April 23, 2015
Minor League Update
Games of Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Hitter of the Night: Monte Harrison, OF, Brewers (Wisconsin, A-): 2-3, 3 R, 2 HR, BB, K. The 2014 second-round pick delivered a strong showing in 50 games at rookie ball last summer. However, it’s been a rough start for Harrison in his first taste of full-season ball. He’s been exploited by more advanced pitchers and hasn’t shown the same patient approach he did in the complex league. His size and quick-twitch athleticism give him the potential for a premium power/speed combo, but having split time with football as an amateur has left him raw and unrefined at present. There will be days like this, where Harrison looks like the best player on the field and others where he looks lost, making for a long, but potentially rewarding developmental road for he and the Brewers.
Pitcher of the Night: Brent Honeywell, RHP, Rays (Bowling Green, A-): 6 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 7 K. Honeywell’s arm is well-noted, but a strong start to being the 2015 season has shown more pitchability quicker than perhaps was expected from him. He’s primarily fastball/slider at present, though that will be more than enough to handle the Midwest League. If he continues to meet little resistance at Bowling Green, he could see a mid-season promotion to the Florida State League.
Best of the Rest
Eddie Rosario, OF, Twins (Rochester, AAA): 2-5, 2 R, 2B, HR, BB, K. Rosario sports an intriguing collection of tools, mainly centered around his quick-twitch athleticism that generates plus bat speed and up-the-middle defensive skills. The refinement of those skills, however, particularly with the bat, haven’t manifested itself as quickly or as dramatically as the Twins had hoped. He’s capable of putting together games like this, but a big hitch in his trigger at the plate, coupled with an aggressive and oftentimes wild approach, leave him susceptible to advanced pitching. Despite his athleticism, he’s also not a strong defender at any of the positions he’s tried on the field. He still does things that can help a ball club, but he’s likely destined for a bench role where he can be best used in small, advantageous stints.
Drew Ward, 3B, Nationals (Potomac, A+): 4-5, 2 R, 2B. It’s easy to see why scouts like Ward, with the prototypical size that just screams third baseman. Getting that size moving, however, proves to be a difficult task for the Nationals prospect. He has moderate power because of his strength, but his bat is slow and is going to struggle against better velocity. The same goes for his defense. He has the arm for third base and catches what he gets to, but he has fall down range and doesn’t charge well. He’s already swinging and missing at high rates and hasn’t yet shown the in-game power to make up for it.
Ben Lively, RHP, Phillies (Reading, AA): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K. Lively came on strong last season, handling the California League in impressive fashion. Double-A was more of a test for him, and now, after being acquired in the offseason by the Phillies, he’s attacking the level again. Our own Al Skorupa got a look at him last week, noting that Lively “fills the zone with a four-pitch mix of near-average pitches.” That’s not a sexy profile, but it’s one that usually results in a big-league career, albeit one at the back end of a rotation or in middle relief. Still, in exchange for Marlon Byrd, that’s not a bad return for the Phillies.
Braden Shipley, RHP, Diamondbacks (Mobile, AA): 5 IP, 4 H, R, 3 BB, 6 K. Shipley continued the hot start to his season with a third straight solid outing, continuing to torment the Southern League with a plus-fastball/plus-changeup combination. That’s pretty advanced for Double-A, and it’s enough that it could force the hand of the naturally aggressive Diamondbacks. In order to reach his ceiling, he still needs to work on the development of his breaking ball, but the makings are all there for a quality big-league starting pitcher.
Tyler Kolek, RHP, Marlins (Greensboro, A-): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K. Kolek is still raw and unrefined, but his fastball is potent enough to dominate Low-A hitters as a stand-alone offering. As long as he’s in the strike zone with it, he’ll get away with missing his spots. That’s not incentive for the Marlins to push him more quickly. Fastball command will be the make-or-break development step in Kolek’s career, as that kind of velocity with plus command would make him a viable big-league option without anything else to speak of. He does, however, also need to greatly improve his secondary offerings to reach his ceiling, which is why his development will be slow, methodical, and necessary.
Phil Ervin, OF, Reds (Daytona, A+): 2-3, 2 R, 2B, HR, BB. Ervin had a disappointing season in 2014 in Low-A, but the Reds promoted him to their new Florida State League affiliate anyway. The early returns have been good, as Ervin has showed off both sides of the power/speed combination that made him a first-rounder in 2013. He’s also cut down on his strikeouts thus far, though it’s still quite early.
Elier Hernandez, OF, Royals (Lexington, A-): 3-4, R, 2B, HR. Scouts have been touting Hernandez as a breakout candidate for a few years now, ourselves included. He stumbled last year in his first taste of full-season ball and has returned to Low-A Lexington to give the level another try. Off to a rough start, Hernandez’s struggles are largely due to an aggressive approach. He posted a 99-to-16 strikeout to walk ratio last season and is at 14-to-1 thus far this year. The raw power is intriguing, however, if he can ever manage to put it to use during games.
Tennessee Smokies Hitters, Cubs (AA): The Smokies won 13-4 and collected 18 hits, so it was one of those all-around goofy minor league games where things got out of control. Having a 2-3-4 of Albert Almora, Kyle Schwarber, and Dan Vogelbach doesn’t hurt either. The trio went 2-for-4, 4-for-6, and 2-for-5, respectively, with Vogelbach chipping in with a double and a home run.
Fight Another Day
Lucas Sims, RHP, Braves (Carolina, A+): 3 2/3 IP, 4 H, 4 R (2 ER), 4 BB, 6 K. After a strong season in 2013, Sims has underwhelmed despite strong stuff. He has the velocity and breaking stuff to miss bats, but doesn't miss nearly as many as you'd expect and has now posted two straight weak starts in his replay of the Carolina League.
Tim Anderson, SS, White Sox (Birmingham, AA): 0-4, 2 K. Between the tail end of last year and this season, Anderson now has 96 at-bats without drawing a walk. Of course, he’s also hitting .344 over that stretch. It’s an incredible stretch in many ways. He’s an elite talent, for sure, but he’s toying with things that are simply unsustainable.
Notable Pitching Performances