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November 8, 2012

Minor League Update

Games of November 7

by Jason Martinez

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It was great to see some baseball news back on my Twitter feed, even though the only significant roster-altering move on Wednesday (Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal suspended 50 games after testing positive for elevated testosterone) hurts the team that I've been cheering for since I was a kid. Rumors are always fun, though, and there were some interesting names, including Justin Upton), mentioned as potential trade candidates and a few teams (Mariners, Orioles) being named as possible favorites in the Josh Hamilton sweepstakes. Speaking of which, make sure you're getting caught up on all things Hot Stove with Daniel Rathman's Rumor Roundup here at Baseball Prospectus. Now for notes around the AFL, DWL, and VWL.
  • Logan Darnell, LHP, Twins (Peoria): 4 IP, 0 R, H, 0 BB, 5 K. The 23 year-old, who had a 5.08 ERA in 28 Double-A starts in 2012, was impressive in his first start of the AFL season after seven relief appearances. The Twins might have the worst rotation in baseball heading into the offseason so unless they can improve significantly in that area over the next few months, someone like Darnell, ready or not, could end competing for a rotation spot next spring.
  • Yan Gomes, C/IF, Indians (Este-DWL): 2-for-3, HR (4), 3 RBI: Acquired from the Blue Jays over the weekend, Gomes broke out of a 1-for-20 slump with his 21st HR of 2012 (13 in AAA, 4 in MLB, 4 in AFL). The 25 year-old Brazilian will be competing for a bench spot in Cleveland next season and gives the team some a much-needed right-handed bat.
  • Dustin Lawley, 3B/OF, Mets (Surprise): 3-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI: In his first full professional season, Lawley showed some offensive potential (14 HR, 14 SB, 35 2B, 50 BB in Lo-A Savannah) while playing three positions (3B, LF, CF). He'll be 24 early next season, so the Mets might want to consider jumping him to Double-A if he shows enough in the AFL. So far, so good. Lawley is 11-for-35 with a HR and 9 RBI.
  • Ricky Oropesa, 1B, Giants (Scottsdale): 3-for-4, HR (2), RBI, BB. The Giants' 3rd round draft pick in 2011, Oropesa ended his college career tied for 5th on USC's all-time HR list with 40. So his debut pro season in the hitter-friendly California League was one to watch, although his .763 OPS was a bit of a disappointment. The 22 year-old lefty was off to a slow start in the AFL (6-for-32, HR) before breaking out on Wednesday with three hits and his 2nd HR. He also walked for the 11th time in 47 plate appearances.
  • C.J. Riefenhauser, LHP, Rays (Phoenix): 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K: While he could still develop as a pretty good #5 starter down the road, a move to the bullpen could have Riefenhauser on the fast track to the big leagues. The 22 year-old lefty hasn't allowed an earned run over 11.2 IP in the AFL and struck out all three hitters he faced on Wednesday. He'll likely start the season in Double-A Montgomery.
  • Henry Rodriguez, 2B/3B, Reds (Zulia-VWL): 3-for-4, 2 2B, RBI, E. Blocked at second base by Brandon Phillips, Rodriguez has played mostly third base in 2012 as the Reds try to find out if he can handle a position where there could be more of an immediate need. He probably doesn't have enough power to become a regular at 3B, but he's only 22 and could become a valuable utilityman early on in his career if he can become at least adequate at multiple infield spots.
  • Francisco Samuel, RHP, Nationals (Oriente-DWL): 1 IP, 0 R, H, 0 BB, K. After missing the entire 2012 season, the once-promising St. Louis Cardinals relief prospect is hoping to come back strong next season after battling injuries and control problems throughout the last several years. He recently signed a minor league deal with the Nationals, who had contributions this season from Henry Rodriguez, who has always had problems throwing strikes consistently, and Christian Garcia, who was a highly-touted prospect in the Yankees organization before injuries sidetracked his career. So maybe there's hope for the hard-throwing 25 year-old, who has tossed five scoreless innings with two walks and five strikeouts in the DWL.
  • Miguel Sano, 3B, Twins (Oriente-DWL): 3-for-4, HR (1), 2 RBI. One of the best parts about taking over the Minor League Update is being on an email list where the Baseball Prospectus prospect experts have been discussing the Top Prospect Rankings. Thus, I'm getting the behind the scenes look at how these rankings come together, which is really quite fascinating. A recent discussion on whether 2012 1st Round Draft pick Byron Buxton or Sano should be the Twins' #1 prospect has been particular interesting. The answer will be revealed in a few days when the Twins' list is released. Anyways, Sano homered and committed a fielding error on Wednesday. Just another day at the office for the 19 year-old power prospect.
  • Matthew Skole, 1B/3B, Nationals (Salt River): 2-for-4, HR (3), 4 RBI, BB. Playing at first base in the AFL to accommodate Nationals' teammate Anthony Rendon, who has been manning third base regularly, Skole might have enough power for either corner spot on the diamond. His 2012 HR total has reached 30 (27 in Lo-A, 3 in AFL) after he homered on Wednesday. Maybe even more impressive is that he has a combined 109 walks between Hi-A, Lo-A, and the AFL. If first base is going to be his calling card, he'll have to continue to show plus-power as he moves up the ladder. 

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