The latest on Mookie Betts, Javier Baez, Noah Syndergaard, and other players who should be on your fantasy radar in case they earn promotions.
The Graduates: Neftali Feliz (22)
This past week saw the sad-sack Rangers finally deal off their closer (who had been one of the best in baseball to this point) Joakim Soria to the Tigers, freeing their former star closer to retake the role. Unfortunately, Feliz still doesn’t have his pre-Tommy John velocity back and it’s manifesting itself in diminished strikeout numbers (he has four in 11 1/3 innings). He can keep the job without the whiffs, as they don’t really have a great alternative, but his value will be diminished if it doesn’t pick up a little.
The Departed: Joey Gallo (HM)
As much fun as this would be, there’s just zero incentive for the Rangers to rush Gallo when he hasn’t even gotten a half-season’s worth of at-bats at Double-A.
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Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco and Tigers lefty Kevin Ziomek.
Hitter of the Night: Maikel Franco, 3B, Phillies (Lehigh Valley, AAA): 4-4, R, HR, SB.
It’s been a rough season for Franco, who entered the season with some questions about his swing that he made up for with strong bat-to-ball skills. Those questions still remain and have been exposed by Triple-A pitching, though he appears to be making adjustments and is hitting .321 in July. Even with his struggles this season, it’s hard to believe he won’t get a taste of the majors this September on a struggling Phillies team.
Pitcher of the Night: Kevin Ziomek, LHP, Tigers (West Michigan, A-): 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 13 K.
Ziomek, a second-rounder in last year’s draft, is excelling in his first taste of full-season ball despite too many free passes and secondary stuff that hasn’t played as well as it did in college. He has premium velocity from the left side, however, which gives him a high ceiling if the bite can return on his other offerings.
Notes on prospects who stood out over the weekend, including Addison Russell, Bradley Zimmer, Jose Peraza, and Julio Urias.
Friday, July 25
Matt Olson, 1B, Athletics (Stockton, A+): 1-3, 2 R, HR, 2 BB, 2 K. This is a very Matt Olson day, taking five plate appearances and achieving one of the three true outcomes each time. That’s Olson’s game, hitting home runs and drawing walks. The strikeouts will keep his average down, but as long as he’s walking in almost 20 percent of his at-bats and slugging over .500, no one will care. It will be interesting to see how his power holds up when he transitions to Double-A Midland, as that jump has been trouble for A’s power prospects in the past, but his power is more legitimate than many of his predecessors’.
Trading for Kendrys Morales isn't the Mariners' only attempt at an offensive upgrade this week.
The Situation: The Mariners aren’t getting offensive production from the shortstop position at the major-league level, and Taylor has been swinging serious wood at the Triple-A level.
Background: Taylor was an unheralded fifth round selection in the 2012 draft from the University of Virginia despite showing fundamental defensive skills and wheels at the collegiate level. He’s made steady progress since turning pro, hitting at every level and really shining last fall in the prospect-heavy Arizona Fall League, with his gap-to-gap approach and leather ability at a premium spot.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Mariners outfielder Gabriel Guerrero.
Hitter of the Night: Gabriel Guerrero, OF, Mariners (High Desert, A+): 3-4, 3 R, 2B, 2 HR.
Many times with offspring of former players, we get lazy and take the path of least resistance to the easiest comp we can find and compare a player to his father/uncle, etc. When people compare Gabriel to his uncle Vladimir, it’s not laziness. No, he may not be as supremely talented, but few were as gifted as the future Hall of Famer. What we do see, however, are the same mannerisms, styles, and instincts that can only be transferred through DNA. He’s got the Vladdy starter kit, which makes him pretty lucky. What he does with it from here is on him.
Pitcher of the Night: Tyler Anderson, LHP, Rockies (Tulsa, AA): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 8 K.
Primarily a fastball/changeup guy, Anderson gets by on command and control rather than velocity. He’s not a strikeout guy and profiles as a back-end starter, but he should be able to eat innings and keep the ball on the ground at Coors Field.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Cubs first baseman Dan Vogelbach and Nats righty A.J. Cole.
Hitter of the Night: Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Cubs (Daytona, A+): 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR.
