August 17, 2015
Minor League Update
Games of August 14-16, 2015
Charlie Tilson, OF, Cardinals (Springfield, AA): 4-5, R, K. Tilson’s speed has always been evident and his hit tool has shown the potential to become an all-important second plus tool; the in-game utility of the latter has taken a major step forward this season. His approach has also become more advanced, as he’s not only increasing the patience that will be necessary to satisfy his leadoff profile, but also drastically cutting his strikeout rate. Given that his speed should lead to higher-than-average BABIPs, making contact is essential to Tilson’s hit tool reaching its ceiling. His speed and defense will get him to the big leagues, but without any power to speak of, he’ll need his hit tool to be above average in order to be an everyday player. It’s looking much more this season like that could happen.
Ian Happ, OF, Cubs (South Bend, A-): 3-5, 3 R, HR. Like the highly selected college bats that have come before him recently in the Cubs farm system, Happ has taken quickly to professional baseball without missing a beat. Understandably, the transition to full-season ball hasn’t been quite as smooth, but the important part, the power production, has remained intact. Polish is the name of the game for Happ, who is best known for his all-around talents than any standout tool. The Cubs are working him at all three outfield positions in keeping with their trend toward versatility. With a strong start to his professional career, Happ is poised to move quickly next year, something the Cubs have shown a willingness to allow their top prospects to do.
Wuilmer Becerra, OF, Mets (Savannah, A-): 2-5, R, HR, SB. Becerra is still quite unrefined, but at 20 and in his first try at a full-season league, the gap between in-game production and raw talent hasn’t been as large as many, including myself, would have expected. The raw power has always been there and is a legitimate plus tool, but a big swing and wild approach limits its in-game utility. There’s still a ton of swing and miss in his game, and there’s a decent chance that keeps him from ever realizing his potential, but the first real look we’ve got at the in-game product does give us a few reasons to be optimistic.
Alex Reyes, RHP, Cardinals (Springfield, AA): 6 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 10 K. Like so many dynamic young pitchers with command issues, when Reyes throws strikes he can be completely unhittable. With Reyes, however, the discrepancy is even greater. Even when he’s not throwing a ton of strikes, Reyes is incredibly effective and dominant. He won’t be able to get away with missing in the strike zone as often now that he’s in Double-A, but his plus-plus curveball allows him to get out of the jams he gets himself into. His ability to miss bats can only be rivaled by…
Lucas Giolito, RHP, Nationals (Harrisburg, AA): 7 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 11 K. Giolito has the best stuff of any pitcher in the minors (though Reyes is a close second) and it hasn’t taken him long to make the adjustment to Double-A. He’s been incredibly refined his entire professional career, and while there are still some steps to go, it only took him a few starts to make the adjustment to Double-A hitters. It will now be up to them to adjust back. Good luck.
Michael Chavis, 3B, Red Sox (Greenville, A-): 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, K. Chavis’ entire season has been hit-or-miss, which unfortunately describes his ability at the plate as well. The power production has been as advertised from the former first-round pick, but it’s come with a wild approach and a ton of strikeouts, which are concerning at such a low level. The talent is obviously there, and at just 19, there’s plenty of time for him to figure out how to put it to better use, but this could be a player who needs a couple of thousand at-bats in the minors to figure it out.
Jesse Winker, OF, Reds (Pensacola, AA): 2-4, R, HR. After a power outage for most of the season for a player who needs it to be effective, Winker has turned it on strong in August, almost doubling his season HR total during the first half of the month. There was never reason for a terrible amount of concern, given his raw power, production last season, and overall hitting prowess, but as a corner outfielder, he’ll need to keep hitting home runs to reach his ceiling as a first-division regular. Still, with plus raw power and high contact rates, there’s a good chance he gets there.
Christian Walker, 1B, Orioles (Norfolk, AAA): 2-3, R, HR, BB, K. Walker has gained traction in a weak Orioles system, but there are holes in his game that keep him from being a major centerpiece for the organization’s future. He’s locked in as a first baseman, which means the bat will really have to play, specifically the power. He does produce in that department, with the major question being whether or not his aggressive approach will allow it to play as frequently as the Orioles will need in game action. Assuming Chris Davis is in another uniform next season, Walker should get a crack at replacing him, but it’ll be a step down in terms of production.
Dansby Swanson, SS, Diamondbacks (Hillsboro, SS): 2-6, 2 R, 2B, 2 BB, 3 K. After signing late and then getting hit in the face by a pitch while getting re-acclimated to game speed, Swanson got back on the field this weekend for the first time as a professional after being selected first overall two months ago. At this point, how he does isn’t really relevant so much as him being out there getting reps and getting used to professional ball so that he can hit the ground running next season.
Cody Reed, LHP, Reds (Pensacola, AA): 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 10 K. Reed’s spike in strikeouts has continued since he was acquired by the Reds, but so has his increased walk rate. Both have jumped, but the Reds will take it so long as he’s mowing down hitters. With a low-three-quarter release point and a good slider, Reed can be death to lefties when he’s on.
Chance Sisco, C, Orioles (Bowie, AA): 4-4, 2 R, 2B, BB. Sisco has hit at every level of professional baseball, and this now includes his recent promotion to Double-A. The power hasn’t kicked in yet, and while it won’t be his most valuable tool, he should have enough to keep pitchers honest. He’s likely not a catcher—though the Orioles believe he can stay there—but even at another position his bat should play.
Matt Olson, 1B, Athletics (Midland, AA): 3-4, 2 R, 2 2B, HR, K. It’s been a rollercoaster season for Olson, who started out hot, struggled for two months, and has been back on his game since the start of July. The power has been inconsistent, with the one constant being his ability to get on base in spite of his inability to hit his way on at times. The overall result is about what we expected: low batting average, strong on-base skills and strong power results, though lower than the obscene numbers he put up in the California League last season.
Michael Feliz, RHP, Astros (Corpus Christi, AA): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K. Feliz has a big power arm and a good idea of how to use it, though there are still some questions about whether his long-term home is in a rotation or a bullpen. He’s done some of both for the Astros and could excel in either role.
Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates (Indianapolis, AAA): 5 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7 K. Well, Glasnow was throwing more strikes since returning from injury and dominating Double-A, but in a recent promotion to Triple-A, he’s lost that ability once again. It comes and goes with Glasnow, who is still refining his mechanics and learning to repeat them. Inconsistency is just part of the package for the tall righty, who is still extremely talented but is also still very much putting it all together. He’s in Triple-A, but he really isn’t an option to help the Pirates down the stretch this season given his up-and-down nature. That said, he’s still just as much a part of their future as he’s ever been.