On The Mend . . . And How

Kelvin De La Cruz, LHP, Indians (High-A Kinston) 

Monday's stats: 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K

De La Cruz entered the 2009 season as one of the top left-handers in the system and was living up to all expectations by whiffing 19 over twelve innings in his first two starts before elbow problems limited him for the rest of the season.  Finally healthy again, the 22-year-old Dominican looks to be all the way back after last night with six nearly perfect innings against Wilmington.   A six-foot-five, skinny to a fault southpaw, De La Cruz attacks hitters with a low-90s fastball and an impressive curve, and despite a complicated delivery, he tends the throw strikes.  His sub-standard change-up and frame has many profiling him betters as a reliever down the road, but either way, he's back on track. 

Back To His Old Ways

Desmond Jennings, OF, Rays (Triple-A Durham) 

Monday's stats: 2-for-6, 2 R, 2 RBI, K, SB

The top prospect in a loaded Rays system, a wrist injury delayed Jennings' 2010 season until Sunday, and now in two games he's reached base five times and scored three runs.  There was some thought before the injury occurred that Jennings might break camp in the big leagues, but a crowded outfield situation leaves him no playing time for now.  That will change next year when Carl Crawford departs via free agency, but the more interesting play might involve trading Crawford during the year for some playoff run help and inserting Jennings into that spot with little to no loss in production – he's that good, with many scouts comparing him to Crawford in terms of tools and overall athleticism but with a much more patient approach. 

There Really Are Other Prospects In New York

Jesus Montero, C, Yankees (Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre) 

Monday's stats: 2-for-4, HR (1), 2 R, RBI 

While New York City got awfully excited about a good-not-great prospect coming to town in Ike Davis on Monday, one is left to wonder what it will be like later in the year when the Yankees call up one of the best prospects in the game.  Surely, the surrounding factors won't be the same, as Mets fans are desperate for a light of hope in a miserable lineup, and hoping Davis will be the answer, while it's impossible to see Montero coming up with the same expectations attached to his arrival.  At 20 years old, he's one of the youngest everyday players at the upper levels, but as he's also the top hitting prospect in the minors, it just doesn't matter, as he's batting .300 while showing off the power for the first time on Monday afternoon against former big leaguer R.A. Dickey.  Get the hype train revved up again. 

Don't Call It A Comeback . . .

Lars Anderson, 1B, Red Sox (Double-A Portland) 

Monday's stats: 2-for-4, HR (3), R, 2 RBI 

Anderson's 2009 was one of the more disappointing performances in the minors, as he simply never got going at Portland while batting just .234/.328/.345 on the year while seeing his home run total cut in half.  He seemed lost at times at the plate, tentative and slow, and as a first base-only prospect, it hurt his stock dramatically. If a player like this can't profile as a middle-of-the-order run producer, he's not much of a prospect.  After some encouraging reports during the spring, Anderson has finally found a groove, smashing his third home run of the year (it took him until May 16 last year to reach that mark) while batting a healthy .316/.381/.632. Those are middle-of-the-order numbers, now he just needs to keep it up. 

The Well Is Hardly Dry

Jarred Cosart, RHP, Phillies (Low-A Lakewood) 

Monday's stats: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K

While the Phillies seemingly mortgaged the future to bring Roy Halladay to the rotation of the defending National League champs, the minor league organization is still packed with high-ceiling talent at the lower levels. Standing out on Monday was Cosart, a 38th-round pick in 2008 who the Phillies paid more than half a million to in order to sway him from going to college.  While he's awfully raw, he already has a fastball than gets into the mid-90s as well as a promising breaking ball, and his command and consistency have already made great strides in 2010. In three starts, he's struck out 24 over 17 innings while walking just three. 

Running Like Wild

Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Cubs (Low-A Peoria) 

Monday's stats: 1-for-3, BB, R, RBI, 4 SB

The Cubs are baseball's leader when it comes to identifying and signing talent from the Pacific Rim, and Lee is their biggest prize so far.  A outstanding defensive shortstop with an outstanding arm and plus-plus speed, one scout called him “The Korean Jose Reyes,” and that speed was on display Monday night as he fell one short of the team record for stolen bases in a game.  The 19-year-old is still years away, but there's already whispers that if everything works out, he's good enough to force uber-prospect Starlin Castro to slide over to second base. 

Others Of Note:

  • Brennan Boesch, OF, Tigers (Triple-A Toledo): Boesch hit home run number three last night and is .340/.415/.617 overall.
  • Madison Bumgarner, LHP, Giants (Triple-A Fresno): Bumgarner had his first good start of the year, and he reportedly touched 93 according to the stadium gun. I don't know how accurate that is, but it's some kind of progress.
  • Andrew Cashner, RHP, Cubs (Double-A Tennessee): With seven more dominant innings, Cashner now has 25 Ks in 17.1 innings against just seven hits and four walks.
  • Danny Farquhar, RHP, Jays (Double-A New Hampshire): The great sleeper relief prospect gave up his first hit of the season last night (five IP overall). He throws in the low-90s with tons of funk and varying arm angles.
  • Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals (High-A Wilmington): Hosmer hit his first home run of the year last night and is .447/.533/.658 overall. Could he be the younger version of Lars Anderson?
  • Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Braves (Triple-A Gwinnett): Struck out three of four batters he faced last night, and now 12 of 24 overall.  He could be in big leagues sooner than expected.
  • Andrew Lambo, OF, Dodgers (Double-A Chattanooga): Lambo is 10-for-18 in last four games; he's repeating Double-A but is still young for level.
  • Mike Montgomery, LHP, Royals (High-A Wilmington): Montgomery has given up two hits in each of his three starts (five, seven, and six innings); the Carolina League is 6-for-60 against him with 27 Ks.
  • Alexi Ogando, RHP, Rangers (Double-A Frisco): Trapped in the Dominican for years due to visa issues, 26-year-old has allowed one hit over 5 2/3 innings in his first two games.