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April 14, 2014

Minor League Update

Weekend Games of April 11-13

by Jeff Moore

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Friday, April 11

Mike Montgomery, LHP, Rays (Durham, AAA): 5 IP, 3 H, R, BB, 5 K. It should tell us something about where Montgomery stands within the Rays organization that, even after two solid starts to begin this season and with a rash of injuries to their majo- league pitching staff, Montgomery is still in Triple-A. He’s off to a good start, missing bats and throwing strikes, but his inconsistent mechanics and fringy off-speed stuff still have him destined for a bullpen role.

Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Astros (Oklahoma City, AAA): 2-4, 3 R, HR, BB, K. Singleton’s hot Friday night was just the start of a great weekend during which he went 7-for-13 with two doubles and two home runs. He’s red-hot right now, but he’ll remain in Triple-A until at least June for contractual reasons.

Tim Wheeler, OF, Rockies (Colorado Rockies, AAA): 3-6, 3 R, 2B, HR, K. It took Wheeler until July 9 to hit his first home run last year, so this is a good sign that at least a little of his once-plus power is returning. At this point, however, he’s probably nothing more than a fourth outfielder.

James Ramsey, OF, Cardinals (Springfield, AA): 2-3, 3 R, HR, BB, K. Ramsey ended the weekend hitting .429 and has three home runs already on the season, giving him more success than he had in a half-season in Double-A in 2013. He could be in Triple-A by mid-summer and will be among the first names called if the Cardinals have an injury.

Chris Reed, LHP, Dodgers (Chattanooga, AA): 6 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 9 K. Reed’s strikeout totals have diminished as he’s moved up the organizational ladder, so seeing miss bats like this is a good sign. Many scouts see him as a potential reliever because of his secondary stuff, but when he commands his fastball, he can be quite effective even as a starter. It the when that’s the problem.

Billy McKinney, OF, A’s (Stockton, A+): 2-5, 2 R, HR. McKinney, making a difficult jump straight to High-A ball, has had a few bumps in the road—like contact and plate discipline (11 strike outs in 10 games)—but the power is for real and is impressive for a 19-year-old. He hit his fourth home run of the year on Friday and added his fifth on Sunday.

David Dahl, OF, Rockies (Asheville, A-): 2-5, R, HR, K. Dahl homered on both Friday and Saturday, giving him four on the young season. Having just turned 20, if he shows any signs of being able to handle the Sally League in the early going, he could be on the fast track to High-A ball.

Saturday, April 12

Gregory Polanco, OF, Pirates (Indianapolis, AAA): 4-4, R, HR. Polanco is absolutely unstoppable right now and is hitting .465 on the season. After a three-game sweep at the hands of the Brewers, he can’t get to Pittsburgh soon enough, but we still have a few months to wait.

Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs (Tennessee, AA): 2-4, R, 2B, HR, K. It hasn’t been a perfect start for Bryant thus far, as he has struck out more than once per game, but a home run in one-third of those games is a good omen for his power.

Rougned Odor, 2B, Rangers (Frisco, AA): 4-6, 4 R, 2B, 2 HR, K. Saturday may be the day we look back on in Odor’s development and say it’s when his burgeoning power became real game power. His combination of hitting ability and defense is going to make him a major leaguer, but the power development could help him stand even higher.

Albert Almora, OF, Cubs (Daytona, A+): 2-5, 2 R, 2B, HR, K. The only knock on Almora is his aggressiveness at the plate. He hasn’t walked in 40 plate appearances, but he has also struck out just twice. That’s fine while he’s hitting .300 with some gap power but could be exploited against better pitching. Any small steps in that regard, however, could really allow him to take off.

Adam Walker, OF, Twins (Ft. Myers, A+): 2-5, R, HR, K, SB. A flawed approach and some difficulty identifying breaking stuff have Walker sporting a 12-to-3 K:BB ratio in the early going. But his pure talent, strength, and bat speed have yielded four home runs in 10 games. A little refinement would go a really long way.

Carson Kelly, C, Cardinals (Peoria, A-): 1-3, 3 R, HR, BB. Learning a new position is tough, and learning to be a catcher on the fly is even tougher, so Kelly has a built-in excuse if he struggles with the bat. He hasn’t, and now his first home run of the season is on the books.

Sunday, April 13

Alex Guerrero, 2B, Dodgers (Albuquerque, AAA): 3-4, R, 2B, HR. Making his minor-league season debut, Guerrero got off to a hot start, displaying the power sorely missing from the Dodgers’ current crop of second basemen.

Cody Decker, 1B, Padres (El Paso, AAA): 3-4, R, 3B, HR, K. Okay, so Decker is 27 and isn’t really a prospect, but a pair of extra-base hits and punking the crap out of Jeff Francoeur is a heck of a weekend.

Adam Duvall, 3B, Giants (Fresno, AAA): 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, BB. Getting out of Richmond can do wonders for a player’s power, and Duvall’s has exploded thus far. He’s also controlled the strike zone better, something he needed to improve upon from last year.

A.J. Cole, RHP, Nationals (Harrisburg, AA): 5 IP, 3 H, R, 0 BB, 5 K. Cole was excellent in his first start of the season without missing any bats. In his second start, he added to his success in a more sustainable way. We’ve been waiting for Cole’s talent to start manifesting itself in a full year of production, and he’s off to a good start in making 2014 that season.

Dilson Herrera, 2B, Mets (St. Lucie, A+): 4-5, R, 2B. Acquired from the Pirates in last year’s Marlon Byrd deal, Herrera has both pure baseball ability and plus athleticism, but he is still learning how to use them. In the field, he’s stiff and unnatural on ground balls, but has enough athleticism to get away with it at second base, especially with a quick release and plus range. At the plate, he has plus bat speed and good bat-to-ball skills, but is still learning how to approach at-bats and not try to over-swing.

Joey Gallo, 3B, Rangers (Myrtle Beach, A+): 1-2, R, HR, 3 BB, K. There’s no getting around Gallo becoming a three-true-outcome player. The key is that more of those outcomes need to become walks instead of strikeouts. Thus far this season, that’s happening.

Clint Coulter, C, Brewers (Wisconsin, A-): 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 BB. Coulter is still learning how to be a catcher in addition to learning to hit, making his early-season 1.281 OPS all the more impressive. He’s controlling the strike zone better than ever and is already over halfway to last year’s home run total.

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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