After burning through first baseman of the future in Jon Singleton and Tyler White, the Astros turn to A.J. Reed.
The Situation: The Astros are white-hot, taking over second place in the AL West over the freezer-burn cold Mariners and positioning themselves for another run at the wild-card. To help with that pennant push, they’ll call on one of their best offensive prospects in the system: First-baseman A.J. Reed.
Background: It may seem hard to believe now, but at one point Reed was one of the best two-way prospects in college baseball while at the University of Kentucky. After a dominant junior year, most believed that his future was with the bat, and that included the Astros who took him with the 42nd pick of the 2014 MLB Draft. To say that his stock shot up upon entering the Houston system would be the understatement of this and many other articles. After posting an impressive .289/.375/.522 line in stops at both Tri-City and Quad Cities (note: That’s a lot of cities), Reed was dominant in 2015, recording a backyard baseball-like .340/.432/.612 with 34 homers and 86 walks for Lancaster and Corpus Christi. He got off to a slow start with ridiculously high expectations, but he’s hit .282/.333/.576 in June, and Houston believes he’s ready to contribute to the big-league club.
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Don't make the obvious Kuhl/cool joke. Don't make the obvious Kuhl/cool joke. Don't make the obvious Kuhl/cool joke.
The Situation: Clayton Kershaw has been sensational for the Dodgers, posting an unheard of strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 1.57 ERA. He might be the best left-handed pitcher any of us have ever seen. On Sunday night, he’ll be faced by Chad Kuhl.
Background: Kuhl was an unheralded ninth-round pick out of the University of Delaware, but was so impressive that the Pirates skipped Low-A and sent him to the Florida State League for his first professional season. He pitched in Bradenton, but his stock really jumped up last year after posting a 2.48 ERA in just under 153 innings at Double-A Altoona. He’s been just as good in Indianapolis, and while he was overshadowed by the more “famous” (and better) pitching prospects Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon, his 2.58 ERA and 58/16 strikeout-to-walk ratio is pretty impressive.
Notable performances this week from Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber and Wei-Yin Chen.
There’s no time to waste, as the commander has ordered double-time for this week’s pitching notes. Permission to come aboard.
Kluber has been going through this rigmarole for a year and a half. Perhaps he was fortunate to string together so many dominant starts during his Cy-winning campaign of 2014, but Kluber continues to confound, with a glaring tendency toward disaster starts throughout the past two seasons. The peripherals far surpass the ERA numbers—he has a K/BB ratio of 5.2 over the past season and a half but just a 3.52 ERA to show for his work—and his excellent stuff combined with A-grade mechanics provide a steady basis for command and consistency. Yet he gets bombarded by hits and runs every few starts, and his past two turns serve as exhibits 1A and 1B.
The Cubs are suddenly losing, the Mariners are seriously losing, and Zack Greinke moves up a special leaderboard.
The Thursday Takeaway Arnold Schwarzenegger would have you believe that “If It bleeds, we can kill it.” Perhaps this is true, perhaps it isn’t. All we know at this moment is that the Cubs have lost four games in a row for the first time since last year’s NLCS.
Examining players who might pique your interest in deeper formats.
One of the position players in this week’s Deep League Report has taken the mound in an MLB game, and his average four-seam fastball velocity is about the same as one of the pitchers profiled this week. That’s kinda neat. And I saw one of the players profiled below in High-A last year before his first appearance on any Top Prospect lists, which is also kinda neat. But most importantly, I answer the question posed by Ayn Rand nearly 60 years ago: Who is John Gant?
Kevin Newman, Ian Happ, and Austin Meadows lead a slew of promotions this week.
Promotions have dominated the news this week, as teams return from their respective All-Star breaks and draftees begin to sign with their clubs. The minors get shaken up again as most of their dominant stars move up to a higher league and new talent arrives. It’s an exciting time. Let’s get to it!