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April 14, 2011

Future Shock Blog

Minor League Update: Games of April 13

by Kevin Goldstein

Hi folks. There's certainly going to be some occasional experimentation with the Minor League Update, based on time, information received and who knows, maybe even mood. With that in mind, here's a much larger focus on the one performance from yesterday that most interested me, and as always, plenty of notes.

Neil Ramirez, RHP, Rangers (Triple-A Round Rock): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K.

Ramirez started off the year by not even making my Top 20 prospects in the Texas system, and he's quickly making me look like an idiot. Not that I mind, I actually love it when players change my mind about them. A supplemental first-round pick in 2007 out of a Virginia high school, Ramirez signed for $1 million, but it's taken some time for his career to get going. There was some progress last year, when he struck out 142 over 140 1/3 innings while repeating Low-A, but he also had a 4.43 ERA and was far too hittable due to being a control pitcher without enough command, or to steal and change a line from Salieri in the movie Amadeus, “too many strikes.” The first sign that something good might be happening this year came in the spring, when Jason Parks reported good things, and scouts in the industry had him suddenly touching 97 mph due to improved conditioning and a much cleaner delivery. His first start of the year proved the optimism was well warranted, as he struck out nine of the 17 batters he faced for High-A Myrtle Beach, and on Wednesday, he made an emergency start at Triple-A to fill in for Eric Hurley, who was placed on the disabled list earlier in the day with a viral infection. For Ramirez to simply hold his own would have been a significant accomplishment, but he did much more than that, as he fired six shutout innings while allowing three hits, striking out five and not walking a batter, with 50 of his 75 pitches going for strikes. Made all the more impressive, was that the start was against Triple-A Omaha, the Royals affiliate whose middle of the lineup features Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and 2010 Texas League MVP Clint Robinson. Ramirez's stuff was not only as good as his line, so was his poise according to reports from the game. Sitting at 92-96 mph with his fastball, Ramirez also flashed a plus changeup at times, but what was maybe most impressive was the in-game adjustment he made with his breaking ball. After struggling to miss bats or keep his normally hard-thrown curveball in the strike zone, he took some zip off the pitch in later innings to greater effectiveness. He's not going to stay in Triple-A, but in just one week, the 21-year-old has done more for his stock than any pitching prospect in the game.

Others Of Note:

  • Phillippe Aumont, RHP, Phillies (Double-A Reading): 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. Too early to proclaim him back, but everything is pointed in the right direction with Eastern League hitters now 0-for-11 against him with five whiffs.
  • Blake Beavan, RHP, Mariners (Triple-A Tacoma): 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 4 K. Maybe underrated because there's nothing sexy about his game, but he's big, durable, throws strikes, and could have a decade-plus big league career as a back-of-the-rotation starter.
  • Michael Choice, OF, Athletics (High-A Stockton): 2-for-5, HR (2), 2 R, 3 RBI, BB, K. Home runs in back-to-back games; five of last six home runs have been three-run shots.
  • Rubby De La Rosa, RHP, Dodgers (Double-A Chattanooga): 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 9 K. Best pure arm in the Dodgers system; command and secondary pitches will determine if future is in the rotation or late-inning relief.
  • Jeurys Familia, RHP, Mets (High-A St. Lucie): 6 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K. Who's the hotter pitcher at St. Lucie? Familia or 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey? Their combined line after four starts: 24 IP, 10 H, 6 BB, 30 K.
  • Jonathan Galvez, 2B, Padres (High-A Lake Elsinore): 3-for-3, 2B, HR (1), 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, SB. No. 11 Padres prospect deserves more attention. Has some power, some speed and a good approach, but defensively fits better at second after playing shortstop last year.
  • Brandon Guyer, OF, Rays (Triple-A Durham): 3-for-4, 2 2B, 2 R, BB, K, CS. Proving so far that last year's explosion with the Cubs was for real; 10-for-27 in seven games with five extra-base hits.
  • Brett Jackson, OF, Cubs (Double-A Tennessee): 3-for-3, 3 RBI, RBI, BB, SB. It was surprising to see him not begin the year at Triple-A, and he's now batting .500 (11-for-22), but .625 BABIP says there might be some luck here, no?
  • Jenrry Mejia, RHP, Mets (Triple-A Buffalo): 6.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K. Despite the occasional control issues, he's averaging less than 15 pitches per inning while tossing 12 2/3 shutout innings. Well on his way to returning to New York as a starter.
  • Tim Melville, RHP, Royals (High-A Wilmington): 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K. Encouraging start after last year's struggles; like the Royals need more prospects.
  • Shelby Miller, RHP, Cardinals (High-A Palm Beach): 5.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 11 K. Has struck out 20 of the 45 batters he's faced and probably isn't long for this league.
  • Matt Moore, LHP, Rays (Double-A Montgomery): 4.1 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 0 BB, 5 K. Had given up seven earned runs in his previous ten starts combined.
  • Devin Mesoraco, C, Reds (Triple-A Louisville): 2-for-5, 2B, R, 5 RBI. Too much catching is a wonderful problem to have, but how long will he have to wait for September or a Hernandez deal?
  • Wily Peralta, RHP, Brewers (Double-A Huntsville): 6.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 9 K. Fifteen strikeouts and just six base runners allowed in two starts. Talent has always been there, consistency has not.
  • Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Indians (High-A Kinston): 5.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R (0 ER), 2 BB, 8 K. Carolina League hitters are now 3-for-34 against him with 17 strikeouts. He's dominating the league primarily with his plus fastball and even better curve, might not get to Double-A until team sees more changeup development.
  • Edward Salcedo, 3B, Braves (Low-A Rome): 3-for-6, 2B, 3B, R, 2 RBI, K, CS. Looking more comfortable both at the plate and in the field; tools are batter suited for third base and the bat could play.
  • Keyvius Sampson, RHP, Padres (Low-A Fort Wayne): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K. Battling Pomeranz for best pitcher after two starts honors, as opposing hitters are 2-for-35 with 19 Ks against him. Was ranked lower than he should have been on Padres list due to injury concerns, he's sitting in the low 90s, touching 95, and showing much improved command and control.
  • Dave Sappelt, OF, Reds (Triple-A Louisville): 3-for-5, 2B, HR (1), 3 R, 2 RBI, K. Almost won a big league job with a shocking spring training; 11-for-26 in first seven games to help force the issue.
  • Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Diamondbacks (High-A Visalia): 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 7 K. Control has been an issue in his two starts, but he's missing bats as a 19-year-old in High-A who still is more projection than reality.

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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