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March 3, 2014

Minor League Update

Spring Training Games of February 28-March 2

by Jeff Moore


Our first weekend of spring training games featured lots of prospect action, both good and bad. Let’s just dive right in.

Friday, February 28th

The Good

  • Nick Castellanos, 3B, Tigers: 2-3, R, 2 2B, K. Castellanos isn’t battling for a position this spring so much as he’s just getting his work in like a veteran. Castellanos should hit his share of doubles this season, especially in Comerica Park.
  • Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Red Sox: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K. The Red Sox aren’t going to need Ranaudo to start the season, but when they have to dip into starters six, seven, and eight at some point during the year, Ranaudo could be ready. He doesn’t profile as the top-of-the-rotation starter the Red Sox paid for when they drafted him in 2010, but he’s still going to be a major-league starter.
  • Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pirates: 2 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K. Taillon looked sharp on Friday, causing some to oversell him after following future rotation-mate Gerrit Cole, who was not at his best. Taillon is a fantastic prospect—the best prospect in a deep system and no. 19 on our top-101 list—but Cole is in a different class, alongside Jose Fernandez as the best young pitching prospects in the game. Two plus offerings give him a chance to join Cole at that level, but his command needs to take some more strides in order for him to get there. Friday was, however, a glimpse of what can happen when it’s on.
  • Zach Walters, SS, Nationals: 2-2, R, 2 2B. The Nationals infield is crowded without a starting spot for Walters, but since he already spent a full season in Triple-A, there’s not much of a reason to send him back. He could earn a bench spot as a switch-hitter with pop who can back up at short and third (and probably second, if asked), which would be a valuable player on a National League roster. Walters would finish the weekend a perfect 5-for-5 on the spring.
  • Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs: 1-1, R, HR. Bryant did what he does best, blasting a home run to deep center field. The power is real, and it’s unfazed by major-league competition.

The Bad

  • Carlos Martinez, RHP, Cardinals: 3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 K. Martinez is getting work this spring as a starter despite the Cardinals’ rotation depth (though that took a hit when Jaime Garcia went down with injury). On Friday, he left a 1-2 slider up in the zone that Garrett Jones hit out of the park.
  • Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds: 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R (1 ER), BB. Perhaps it was following Aroldis Chapman in the game that made Stephenson look hittable to Indians batters on Friday.

Saturday, March 1st

The Good

  • Andrew Heaney, LHP, Marlins: 2 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 2 K. Heaney isn’t likely to break camp with the Marlins despite their aggressive nature with prospects in recent years, but he is their top pitching prospect and doesn’t have too much more to accomplish in the minors, so we could expect to see him at some point this year.
  • Billy Burns, OF, Athletics: 2-4, 2 R, 2 SB. Burns gets on base a ton and runs like the wind once he’s there, two attributes he demonstrated on Saturday atop the A’s lineup. He’s already 24 and will head to Double-A this season, but with each passing performance like this one he’s quieting his doubters.

The Bad

  • Shae Simmons, RHP, Braves: 1 2/3 IP, 2 H, R, K. The power-armed Simmons was thought to have an outside shot to earn a bullpen role this spring, but he’s gotten hit hard in both of his appearances thus far.
  • Matt Purke, LHP, Nationals: 1 1/3, 4 H, 4 R, 2 BB, K. Inconsistent has been the best way to describe Purke’s career, both with command and velocity. He’s no longer the $4 million guy the Nationals hoped they were getting, but there’s still some hope he can be a back-end/bullpen piece.
  • Marcus Stroman, RHP, Blue Jays: 2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, BB, 3 K. I’m extremely high on Stroman and strongly believe he can remain a starting pitcher despite his stature, but this wasn’t his best performance. Even when he’s off, he still misses bats, which is a good sign, but he was erratic in the zone and paid the price on Saturday.
  • Chris Reed, LHP, Dodgers: 2 IP, 5 H, 4 R. Out west, Reed capped a rough day of performances for pitching prospects with perhaps the roughest outing of them all. Reed battles himself for consistency on the mound, and when his mechanics fall apart, his command is not far behind.

Sunday, March 2nd

The Good

  • Tommy La Stella, 2B, Braves: 2-4, 2B. La Stella just flat-out hits and has done it just about everywhere he’s been. Unfortunately, he’s blocked by Dan Uggla’s terrible contract. He doesn’t have much power, so his bat really doesn’t play too well anywhere but second base, but his hit tool is above average and he walks more than he strikes out.
  • Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox: 2-3, R, 2B. As long as Stephen Drew is still a free agent or signs somewhere else, the shortstop job in Boston is Bogaerts’ to lose. No one really foresees that happening.
  • Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians: 1-1, R, HR. Any time a prospect shows up in spring training and shows off the one thing he doesn’t do particularly well, it’s exciting. For Lindor, the only thing he doesn’t do well is hit for power, but he showed off some pop on Sunday to go with his silky smooth actions in the field.

The Bad

  • Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, Orioles: 2 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, BB, K. The weekend saw a number of big-name pitching prospects get hit hard, and Rodriguez was no exception. The Orioles’ lefty left one over the plate to Mike Napoli and got burned like many before him.

Jeff Moore is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jeff's other articles. You can contact Jeff by clicking here

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