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April 22, 2011

Future Shock Blog

Minor League Update: Games of April 21

by Kevin Goldstein

Yasmani Grandal, C, Reds (High-A Bakersfield): 4-for-4, 2B, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, BB.

How the Reds handle having two star-level catchers in their system will Grandal and the nearly big league ready Devin Mesoraco be interesting to watch. The 12th overall pick in last year's draft, Grandal has gotten crazy-hot of late, going 12-for-24 with three doubles, five home runs, and nine walks in his last seven games to raise his season line to .341/.463/.795. Both he and Mesoraco or solid-average defenders who project to provide rare offensive fire power for the position, and one or the other of going to generate significant trade interesting in the next 0-12 months.

Jedd Gyorko, 3B, Padres (High-A Lake Elsinore): 2-for-5, HR (2), R, 2 RBI, 2 K

Gyorko was one of the better hitters in college baseball last spring, but he fell to the second round because he was short, stumpy and scouts were unsure of his ultimate defensive home. He's surprised so far as a pro by looking like a solid-average third baseman down the road, and he certainly can hit, as by going 12-for-23 with six doubles and a home run in his last six games, he's up to .386/.463/.596 for the Storm. He'll likely finish the year in Double-A, and could be knocking on a big league opportunity in 2012 if the glove holds up.

Brett Jackson, OF, Cubs (Double-A Tennessee Smokies): 2-for-4, 2B, HR (3), 2 R, RBI, K

Yesterday's minor league update featured Jackson, and the commenters were rife with speculation about when he'd reach Wrigley, with predictions ranging from June to September, or even predicting trades to open up a spot. Now batting .426/.541/.787 in 14 games, Jackson has created plenty of reason for excitement, but it was surprising to see him back at Double-A to start the year after he seemingly solved this level during the second half of 2010. With power, speed and arm strength that all rate as average to a tick above, a more patient approach and smoother swing is leading to results, and while none of us know when he's getting to Wrigley, we can be a little more confident that he'll be good once it happens.

Tim Wheeler, OF, Rockies (Double-A Tulsa): 2-for-4, 3B, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB

It's rare to talk about someone coming off a bad year in the California League, but Wheeler is doing just that, as the 2009 first-round pick hit just .249/.341/.384 last year for High-A Modesto. He's a big (6-4, 205), athletic outfielder with 55-60 raw power and 50-55 speed, so there's plenty to like here, and early returns from the spring and first two weeks at Tulsa are encouraging, as scouts have noted a more tempered approach and swing. Up to .296/.400/.593 in 14 games but still struggling against left-handers, there are still holes in his game, but plenty of steps in the right direction.

Others Of Note:

