Notes on many of the prospects who stood out during the past weekend.
Games of Friday, July 19
Pitching Prospect of the Day: Clayton Blackburn, RHP, Giants (High-A San Jose): 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 K. Blackburn is a strong-framed pitcher who has the potential for two plus pitches, fastball and changeup, and is having success in a hitte- friendly league. Blackburn is considered to have more polish than most his age, and he continues to develop his curveball. He profiles best as a mid-rotation starter.
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Reds third-base prospect Seth Mejias-Brean turned in a walk-off grand slam to earn the top position-player spot in today's update.
Pitching Prospect of the Day: Joan Gregorio, RHP, Giants (Low-A Augusta): 7.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 K. Gregorio has a fastball that can touch 94 with life. He is able to miss bats with a curveball that has good shape, and uses a changeup that is still early in the stages of development. Gregorio is 6-foot-7 and has extremely long levers, which allows his stuff to play up; 60.2 IP, 50 H, 21 ER, 13 BB, 73 K in 11 starts this year.
Position Prospect of the Day: Seth Mejias-Brean, 3B, Reds (Low-A Dayton): 3-5, 2B, HR, R, 6 RBI, K. Scouts feel that Mejias-Brean can be at least a solid-average hitter, and they also believe in his ability to play third base. The underlying problem is that most scouts do not feel that he will hit for enough power to fit an everyday hot-corner profile; .452/.500/.643 with 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, and 1 SB in last 42 at-bats.
Notes from a night that featured two no-hitters: a solo performance by Mariners righty Victor Sanchez and a combined effort by three Salem Red Sox led by Henry Owens.
Pitching Prospect of the Day: Victor Sanchez, RHP, Mariners (Low-A Clinton): 9.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K. Sanchez is pitching in full-season baseball at the age of 18. He features a plus fastball, a potential easy plus changeup, and a potential plus curveball. Look for Sanchez to keep improving in the second half of 2013, with a chance to move squarely onto the prospect radar next year; 63.2 IP, 57 H, 20 ER, 8 BB, 41 K in 12 starts.
Position Prospect of the Day: Henry Ramos, CF, Red Sox (High-A Salem): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 K. Ramos is a switch-hitter with plus raw power. He currently plays center field, but fits better defensively in right. Ramos will be challenged by upper-minors pitching and most likely will be a very good organizational player; .310/.383/.643 with 2 2B and 4 HR in last 42 at-bats
While most eyes were on the Home Run Derby, these prospects stole the minor-league show.
Pitching Prospect of the Day: Sean Nolin, LHP, Blue Jays (Double-A New Hampshire): 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K. My thoughts on Nolin are pretty clear: I believe he is a surefire starter and I think he slots in perfectly as a good number-four. Nolin has been on his game recently, and if the opportunity were to arise, I’m sure the Blue Jays would consider putting him back on the major-league mound; 19.2 IP, 11 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 23 K in last 3 starts.
Position Prospect of the Day: Adam Walker, OF, Twins (Low-A Cedar Rapids): 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 K. Now that Buxton has left Cedar Rapids, ABW is the big show in town. Power has always been his calling card, and he is showing the ability to make consistent solid contact. Defensively, he has transitioned from playing primarily first base in college to the outfield as a professional. The reports I’ve received lead me to believe that he has plenty of arm to stay in right, and he is working on taking the correct routes to the ball; .351/.419/.838 with 3 2B and 5 HR in last 37 at-bats.
Notes on the prospects who shined at Citi Field in the annual showcase on Sunday.
C: Austin Hedges, Padres (High-A Lake Elsinore): 0-2. Hedges had a very solid batting practice session, which gave me confidence that he will have enough bat to stay in the lineup every day. Hedges also showed off his defensive ability, gunning down XanderBogaerts on a steal attempt and displaying solid receiving skills behind the plate.
1B: C.J. Cron, Angels (Double-A Arkansas): 2-4. The results in the game were nice, but I'm not sure Cron’s swing will lead to a high rate of success at the highest level. He really drifts and his hips can get out of line in his swings. The raw power is unassailable, but I have concerns about whether it will consistently work.
Royals righty Kyle Zimmer and Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings stole the show on a night when several of the minor leagues were off.
