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.
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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.
While all eyes were on the trade deadline madness, Javier Baez and Lucas Giolito put on a show in the minors.
Hitter of the Night: Javier Baez, 2B, Cubs (Iowa, AAA): 3-5, R, HR, K.
Baez his flaws, as does just about every hitter not named Mike Trout, but he’s officially out of whatever slump was slowing him down in April. We’re going to have to put up with some low OBPs, but we do it for Adam Jones, and no one seems to mind. No one seems too mad at Yoenis Cespedes, either. And neither of them is playing second base, where power is scarce.
Pitcher of the Night: Lucas Giolito, RHP, Nationals (Hagerstown, A-): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 6 K.
There’s a reason why we ranked Giolito as the best pitching prospect in baseball despite him being in Low-A. No pitcher in the minors can match his fastball/curveball combination, and as he gains experience, he’s learning how to set hitters up and unleash his weapons properly. His changeup has also made good progress this season.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Rangers outfielder Lewis Brinson and D'backs righty Braden Shipley.
Hitter of the Night: Lewis Brinson, OF, Rangers (Myrtle Beach, A+): 4-8, 2 R, HR, K. The progress that Brinson had made in Low-A ball this year appeared to have come
unraveled upon his promotion to the Carolina League, but he got back on track in a 16-inning affair on Wednesday. He’s still extremely aggressive at the plate and has some swing-and-miss in his game, but he’s productive nonetheless.
Pitcher of the Night: Braden Shipley, RHP, Diamondbacks (Visalia, A+): 7 IP, 5 H, R, BB, 9 K.
We can look past Shipley’s ERA, which is hovering around 4.00 after his latest outing, and look toward his high strikeout rate to take away the positives from his first full season. He pairs a mid-90s fastball with a plus changeup to generate swings and misses, and that tandem should generate even more success once he gets out of the California League.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Roman Quinn, Justin Nicolino, Jed Bradley, and Kyle Schwarber.
Hitter of the Night
Danny Diekroeger, 3B, Cardinals (State College, SS): 2-5, 4 R, HR, BB. You may not know this about the update but there is a legacy at stake here. That's why when #Mort texts me at night to tell me about a player, he's (the player, not Mort) almost certain to make the update and is someone you should watch.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco and Tigers lefty Kevin Ziomek.
Hitter of the Night: Maikel Franco, 3B, Phillies (Lehigh Valley, AAA): 4-4, R, HR, SB.
It’s been a rough season for Franco, who entered the season with some questions about his swing that he made up for with strong bat-to-ball skills. Those questions still remain and have been exposed by Triple-A pitching, though he appears to be making adjustments and is hitting .321 in July. Even with his struggles this season, it’s hard to believe he won’t get a taste of the majors this September on a struggling Phillies team.
Pitcher of the Night: Kevin Ziomek, LHP, Tigers (West Michigan, A-): 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 13 K.
Ziomek, a second-rounder in last year’s draft, is excelling in his first taste of full-season ball despite too many free passes and secondary stuff that hasn’t played as well as it did in college. He has premium velocity from the left side, however, which gives him a high ceiling if the bite can return on his other offerings.
Notes on prospects who stood out over the weekend, including Addison Russell, Bradley Zimmer, Jose Peraza, and Julio Urias.
Friday, July 25
Matt Olson, 1B, Athletics (Stockton, A+): 1-3, 2 R, HR, 2 BB, 2 K. This is a very Matt Olson day, taking five plate appearances and achieving one of the three true outcomes each time. That’s Olson’s game, hitting home runs and drawing walks. The strikeouts will keep his average down, but as long as he’s walking in almost 20 percent of his at-bats and slugging over .500, no one will care. It will be interesting to see how his power holds up when he transitions to Double-A Midland, as that jump has been trouble for A’s power prospects in the past, but his power is more legitimate than many of his predecessors’.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Mariners outfielder Gabriel Guerrero.
Hitter of the Night: Gabriel Guerrero, OF, Mariners (High Desert, A+): 3-4, 3 R, 2B, 2 HR.
Many times with offspring of former players, we get lazy and take the path of least resistance to the easiest comp we can find and compare a player to his father/uncle, etc. When people compare Gabriel to his uncle Vladimir, it’s not laziness. No, he may not be as supremely talented, but few were as gifted as the future Hall of Famer. What we do see, however, are the same mannerisms, styles, and instincts that can only be transferred through DNA. He’s got the Vladdy starter kit, which makes him pretty lucky. What he does with it from here is on him.
Pitcher of the Night: Tyler Anderson, LHP, Rockies (Tulsa, AA): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 8 K.
Primarily a fastball/changeup guy, Anderson gets by on command and control rather than velocity. He’s not a strikeout guy and profiles as a back-end starter, but he should be able to eat innings and keep the ball on the ground at Coors Field.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Cubs first baseman Dan Vogelbach and Nats righty A.J. Cole.
Hitter of the Night: Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Cubs (Daytona, A+): 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR.
Vogelbach put on a power display in Palm Beach on Wednesday, hitting a pair of opposite-field home runs to the left-center gap at Roger Dean Stadium, which is no small feat. The big first baseman wants to get his arms extended and is at his best when he’s trying to go up the middle. He had a tendency to reach on balls on the outer half when he gets pull happy, but when he stays up the middle, he can drive the ball to all fields, which is what happened last night. He missed a third home run by less than a foot, pulling one just foul down the right field line.
Pitcher of the Night: A.J. Cole, RHP, Nationals (Syracuse, AAA): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K.
After bouncing back and forth from Washington to Oakland and back, Cole has finally settled in with the Nationals and is now just a phone call from the majors. His premium fastball continues to carry him, and he commands it well enough to get away with average secondary offerings, even at the highest levels of the minor leagues.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including the Twins' Eddie Rosario and the Pirates' Tyler Glasnow.
Hitter of the Night: Eddie Rosario, OF, Twins (New Britain, AA): 3-5, 3 R, 2B, 2 HR.
Rosario has had trouble getting going after missing the first 50 games of the year with a suspension. His bat will have to carry him, but if he continues to slide down the defensive spectrum (he’s playing some left field now), it may not be enough. There’s enough in the bat for a major league role, though perhaps not an everyday spot.
Pitcher of the Night: Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates (Bradenton, A+): 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 11 K.
I’ve been getting questions for a while now asking whether or not Glasnow should be promoted to Double-A. It’s a common question any time a player is having success at a level, and Glasnow’s success does prompt such inquiries. In Glasnow’s case, however, my answer was that we need to see him throw more strikes before he can move up. As a general philosophy, I don’t like promoting prospects until they’ve mastered a level, and walking a batter every other inning falls just short of that in my book, even if the rest of the production has been as good as Glasnow’s. Plus, he’s young, so there’s no rush.