Vogelbach put on a power display in Palm Beach on Wednesday, hitting a pair of opposite-field home runs to the left-center gap at Roger Dean Stadium, which is no small feat. The big first baseman wants to get his arms extended and is at his best when he’s trying to go up the middle. He had a tendency to reach on balls on the outer half when he gets pull happy, but when he stays up the middle, he can drive the ball to all fields, which is what happened last night. He missed a third home run by less than a foot, pulling one just foul down the right field line.
Pitcher of the Night: A.J. Cole, RHP, Nationals (Syracuse, AAA): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K.
After bouncing back and forth from Washington to Oakland and back, Cole has finally settled in with the Nationals and is now just a phone call from the majors. His premium fastball continues to carry him, and he commands it well enough to get away with average secondary offerings, even at the highest levels of the minor leagues.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including the Twins' Eddie Rosario and the Pirates' Tyler Glasnow.
Hitter of the Night: Eddie Rosario, OF, Twins (New Britain, AA): 3-5, 3 R, 2B, 2 HR.
Rosario has had trouble getting going after missing the first 50 games of the year with a suspension. His bat will have to carry him, but if he continues to slide down the defensive spectrum (he’s playing some left field now), it may not be enough. There’s enough in the bat for a major league role, though perhaps not an everyday spot.
Pitcher of the Night: Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates (Bradenton, A+): 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 11 K.
I’ve been getting questions for a while now asking whether or not Glasnow should be promoted to Double-A. It’s a common question any time a player is having success at a level, and Glasnow’s success does prompt such inquiries. In Glasnow’s case, however, my answer was that we need to see him throw more strikes before he can move up. As a general philosophy, I don’t like promoting prospects until they’ve mastered a level, and walking a batter every other inning falls just short of that in my book, even if the rest of the production has been as good as Glasnow’s. Plus, he’s young, so there’s no rush.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Cubs outfielder Rock Shoulders and Blue Jays righty Taylor Cole.
Hitter of the Night: Rock Shoulders, LF, Cubs (Daytona, A+): 2-2, 2 R, HR, 2 BB.
Shoulders has struggled in the Florida State League this season against pitchers with a more advanced plan to attack the holes in his swing. Still, the power is very much intact, and his home run on Monday got out of the park before Shoulders had even left the batter’s box. He’s patient and looks for his pitch to hit, but he can be exploited on the inner half and struggles with decent breaking stuff once he’s behind in the count. He’s also not a left fielder, though he’s playing there some of the time. A massively built human being with some of the strongest legs I’ve ever seen, Shoulders will have to make adjustments quickly to continue to get at-bats in a stacked Cubs farm system, but his power potential remains enticing.
Pitcher of the Night: Taylor Cole, RHP, Blue Jays (Dunedin, A+): 6 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 12 K.
Maybe this will be the start that gets Cole out of the Florida State League. At 24, he’s old for his level, but his strikeout numbers have spiked this season to almost double his career norms. He’s also throwing a ton more strikes. He doesn’t have a power fastball or overpowering secondary stuff, so his strikeout totals may be a bit of an aberration, but he’s kept them up all season, so there’s something there. It’s time to find out if he can carry it over at the next step.
Updates on Michael Taylor, Victor Arano, Daniel Norris, and others.
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Notes on prospects who stood out this weekend, including Addison Russell, Hunter Harvey, and Archie Bradley.
Friday, July 18
James Ramsey, OF, Cardinals (Springfield, AA): 2-4, R, HR, BB, K. As though the Cardinals needed more well-developed hitting prospects, they are beginning to see yet another former first-round pick develop into something on which they can rely. Ramsey, once thought to be more of a fourth outfielder, is seeing his power production increase in Double-A this season without any diminishing effects on the rest of his offensive output.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including just about every blue-chip bat in the Cubs system.
Hitter(s) of the Night
The Cubs, Multiple Positions, Wrigleyville (All Levels): It’s a good time to be a Cubs prospect, and Thursday may have been the climax of the hype machine. It’s not going to be easy to tell Cubs fans to calm down after what happened last night.
In Triple-A, Javier Baez, who was making his regular season debut at second base in order to give himself and the organization more options for the future, continued his rise out of his early-season doldrums with a 2-for-4 night that included a double and a homer. Not to be outdone, his teammate Kris Bryant went 3-for-5 with a double and a home run of his own.