Jason chats with the Cardinals' top pitching prospect.
When the Cardinals selected Michael Wacha 19th overall in last year’s draft, the right-hander was widely regarded as a polished arm who could potentially zoom to the major leagues. While that has proven to be true––Wacha reached St. Louis less than a year after he was drafted––he’s showing to be more than just a “safe” pick.
The Texas A&M product put himself in the big-league discussion this spring by yielding one unearned run in 11.2 innings out of the bullpen, walking one and striking out 15 while flashing 95-98 mph velocity. The impressive performance yielded an aggressive assignment to Triple-A Memphis out of camp.
The A's call up young pitching prospect Sonny Gray.
The Situation: With the All-Star break looming, the Athletics do not have a need for a fifth starter until late next week. Accordingly, Oakland is utilizing that roster spot to provide Sonny Gray with his first taste of major-league action, with the 2011 first rounder to work out of the A’s ‘pen.
Background: Gray was a first-round selection out of Vanderbilt University back in 2011, showcasing some of the best raw stuff in the draft but slipping to the A’s at 18th overall due to the depth of talent in the draft class, some questions about his sub-six-foot stature, and the quality of his off-speed. The former ‘Dore carved up the Texas League after signing in 2011 but took a step back, developmentally, in 2012, struggling to implement some mechanical tweaks and suffering through some regression in stuff and command.
Where you should go if you want to see the most, best baseball in the shortest amount of time?
Sometime during the second game of a doubleheader in Batavia, N.Y. on a Monday night, you start to realize just how much baseball there is. So when you return home from that game, you look up the fact there were 14,423 games in the majors and the affiliated minor leagues last year, and all of a sudden hitting six games in four days doesn’t sound so impressive.
It is something that every baseball fan with the necessary mobility should try once, though. And then after you try it once, you’ll start picking your next trip before you even take the ticket stubs out of your pocket.
Royals righty Kyle Zimmer and Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings stole the show on a night when several of the minor leagues were off.
Pitching Prospect of the Day: Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Royals (High-A Wilmington): 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 13 K. On this night, Zimmer looked exactly like the pitcher the Royals envisioned when he was selected fifth overall in 2012. Zimmer’s fastball was working 96-97 with more life and good control and command. The curveball was an absolutely dominant pitch at 79-83 with hard downward snap. He used the slider and changeup sparingly, but that is okay with me, and here is why: I’ve talked to many people in the industry who have been confused by Zimmer’s shortcomings earlier in the year. I can give you a multitude of excuses or responses on why he had these shortcomings, but the underlying point was always, “Well, the stuff is still really good!” The only realistic theory that made sense to me was that Zimmer was going to his slider, his worst pitch, far too often. This may be something that the Royals encouraged him to do for developmental reasons, but I believe this recent success should be attributed to the fact that he is attacking hitters with his best offerings; 20.0 IP, 12 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 26 K in last 3 starts.
Position Prospect of the Day: Chris Owings, SS, Diamondbacks (Triple-A Reno): 4-4, 3 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI. The arrow is pointing upward for Owings, and as you’ll see with many of these players, something more in-depth is on the way in the very near future; .348/.369/.481 with 23 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, and 15 SB in 399 at-bats.
Cubs righty Matt Loosen tossed a no-hitter for High-A Daytona, earning the top spot in today's update.
Pitching Prospect of the Day: Matt Loosen, RHP, Cubs (High-A Daytona): 9.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K. Loosen has tightened up his delivery in the best way possible. He has improved his line to the plate and his stuff has taken steps forward. He utilizes a fastball that touches the mid 90s, a solid-average curveball, a usable slider, and a fringy changeup. Loosen is taking steps forward as a prospect, and this outing will be one he never forgets.
Position Prospect of the Day: Joseph Wendle, 2B, Indians (High-A Carolina): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 K. Wendle is a natural hitter with natural bat-to-ball abilities, and he displays present pull-side power. Wendle is a solid-average runner with excellent baseball instincts. I believe he has a big-league future; it may only be as a utility player, but that is an excellent find for $10,000 in the sixth round;.405/.452/.784 with 3 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, and 3 SB in last 37 at-bats.