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May 25, 2010

Future Shock Blog

Minor League Update: Games of May 24

by Kevin Goldstein

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Eric Duncan, 2B/1B/3B/LF, Braves (Double-A Mississippi): 3-for-4, 3B, R, RBI

The Yankees first-round pick in 2003, Duncan never developed as expected, fizzling out of the system after three years of non-production at Triple-A and career averages of .242/.320/.400. He hooked on with the Braves as a play-everywhere guy for their Double-A team, and he's starting to do some things with the bat, hitting .314/.368/.447 in 44 games while holding his own at four positions, including a surprisingly solid job at second base. At 25, and with his track record, it's hard to call him any part of Atlanta's future, but scouts have noted his hard work and good physical conditioning, and there's at least a shot here for a great story down the road.

Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Rays (Triple-A Durham): 8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K

In nearly any other system, Hellickson would be a big leaguer. With Tampa Bay, he's stuck waiting for his turn. On Monday he delivered his best start of the year, taking a perfect game into the seventh while lowering his ERA to 2.79. As always, it wasn't the quality of the stuff (which is definitely plus, however), it was what is arguably the best command and control in the minors that led to his success. One way or another, he'll find his way to the big leagues this year.

Tyler Matzek, LHP, Rockies (Low-A Asheville): 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 5 K

The 11th overall pick in last year's draft took nearly a full year to make his pro debut, as negotiations that went down to the deadline prevented him from pitching last year, while the Rockies chose to keep him in extended spring this year until the weather became more reliable. Finally unwrapping their shiny new toy turned out to be worth the wait. While he was a bit rusty on a command level, his stuff was top of the line, including a fastball that sat in the mid-90s at times and two plus breaking balls.

Kyle Russell, OF, Dodgers (High-A Inland Empire): 2-for-3, 2 HR (12), 2 R, 3 RBI, K

Now in all fairness, Kyle Russell is supposed to tear it up in the California League, and of late he's been doing his best Mike Stanton impression by going a remarkable 13-for-26 with six home runs in his last six games to up his averages to .341/.431/.652. Drafted as a college senior, he turns 24 in June so it's time to move him up, and scouts still aren't convinced that he can hit enough at the upper levels, as evidenced by his 53 whiffs in 164 at-bats. One way or another, it's time to find out.

Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Angels (Low-A Cedar Rapids): 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K

The Cedar Rapids squad is one of the Midwest League's most prospect-laden, and the performances of Mike Trout and others mean guys like Skaggs aren't getting the attention they deserve. A supplemental first-round pick last June, Skaggs is a tall, projectable lefty who already has a tick above-average velocity to go with a killer slider, and his ability to command the strike zone is highly advanced for a player that doesn't turn 19 until July. With 41 strikeouts and nine walks in 38 innings, to go with a 2.37 ERA in nine games, he'll be getting notice eventually.

Others Of Note:

  • Tim Alderson, RHP, Pirates (Double-A Altoona): 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K. Best start of the year lowers his ERA to a still poor 5.17.
  • Josh Bell, 3B, Orioles (Triple-A Norfolk): 2-for-4, 2B, RBI, 2 K. Four straight games with multiple hits and a double; OBP still under .300.
  • Engel Beltre, OF, Rangers (High-A Bakersfield): 3-for-4, 3 R. Everything about his game, from approach to attitude, has shown marked improvement; tools remain outstanding and he's still only 20 years old.
  • Joe Benson, OF, Twins (High-A Fort Myers): 3-for-6, 2 HR (4), 3 R, 4 RBI. Was playing well at Double-A despite a lack of batting average; deserves to go back with .382/447/.853 line in eight Florida State League games.
  • Hank Conger, C, Angels (Triple-A Salt Lake): 3-for-4, 2 2B. 9-for-21 in last five games; would Scioscia even consider a hit-first catcher?
  • Nick Franklin, SS/2B, Mariners (Low-A Clinton): 3-for-4, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 SB. Up to .328/.366/.586; could argue he's the best position player in the Midwest League not named Mike Trout.
  • Ryan Goins, SS, Blue Jays (Low-A Lansing): 5-for-5, 2B, RBI. Fourth-round pick from '09 now batting .312/.392/.399; scouts aren't convinced he's a shortstop in the end.
  • Dee Gordon, SS, Dodgers (Double-A Chattanooga): 4-for-5, R, 2 SB, CS. Slumping in May; lack of power and patience is a concern; batting an fairly empty .291/.332/.355.
  • Mark Hamilton, 1B, Cardinals (Triple-A Memphis): 3-for-3, HR (4), 2 R, 3 RBI. Three home runs in last seven games have brought slugging up to .506; obviously no future for him in St. Louis.
  • Martin Perez, LHP, Rangers (Double-A Frisco): 4.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 2 K. It's not like he's been awful or anything, but I think everyone expected more as it's the end of May and he has zero quality starts.
  • Buster Posey, C, Giants (Triple-A Fresno): 4-for-4, 2B. Nothing left to prove, just biding his time.
  • Jose Tabata, OF, Pirates (Triple-A Indianapolis): 3-for-5, 2B, 2 R, K, CS. Batting .328/.385/.437, but only getting it done against RHP.
  • Ben Revere, OF, Twins (Double-A New Britain): 2-for-5, 2 R, SB. 16-for-31 in last seven games; 17 for 21 in stolen bases after entering year with 74% career success rate.
  • Jerry Sands, OF, Dodgers (Low-A Great Lakes): 2-for-5, HR (15), 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, K, SB. Again, shouldn't be at this level, but some scuttle about High-A outfielder Kyle Russell moving up to Double-A, and Sands taking his place at Inland Empire.
  • Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Nationals (Triple-A Syracuse): 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 5 K. One more minor league start?

