Scouts' takes on Danny Duffy, Brett Lawrie, Bubba Starling, Zack Wheeler, and other interesting players.
Many of our authors make a habit of speaking to scouts and other talent evaluators in order to bring you the best baseball information available. Not all of the tidbits gleaned from those conversations make it into our articles, but we don't want them to go to waste. Instead, we'll be collecting them in a regular feature called "What Scouts Are Saying," which will be open to participation from the entire BP staff and include quotes about minor leaguers and major leaguers alike.
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Matt Adams, 1B, Cardinals (Triple-A Memphis): 2-for-5, HR (15), R, 3 RBI, 3 K. 23 total bases in last four games have his numbers approach levels of ridiculous; .363/.391/.693 in 47 games.
Jorge Alfaro, C, Rangers (Low-A Hickory): 3-for-4, 2B, 3B, 2 R, 2 RBI. 19-year-old has been troubled by approach issues; .269/.331/.448 in 38 games.
Domonic Brown, OF, Phillies (Triple-A Lehigh Valley): 3-for-5, R. Playing well at the right time and up to .276/.325/.420, but the Phillies aren't buyers anymore.
Gary Brown, OF, Giants (Double-A Richmond): 2-for-4, HR (5), 3 R, RBI, BB, SB. All of the questions about his slow start have disappeared; 30-for-66 (.454) in last 15 games and suddenly up to .292/.357/.401 overall.
Mark Appel melts down after slipping in the draft, Danny Hultzen is due for a promotion, and Mark Prior attempts yet another comeback.
Arismendy Alcantara, SS, Cubs (High-A Daytona)
While the focus on the Cubs system is firmly on the Triple-A team and the prospects that will arrive in Wrigley this year, Alcantara has turned into a pop-up guy in the system. With five hits over the weekend, the 20-year-old Dominican is now batting .291/.315/.417 in 60 games this season. There are some holes in his game, in particular an overly-aggressive plate approach and sloppy throwing mechanics that have contributed to 22 errors, but he's a line drive hitter with a quick bat, plus speed, and the tools to remain at short. Scouts see Alcantara as a good utility player, at the very least, and many give him a chance to be an everyday player if he continues to progress.
This past weekend saw some improved control, some extended hitting streaks, and a few prospects who might be worth watching after all.
Manny Banuelos, LHP, Yankees (Triple-A Empire State)
On April 12, in his second start of the year, Banuelos walked six over two innings and then hit the disabled list with a minor back injury. The back was clearly affecting his delivery, but control was an issue in 2011 as well, and whether it's getting healthy or just a good run, he's suddenly turned into a strike-throwing machine. Since his return to the rotation—and including six outstanding innings on Sunday—Banuelos has reeled off 14 2/3 innings without issuing a walk, and he's done it without ratcheting down his stuff in terms of velocity or break. It's too early to get excited here, but with both Banuelos and Betances pitching well of late, maybe the Yankees will trust their own this year when a need arrives.
A Jekyll and Hyde righty in the Yankees system and notes from around the day in the minors.
Once a week, the Minor League Update is free, but every time, I'm going to remind you that subscribers get these every day from Tuesday-Friday with ten detailed profiles every morning in the popular Monday Morning Ten Pack.
A look at the four best-of-three series that begin Friday.
Friday's four super regional matchups in the NCAA Tournament feature seven of the eight regional top seeds, and the eighth team—No. 2-seeded Vanderbilt—upset Louisville by the narrowest of margins, a 3-2 victory in the decisive seventh game of the regional. Overall, this year has been as expected—no three or four seeds advanced, only one second seed is hosting a super regional, and six of the eight national seeds are, as expected, hosting a super regional. Today, I’ll break down Friday’s super regionals in Austin, Tallahassee, Los Angeles, and Gainesville. Tomorrow the Tempe, Clemson, Myrtle Beach, and Charlottesville super regionals, which start on Saturday, will be previewed.
To win one of the 16 four-team regional tournaments and thereby progress to a best-of-three super regional, a team must win three games—either finishing 3-0 and wrapping up its business on Sunday evening, or 3-1 and winning a single winner-take-all Monday matchup against a team to which it has already lost. This year, eight teams (Oklahoma, Arizona State, South Carolina, TCU, Texas, Florida State, UCLA, and Florida) all top seeds—finished their regional undefeated.
With 16 quartets squaring off, a quick overview of the matchups and likely outcomes as college baseball's postseason gets in gear.
Tomorrow the second season begins in college baseball, kicking off a few weeks that will give scouts a final chance to grade prospects, give many players their final hurrahs, and give fans some of the most dramatic baseball available. Since the bracket was released in full on Monday, we've had time to lodge complaints about the mistreatment of Virginia, the snubs of Rhode Island and Eastern Illinois, and the bids handed to Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Southern Miss. All that can be put to rest tomorrow, as Virginia faces put-up or shut-up time against Steven Strasburg, and the lucky bubble teams have a chance to prove that they belong.
Why the conference may be sending so many participants to the NCAA tourney this year.
College coaches spend a great deal of time defending their conference. Talk to any coach for any length of time, and concerns about the number of bids his conference will receive in the NCAA Tournament inevitably comes up. Every coach, subconsciously, also elevates the strength of his conference in his own mind. In the end, there's one conference that gets it done, year in and year out, in terms of championships, talent, and depth: the Southeastern Conference.