It's only five games, so let's not get too wacky yet, but I think we should all be pretty clear at this point that this guy can really hit, as he's now 8-for-17 at Double-A after putting up 1121 OPS in the Cal League. How far am I from calling this guy an elite, top-of-the line prospect? Pretty far. How far am I from calling him a Top 100 type? Already there.
Few pitchers in the minors are generating the kind of buzz that Betances is, as a finally healthy version of the high-ceiling arm is showing "massively improved mechanics: according to one scout while touching 98 mph. The numbers speak for themselves: 34 innings, 13 hits, 2 runs, 6 walks, 39 strikeouts.
Moved temporarily to the bullpen with the hope that he could help the Reds in their playoff chase, Chapman has whiffed 14 in just 8 1/3 innings as a reliever, but that's all the good that there is to talk about. Shorter stints have led to Chapman really letting in fly, and when Chapman lets it fly, he doesn't really know where it's going anymore, as in those innings he's walked five, hit three batters and uncorked four wild pitches. Clearly, there's still some harnessing to do.
With the Rangers have an outstanding minor league system, it's also a highly imbalanced one, as the amount of pitching talent far outweighs the position players. That said, they've found a bit of a breakthrough player in Velasquez, a 2006 draftee whose career got off to slow start because personal issues (including some disturbing brushes with the law) kept him off the field. A good hitter with average-to-plus power, the 22-year-old Puerto Rico native was one of the best hitters in the Sally League during the first half, and with last night's outburst, he's now hitting .323/.382/.548 in seven High-A games.
Others of Note:
- Yonder Alonso, 1B, Reds (Triple-A Louisville): 2-for-2, 2 BB, 2 SB. That's a whole lot of twos. Putting on a good show if scouts are eyeing him for the trade market; hitting .419/.471/.839 in eight July games.
- Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Twins (Rookie-level Elizabethton): 4-for-5, R, RBI. .409/.466/.773 in 16 games, including ten multi-hit efforts.
- Lucas Duda, OF, Mets (Triple-A Buffalo): 2-for-4, HR (8), R, RBI. Seven home runs in last ten games and .329/.395/.750 overall; he can certainly hit, but this is a bit fluky.
- Greg Halman, OF, Mariners (Triple-A Tacoma): 1-for-2, HR (19), R, 2 RBI, BB, SB. 12 home runs in last 28 games; has struck out 83 times in 200 at-bats, but still has .961 OPS and there's something here of real value.
- Gorkys Hernandez, OF, Pirates (Double-A Altoona): 3-for-6, 2B, R. Signs of life? Just .261/.334/.330 overall but 19-for-50 (.380) during ten-game hitting streak.
- Ryan LaMarre, OF, Reds (Low-A Dayton): 2-for-3, 2B, R, RBI, BB, K. '10 second-rounder hitting .303/.404/.395; big athlete with speed, and some think power down the road.
- Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Red Sox (High-A Salem): 2-for-4, 2 HR (7), 2 R, 3 RBI. Three of his seven home runs have come in last two games; has been a doubles machine all year so the potential is there.
- Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF, Mets (Double-A Binghamton): 3-for-5, 2 2B, 2 R, BB, K. Yesterday's feature player stays hot; 15-for-23 in last five games with nine doubles and .301/.347/.524 overall.
- Scott Sizemore, 2B, Tigers (Triple-A Toledo): 2-for-4, 2B, HR (4), 2 R, RBI, BB, K. Up to .331/.399/.507 but no room in the big leagues for now.
- Eric Surkamp, LHP, Giants (High-A San Jose): 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 14 K. Incredible number of strikeouts for a pitcher who rarely gets into the 90s with his fastball; deceptive lefty with location, movement and a good breaking ball, the kind of combination that kind put up big numbers at the lower levels.
- Donanvan Tate, OF, Padres (Rookie-level AZL Padres): 0-for-4, RBI, BB, 2 K. Top prospect has whiffed 21 times in 43 at-bats, reportedly has looked more raw than even anticipated.