One of the prospect team's most recent hires examines what he has learned.
A long time ago, my father told me, “Son, be the dumbest guy in the room, maybe you’ll learn something.” That message has always stuck with me, and I try to apply it to baseball as often as possible. Whether I’m sitting next to scouts at a minor-league game, or working with the rest of the prospect team here at Baseball Prospectus, I’m always learning and adapting.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Mariners outfielder Tyler O'Neill and Mets righty Rafael Montero.
Hitter of the Night:
Tyler O’Neill, OF, Mariners (Clinton, A-): 3-6, 2 R, 2 HR, BB, 2 K.
Undersized and already physically developed, there’s not a ton of projection left in O’Neill, but it’s difficult to ignore power production from teenagers in full-season ball. Tuesday night’s game gives O’Neill eight home runs in 32 games.
Pitcher of the Night Rafael Montero, RHP, Mets (Las Vegas, AAA): 8 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, 11 K. Montero isn’t known for being a big strikeout pitcher, given his lack of a true plus pitch, but his command and his ability to add and subtract keep hitters off-balance. At this point, the Mets are just waiting for a spot to open up in their rotation to re-introduce Montero to major league hitters.
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Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including A's first baseman Matt Olson and Red Sox lefty Henry Owens.
Hitter of the Night: Matt Olson, 1B, Athletics (Stockton, A+): 3-4, 2B, HR, 3 R, BB, K.
If you’re going to be a player with a limited defensive profile whose entire value resides in his bat and play in the California League where we’re going to discount your success, then you have to put up crazy offensive numbers, right? Olson got the memo, as he continues to light up the hitter-friendly circuit, now with 33 home runs on the season.
Pitcher of the Night: Henry Owens, LHP, Red Sox (Pawtucket, AAA): 6 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 9 K.
Owens was stellar in his first Triple-A start, as the lefty has a tendency to be when he’s on his game. Owens gets by on deception in his delivery and a plus changeup, which can be a potent combination, but his lack of fastball command limits the ceiling, as does the lack of a third pitch. Owens should make it as a starter with the Red Sox, but those looking for him to replace Jon Lester need to take a step back, which is what the Red Sox will do if they believe the same thing.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Taylor Williams, Matt Olson, D.J. Peterson, and Michael Conforto.
Friday, August 1st
Alex Yarbrough, 2B, Angels (Arkansas, AA): 3-4, 3B. Yarbrough took a somewhat expected step back this year after leaving the California League behind, but he’s still hitting the baseball, just not with as much authority. He still has very strong doubles power, which is part of a tool at least, and in the Angels system, that makes you worth mentioning. Still, his profile isn’t strong as a below-average defender who will need his bat to carry him.
While all eyes were on the trade deadline madness, Javier Baez and Lucas Giolito put on a show in the minors.
Hitter of the Night: Javier Baez, 2B, Cubs (Iowa, AAA): 3-5, R, HR, K.
Baez his flaws, as does just about every hitter not named Mike Trout, but he’s officially out of whatever slump was slowing him down in April. We’re going to have to put up with some low OBPs, but we do it for Adam Jones, and no one seems to mind. No one seems too mad at Yoenis Cespedes, either. And neither of them is playing second base, where power is scarce.
Pitcher of the Night: Lucas Giolito, RHP, Nationals (Hagerstown, A-): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 6 K.
There’s a reason why we ranked Giolito as the best pitching prospect in baseball despite him being in Low-A. No pitcher in the minors can match his fastball/curveball combination, and as he gains experience, he’s learning how to set hitters up and unleash his weapons properly. His changeup has also made good progress this season.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Rangers outfielder Lewis Brinson and D'backs righty Braden Shipley.
Hitter of the Night: Lewis Brinson, OF, Rangers (Myrtle Beach, A+): 4-8, 2 R, HR, K. The progress that Brinson had made in Low-A ball this year appeared to have come
unraveled upon his promotion to the Carolina League, but he got back on track in a 16-inning affair on Wednesday. He’s still extremely aggressive at the plate and has some swing-and-miss in his game, but he’s productive nonetheless.
Pitcher of the Night: Braden Shipley, RHP, Diamondbacks (Visalia, A+): 7 IP, 5 H, R, BB, 9 K.
We can look past Shipley’s ERA, which is hovering around 4.00 after his latest outing, and look toward his high strikeout rate to take away the positives from his first full season. He pairs a mid-90s fastball with a plus changeup to generate swings and misses, and that tandem should generate even more success once he gets out of the California League.
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.
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.