Rehabs go well

Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP, Red Sox (Triple-A Pawtucket) and John Lackey, RHP, Angels (Triple-A Salt Lake)
Tuesday’s stats: Matsuzaka: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K; Lackey: 4.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K
Two pitches that hold key roles at the top of their team’s rotation, both Dice-K and Matsuzaka looked sharp on Tuesday. Matsuzaka had good velocity, threw all of his pitches and had the occasional control problems, but what else is now, while Lackey was especially sharp, retiring the first nine batters he faced and taking a no-hitter into the ninth.

Let’s play two!

Tim Beckham, SS, Rays (Low-A Bowling Green)
Tuesday’s stats: Game one: 2-for-3, 3B, 2 RBI, K, CS; Game two: 2-for-4, HR (2), R, RBI, K

Any concerns over last year’s poor debut by the No.1 overall pick in the draft should now be completely gone, as Beckham is now batting .307/.330/.455 while driving in nine runs in his last five contests. Poor plate discipline (three walks all year versus 25 whiffs) is a legitimate ding, but his tools are beyond outstanding, and more than one scout has put a Barry Larkin comp on him.

Tools starting to click

Zach Collier, OF, Phillies (Low-A Lakewood)
Tuesday’s stats: 3-for-5, 2B, 3B, 3 R, K

One of many high-risk/high-ceiling guys taken by the Phillies in last year’s draft, Collier’s batting line of .265/.315/.410 isn’t especially eye catching, but keep in mind that less than two weeks ago he was hitting .163. He’s 15-for-40 since, and as we know, sometimes tools guys just start getting it. It’s too early to call this a complete conversion, but it’s worth following.

Tools starting to click: redux

Joe Benson, OF, Twins (High-A Fort Myers)
Tuesday’s stats: 3-for-5, 2 HR (3), 2 R, 4 RBI
Benson’s had his share of ups and down since being a second-round pick in 2006. At Joliet Catholic High School in Illinois, he was the best football player in the state, and his power, speed and overall athleticism have always been hard to ignore. Now batting .280/.394/.451 for the Miracle, Twins officials are hoping he’s finally turned a corner.

Taking off, eh

Brett Lawrie, 2B, Brewers (Low-A Wisconsin)
Tuesday’s Stats3-for-4, HR (4), R, 2 RBI, CS
No hitter in the Midwest League is generating more buzz than Lawrie, Milwaukee’s first-round pick last June. 21-for-51 in his last 13 games with 14 RBIs, Lawrie entered the year seen as somewhat raw due to his Canadian background, but he’s showing a good approach, a feel for consistent hard contact, and the ability to use all fields. At .326/.375/.616, he’s one of the best combinations of numbers and scouting reports you can find, as long as we don’t talk about the defense, where the reviews of him at his new position of second base are borderline laughable.

Remember Dave Parker?

Kyle Blanks, 1B, Padres (Triple-A Portland)

Tuesday’s stats:3-for-4, HR (6), R, RBI

When the Padres signed Blanks as a draft-and-follow in 2005, they had dreams on him as another Parker type, as despite being six-foot-six and somewhere around 290 pounds, Blanks is a shockingly good athlete who actually ranks as only a slightly below-average runner. Scouts have been slow to warm up to him due to his size and unorthodox swing, he’s swing more power and patience than ever at Triple-A. Now comes the scary part. With Blanks seriously blocked by Adrian Gonzalez, those Cobra dreams are back in effect as the Padres have been working him out in the outfield in preparation for a possible conversion later this month, as the Padres are desperately looking for more offense.