  • Ryan Adams, 2B, Orioles (Triple-A Norfolk): 4-for-6, R, SB. 14-for-30 during seven game hitting streak to raise batting line to .308/.368/.365; no errors yet also a good sign.
  • Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros (High-A Lancaster): 3-for-5, 3 R SB. Nine multi-hit games in 15 starts and .393/.449/.590 overall for 20-year-old 5-foot-5 Venezuelan.
  • Lars Anderson, 1B, Red Sox (Triple-A Pawtucket): 3-for-5, 2 R, RBI, BB, K. Ten hits in last five games and up to .320, but power has all but disappeared with no home runs in 50 at-bats.
  • Gary Brown, OF, Giants (High-A San Jose): 3-for-5, R, SB. Up to .355/.444/.403 in 15 games. If you miss those cool leadoff men from the 1980s with tons of range in center field and 50+ stolen bases a year, this is your guy.
  • Michael Burgess, OF, Cubs (High-A Daytona): 2-for-4, 2B, HR (6), R, 3 RBI, K. Showing massive power in the Florida State League, but also hitting .250 with strikeouts in nearly 30% of his at-bats. In other words, same ol' Burgess.
  • Jaye Chapman, RHP, Braves (Double-A Mississippi): 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K. Sleeper alert! Obscure 16th-round pick from 2005 is finally throwing strikes; 91-94 mph fastball to go with plus changeup and has allowed just three hits in 8 2/3 innings while striking out 13.
  • Johermyn Chavez, OF, Mariners (Double-A Jackson): 3-for-4, 2 2B, R, RBI, CS. His batting average is up to .296 with three straight multi-hit games, but the power seems to still be back in High Desert for now.
  • Maikel Cleto, RHP, Cardinals (High-A Palm Beach): 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 9 K. The fact that he's striking people out with mid-90s heat is not a shock; but the improved command and control in his first three starts has been a pleasant surprise.
  • Johnny Cueto, RHP, Reds (Triple-A Lousiville): 1.2 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 2 BB, 0 K. Sat in the low-90s but had zero command; the ultra-deep Reds rotation suddenly isn't looking so deep.
  • Charlie Furbush, LHP, Tigers (Triple-A Toledo): 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K. And all in just 77 pitches. Doesn't have the stuff to impress scouts, but features tons of deception, almost like a new version of Yusmeiro Petit.
  • Kyle Gibson, RHP, Twins (Triple-A Rochester): 6 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 6 K. First good start in three tries, could be first to get the call should a need arise in Minnesota as strike-throwing, ground ball ways are exactly what Twins covet.
  • Nick Hagadone, LHP, Indians (Double-A Akron): 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K. With 10 2/3 scoreless innings, 14 strikeouts and his first walk of the year last night, let's hope he's in the bullpen to stay.
  • Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals (Low-A Hagerstown); 1-for-2, HR (2), 2 R, RBI, BB. .261/.358/.435 in 14 games; has even looked solid in a handful of starts in center field.
  • Brad Holt, RHP, Mets (Double-A Binghamton): 6 IP, 2 H, 2 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 6 K. Rebounding well so far from miserable 2010 season with three very good starts in a row; has always had good velocity and is finally commanding it.
  • J.J. Hoover, RHP, Braves (Double-A Mississippi): 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 6 K. Almost forgotten about with the glut of pitching prospects in the system; nothing super exciting but locates his pitches extremely well, and used two good breaking balls for strikeouts yesterday after getting ahead in the could with an average fastball. No. 4 ceiling, but he'll get to the big leagues.
  • Chad Huffman, 1B, Indians (Triple-A Columbus): 4-for-5, 3 HR (4), 5 R, 10 RBI, BB. Far more org player than prospect, but when you set a new franchise record for RBIs, you make the list.
  • Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Rays (High-A Charlotte): 2-for-5, R, RBI, 2 K. Has reached base 11 times while scoring six runs in five five games as a Tampa Bay farmhand.
  • Jefry Marte, 3B, Mets (High-A St. Lucie): 2-for-3, 2 HR (3), 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, K. 19-year-old has been playing in the shadows of Wilmer Flores, but it out-hitting him this year with a .340/.433/.560 line, and both are bat-only prospects, so hitting is all way have to judge them on.
  • Ethan Martin, RHP, Dodgers (High-A Rancho Cucamonga): 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 9 K. You don't want to get too excited about one start, but this is his best line since July of last year.
  • J.D. Martinez, OF, Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi): 2-for-5, 2 2B, R, RBI, K. Last year's Sally League MVP needed to prove he could hit at the upper levels and he's doing just that; .347/.397/.612 in 13 games.
  • Jose Martinez, OF, White Sox (High-A Winston-Salem): 3-for-5, 2B, 3 R. He doesn't have the wheels anymore, but other tools are in place; 22-year-old is up to .434/.492/.604 in 13 games.
  • Marcel Ozuna, OF, Marlins (Low-A Greensboro): 2-for-2, 2B, HR (6), 2 R, 2 RBI, 3 BB. You want a hot streak? How about 13-for-22 with six home runs in six games? Was hitting .100 a week ago, but now at .308/.413/.731.
  • Josh Phegley, C, White Sox (Double-A Birmingham): 2-for-5, 2 HR (3), 2 R, 4 RBI. Few doubted he could hit coming out of college, but questions about receiving skills remain unanswered as he's committed 12 errors and been charged with 23 passed balls in just 91 career games behind the plate.
  • Henry Rodriguez, 2B, Reds (High-A Bakersfield): 3-for-6, 2b, 2 R, 2 RBI, K. A difficult prospect to wrap one's head around; second baseman has some speed, gap power, and can really hit, but also has an over-aggressive approach at the plate and is a poor glove. So far, the bat is playing with a .385/.406/.523 line in 15 games.
  • Wilin Rosario, C, Rockies (Double-A Tulsa): 2-for-4, HR (3), 3 R, RBI, BB. He beat up the Texas League last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury, and now he's doing it again with a .297/.366/.676 line in 11 games. With Jordan Pacheco moving up two levels to Triple-A this year, Rosario is strangely kind of stuck in the Texas League despite being one of the top catching prospects in the game.
  • Max Stassi, C, Athletics (High-A Stockton): 3-for-6, HR (1), 3 R, 5 RBI, K. Still not catching due to shoulder issues and having a weird year at the plate. He has a trio of three-hit games, but is 3-for-41 in his other 11 starts.
  • Alex Torres, LHP, Rays (Triple-A Durham): 5 IP, 2 H, 2 R (1 ER), 4 BB, 10 K. With 27 strikeouts and just seven hits allowed over 15 1/3 inning, he's been nothing short of outstanding, and my BP teammate Jason Collette points out that he's perfectly lined up on the calendar with the struggling Jeff Niemann.
  • Giovanny Urshela, 3B, Indians (Low-A Lake County): 3-for-5, 2 R. 19-year-old Colombian has very good defensive tools and excellent bat speed; up to .357/.391/.491 in 14 games.
  • Kolbrin Vitek, 3B, Red Sox (High-A Salem): 3-for-4, 2B, R. In the span of three days, he's gone from hitting .194 to .341 thanks to three straight three-hit games; defensive reviews at third base have not be especially kind.
  • Christian Yellich, OF, Marlins (Low-A Greensboro): 2-for-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI. 2010 first-round pick is starting to heat up with three straight multi-hit games after just one in just first 11 contests.

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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