Notes on prospects who stood out over the weekend, including Brandon Nimmo, Eloy Jimenez, and Raimel Tapia.
Friday, August 15th
Jesmuel Valentin, 2B, Dodgers (Great Lakes, A-): 3-4, 2 R, 3B, HR. Valentin is getting his footing back this season after a struggle last year in his first full season and is holding his own as a 20-year-old in the Midwest League.
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Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Indians outfielder James Ramsey and Astros righty Vincent Velasquez.
Hitter of the Night: James Ramsey, OF, Indians (Columbus, AAA): 5-5, R, 2 2B, HR.
There are questions about whether Ramsey can be an everyday player given that he may end up in a corner outfield spot and may not develop the power required to handle it, but he’s shown a major league bat thus far and just had his first breakout game in Triple-A. His road to the majors will be much easier to traverse with the Indians than it had been with the Cardinals.
Pitcher of the Night: Vincent Velasquez, RHP, Astros (Lancaster, A+): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 11 K.
When we give pitchers free passes for struggling in the California League, it’s important to remember that not all of them do. Velasquez is one who has not, missing more than a bat per inning while flashing two potential plus pitches. His 2.92 ERA this season proves that it can be done, as he continues to progress as a potential mid-rotation starter.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Pirates infielder JaCoby Jones and Dodgers lefty Julio Urias.
Hitter of the Night: JaCoby Jones, SS, Pirates (West Virginia, A-): 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 K.
There are two ways to look at Jones. On the one hand, he’s on pace to be a 20/20 shortstop, which is impressive and rare. On the other hand, he’s probably not going to remain a shortstop by the time he gets to the majors and there are enough questions about his pull-happy, aggressive hit tool to wonder how much his raw power and athleticism will play. Jones does a lot of things well on a baseball field, so there’s a future here, but his adjustments between now and the big leagues will determine his role and his ceiling.
Pitcher of the Night: Julio Urias, LHP, Dodgers (Rancho Cucamunga, A+): 5 IP, 6 H, R, BB, 9 K.
This is the California League, yet Urias, who has been 18 years old for all of two days now, has a 2.86 ERA through 72 1/3 innings of work. If he were an American teenager, he’d be entering his senior of high school. Instead, he’s flashing three present average-or-better pitches and dominating the toughest pitchers’ league in the world.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Dodgers outfielder Scott Schebler and Cardinals righty Alex Reyes.
Hitter of the Night: Scott Schebler, OF, Dodgers (Chattanooga, AA): 3-3, 3 R, 3 HR, BB.
There are questions about Schebler’s hit tool, bat speed, and approach, but he’s answered them thus far against minor league pitching, backing up a strong California League performance in 2013 with a good season in Double-A this year. As a left-field-only defensive player, the pressure is on his bat, but he does punish mistakes better than many hitters can.
Pitcher of the Night: Alex Reyes, RHP, Cardinals (Peoria, A-): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 11 K.
Reyes has had a start like this brewing in him all season, he just needed to throw enough strikes to make it happen. The talented youngster has had issues getting the ball over the plate this season, but he hasn’t had issues getting hit around. He’s kept the ball in the yard and missed more than enough bats. He simply needs to throw more strikes. His inconsistent command is holding him back at this point, but it’s not egregious enough for a 19-year-old to cause major concern with an arm like Reyes’s.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge and Nats righty Lucas Giolito.
Hitter of the Night: Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees (Tampa, A+): 2-4, 2 R, HR, K.
What’s most impressive about Judge is that he doesn’t sell out for his power. He doesn’t need to because of his size and strength, but he wouldn’t be the first super-sized hitter to feel the need to overswing to try to hit home runs. Instead, Judge uses his size and leverage for good plate coverage and tries to hit the ball back up the middle and to the gaps, running into plenty of home runs when they come to him rather than forcing the issue. The result is power production combined with a strong approach and a good all-around hitter.
Pitcher of the Night: Lucas Giolito, RHP, Nationals (Hagerstown, A-): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K.
At this point, Giolito has nothing left to prove in the South Atlantic League. If he’s not being promoted this season, it’s not based on ability but rather something in the Nationals’ developmental plan for him.
Notes on prospects who stood out over the weekend, including J.P. Crawford, Daniel Norris, Jorge Soler, and Trea Turner.
Friday, August 8th
Charlie Tilson, OF, Cardinals (Springfield, AA): 2-4, 2 R, HR, BB. Power isn’t Tilson’s game, but it’s important that he runs into one every now and then just to keep pitchers honest. He’s got just enough power to keep pitchers from taking advantage of him and can turn on inside pitches enough to creep up on double-digit homers.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco and Pirates righty Tyler Glasnow.
