, but it’s not uncommon to see college hitters wear down toward the end of a long season during their draft year. Even with his (relative) struggles at Daytona, he’s still controlling the strike zone well, which is a positive sign for the future.
Chris Anderson, RHP, Dodgers (Rancho Cucamunga, A+): 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, BB, 10 K. Anderson’s biggest issue to this point has been his fastball command, which has led to some inflated numbers and a high walk rate. He’s missed plenty of bats, however, and if he can get the command reined in, he could be an innings-eating starter. Until then, however, he profiles as a power-armed reliever.
Clayton Blackburn, RHP, Giants (Richmond, AA): 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 11 K. Blackburn doesn’t have the high-end arsenal of some of his more highly-touted Richmond rotation-mates, but he’s currently a better pitcher due to his command and ability to throw strikes. His stuff plays up because of his pitchability, and he’s going to be ready to eat some innings soon.
Andrew Heaney, LHP, Marlins (New Orleans, AAA): 8 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K. After his struggles in the majors and some hiccups once back in Triple-A, Heaney is getting back to his dominant ways. A September call-up is almost certain.
Raimel Tapia, OF, Rockies (Asheville, A-): 3-4, R, HR. Tapia continues to do special things in his first try at full-season ball, and he could move quickly once he learns to tap into his power. He’s still raw in many aspects of the game, but there’s no denying his hit tool.