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September 2, 2014

Minor League Update

Games of August 29-September 1

by Jeff Moore

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Friday, August 29th

Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Cubs (Daytona, A+): 2-4, R, HR, 2 K. The Florida State League is a tough place to develop as a power hitter, so it shouldn’t be too much of a concern that his home run total actually dropped from 19 last year to 16 this year. In fact, Vogelbach’s total tied for the league lead. Vogelbach’s raw power is very real, and he’s a good enough hitter to allow it to play in game action. He could explode next year, and that’s a comment on his power potential and not his waistline.

Steven Matz, LHP, Mets (Binghamton, AA): 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 10 K. Matz took his swing-and-miss stuff from St. Lucie to Binghamton and was just as successful at the new level as he was at the old one. In a system full of strong arms, Matz may be have the highest ceiling of any pitcher not nicknamed Thor.

Aaron Nola, RHP, Phillies (Reading, AA): 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K. The Phillies were extremely aggressive with Nola this summer, but he handled each test as well as could have been expected. He throws a ton of strikes and commands multiple pitches, and he missed plenty of bats until he got to Double-A. He should start back at Reading next season, but he could reach the majors by the end of 2015.

Saturday, August 30th

A.J. Reed, 1B, Astros (Quad Cities, A-): 3-5, 2 R, 2B, HR, K. Reed capped off a strong first professional season with a solid last month and a strong showing in full-season ball. Seven home runs in 33 games in the Midwest League is the kind of power he’ll need to have in order to be a first baseman, though his approach diminished against better pitching. Still, as a player who shared time between the batter’s box and the mound through college, he has room to grow as a hitter as he gains experience.

Javier Guerra, SS, Red Sox (GCL, R): 4-5, R, 2 2B. Guerra is still extremely raw with the bat, but at just 18, he shows plus bat speed, which gives him the potential for more offensive production if he can rein in his extremely aggressive approach at the plate. In the field, however, Guerra is extremely fluid and has a plus-plus arm that can make any throw in the infield.

Phil Ervin, OF, Reds (Dayton, A-): 2-4, 3 R, HR, K. After a great short stint after getting selected in the first round last year, Ervin struggled in his first taste of full-season baseball. The power production didn’t show up the way many had expected, though his doubles total (33) does suggest that there may be more there than we’ve seen thus far.

Steven Moya, OF, Tigers (Erie, AA): 2-4, 2 R, HR, BB, K. The jury is still out on Moya’s long-term potential, but every home run he hits (and more importantly every walk he takes) brings him a step closer to major-league success. The raw power is potent, but whether or not it will play against better competition remains to be seen.

Sunday, August 31st

Matt Olson, 1B, Athletics (Stockton, A+): 2-4, R, 2B, HR, BB, K. We see some crazy seasons in the California League from time to time, but it’s hard to ignore 31 doubles, 37 home runs, and 117 walks, no matter the offensive environment. It will be interesting to see how his hit tool translates to Midland, where many a prospect has struggled to make the transition, but there’s no denying what he accomplished this season.

Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers (Chattanooga, AA): 2-3, 2 R, HR, BB. The home run production may have dropped off after he was promoted to Double-A, but he still got his power in the form of doubles, hitting 16 in 37 games.

Bradley Zimmer, OF, Indians (Lake County, A-): 2-3, 3 R, 2B, HR, 2 BB. After a strong performance in the short-season New York-Penn League, Zimmer got a brief taste of full-season ball and took advantage of it. He’ll probably return there to start next season but could move quickly.

Justin Nicolino, LHP, Marlins (Jacksonville, AA): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K. Nicolino doesn’t have the highest ceiling because of his lack of swing-and-miss stuff, but he throws a ton of strikes and commands three pitches well. He’ll have a big-league career, probably as a starter, but he’ll settle into the back end of a rotation somewhere.

Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds (Pensacola, AA): 7 IP, 3 H, R, 3 BB, 9 K. It’s been a relatively disappointing season for Stephenson, though that’s at least partially because of the expectations that surrounded him at its beginning. His command is still subpar and he allows far too many free base runners, something that got him in trouble this year, but the power stuff that made him a top prospect hasn’t wavered.

Monday, September 1st

Clint Coulter, C, Brewers (Wisconsin, A-): 3-5, 2 R, 2 HR. Twenty home run seasons don’t come from 20-year-olds in full-season leagues very often. Nor do 20 homer seasons from catchers at any level. And nor do seasons with on-base percentages over .400. Coulter did all three of those things this season. He may not stick behind the plate, but the bat should play anywhere.

D.J. Peterson, 3B, Mariners (Jackson, AA): 4-6, 2 R, 2 HR, K. In a game where power is increasingly hard to come by, 30-homer seasons (31 to be exact) like Peterson’s stand out. In a Mariners organization that has struggled to develop hitters, it stands out even more. Jack Z and company have rushed prospects to the majors before, and Peterson isn’t giving them much of a reason to take it slow with him.

Spencer Kieboom, C, Nationals (Hagerstown, A-): 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR. Kieboom has power potential and improved his plate discipline as the season went along. He’s 23 and was in Low-A ball, so he’ll need to develop quickly to remain a prospect, but a stint in the AFL this fall could help that process.

Nomar Mazara, OF, Rangers (Frisco, AA): 2-3, R, HR, BB. Mazara handled his first taste of full-season ball so well this year that the Rangers jumped him all the way to Double-A before his 20th birthday. He more than held his own in his short stint at Frisco and should return there next season, though he may not be there for long.

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