Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Henry Owens and Rio Ruiz.
Austin Barnes, 2B, Marlins (Jacksonville, AA): 3-7, 2 R, 2B, HR, K. I love players who have strong K:BB rates, and I love players with positional versatility, so it’s no wonder that Barnes has become one of my favorite prospects. His tools don’t jump out at you and his ceiling isn’t terribly high, but there is some pop in his bat and he controls the strike zone incredibly well, walking more often this season than he struck out. He was blocked within the Marlins organization as a catcher (which is the only reason he started back in the Florida State League to begin with), so after a mid-season promotion, he’s seen time at both second and third base as well as behind the plate. He’s got just enough power to keep pitchers honest, good bat control, and positional flexibility that includes being able to catch, which is a combination that will have significant value on a major-league roster.
Duane Underwood, RHP, Cubs (Kane County, A-): 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 8 K. Right now, Underwood features a mid-90s fastball and not a whole lot else, but there’s a lot there to dream on. He’s got good size, but he needs to take major steps forward with the command of his fastball and the development of his secondary pitches. He’s still a high-risk prospect because of the gap between his present abilities and his ceiling, but as a potential mid-rotation starter, he’s a guy the Cubs will be patient with.
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Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Corey Seager and Adalberto Mejia.
Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Cubs (Kane County, A-): 2-4. As if it weren’t tough enough to make a name for oneself in the Cubs system, Candelario laid an egg in the Florida State League to begin the year, then rebounded only slightly after being demoted back to Kane Country, performing on par with his previous stint in the league. The good news is that he’s only 20, so there’s plenty of time to take another hack at the FSL and move quickly, but the obstacles in between him and Wrigley seem a lot less surmountable than they did at this time last year, and Candelario didn’t make things any easier on himself with a disappointing season.
Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers (Chattanooga, AA): 2-4, HR, 2 K. Will he stick at shortstop or shift over to third base? That’s really the only question left for Seager, who has hit at every level and gives no indication that he will stop any time soon. It’s not just the home-run totals that are impressive, but the doubles power as well, which indicates a more balanced approach and the potential for even more power down the road.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Wilmer Difo, Edwin Escobar, and Clayton Blackburn.
Wilmer Difo, SS, Nationals (Hagerstown, A-): 3-5, 2 R, 2B, 2 HR, K. The South Atlantic League player of the year didn’t impress me in a short two-game stint earlier this year, but that alone should tell you why it’s important to see a player for a longer period of time. As word spread throughout the Sally League about Difo’s performance early in the season (five home runs in May), the league began to avoid him more frequently, and he took what they gave him. That wasn’t the best strategy, because, with plus speed, he made them pay quite often (49 steals on the season). I still don’t see him as a power threat long term, and his performance did come as a 22-year-old in Low-A ball, but it was a breakout performance nonetheless. He also features a plus arm at shortstop, giving him an interesting package of tools on which to build.
Danny Diekroeger, 3B, Cardinals (State College, SS): 3-5, 3 R, 3B, BB. Drafted in the 10th round this past summer out of Stanford, Diekroeger offers a solid skill set and tools to carve out a major-league career. He saw time at second base as well, though he primarily played third, and offered moderate pop and plate discipline while helping the Spikes to a title.
Notes on a handful of prospects who stood out yesterday, including the Rockies' Raimel Tapia, David Dahl, and Ryan McMahon.
Viosergy Rosa, 1B, Marlins (Jacksonville, AA): 2-5, 2B. Rosa isn’t much of a prospect, but the playoffs make for a slow time for the Update, and I saw Rosa about 20 times this year, so this seems like a good time to talk about him. He’s old for a prospect and is limited to first base, but he lacks the massive power production required out of the spot. Power is his calling card: He has some, but not enough to profile as an everyday first baseman. He’s limited defensively, so the bat will have to carry him, but it’s probably not going to be able to carry him far enough.
Rob Zastryzny, LHP, Cubs (Daytona, A+): 3 1/3 IP, 6 H, 2 R, BB, 3 K. Coming from the left side with a little cross-fire delivers, Zastryzny brings some deception and a changeup with some diving action that gives him a chance. The offspeed pitch needs become more consistent, and he needs a breaking ball that he can trust, but Zastryzny has a chance to be a back-end starter if it all comes together. That ceiling, however, is still quite far from being a reality.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Garin Cecchini, Kyle Crick, and Adam Brett Walker.
Garin Cecchini, 3B, Red Sox (Pawtucket, AAA): 4-4, 2 R, 3B. The biggest knock, and really the only knock, is that Cecchini doesn’t profile as your typical third baseman because he doesn’t have the kind of power usually associated with a corner infielder. What he lacks in power, however, he makes up for in plate discipline. No, it’s not the same, but it does allow him to produce value nonetheless.