Hitter of the Night: Maikel Franco, 3B, Phillies (Lehigh Valley, AAA): 3-5, 2 R, HR.
Franco’s ability to get the bat on the ball is both his greatest strength and his biggest weakness. He doesn’t strike out a lot for a guy with good power, but with that comes a lot of bad contact and streaky hitting. Thus far, he’s paired good months with atrocious ones, though he’s backing up a strong July with a solid August to this point, as he attempts to salvage what has been a disappointing 2014 campaign.
Pitcher of the Night: Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates (Bradenton, A+): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 11 K.
Glasnow’s control has wavered this year, which is the only reason he’s still in the Florida State League. He looked like he was taking a step forward, walking more than two batters in an outing just once in a nine-game stretch before walking four batters apiece in back-to-back outings ahead of Thursday night’s start. Even when he’s putting extra guys on base, he doesn’t struggle too badly because he doesn’t get hit hard, but that’ll be more and more difficult to get away with as he moves up the organizational ladder. He’ll likely never be a big control guy, but if he can just limit the free passes slightly, he could be quite dominant.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Yankees first baseman Greg Bird and Phillies lefty Jesse Biddle.
Hitter of the Night: Greg Bird, 1B, Yankees (Trenton, AA): 4-4, 3 R, 2 HR.
Bird has the potential to be a well-above-average offensive player because of his combination of power and plate discipline. He gets himself in trouble by being too patient at times, taking pitches that he should be driving. This was his first big game since being promoted to Double-A, where pitchers can expose a patient approach with more ability to throw strikes. As he develops a better plan and learns which pitches to drive and which to lay off of, he could see his power spike and max out close to 25 home runs per year.
Pitcher of the Night: Jesse Biddle, LHP, Phillies (Clearwater, A+): 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 5 K.
Biddle gets a bit of an asterisk here because he’s back in the Florida State League after making 42 Double-A starts the past two years, but after leaving the Reading Phillies due to mental issues dealing with his struggles, it’s just good to see Biddle back on the field and having success. The Phillies haven’t announced what’s next for Biddle, but right now it’s most important for him to have success, with his development taking a back seat for the time being.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Mariners outfielder Tyler O'Neill and Mets righty Rafael Montero.
Hitter of the Night:
Tyler O’Neill, OF, Mariners (Clinton, A-): 3-6, 2 R, 2 HR, BB, 2 K.
Undersized and already physically developed, there’s not a ton of projection left in O’Neill, but it’s difficult to ignore power production from teenagers in full-season ball. Tuesday night’s game gives O’Neill eight home runs in 32 games.
Pitcher of the Night Rafael Montero, RHP, Mets (Las Vegas, AAA): 8 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, 11 K. Montero isn’t known for being a big strikeout pitcher, given his lack of a true plus pitch, but his command and his ability to add and subtract keep hitters off-balance. At this point, the Mets are just waiting for a spot to open up in their rotation to re-introduce Montero to major league hitters.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including A's first baseman Matt Olson and Red Sox lefty Henry Owens.
Hitter of the Night: Matt Olson, 1B, Athletics (Stockton, A+): 3-4, 2B, HR, 3 R, BB, K.
If you’re going to be a player with a limited defensive profile whose entire value resides in his bat and play in the California League where we’re going to discount your success, then you have to put up crazy offensive numbers, right? Olson got the memo, as he continues to light up the hitter-friendly circuit, now with 33 home runs on the season.
Pitcher of the Night: Henry Owens, LHP, Red Sox (Pawtucket, AAA): 6 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 9 K.
Owens was stellar in his first Triple-A start, as the lefty has a tendency to be when he’s on his game. Owens gets by on deception in his delivery and a plus changeup, which can be a potent combination, but his lack of fastball command limits the ceiling, as does the lack of a third pitch. Owens should make it as a starter with the Red Sox, but those looking for him to replace Jon Lester need to take a step back, which is what the Red Sox will do if they believe the same thing.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Taylor Williams, Matt Olson, D.J. Peterson, and Michael Conforto.
Friday, August 1st
Alex Yarbrough, 2B, Angels (Arkansas, AA): 3-4, 3B. Yarbrough took a somewhat expected step back this year after leaving the California League behind, but he’s still hitting the baseball, just not with as much authority. He still has very strong doubles power, which is part of a tool at least, and in the Angels system, that makes you worth mentioning. Still, his profile isn’t strong as a below-average defender who will need his bat to carry him.