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April 13, 2010

Future Shock Blog

Minor League Update: Games of April 12

by Kevin Goldstein

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A Single Short of Something Special

Logan Morrison, 1B, Florida Marlins (Triple-A New Orleans)
Monday's stats: 3-for-5, 2B, 3B, HR (1), 2 R, 3 RBI

Morrison might have lost the Florida big league first base job to Gaby Sanchez this spring, but he's still the team's man of the future at that position. He's taken the temporary setback well, just missing a cycle on Monday night while grounding out in his final at-bat of the game. Now 7-for-19 in five games for the Zephyrs with three walks, Morrison has a major league-ready approach and swing right now. He'll just need to wait a bit for the opportunity.

Biding His Time

Dan Hudson, RHP, Chicago White Sox (Triple-A Charlotte)
Monday's stats: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 9 K

No pitcher did more for his stock last year than Hudson, who started last year as a relatively obscure fifth-round pick in Low-A and finished it in the big leagues. He's worthy of a major league job right now, but there's no room in the White Sox rotation for now, and they want him to get consistent work. His 2010 season began with a bang, in a bad way, as Hudson gave up a home run to the first batter he faced on Monday, but he retired 17 of the next 20 batters he faced, including nine via the strikeout. While he doesn't have the one wipe-out pitch, his fastball, breaking ball and change are all above average, and he'll be the first to get the call should a need arise on the south side of Chicago.

Responding To The Challenge

Dee Gordon, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers (Double-A Chattanooga)
Monday's stats: 4-for-4, 3 2B, RBI

A co-MVP of the Midwest League last year, the one word commonly associated with Gordon was "raw." One of the best athletes around, Gordon amassed 12 triples and 73 stolen bases last year, but at times, he seemed to be getting by on athleticism alone, with poor baseball instincts that led to a league-leading 34 errors and 25 times caught stealing. Thus, in one of the biggest surprises of the spring, the Dodgers gave Gordon a two-level jump to Double-A, basically putting him on the verge of the big leagues. So far, so good, Gordon has now gone 6-for-7 in his last two games with four doubles after an 0-for-6 start.

Small Sample Size or Cause For Concern?

Dustin Ackley, 2B, Seattle Mariners (Double-A West Tenn)
Monday's stats: 0-for-4

The one thing everyone thought they knew about Ackley, the second overall pick in last year's draft, was that he could hit. What was unclear was where he would play. Primarily a first baseman in college due to arm troubles, Ackley always had up-the-middle athleticism, and his first pro destination is second base. The problem is he's shocking nearly everyone in baseball by going 2-for-22 in his first five games for the Diamond Jaxx. This is just five games, and we have far too long a track record to be too concerned about this–for now.

Also New to Second Base

Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland Indians (High-A Kinston)
Monday's stats: 3-for-4, HR (1), 2 R, 2 RBI

Kipnis put up some monster numbers at Arizona State last spring as an outfielder, ending up as a second-round selection by Cleveland. Small, and not exactly the toolsiest guy in the world, Kipnis' pro future was as a corner player, but he lacked the power normally associated with that part of the diamond. The answer? Give him a shot at second base. So far so good as he's played errorless baseball so far for the K-Tribe, and he's also kept on putting up big numbers, with six hits, three runs scores and three RBIs in his first four games.

Sleeper Alert!

Anthony Hewitt, OF, Philadelphia Phillies (Low-A Lakewood)
Monday's stats: 3-for-4, 2 2B, HR (2), R, 2 RBI, K

When the Phillies nabbed Hewitt with a first-round pick in 2008, they nabbed arguably the top athlete in the draft. Unfortunately, he was often not even the best baseball player on his high school field, as no player had a larger gap between their potential and reality. In his first two seasons, Hewitt showed little ability to accomplish anything other than striking out at an alarming rate, amassing 133 whiffs in just 360 at-bats. But the tools were always there, and he's giving the Phillies some room for optimism, going 7-for-14 with 15 total bases in his first four games for the BlueClaws. Just as importantly, Monday's night's whiff was only his second of the year.

Others Who Caught My Eye:

  • David Adams, 2B, Yankees (Double-A Trenton): Adams had three hits last night and is now 11-for-20 in five games; not the toolsiest guy in the world, but he can hit.
  • Travis d'Arnaud, C, Blue Jays (High-A Dunedin): D'Arnaud might be my top sleeper to move into next year's Top 100, and he had three hits last night and 14 total bases in five games.
  • Jiwan James, OF, Phillies (Low-A Lakewood): Hewitt isn't the only toolsy player stepping up at Lakewood, as James had three hits last night and is now 10-for-23 in five game for the BlueClaws.
  • Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Braves (Triple-A Gwinnett):  Kimbrel was throwing 94-96 mph with a plus hard curveball last night, and he needed just 12 pitches to retire the side including a pair of whiffs.  If he keeps throwing strikes, he's in the big leagues soon.
  • Jerry Sands, 1B/OF, Dodgers (Low-A Great Lakes): All the former D-II star does is hit, and that's continuing with a 9-for-19 start with the Loons, including four hits (and two doubles) last night.
  • Jordan Walden, rhp, Angels (Double-A Arkansas): Walden had 2 K's last night and now four in two innings pitched as late-inning reliever; he has a chance to move quickly in this role.
  • Nick Weglarz, OF, Indians (Double-A Akron): Weglarz is 7-for-13 with two HR in last three games and needs a bounce-back year.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

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