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

26 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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The Minor League Update is something I look forward to reading every day. Thanks for the good work, Kevin.

May 25, 2010 10:30 AM
rating: 15

what he said. Minor League Update is like the breakfast of my baseball information afternoon.

May 25, 2010 11:11 AM
rating: 8
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

I'm glad you guys like it so much. It's something I have to do mentally every day to keep up with everything, so why not share?

May 25, 2010 11:37 AM
Joe D.

"Would Scioscia even consider a hit-first catcher?"

Yes, assuming his grit-first catcher breaks a wrist.

May 25, 2010 10:34 AM
rating: 7
Joe D.

Mike Napoli's TAv ranks among catchers (minimum 250 PAs as catcher):
2009: 5th of 36 (Jeff Mathis 35th)
2008: 1st of 35 (Jeff Mathis 34th)
2007: 6th of 31 (Mathis missed PA cutoff...if we lower PA to 150, Mathis was 45th of 49)

If Scoscia isn't willing make one of the very best hitting catchers in baseball his primary over one of the very worst, I'm afraid Conger has little shot.

I've read Scoscia believes in CERA (catcher-ERA), so if Hank gets lucky enough to do well on that front, maybe he has a shot.

May 25, 2010 10:51 AM
rating: 7
Al Skorupa

Not to mention that by pretty much every evaluation tool we have, Jeff Mathis doesn't show up as all that good of a defensive catcher... albeit better than Napoli.

May 25, 2010 11:01 AM
rating: 1

Sciosia has the same blindspot many managers have: They love players who remind them of themselves. Mathis is a pretty good comp for Sciosia, though Sciosia was better defensively. You see the same thing in Gardenhire's infatuation with good-glove, no-hit infielders.

May 26, 2010 16:12 PM
rating: 0

Wow, I'll bite on your Nick Franklin comment. Better than Wil Myers or just that it's a legitimate debate?

May 25, 2010 10:36 AM
rating: 1
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

I think it's legit. Franklin plays a premium position, and Myers, to be kind, has scuffled behind the plate.

May 25, 2010 11:38 AM

One guy who has been hot is Chris Marrero, Washington's former first-round pick in the 2006 draft (15th overall). Despite a lackluster .259 average for AA Harrisburg, he's homered in his last 4 games. Is his power finally coming along, or is it too early to tell?

May 25, 2010 10:59 AM
rating: -1
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

According to my first base prospect rule, he's not even close yet.

May 25, 2010 11:39 AM

What gives with the Dodgers and their unwillingness to move Russell and Sands up? I know there are concerns about both of them but having them play in leagues in which they are two years older than the competition doesn't really help answer the questions. Are the Dodgers just resigned to the fact that they may just be organizational guys?

May 25, 2010 11:19 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Not at all, I just think there's some juggling that has to happen, and I expect it will soon.

May 25, 2010 11:39 AM

Hey Kevin,

Would love to see a post about the guys you think will be "Super 2" callups. IE Strasburg, Stanton, Santana, any others you think

May 25, 2010 11:25 AM
rating: 3

great idea

May 25, 2010 12:46 PM
rating: 1

yes please

May 25, 2010 13:19 PM
rating: 1

My own two cents is that Strasburg on the 4th is pretty likely. Other than that, Carlos Santana seems like the most likely to get first call-up among the elite hitting prospects. Not sure about Alvarez, since his troubles against lefties is pretty severe at the moment. Don't see Jennings making a splash until August or so. I've given up trying to read Sabean's mind in regard to Posey, but if he has any brains left at all, Posey would come up mid June at the latest.

May 26, 2010 09:46 AM
rating: 0

Any word on where Matzek's fastball topped out last night. And did he use any sort of change.

May 25, 2010 11:35 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

I don't know any scouts at the game. A newspaper report had him up to 97.

May 25, 2010 11:40 AM

Free Scott Mathieson!

Seriously, the Phillies bullpen is a mess, and one potentially very helpful cog is blowing away AAA hitters. What gives?

May 25, 2010 12:42 PM
rating: 1

He should be the closer sooner or later.

May 26, 2010 10:21 AM
rating: 0

Thanks Kevin...have you heard any reports on Perez' stuff? Seems like has hit a rough patch for sure, but he did have a sub 2 ERA until a week and a half ago...

May 25, 2010 12:45 PM
rating: 0

Yeah, and don't forget that he's still one of the youngest guys at that level. I suspect that he'll eventually adjust, and probably fairly soon.

May 25, 2010 14:03 PM
rating: 0

(And a tip of the cap to 33-year old John Lindsey in Albuquerque, hitting .434 in 145 AB's?)

May 25, 2010 12:46 PM
rating: 0

I didn't get any velocity readings from Skaggs last night, but just by watching it seemed like he was throwing harder than 88-90 mph, which preseason reports had him at. Since he's a very projectable arm, I would imagine he could have easily added a couple mph already.

Any word on velocity readings for him so far this season?

May 25, 2010 14:42 PM
rating: 0


I was hoping to see something about the Twins Adrian Salcedo who made his 2nd FSL start last night. I'd love to hear the rationale the Twins had for skipping a 19 yr old from the GCL all the way up to the FSL. Thanks.

May 25, 2010 15:08 PM
rating: 0
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