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April 21, 2010

Future Shock Blog

Minor League Update: Games of April 20

by Kevin Goldstein

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Not Quite As Close As Ike

Wilmer Flores, SS, Mets (Low-A Savannah) 

Monday's stats: 3-for-5, 2B, HR (1), 2 R, 5 RBI, BB, K

While Ike Davis has made a big splash this week in the big apple, most generally see Flores as the better long-term prospect, although he's still years away. Flores' struggles at Savannah last year were seen as a learning experience, and while he's still one of the circuit's youngest players at 18, this year he's expected to perform, and he's doing just that, batting .380/.415/.520 with only two strikeouts in 50 at-bats. It's hard to find a scout who thinks he has the athleticism to stay at shortstop, but it's equally difficult to find one that doesn't put his bat in that special category. 

At Some Point, You Have To Believe

Tim Collins, LHP, Blue Jays (Double-A New Hampshire) 

Monday's stats: SV, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K

The Blue Jays keep moving Collins up the latter, and he keeps dominating. Undrafted out of high school, former GM J.P. Ricciardi signed Collins out of a tryout camp, as few scouts were interested in a left-hander who is listed at 5-foot-7, and that's more than just a bit optimistic. With a lightning-quick arm that can only be described as Lincecum-esque, he somehow gets up to 90-94 mph with the frame of a 12-year-old, while adding a plus curveball and tons of deception. Just 20 years old, Eastern League hitters are now 1-for-19 with 10 strikeouts against Collins, and he's going to defy everyone and get to the big leagues eventually. 

Living Up To Expectations

Matthew Hobgood, RHP, Orioles (Low-A Delmarva) 

Monday's stats: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K

Hobgood was seen as an overdraft by many when the Orioles took him with the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft, but what he lacked in ceiling, he countered with as much certainty as a high school arm can provide. At 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, he has a frame built to eat innings, and he has well above-average command and control of slightly above-average stuff. On Monday night, he sat at 88-92 mph with his fastball, showcased a true plus curveball, and even broke out a solid changeup that projects as big league average. He could move quickly. 

It's NBA Playoff Time, So How About Some Synergy?

Trayce Thompson, OF, White Sox (Low-A Kannapolis) 

Monday's stats: 2-for-6, HR (2), R, RBI, 2 BB, K, CS 

Thompson was one of the wild cards of last year's draft. The son of former NBA center (and former No. 1 overall pick) Mychal Thompson, Trayce is still relatively new to baseball, and while his tools and ceiling ranked with nearly any teenager in the country, he didn't put up big numbers, even in high school because he was so raw. Seeing plenty to dream on, the White Sox dished out a $625,000 bonus to sign him, and the quickness of adjustments has been nothing short of astounding, as he's shown up this year with a much better idea at the plate and a significantly shorter and smoother swing. With home runs in two of his last three games, the changes are paying immediate dividends, and Thompson has big time explosive potential. 

Good News Mariners Fans!

Nick Franklin, SS, Mariners (Low-A Clinton) 

Monday's stats: 2-for-4, HR (3), R, RBI, BB 

While top prospect Dustin Ackley continues to mystify observers with a 5-for-46 slump at Double-A, Seattle's other 2009 first-round pick is doing quite well in his full-season debut. Last night's outburst raised his season averages to .340/.377/.640 in 12 games for the Lumberkings; number made all the more impressive for a player who was drafted more for his glove than his bat.   

Sleeper Alert!

Eduardo Nunez, 2B/SS, Yankees (Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)

Monday's stats: 3-for-5, 2B, R, RBI, SB

Four years ago, Nunez was seen as one of the top position players in the Yankee system, but that was followed by a three-year stretch of little performance at the lower-levels of the system, all but dropping him off of most radars. He gained some attention with a bounce back in 2009 when he finished third in the Eastern League with a .322 batting average, and now he's continuing to hit at Triple-A, going 8-for-14 in his last three games to up his triple-slash line to .370/.442/.522. He'll certainly never displace Jeter or Cano in the middle of the Yankee infield, but he could be a valuable utility player as early as this year, as one could argue he's a better bench option than Ramiro Pena

Others Of Note:

  • Starlin Castro, SS, Cubs (Double-A Tennessee):  Fourth straight multi-hit game and first home run of the year; almost daring the Cubs to do something about it.
  • Armando Galarraga, RHP, Tigers (Triple-A Toledo): Seven shutout innings last night; 1.96 ERA in three starts with 18/1 K/BB ratio; arguably a better option than a few in current big league rotation.
  • Aaron Hicks, OF, Twins (Low-A Beloit): 1-for-30 in first eight games, 5-for-11 with doubles and home run in last three.
  • Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Braves (Triple-A Gwinnett): In last three games, he's faced twelve batters while striking out eight and not giving up a hit. 
  • Starling Marte, OF, Pirates (High-A Bradenton): 3-for-5 with three doubles, and .390/.490/.561 overall in 11 games.  Best Pirates prospect not named Pedro?
  • Jesus Montero, C, Yankees (Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre): Beginning to roll with home run in second straight game.
  • Daniel Moskos, LHP, Pirates (Double-A Altoona): The turnaround continues as he strikes out the side for the save last night.  Now 6.2 scoreless innings with the Eastern League batting .130 against him.
  • Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF, Mets (Double-A Erie): Maybe the best single game of the night, going 4-for-5 with two doubles and a home run.  More and more are jumping on this bandwagon.
  • Jacob Turner, RHP, Tigers (Low-A West Michigan): Scratched from last night's start with forearm soreness; today's update says it's not considered serious.

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

Related Content:  Triple-A

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