Updates on Sean Manaea, Dansby Swanson, Andrew Benintendi and more.
Hitter of the Day: Christian Walker, 1B, Orioles (Norfolk, AAA): 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR. Walker has had plenty of time in the minors to finish his development, one that started at the University of South Carolina. He’s as close to being a finished product as he’s going to get without major-league experience, which he should get as soon as next spring. His ceiling remains to be seen, and will be completely dependent on how well his power translates at the big-league level. If he can tap into it completely, he can be an everyday first baseman. If it falls short, he’ll be a second-division regular or a platoon player. Either way, with Chris Davis’ likely departure this offseason, he should get a chance next season.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Dodgers outfielder Alex Verdugo and Astros righty Francis Martes.
Hitter of the Day: Alex Verdugo, OF, Dodgers (Rancho Cucamunga, A+): 3-3, 3 R, 3 2B, BB
Verdugo got off to a slow start in his first full season, but last year’s second-round pick rebounded nicely after hitting just .213 over the first two months to earn himself a late-season promotion to the California League. He’s aggressive at the plate, but the approach doesn’t lead to excessive swings and misses, which is a testament to his raw hitting ability. The power hasn’t kicked in yet, but as with so many young hitters, that can be the last tool to develop, so it’s far too early to worry about that yet.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Padres outfielder Rymer Liriano and Tigers righty Spencer Turnbull.
Hitter of the Day: Rymer Liriano, OF, Padres (El Paso, AAA): 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, BB
It’s been a crowded outfield for the Padres this year, which could explain why Liriano has been stick in Triple-A all season despite his success. The time back in the minors could be the best thing for him, however, as a player with loads of talent but a previously unrefined approach who made some adjustments this season. He’s already 24 but he’s lost developmental time in the past (a year to Tommy John surgery in 2013), but he should be in the Padres plans for next season.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson and Reds lefty Cody Reed.
Hitter of the Day: Tim Anderson, SS, White Sox (Birmingham, AA): 3-5, 2 R, 2B, 3B, SB
Anderson has once again put together a successful season while defying the laws of plate discipline, though we can see some minor signs of his approach working against him. For one, his power production dropped off substantially this season in terms of all types of extra-base hits. Additionally, while his hitting over .300 again and his natural hit tool will lead to more balls hit hard and thus, when combined with his speed, a higher-than-normal BABIP, his .386 mark this season still suggests some luck that won’t be there at higher levels. Still, Anderson is pure intrigue and athleticism and continues to have success despite his approach. It’s no longer accurate to call him inexperienced, as he now has over 1,200 professional plate appearances under his belt, but he’s clearly still learning how to use his talents on the field.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Padres outfielder Hunter Renfroe and Pirates righty Yeudy Garcia.
Hitter of the Day:Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres (El Paso, AAA): 3-5, 2 R, 2B, HR, K
A hot summer salvaged a horrible start to the season for Renfroe, who took some time to make the adjustments so many struggle with at the Double-A level. His swing mechanics, namely a lot of movement and a large weight transfer, hinder his overall hit tool and his ability to stay back on breaking balls, but he hits a fastball as well, and as far, as any prospect in the minors. He should do plenty of damage on those alone to warrant everyday playing time in the majors pretty soon, while also having the chance for more production should he continue to adjust to professional pitching.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including D'backs outfielder Peter O'Brien and Twins righty Jose Berrios.
Hitter of the Day:Peter O’Brien, OF, Diamondbacks (Reno, AAA): 3-4, 3 R, 2B, 2 HR
About a month ago, it looked like we’d be seeing O’Brien in mop-up duty for the Diamondbacks in September. Now, with their big-league club inching its way back into the NL West race, that may not be as foregone a conclusion as it once was. The bigger obstacle is a now-crowded Diamondbacks outfield and O’Brien’s limited positional versatility, which has already slowed down his asent to the big leagues. Also slowing him down, though not limiting his in-game power as much as you’d expect, is his free-swinging approach at the plate. It’s going to give him issues at the next level, but as long as he can run into enough home runs in between chasing pitches out of the zone, he could deliver Evan Gattis DH-type production.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Cubs outfielder Eloy Jimenez and Angels lefty Sean Newcomb.
Hitter of the Day:Eloy Jimenez, OF, Cubs (Eugene, SS): 3-6, 3 R, 3 HR, K (DH)
Big-time power has always been projected for Jimenez and is why he was the top name on the international market in the summer of 2013. The raw pop that earned him millions has yet to click in game action, but that’s understandable as the hulking left fielder is still just 18 and already in short-season ball. Tuesday’s outburst almost doubled his season total, but it could be a catalyst for more production.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Phillies outfielder Nick Williams and Red Sox wunderkind Anderson Espinoza.
Hitter of the Day: Nick Williams, OF, Phillies (Reading, AA): 4-6, 4 R, 2B, HR, K.
So let’s get right to the point on Williams. I was lower than anyone on him entering this season and now I’m fully on board, largely because his plate discipline was a complete abomination before this year and he’s made improvements in that area. That said, his improvements in that regard have been somewhat overstated, fueled by an incredible 16-walk May. In fact, his walk rate since June 1 is 4.7 percent, which is exactly what it was last year at Myrtle Beach. No one has ever expected him to be a patient hitter. It’s just not in his DNA. But with his raw hitting ability, he doesn’t need to be very patient, or even have average discipline. He just needs to not be on the extreme side of general hitting aggressiveness. So if he can work his way from “so obscenely aggressive it limits his ability” to “just enough of an approach to let his hit tool play,” he’s got a chance to hit .300 in the big leagues, which is really all that matters.