Delgado is ranked below top prospects Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino, but it almost makes him forgotten about when in most organizations, he's be number one. The 20-year-old has a loose arm with projection left in him, mid-90s heat with control and sink, and he's dominating the Carolina League, with a sub-one WHIP and more than a strikeout per inning. The Panamanian's ceiling is at least a two, and while many teams don't have a single pitching prospect with a ceiling higher than a three, the Braves have a trio of them.
A third-round pick last June out of Cal-Santa Barbara, Gardner had a 3.24 ERA in six starts for Low-A Lake County with 38 strikeouts in 25 innings, but the real eye-popping stat was a groundball ratio, which was 32-to-5 (6.40). Quickly moved up to High-A, Garnder has a ERA of 0.00 in his three starts for the K-Tribe, with 17 more strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings along with 25 more groundball outs and just five of the flyball variety. Gardner's low (very low) three-quarters arm slot provides 92-94 mph velocity and tremendous sinking action, although that same release point has limited the development of his breaking ball. For now, he's missing bats and keeping the ball on the ground, but scouts want to see his act work at the higher levels before getting too excited.
Despite a 1.72 ERA last year, Meyers didn't make the Nationals Top 11 (ranking at No. 14), as he's a pure finesse righty with top-of-the-line command and control but no pitch that rates as true plus. Still, he's downright excellent at his craft, and after missing the first month of the season with a foot injury, he's begin the year with three consecutive scoreless starts, striking out 22 and walking just two in 16.2 innings. They can't all be Stephen Strasburg, so there might just be a spot for Meyers in the Washington rotation of the future.
The number five prospect in the system and ranked second among pitchers, Pelzer struggled in his initial exposure to Double-A hitting, but he's clearly made some adjustments, as in his last four starts, the 23-year-old righty has given up just two earned runs over 22 2/3 innings. His fastball and slider are both true plus pitches that generate swings and misses, and he projects as a No. 3 starter who could be getting a big league look in early 2011.
The Co-MVP of the Midwest League last year, Russell is exactly the kind of player who is supposed to put up huge numbers in the California League, and he's doing just that, with a batting line of .333/.429/.592 in 39 games. Of course, he's still old for the league, turning 24 in June, and he still strikes out a ton, with 47 in 147 at-bats. Much like last year, we won't know until he gets to the upper levels if he's the real deal, or just a more athletic version of Atlanta's Cody Johnson.
After cruising through the Sally League with a 1.14 ERA in seven starts while limiting the league to a .168 batting average, Teheran moved up to the Carolina League last night, striking out 12 of the 26 batters he faced. A true potential ace, Teheran's 93-97 mph fastball is enough to dominate on its own, but it's rare to find a teenager with an advanced changeup, and Teheran's breaking ball has also made progress this year. It's not ridiculous to think he could be in the big leagues before he turns 21, that is to say before opening day 2012.
Others Of Note:
- Tim Beckham, SS, Rays (High-A Charlotte): 2-for-5, 3B, HR (3), R, 2 RBI, K. Best game of the year raises season averages to .157/.242/.333.
- Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Reds (Triple-A Louisville): 5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7 K. Arguably his best start of the year; Reds still shouldn't rush him.
- Michael Burgess, OF, Nationals (High-A Potomac): 1-for-4, HR (5), R, 2 RBI, K. Home runs in back-to-back games; Strikeouts are down, walks are up in second try at High-A; .295/.393/.483 line is cause for some optimism.
- Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves (Triple-A Gwinnett): 3-for-5, 2 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI. Braves want him to be ready for the full time job in 2011; it's going to be close.
- Wes Hodges, 1B, Indians (Triple-A Columbus): 3-for-3, 3 R, 2 BB. Moved to first base and having a nice bounce back season at .325/.371/.510; the way the Indians are going, he might get a look.
- Logan Morrison, 1B, Marlins (High-A Jupiter): 4-for-5, 2B, 2 3B, 2 R, RBI. First game game after missing a month with a shoulder injury.
- Derek Norris, C, Nationals (High-A Potomac): 1-for-2, HR (1), 2 R, 2 RBI, BB. Quickly making up for lost time; 11-for-27 with six walks in last eight games.
- Martin Perez, LHP, Rangers (Double-A Frisco): 3.1 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 3 BB, 6 K. While it's hard to ding a teenager in Double-A, Perez' 4.91 ERA to go with 36 hits and 20 walks in 33 innings has fallen below expectations.
- Kyle Skipworth, C, Marlins (Low-A Greensboro): 1-for3, HR (8), R, 2 RBI, 2 K. 2008 first-round pick had a nearly bust-worthy full-season debut in 2009, but he's hitting .276/.329/.530 in his second Sally League go-around, causing scouts to sit up and take notice.
- Mike Stanton, OF, Marlins (Double-A Jacksonville): 0-for-4, 2 K. 3-for-30 with 10 Ks in last eight games has dropped OPS nearly 200 points.
- Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Nationals (Triple-A Syracuse): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K. I had his name up in the full comments section for a while, but what am I supposed to write? There's nothing new here, and there are only so many ways to talk about how remarkable he is.
- Chris Tillman, RHP, Orioles (Triple-A Norfolk): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K. Starting to wonder what he's still doing in the minors.