For one night, the White Sox look like the team to beat in the AL Central.
The Tuesday Takeaway
The White Sox entered last night’s matchup with Justin Verlander with a .237 team TAv, the second-worst mark in baseball. Only the Marlins, at .231, had been less potent at the plate as a group, and Mike Redmond’s bunch did not have the benefit of a designated hitter. Among junior-circuit clubs, the Yankees, 11 points ahead of the White Sox at .248, were the next-worst squad.
The American League’s least productive lineup, one with only two starters toting on-base percentages higher than .310, is not supposed to collect 23 hits in a game against Verlander. But on Tuesday, the White Sox did.
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With Alfredo Figaro on the DL, the Brewers bring up a 6-foot-9 flamethrower.
The Situation: With starting pitcher Alfredo Figaro landing on the disabled list due to a strained oblique, the Brewers have recalled Hellweg from Triple-A Nashville. He’ll make his big-league debut on Friday against Pittsburgh. Figaro’s issue should sideline him until at least the All-Star break; while Hellweg may not be up permanently, he should get at least a couple starts. If you like big velocity (and who doesn’t?), I’d suggest tuning into Friday’s Brewers/Pirates matchup, as Hellweg will face Pirates rookie Gerrit Cole. Both starters will work mid-to-upper 90s and touch triple digits with their fastballs.
Background: A 16th-round pick out of the junior college ranks in 2008, Hellweg was a 6-foot-7 hurler who threw 90-92 mph at the time he was drafted. In the video interview shown below, the right-hander says he grew five inches between his late high school and early professional years. He now stands a towering 6-foot-9, and his velocity has bumped 101 mph in recent seasons.
Of all the prospects in the minors, Baez’s status might have the most volatility, with the skill set to blossom into a superstar and the deficiencies that could terminate the dream before it begins. With elite bat speed and the type of raw power that can find a home in the middle of any major-league lineup, Baez could end up as the top prospect in the game. But his one-speed-fits-all approach on both sides of the ball can be limiting: His aggressive, see-ball-hit-ball mentality at the plate often puts him behind in counts and vulnerable to offerings out of the zone, and his tendency to rush the actions and the throws makes him error prone despite his exquisite hands at shortstop. Baez is warming up and is a good candidate to explode this summer, with a chance to sneak into the top 10 prospects in the game. But the Double-A test is looming on the horizon, and without more nuance to his game and a more refined approach, Baez could take a big step back against better competition. The talent is extreme. The risk is just as extreme. —Jason Parks
Notes from the AFL as the rest of the leagues were off on Monday.
All notes are from the Arizona Fall League as all other leagues were off on Monday, aside from one makeup game in the Dominican Winter League. Two of the offensive stars in that 15-6 victory for the Estrellas de Oriente were journeymen minor leaguers Ed Rogers (3-for-5, RBI) and Alex Valdez (2-for-4, HR, 2B, 4 RBI), who have played in over 2100 minor league games combined in their career.