Updates on Corey Seager, Julio Urias, Mark Appel, and more.
Hitter of the Day: Corey Seager, 3B, Dodgers (Tulsa, AA): 2-4, 2 R, 3B, HR. Great hitter, off to a fantastic start, yada yada yada. There’s not much else to say about Seager’s bat that hasn’t already been said. He’s just a great hitter. It’s worth noting, however, that he did play third base on Thursday night. Many have suggested that he has been destined to move there out of athletic necessity, but not all agree, myself included. He won’t be Andrelton Simmons at short, but he has enough range to handle it in his 20s. The Dodgers may be thinking short-term, however, and if they have any part of 2015 in their minds for Seager, they want to at least get him some experience at third base in case he needs to fill in for Juan Uribe at some point.
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Updates on Trevor Story, Alex Reyes, Kohl Stewart, and more.
Hitter of the Day: Trevor Story, 2B/SS, Rockies (Tulsa, AA): 3-3, 3 R, 2 2B, 3B, 2 BB. If 2014 was a step back in the right direction for Story, then 2015 is heading towards being a giant leap. Story got back on track last season in the California League, but wasn’t able to carry it over after a promotion, leaving questions about how much of his success was hitting environment-inflated. He’s answering them thus far this season, carrying over an impressive AFL stint into Double-A success. Story is a quick-twitch athlete with bat speed to spare, but issues putting it to good use from time to time. He can be streaky, with holes in his swing and approach that are going to limit his hit tool at the major-league level, but in between he should do a lot of damage for a middle infielder.
Hitter of the Day:Preston Tucker, OF, Astros (Fresno, AAA): 2-5, 3 R, 2 HR, K. Tucker isn’t the kind of guy that gets scouts talking, as his tools generally don’t jump off the field at you. But it’s impossible to argue with his production, which has always included big power numbers dating back to his days as a Florida Gator. He may not profile as an everyday player on a first-division team, but power is a scarce commodity in today’s game and Tucker has it. That alone will find him a role on a big-league roster sometime soon.
Notes on Byron Buxton, Corey Seager, Nomar Mazara, and more.
Byron Buxton, OF, Twins (Chattanooga, AA): 4-6, R, 2B, 3B, CS. It feels like it’s been forever since we’ve been able to rave about Buxton. Sure, he’s still the top prospect in all of baseball, but it doesn’t feel like it right? It’s difficult to be overlooked when you’re at the top, but given the plethora of Cubs prospects dominating the prospect landscape, the strength of the Twins system surrounding Buxton, and the general lack of attention span of all of us, it’s easy to see why we’ve forgotten about Buxton to a certain extent. After an injury-riddled 2014 campaign, we’re still in virtually the same place we were a year ago with Buxton. With a Double-A challenge lying ahead of him, a healthy season of Buxton will tell us a lot about his development. Clearly, the tools are still well intact.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including, Matt Olson, Trevor Williams, and Steven Matz.
Welcome back to the start of another wonderful baseball season, now fully underway with the commencement of the minor-league schedule last evening. What that means in this space, of course, is another season of the Minor League Update.
A look at the arms who've stood out in Puerto Rico to date.
Miguel Chalas, RHP, White Sox (Cangrejeros de Santurce): 18 IP, 17 H, 16 K/8 BB, 3.50 ERA.
Chalas came over from the Orioles in the Alejendro De Aza deal, though by that time the minor-league season had come to an end. He’s an undersized, max-effort reliever who struggles with his in-the-zone command. Chalas has a good arm and achieves low-to-mid 90s velocity, but he profiles as a middle reliever.
Joe Jimenez, RHP, Tigers (Gigantes de Carolina): 12 2/3 IP, 3 H, 15 K/1 BB, 0.00 ERA.
Jimenez has taken his upper-90s fastball to his native country this winter and has been even more dominant than he was in his New York-Penn League stint this summer. His fastball/slider combination has yet to be challenged, and even though he’s likely destined for a relief role, he could be an impact ‘pen arm.
A look at four arms who've stood out in Venezuela.
Adys Portillo, RHP, Padres (Aguilas del Zulia): 17 IP, 16 H, 13 K/15 BB, 7.94 ERA.
Winter league numbers require context due to the small sample sizes, different hitting environments in different leagues, ends of long seasons, etc. At no point in the baseball universe, however, is it a good thing to walk more batters than you strike out. Extreme control issues have plagued Portillo since he signed for $2 million in 2008, and they don’t appear to be getting any better, even after he switched to a relief role this season.
J.C. Sulbaran, RHP, Royals (Tiburones de La Guaira): 4 GS, 17 IP, 18 H, 13 K/5 BB, 5.82 ERA. Best known as the player the Royals got in return for Jonathan Broxton at the 2012 trade deadline, Sulbaran stagnated at Double-A in 2013 but bounced back with a solid season in 2014. Upon their acquisition of Sulbaran, the Royals moved him into the bullpen, but the right-hander never took to the change. He returned to the Double-A rotation this season and once again found mild success. There’s not a lot of upside with Sulbaran, but having just turned 25 and with a solid foundation of innings built up throughout his minor-league career, he should serve as rotation depth for the Royals as early as this season and could settle in as a spot-starter/long man.
A look at the arms who've stood out in DWL action.
Last week, I recapped all three winter leagues, but if you were paying careful attention, you noticed that all of the players mentioned were position players. That actually wasn’t on purpose so much as the amount of hitting prospects greatly outweighs the number of pitching prospects playing in winter leagues. With the concern about innings totals and the abuse of young arms, this isn’t terribly surprising.
Still, while perhaps not of the prospect variety, there are still a number of notable arms active in winter league action. That’s where this Update comes in.
Picking out the prospects and intriguing young players in the thinnest of the three winter circuits.
Anthony Garcia, OF, Cardinals (Gigantes de Carolina): .331/.429/.661, 9 2B, 3B, 10 HR, 19 BB/24 K in 124 AB.
Garcia is a free-swinger to the fullest extent. That doesn’t work very well in the Florida State League, as evidenced by just 10 home runs in a full season in Palm Beach in 2014 (don’t feel too bad for Garcia, he did get to love in Palm Beach for six months). Despite his modest home run totals during the regular season, Garcia does have plus raw power, but despite his impressive totals this winter, it isn’t likely to play in games. He’s not much of a defensive player either, so his value will have to come exclusively from his bat, and that’s a major question given his swing-and-miss issues.
The Update returns with a look at the prospects and young players who've stood out in the Dominican.
Cristhian Adames, SS, Rockies (Toros del Este): .353/.426/.473, 4 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR, 18 BB/19 K in 167 AB.
Adames generally does a nice job making contact, and does so without an extremely aggressive approach, so it’s not shocking to see him go on runs like this where he strings together high averages with lots of balls in play. The lack of power in his game limits his upside, and though he’s shown more extra-base thump this winter than in his minor-league career, there’s not much reason to believe there’s a lot of punch in his bat long term. Still, his ability to put the bat on the baseball and possibly handle all three infield positions makes him a valuable bench candidate.
A look at the prospects and young big leaguers who've stood out in Venezuela.
Odubel Herrera, 2B, Phillies (Tiburones de La Guaira): .373/.429/.557, 13 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 17 BB/28 K in 185 AB.
Herrera hasn’t shown much power in the past, and I wrote just that in our Rule Five recap a few weeks ago. Naturally, he’s proved that to be false this winter in his native country. We can’t put a lot of stock in a month’s worth of winter league numbers, but if Herrera can add just a little bit of pop to his speed and defense, he could be a valuable asset to a suddenly shallow Phillies middle infield.