Gotta Take The Good With The Bad
With A.J. Pierzynski doing nothing offensively while having some public spats with manager Ozzie Guillen, the name Tyler Flowers is coming up more and more in Chicago, and the bulky backstop acquired from Atlanta for Javier Vazquez two years ago is keeping up his end of the bargain. Two home runs on Monday give him three in two days and an overall batting line of .287/.382/.598 in 25 games with the Knights. The problem, as always, remains the defense. One scout who recently saw Flowers thought his work behind the plate had regressed from last year, when it wasn't that good in the first place. He's thrown out just four of 17 base stealers this year, and his 245-pound frame doesn't allow for much mobility back there either. The scout said, “I can't see Ozzie living with that kind of defense back there,” but the way A.J. is hitting, and mouthing off, he just might.
Monday's stats: 2-for-4
Normally, repeating a level is a bad sign for a prospect's development, but that's not the case with Flores. At 18, he's still among the youngest players in the South Atlantic League, and while he held his own last year, this year he's dominating. Including last night's pair of base knocks, the Venezuelan infielder is now 10-for-23 in his last five games and batting .333/.381/.574 overall while tying for the league lead in total bases with 74. Unfortunately, with this developing power has come a developing frame that will lead to an inevitable move to third base or a corner outfield position. With his bat, such a move shouldn't hold him back.
Is This The Mike Stanton Rule, But For Pitchers?
Ok, as long as Morris keeps not allowing an earned run in his starts, we'll keep mentioning him here. Monday night's was the fourth such start in a raw, a span encompassing 26 innings during which the former first round pick by the Dodgers has allowed just 15 hits while striking out 25. With a 91-94 mph sinker and big-league hook, better command and control and a more aggressive style have been the key here, and one of the key players acquired in the Jason Bay deal is back on track to arrive in the Pittsburgh rotation by the end of 2011.
Found Another Candidate…
After discussing some candidates for our mythical minor league comeback player of the year award, another contender has entered the fray over the last couple of weeks. The 31st overall pick of the 2008 draft, last year, Hunt got a case of the yips, Steve Blass disease, or as many pitchers simply call it, “The Monster.” In just 32 2/3 innings last year, Hunt walked 58, while hitting seven and uncorking 15 wild pitches. Stuck in weeds taller than anyone could imagine, Hunt was all but off everyone's radar, and in his first four appearances for the Miracle, he handed out another seven free passes in just 3 1/3 innings. Since then, something has clicked, as he's throwing strikes again, and absolutely dominating Florida State League hitters with a low-to-mid-90s fastball and wipeout slider. In his last seven games, he's whiffed 24 in 15 1/3 innings, allowed just nine hits, and most importantly walked only two. He's not as big a name as Eric Hosmer, but his rebound is even more stunning.
Too Good For The League
Jhan Marinez, RHP, Marlins (High-A Jupiter)
A 21-year-old Dominican, Marinez dominated Florida State League hitters last year, yet he's back this year to torture them some more. With a fastball he can ramp up to the upper 90s and a monster slider, Marinez has pure closer stuff, and he's been literally unhittable of late, as in his last five outings, he's gone 5 2/3 innings without allowing a hit a striking out 12. He should move up to Double-A soon, and a big league look in September isn't out of the question. His stuff is that good.
Monday's stats: 2-for-5, 2B, RBI, 2 K
It's tough to get too worked up over a guy in his tenth minor league season, but Chirinos is starting to generate some real buzz in the Southern League. A former infielder, the Cubs converted the Venezuelan to catching in 2008, and it's been nothing short of a revelation. He has solid hitting skills, a bit of power, good athleticism behind the plate and an average arm, with one scout who recently saw him predicting that not only will he reach the big leagues soon, but he could even end up as a second-division starter down the road. A .323/.387/.591 batting line is keeping the momentum going, although for the Cubs, he might be little more than trade bait.
Others Of Note:
- Wes Hodges, 1B, Indians (Triple-A Columbus): 3-for-5, 2 2B, HR (3), 2 R, 3 RBI, K. Former first-round pick didn't hit or play third well, but he's suddenly hitting with move across the diamond (.336/.386/.538).
- Jose Iglesias, SS, Red Sox (Double-A Portland): 4-for-4, 2B, RBI. As if the incredible glove isn't enough, he's 13-for-31 in last eight games and up to .308/.354/.418.
- Steve Johnson, RHP, Orioles (Double-A Bowie): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 6 K. Nowhere near the prospect of many Baltimore arms, but certainly a big league talent.
- Brent Morel, 3B, White Sox (Double-A Birmingham): 3-for-4, HR (2), R, 3 RBI. Up to .324/.361/.477; one scout called him the best player on Birmingham by a mile and a future every day third baseman.
- Mike Stanton, OF, Marlins (Double-A Jacksonville): 1-for-3, HR (15), R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, K. Minor-league leader in home runs is also TTO hero with 15 HRs, 28 BB, 32 K in 103 ABs.
- Ruben Tejada, SS, Mets (Triple-A Buffalo): 4-for-4, R: Up to .309/.359/.383 during seven-game hitting streak; no room for him in big leagues right now, but no rush either.