Pitching Prospect of the Day: Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Royals (High-A Wilmington): 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 13 K. On this night, Zimmer looked exactly like the pitcher the Royals envisioned when he was selected fifth overall in 2012. Zimmer’s fastball was working 96-97 with more life and good control and command. The curveball was an absolutely dominant pitch at 79-83 with hard downward snap. He used the slider and changeup sparingly, but that is okay with me, and here is why: I’ve talked to many people in the industry who have been confused by Zimmer’s shortcomings earlier in the year. I can give you a multitude of excuses or responses on why he had these shortcomings, but the underlying point was always, “Well, the stuff is still really good!” The only realistic theory that made sense to me was that Zimmer was going to his slider, his worst pitch, far too often. This may be something that the Royals encouraged him to do for developmental reasons, but I believe this recent success should be attributed to the fact that he is attacking hitters with his best offerings; 20.0 IP, 12 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 26 K in last 3 starts.
Position Prospect of the Day: Chris Owings, SS, Diamondbacks (Triple-A Reno): 4-4, 3 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI. The arrow is pointing upward for Owings, and as you’ll see with many of these players, something more in-depth is on the way in the very near future; .348/.369/.481 with 23 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, and 15 SB in 399 at-bats.
Cubs righty Matt Loosen tossed a no-hitter for High-A Daytona, earning the top spot in today's update.
Pitching Prospect of the Day: Matt Loosen, RHP, Cubs (High-A Daytona): 9.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K. Loosen has tightened up his delivery in the best way possible. He has improved his line to the plate and his stuff has taken steps forward. He utilizes a fastball that touches the mid 90s, a solid-average curveball, a usable slider, and a fringy changeup. Loosen is taking steps forward as a prospect, and this outing will be one he never forgets.
Position Prospect of the Day: Joseph Wendle, 2B, Indians (High-A Carolina): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 K. Wendle is a natural hitter with natural bat-to-ball abilities, and he displays present pull-side power. Wendle is a solid-average runner with excellent baseball instincts. I believe he has a big-league future; it may only be as a utility player, but that is an excellent find for $10,000 in the sixth round;.405/.452/.784 with 3 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, and 3 SB in last 37 at-bats.
Tigers outfielder Avisail Garcia and Dodgers lefty Chris Reed led the way on Sunday, earning the top spots in today's update.
Pitching Prospect of the Day: Chris Reed, LHP, Dodgers (Double-A Chattanooga): 4.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K. Reed has a fastball that can touch 96 with good life, a slider in the mid 80s that is a bat-missing offering, and a fringy changeup. Some believe a lack of fastball command and an underdeveloped changeup will push him to the bullpen at some point before he reaches The Show. When I heard the Dodgers had traded for Ricky Nolasco, but that a front-end prospect was not included, I thought that Reed might be involved in the deal; 38.1 IP, 26 H, 8 ER, 9 BB, 38 K in last seven outings.
Position Prospect of the Day: Avisail Garcia, OF, Tigers (Triple-A Toledo): 4-5, 2B, 3B, HR, 4 R, 3 RBI, K, SB. Garcia, a player I’ve liked since the moment I saw him, has all sorts of ability. The nickname “Little Miggy” comes from his physical appearance, but he’s no slouch on the field. Garcia has the potential to be a solid-average hitter with solid-average power, an average runner, and solid-average defender who can play center currently, but could have to move to a corner as his body matures. I would not expect the Tigers to trade him at the deadline, but we all know what happens when teams reach points of desperation.
On the eve of international signing day, a promising European-born prospect starred for Low-A Cedar Rapids.
Pitching Prospect of the Day: Keyvius Sampson, RHP, Padres (Double-A San Antonio): 7.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K. Sampson has really found his groove, piling up the strikeout numbers of late. He has relied on a fastball-changeup combination to dominate hitters at the Double-A level; 28.2 IP, 21 H, 7 ER, 12 BB, 32 K in six June outings.
Position Prospect of the Day: Max Kepler, CF, Twins (Low-A Cedar Rapids): 2-4, 3B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. Well, it’s July 2, and we all know what that means—International signing day. Kepler has set the benchmark for players in Europe. Some believe that if he is able to succeed, it will change the game in Europe. Kepler’s skill set gives him star potential, but there is an extreme gap between current ability and his future ceiling. In a perfect world, Kepler is a five-tool monster, but let’s be thankful if he is able to stay on prospect radars; .317/.404/.707 with 5 2B, 1 3B, and 3 HR in last 41 at-bats.
Another impressive outing from Noah Syndergaard, another power display from Miguel Sano, and a no-hitter from a knuckleballer—this weekend had a little bit of everything.
Games of Friday, June 28
Pitching Prospect of the Day: Cory Mazzoni, RHP, Mets (Double-A Binghamton): 6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 10 K. I hate to say that I may have given a false sense of confidence to Mets fans, but I previously talked to a bunch of scouts that thought Mazzoni was going to stay as a starter moving forward. Recently, I’ve talked to more scouts who think that Mazzoni will be better utilized in the bullpen.