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May 5, 2010

Future Shock Blog

Minor League Update: Games of May 4

by Kevin Goldstein

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A Positive Change Of Environments

Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals (Double-A Northwest Arkansas) 

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

The second overall pick in the 2007 draft, Moustakas never put up monster numbers. With both of Kansas City's A-ball affiliates in environments that strongly favor pitchers, it took nearly three years for him to finally play in a friendly place. An oblique strain delayed his 2010 season, but he's quickly making up for lost time, batting .417/.491/.917 in 12 games while amassing 44 total bases and driving in 16. He's finally looking like the player who earned a $4 million bonus, and with Alex Gordon and his position changes at Triple-A out of the way, his path to the big leagues is suddenly clear. 

Your Dominating Pitching Outing From A Surprising Source

Rudy Owens, LHP, Pirates (Double-A Altoona) 

Tuesday's stats: 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 K

Owens had the biggest breakout in the Pirates system last year, but he still left scouts wondering how his combination of average stuff but extreme polish would play at the upper levels. On Tuesday, Owens answered many of those questions by not allowing a hit and striking out 11 of the 19 batters he faced. His fastball sits in the upper 80s with the occasional 91-92 mixed in, his curveball is solid, and his change-up is true plus, but it's his fantastic command that allows him to succeed. His ceiling likely ends at a No. 4 starter, but one look at the Pirates pitching statistics shows that they could use one desperately. 

Hoping It Will Last

Michael Pineda, RHP, Mariners (Double-A West Tenn) 

Tuesday's stats: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 K

Few question Pineda's ability to get hitters out as much as they wonder about his ability to always be available. Elbow problems limited him to less than 50 innings last year, and the amount of effort in his delivery leave many to wonder if he's better suited for a bullpen role down the road. So far, he's still a starter. So far, he's been healthy in 2010, and so far, he's been dominant, including last night's start which lowered his ERA to 1.27 in five outings. With a plus fastball, average-to-plus change, and cutter he uses in lieu of a true breaking ball, he's got big-league stuff and just needs to keep working to reach the big leagues. 

And Now He's Hitting Too

Max Stassi, C, Athletics (Low-A Kane County) 

Tuesday's stats: 3-for-6, HR (4), R, RBI, 2 K

While Stassi was a fourth-round pick last June, the A's gave him a first-round bonus of $1.5 million. Much of that was based on his defensive reputation, as he's one of the most advanced teenage receivers in recent memory, but his simple, short swing also gave some hope for his bat. With back-to-back three-hit games, he's up to .275/.350/.462 in 23 games for the Cougars, and in a league filled with good catching prospects, Stassi ranks with any of them. 

Drafted For His Bat, And Now You See Why

Matt Davidson, 3B, Diamondbacks (Low-A South Bend) 

Tuesday's stats: 4-for-5, 2B, 2 HR (3), 3 R, 4 RBI, K

The Diamondbacks spent $2.7 million dollars on a pair of high school third basemen in last year's draft, with Davidson and Bobby Borchering (featured in yesterday's report) splitting time at the position. Borchering is more likely to stay at the hot corner, and while Davidson is more likely destined for first base in the end, he's showing that his bat should play there—after last night's outburst, his season line is up to .374/.406/.586. 

Hot Streak!

Neftali Soto, 1B/3B/C, Reds (Hi-A Lynchburg) 

Tuesday's stats: 2-for-5, HR (5), R, 2 RBI 

Between a .644 OPS and proving that he can't stay at third base, 2009 was a bad season for Soto's prospect status. Moved primarily to first base this year (with a little third base, and even catcher thrown in for good measure), Soto needs to take off with the bat, and he's doing just that. Including last night's walk-off home run, Soto is 11-for-18 with four home runs in his last four games and starting to get some of that luster back on his status. 

Others Of Note:

  • Dustin Ackley, 2B, Mariners (Double-A West Tenn): 3-for-5, HR (1), 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, K. Hell, I don't know.
  • Lars Anderson, 1B, Red Sox (Triple-A Pawtucket): 1-for-3, HR (1), 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, K. Anderson hasn't missed a beat at Triple-A.
  • Zach Britton, LHP, Orioles (Double-A Bowie): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K. Just one fly ball out for the groundball machine, Britton is really just a step behind the big name Oriole arms.
  • Brad Emaus, 2B, Blue Jays (Double-A New Hampshire): 3-for-5, 2B, HR (3), R, 3 RBI. It's early, but the 2008 breakout/2009 collapse player has bounced back so far with .327/.478/.577 line in 15 games.
  • Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves (Triple-A Gwinnett): 2-for-4, 2 2B, RBI, BB: Freeman has gone 9-for-16 with five walks in the last five games, and the scouting reports are impressive.
  • Jay Sborz, RHP, Tigers (Triple-A Toledo): SV, 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K. The 2003 2nd-round pick has been reborn as reliever, touching mid-90s during 10 scoreless innings so far.
  • Jose Tabata, OF, Pirates (Triple-A Indianapolis): 2-for-3, R, BB, CS; Tabata deserves a shot over the struggling Lastings Milledge while hitting 11-for-22 in last five games and .340/.404/.456 overall.

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:  Neftali Soto

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