Cody Buckel, RHP, Rangers (Double-A Frisco)
Buckel’s start has included 16 walks in just six innings over three appearances. It’s early, but the extreme control issues are a troubling sign for a pitcher who issued only 48 free passes in 144 2/3 innings between the High- and Double-A levels last season. Buckel’s overall stuff has been fine; he touched 96 mph during a recent start in Frisco. But a number of scouts have been quick to point out the 20-year-old’s defeated body language on the mound. His mechanics have also been highly inconsistent, with one scout saying, “He’s making a lot of little adjustments on the mound, but every adjustment needs another adjustment.” If the control issues persist, it’ll be interesting to see if the Rangers eventually let Buckel work things out in the bullpen or move him to a more controlled environment in extended spring training. —Jason Cole
Matt Barnes, RHP, Red Sox (Double-A Portland)
The top pitching prospect in the organization got off to a rocky start in Double-A, lasting just 1 inning and 2 1/3 innings in his first two outings. But the right-hander rebounded nicely with six efficient innings, allowing five hits while striking out seven. Barnes’ heater operated 91-95 mph, with plenty of late life and movement when thrown down in the zone. The 22-year-old showed how he can use his fastball, reaching for extra velocity when needed, pounding both sides of the plate throughout the outing, and creating the steep, downhill angle that pushes it toward a plus-plus pitch. Barnes was a strike-throwing machine with the offering, which allowed him to churn through the lineup with relative ease. What stood out more, though, was his trust in an improved changeup. The pitch has become a viable offering and graded as average to solid-average. The 83-85 mph change showed arm-side fade, and occasional cut when the righty threw it to the glove side. What kept batters at bay was seamless arm-speed between his fastball, creating deception that had hitters in front when Barnes mixed it in sequences. This pitch should go a long way to proving he’s on his way to fulfilling a projection as a solid third starter. —Chris Mellen
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Hey, Kevin, when is so-and-so going to get called up? Huh? Huh?
We still don't know when Player X is going to get called up, as injuries and ineffectiveness at the big league level, as well as the constant spectre of service time calculations, can play a far larger role than simply looking at minor league performance. We can, however, get some clues from the flurry of minor league promotions that come at mid-season. Here are ten recently promoted players, and what we can learn from them.
Jason's starting to wind down his time in Arizona, but not before he gives another peek into an unedited scouting notebook for some Texas Rangers prospects.
“Baseball is my stereo, and my father let me crank the noise and my mother told me to turn it down.” –-Oliver Wendell Holmes
I enjoyed writing the first installment of this ad hoc series, so I decided to bring it back this week. If you’ve been reading my spring training diary, one of the things you probably learned is that I’m very casual with my thoughts, especially as they relate to my ongoing attempts to woo the face of my diary into an emotional (and perhaps) physical relationship. I’m still working on that. The other thing you have no doubt extracted is that I’ve been living in Surprise, Arizona for the past 30 days, spending a large chunk of my time at the Texas Rangers team complex, watching the stop-motion developmental process of minor leaguers in real time live action. My scouting views haven’t been limited to just the Rangers, as I’ve seen prospects from the Reds, Indians, Mariners, A’s, Giants, Padres, Royals, Rockies, Dodgers, and White Sox, and I’m clearly lying about watching prospects in the White Sox system because that’s like watching unicorns play Laser Tag, and my notes are thick and luscious with scouting commentary on the aforementioned teams, excluding the White Sox, of course. Alas, my editors wouldn’t enjoy bi-weekly 10,000 word submissions and the bones in my fingers would relocate to more comfortable surroundings, so I’ve had to spread the notes around using different vehicles, this being one of those vehicles.
One prospect is unhittable on Independence Day, while a first-rounder from last year gets shipped to his team's spring training complex.
Kyle Blanks, 1B/OF, Padres (Triple-A Tucson) He just can't stay here much longer. Anthony Rizzo had many people all but forgetting about Blanks during the first part of the season, but Blanks has, for lack of a better phrase, gone completely nuts at Triple-A. He went 9-for-18 with four home runs over the weekend, is batting .411/.477/.884 in 24 games since arriving in Tucson, and Rizzo is batting .174 in 23 big-leagues games. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what the right move is on an immediate basis, but finding out what to do with both players could prove to be a bit more challenging down the road.
While interest in baseball's draft has grown exponentially over the last few years, the overwhelmingly majority of that attention is given to the first round, or in the case of last year's television coverage, the first day of picks, which included a total of 50 selections including the supplemental round. There were 1,475 selections after that, and here are ten who will be a lot more well-known 12 months from now.