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.
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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.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Rays shortstop Daniel Robertson and Brewers lefty Josh Hader.
Hitter of the Day:Daniel Robertson, SS, Rays (Montgomery, AA): 4-6, 4 R, 2 2B, HR
Robertson is a shortstop who shows plus contact skills. In an age when players strike out at massive rates, Robertson manages to make contact better than most and has generally done it with more authority than most middle infielders. Some will question whether or not he can remain at shortstop, but his arm will allow him to stay on the left side of the infield.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi and Reds lefty Amir Garrett.
Hitter of the Day:Andrew Benintendi, OF, Red Sox (Greenville, A-): 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, BB, K
As though an already stacked Red Sox farm system needed another potential impact bat, it appears they may have landed one in this year’s draft. Selected seventh overall just two months ago, the undersized Benintendi doesn’t scream power hitter. But the former Arkansas Razorback could be just that, with a balanced skill set that could see him hit for power and remain in the middle of the field.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Indians outfielder Clint Frazier and Brewers righty Jorge Lopez.
Hitter of the Day:Clint Frazier, OF, Indians (Lynchburg, A+): 3-4, 3 R, 2 HR
Frazier seems to have found just enough balance in himself as a hitter to let the talent that got him selected fifth overall in 2013 come out on a consistent basis. The strikeouts will always be a part of his game given the length and ferocity involved in his swing, but he’s reined the swing-and-miss in just enough to allow the power to play more consistently, which is a huge step for his development. Any time a young player makes a noticeable improvement in his biggest area of weakness, it’s a huge developmental green light.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Phillies outfielder Cornelius Randolph and Astros righty Francis Martes.
Hitter of the Day:Cornelius Randolph, OF, Phillies (GCL Phillies): 5-7, R, 2B, BB, K, 2 SB (DH)
If you’re going to draft a left fielder in the first half of the first round, you’d better hope he can hit. So far, the early returns look great for the Phillies and Randolph. Considered one of the best high-school bats in the country this past spring, Randolph has transitioned extremely well to professional ball and the Gulf Coast League. The hit tool is the most difficult tool to project, but Randolph’s natural hitting abilities have been evident for a while and look to be carrying over. He’s going to have to hit for some power in order to be a corner outfielder, but there’s plenty of time for that to come. For now, he’s off to a great start.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Rays outfielder Garrett Whitley and Cardinals lefty Corey Littrell.
Hitter of the Day: Garrett Whitley, OF, Rays (GCL Rays): 3-3, 3 R, 2B, HR, 2 BB.
Drafted 13th overall this past summer, Whitley was selected that high based partially on his athletic, up-the-middle profile. Being a northern prospect, his exposure to elite levels of competition was limited in comparison to other draftees, which could explain some of his struggles during his initial transition to professional baseball. Still, he’s shown glimpses, and there’s no reason to worry just yet. Games like he the one he had on Thursday provide a strong example of what he can do.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Indians outfielder Bradley Zimmer and Nationals righty Reynaldo Lopez.
Hitter of the Day: Bradley Zimmer, OF, Indians (Akron, AA): 2-3, 3 R, 2 HR, BB.
Zimmer’s breakout first full season hasn’t slowed down much since he was promoted to Double-A, and most importantly, the power has actually picked up. With the ability to stay in center field, Zimmer won’t need a ton of pop, but he should develop more than enough power to make him a plus player at an up-the-middle position.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi and Cardinals righty Luke Weaver.
Hitter of the Day: Andrew Benintendi, OF, Red Sox (Lowell, SS): 3-5, 2 R, 2 HR.
The seventh-overall pick shouldn’t have too much of an adjustment period in the lower levels of professional baseball, especially coming out of the SEC like Benintendi did and given that his acclimation has taken place exclusively in short-season ball. Benintendi has handled his initial assignment as well as could be expected, showing off some power production while controlling the strike zone exceptionally well. Getting his feet wet in Low-A ball in the last few weeks of the minor-league season wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if the Red Sox want to consider moving him quickly next year.