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May 13, 2010

Future Shock Blog

Minor League Update: Games of May 12

by Kevin Goldstein

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And Now, We Wait Some More

Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Nationals (Triple-A Syracuse) 

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

It's a waste of time to talk about how well Strasburg pitched, and it's a waste of time to act like him delivering six no-hit innings has any effect on his big league timetable, which remains on course for an early June debut. We can have fun with numbers, though--and share that so far, opposing batters are 14-for-116 (.121) against Strasburg, with two doubles, eight walks and 40 strikeouts. My favorite split? Batters leading off an inning against the uber-prospect are 0-for-31. It's really all the fun we can have at this point. You know, other than watching him pitch.

He's Not Strasburg (Who Is?), But That Doesn't Mean He's Not Good

Andrew Cashner, RHP, Cubs (Triple-A Iowa) 

Wednesday's stats: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K

After cruising through Double-A hitters in April, the 2008 first-round pick out of TCU made his Pacific Coast League debut Wednesday, and proved that the next level wasn't much of a challenge. Pitching in the notorious hitter's haven of Las Vegas makes his line all the more impressive. Cashner's amateur stardom came as a closer in college, and there are plenty of rumors that he's in line for an upcoming call to help out the big league club's bullpen. His long-term future should be as a starter, so let's hope any such move is only a temporary one. 

Like Strasburg, He's Not Really Learning Anything

Buster Posey, C, Giants (Triple-A Fresno) 

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

Giants general manager Brian Sabean insists that Posey has work to do in the minors, but at least he doesn't pretend any of that work involves his hitting. With last night's outburst, he's batting .355/.448/.579 for the Grizzlies. Instead, Sabean insists that Posey's receiving skills still need work, despite the fact he's played errorless ball so far, been charged with just one passed ball and nailed half of all stolen base attempts. Just admit you are managing his service time clock, Mr. Sabean, we'll understand--kind of. 

Taking The Good With The Bad

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

Wednesday's stats: 2-for-4, 2 HR (6), 2 R, 5 RBI 

Arguably the riskiest pick of the 2009 draft right here. Nobody questioned Thompson's remarkable tools and athleticism, but at the same time, he was about as raw as a player can get. A player this unrefined is expected to have growing pains, but the start he's off to has been one of the most remarkable of the year. Three home runs in his first six games set up some unrealistic expectations, however, as nobody in the industry was surprised by a recent slump that saw him mired in a 5-for-42 nightmare before Wednesday's game. Even an overall line of .244/.301/.535 is remarkable progress for a player who struggled against high school pitching at times last year.

Recovering From The Bad News

Michael Brantley, OF, Indians (Triple-A Columbus) 

Wednesday's stats: 3-for-4, 2 R; 1-for-3, R, BB  

As noted here in the past, most teams are happy to give players a mulligan when they struggle in the big leagues and get sent back to the minors. It's a tough thing to deal with, both emotionally and financially, all while trying to make the necessary adjustments to get back to the show. Brantley went 4-for-23 in his first five games following his late-April devotion, but since then he's been on fire, batting .429 in his last 10 games while scoring 11 runs out of the leadoff spot. The Indians have seemingly figured some things out in their outfielder with great seasons in the corners from Austin Kearns and Shin-Shoo Choo, and despite his struggles, Grady Sizemore isn't going anywhere in center. There's no room at the inn for now, but Brantley will be back eventually. 

Welcome Back

Derek Norris, C, Nationals (High-A Potomac) 

Wednesday's stats: 3-for-5, 2 R, RBI 

It hasn't been a fun year for Norris, one of the top young catching prospects in the game. Slow to heal from offseason surgery to repair a broken bone in his hand, Norris didn't make his season debut until April 18, and then lasted just two at-bats because of more pain. After almost another month of shelf time to heal and get him comfortable swinging the bat, Norris finally returned to play this week, and on Wednesday had his first three hits of the season. He has a bit of lost time to make up, but he's a patient hitter with plus power for a catcher. While his defense really does need some work (unlike Posey's), the Nationals envision him catching Strasburg at some point in 2012.

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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