Matt Barnes, RHP, Red Sox (Pawtucket, AAA): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K. Barnes has never quite put it all together this year, but that doesn’t mean he can’t end up being the mid-rotation starter everyone has projected him to be for some time. His strikeout rate dipped this season in Triple-A, yet he remained effective.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday—plus a couple from Tuesday, too.
It’s playoff time, which means the talent pool is watered down and there are only a few games to work with each night. Never fear, however, as the Update carries on.
Matt Olson, 1B, Athletics (Stockton, A+): 3-4, R, 2 2B, BB. MLU mainstay Matt Olson is having far too much fun this season hitting in the California League to let things end. It should be noted also that despite his three-true-outcome tendencies, Olson also had 30 doubles on the season.
Notes on prospects who stood out during the long weekend.
Friday, August 29th
Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Cubs (Daytona, A+): 2-4, R, HR, 2 K. The Florida State League is a tough place to develop as a power hitter, so it shouldn’t be too much of a concern that his home run total actually dropped from 19 last year to 16 this year. In fact, Vogelbach’s total tied for the league lead. Vogelbach’s raw power is very real, and he’s a good enough hitter to allow it to play in game action. He could explode next year, and that’s a comment on his power potential and not his waistline.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Mets second baseman Dilson Herrera and Phillies lefty Yoel Mecias.
Hitter of the Night: Dilson Herrera, 2B, Mets (Binghamton, AA): 3-4, 2 R, HR, K.
You’re getting a heavy dose of Herrera today, as he ended his minor-league season with a bang before receiving a surprising major-league call-up last night. Herrera has made tremendous progress this year in his development, both in his mechanics at the plate and in the resulting production. He’s being rushed to the majors and could struggle at first, but he has a solid future.
Pitcher of the Night: Yoel Mecias, LHP, Phillies (Lakewood, A-): 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, BB, 7 K.
Mecias missed the second half of 2013 and the first half of this year after having Tommy John surgery, so just the fact that he’s out there making his starts is a good sign. He wasn’t an overpowering pitcher before the injury, so it’s not surprising that he’s not missing a ton of bats at this point given the recovery period, but it’s a good sign to see him throwing strikes consistently. He should only get better as he regains the feel for his pitches and gains experience.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki and A's righty Dylan Covey.
Hitter of the Night: Kevin Plawecki, C, Mets (Las Vegas, AAA): 4-4, 2 R, 2 HR.
Good seasons for hitters have a tendency to get even better when they end in Las Vegas, and Plawecki is putting a solid stamp on the end of a second straight solid minor-league year. If you’re looking for some power from your catcher, Plawecki may not be your guy, though he does offer some in the gap variety. What he does do well is control the strike zone and put the barrel of the bat on the baseball.
Pitcher of the Night: Dylan Covey, RHP, Athletics (Stockton, A+): 7 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K.
Covey took a no-hitter into the seventh inning on Wednesday, but it will go down as a rare highlight in an otherwise disappointing season. The stuff that once got him selected in the first round (in 2010 out of high school) is no longer there, though he does still throw a ton of strikes, which is something.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson and Astros righty Mark Appel.
Hitter of the Night: Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers (Albuquerque, AAA): 3-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, BB.
There’s not much left to say about Pederson, who should be in the majors at this point and would be with any of the other 29 organizations. Unlike some of the top prospects we’ve seen struggle lately, Pederson’s floor should be higher, given his power production and on-base skills.
Pitcher of the Night: Mark Appel, RHP, Astros (Corpus Christi, AA): 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 10 K.
I’ve been waiting all year to put Appel in this section of the Update. It’s been a tale of two seasons for Appel, who was as horrific as could be in the California League but has actually been pretty good in the Texas League, getting his ERA below the 4.00 mark. He’s even missing bats more frequently lately, signaling a return of the stuff that got him selected in the top 10 twice.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Astros outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. and Orioles righty Parker Bridwell.
Hitter of the Night: Delino DeShields, Jr., OF, Astros (Corpus Christi, AA): 4-6, 3 R, 2B, 3B, 2 HR, BB, 2 K.
It’s been a big step back this year for DeShields, who hasn’t hit since leaving the California League and hasn’t seen his power translate to Double-A. This is a massive game for any prospect, though it should be noted that his team scored 23 runs in the game, so there may have been something in the air.
Pitcher of the Night: Parker Bridwell, RHP, Orioles (Frederick, A+): 8 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 13 K.
This isn’t just the best-pitched game tonight, it’s one of the best of the minor league season. Bridwell is maddeningly inconsistent and has been his entire professional career, but it’s outings like this that keep people coming back to him as a prospect. He’s got a major-league arm, but there are still big questions about whether or not he’ll ever develop enough consistency to be a starter.