And After Strasburg, We Get Champman

Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Reds (Triple-A Louisville) 

Thursday's stats:  5.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R (0 ER), 5 BB, 8 K

It's probably for the best than some bad weather has finally disconnected the schedules of Champman and baseball's top prospect Stephen Strasburg, who both made their pro debut on the same day.  It's just too much to keep up with, and now we can focus on them one at a time.  On Thursday, it's was the Reds lefty's turn, and he continues to miss plenty off bats, while also unfortunately continuing to struggle with his control and miss the strike zone.  Only 54 of his 95 pitches went for strikes, but as usual, he flirted with the upper 90s on several occasions and flashed a good slider at times.  It's the highest upside non-Strasburg arm around, but it still needs more refinement. 

Announcing His Presence With Authority

Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals (Double-A Northwest Arkansas) 

Thursday's stats: 3-for-4, 2B, 2 HR (2), 3 R, 4 RBI, BB, CS 

The second overall pick in the 2007 draft, Moustakas has been a bit of a disappointment with the bat, entering this year with career averages of .262/.320/.444, although it should be noted that each of his first two seasons were played in brutal hitting environments.  His 2010 debut was delayed until Thursday due to an oblique strain, but he quickly enjoyed his first taste of a good place to hit by cracking home runs in his first two at-bats of the season and later adding a double for good measure.  Beyond the power, which comes from some of the best bat speed in the minors, Moustakas also has a top of the line arm.  There's a reason he went has high as he did nearly three years ago, and he might be ready to justify it. 

Getting Things Going . . . And How

Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves (Triple-A Gwinnett) 

Thursday's stats: 4-for-4, 2B, 2 HR (3), 3 R, 4 RBI, BB 

I've quipped in a few places here and there that Freeman didn't belong at Triple-A, as he's only 20 years old and struggled last year one level below.  I looked smart a week ago when he was hitting .139, but he's been on a tear since, as the best game in the minors last night makes him 10-for-23 in his last six games with 20 total bases.  Troy Glaus has been getting his fair share of boos in Atlanta, but don't worry Braves fans, he's just a one-year stop gap for Freeman. 

Well, You Certainly Can't Call Him Inconsistent

Starlin Castro, SS, Cubs (Double-A Tennessee) 

Thursday's stats: 2-for-4, 2B, R, CS; 2-for-3, 2B, 2 R, BB, CS 

The Smokies played two yesterday, and Castro had two hits in both games.  That's not a surprise, as he had two hits on Wednesday as well.  Oh yeah, Tuesday too.  Monday?  Yup, two hits.  With six straight two-hit games and nine overall in 13 contests, the 20-year-old is up to .404/.426/.649, and the Cubs are this much closer to making a mistake and calling him up to the big leagues before he is ready and hoping he can salvage what looks to be an already sinking ship. 

The Next Neftali?

Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Rangers (Double-A Frisco) 

Thursday's stats: SV, 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K

Scheppers stuff isn't quite in the range of Neftali Feliz, but it's not far off either.  One of the best pure arms in the 2009 draft, Scheppers comes with a load of red flags revolving around his injury history and fear of further arm problems down the road, but he's healthy for now and nothing short of dominant.  Pitching in the mid-to-upper 90s with a filthy power breaking ball, Texas League hitters are now 3-for-29 against the 23 year-old with 13 whiffs.  Featured here yesterday, the Rangers called up first baseman Justin Smoak last night to help a flailing offense.  Scheppers might not be far behind in order to shore up the bullpen. 

Sleeper Alert!

Xavier Avery, OF, Orioles (High-A Frederick) 

Thursday's stats: 4-for-5, 2B, 3 R, RBI, SB

A second-round pick in 2008, Avery has as much in the tools department as anyone in the Orioles system, but he's still far from a refined product, as miserable plate discipline led to a .646 OPS at Low-A in his full-season debut last year.  Still, tools guys are the kind of players that take big step forwards, and while it's too early to classify as official, Avery is off to a great start in the Carolina League, batting .388/.474/.469 and showing plus-plus speed, good defense, and most importantly, a much more patient approach. 

Others Of Note:

  • Dustin Ackley, 2B, Mariners (Double-A West Tenn): Single, double walk last night . . . . here it comes.
  • Lars Anderson, 1B, Red Sox (Double-A Portland): Home run last night gives him three in his last six games. 
  • Eric Arnett, RHP, Brewers (Low-A Wisconsin): Three genuinely bad starts in a row for 2009 first-round pick; six runs in four innings last night and 19 in 11.2 overall.
  • Eric Duncan, 1B/2B/3B, Braves (Double-A Mississippi): Two more hits last night and now a line of .439/.467/.634 for the former Yankee.  I don't have a point here as much as I just find it interesting for now.
  • Wilmer Flores, SS, Mets (Low-A Savannah): Second home run in three days last night and up to .367/.406/.567 in 14 games.
  • Nevin Griffith, RHP, White Sox (High-A Winston Salem): Seven shutout innings last night, 0.90 ERA in three starts (20-11-3-13).  Great sinker, but will low miss bat rate catch up to him as he moves up?
  • Aaron Hicks, OF, Twins (Low-A Beloit): 3-for-3 with double and a walk; went 1-for-30 to begin year, 9-for-18 since.
  • Andrew Lambo, OF, Dodgers (Double-A Chattanooga): 3-for-5 with a double on Thursday, now 16-for-31 in last seven games.
  • Jordan Lyles, RHP, Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi): Whiffs seven over five innings (four hits, one run) at Double-A as a 19-year-old; 16/2 K/BB in 15.2 innings.
  • Chris Owins, SS, Diamondbacks (Low-A South Bend): A bright spot on an otherwise disappointing team; three hits last night, including a double and triple raise the 18-year-old shortstop's numbers to .300/.333/.483.
  • Jerry Sands, 1B/OF, Dodgers (Low-A Great Lakes): Third home run in two games last night; .407/.468/.870 overall; doesn't belong in Low-A.
  • Justin Smoak, 1B, Rangers (Triple-A Oklahoma City): 0-for-4 last night, but called up to the big leagues after the game to replace the slumping (to be kind) Chris Davis.
  • Trayce Thompson, OF, White Sox (Low-A Kannapolis): Just exploding; three hits and a home run on Thursday; 10-for-26 with three home runs overall.
  • Josh Vitters, 3B, Cubs (High-A Daytona): 3-for-4 with a pair of home runs last night raises OPS by 154 points in the span of a few hours.