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Joe Cruz, RHP, Rays (High-A Charlotte): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 K.

A pure power righty who seems to gets lost in the shuffle as part of a loaded Rays system, Cruz has arguably been as good as an arm in the system of late, putting up a 1.49 ERA in 14 second-half starts with 81 strikeouts and just 18 walks in 84.2 innings. Six-foot-four and all arms and legs, Cruz touches the mid-90s with his fastball while showing much improved command and secondary offerings this year, and deserves far more attention than he's getting.

Cord Phelps, 2B, Indians (Triple-A Buffalo): 2-for-4.

Almost forgotten about due to the explosion of Jason Kipnis, Phelps has had a breakout season of his own, batting at least .300 in every month since his promotion to Triple-A with an overall line of .326/.397/.519. A third-round pick in 2008 out of Stanford, Phelps doesn't impress with his athleticism, but he's a sound hitter from both sides of the plate with gap power, and while he's not especially rangy, his defensive fundamentals are sound. Just because of his level, he'll likely get a big league shot before Kipnis, but will likely move to a valuable bench role once the former is deemed ready.

Mark Trumbo, 1B, Angels (Triple-A Salt Lake): 2-for-4, HR (35), 2 R, 3 RBI.

With five home runs in his last four games, Trumbo is now tied for the minor league lead and batting .302/.369/.581 overall. While a friendly home park certainly helps, Trumbo's power is legitimate, and while he should have gotten a look this year when Kendry Morales went down, it's hard to find a big league role for him in 2011.

Others Of Note:

  • Alexi Amarista, 2B, Angels (Triple-A Salt Lake): 3-for-4, 2B, 2 R RBI, SB, CS. Tiny hit machine is 19-for-44 (.432) in ten Triple-A games.
  • Lars Anderson, 1B, Red Sox (Triple-A Pawtucket): 2-for-4, HR (10), R, RBI, K. Ending the year on a hot streak; 20-for-50 (.400) in last 13 games and .265/.345/.434 overall.
  • Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies (Low-A Asheville): 2-for-4, HR (12), R, 2 RBI. One of the better pure hitters in the system; batting .374 in last 30 games and .299/.329/.519 overall.
  • Brandon Belt, 1B, Giants (Triple-A Fresno): 2-for-4, 2B, RBI, BB, 2 K. Hits wherever you put him; 7-for-12 with 15 total bases in last three games.
  • Bobby Borchering, 3B, Diamondbacks (Low-A South Bend): 3-for-5, 2B, R, 2 RBI, K. '09 first-rounder continues late-season surge; more patient approach has led to results.
  • Aaron Crow, RHP, Royals (High-A Wilmington): 6.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 13 K. Easily best start of the year; the good news is that scouts have seen his issues as command-based, as the stuff is as expected.
  • Rashun Dixon, OF, Athletics (Low-A Kane County): 3-for-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI, K. 43-for-119 (.361) in last 30 games; ultra-toolsy outfielder could be primed for '11 breakout.
  • Brandon Guyer, OF, Cubs (Double-A Tennessee): 3-for-5, 2B. Arguably the hottest hitter in the minor leagues; batting .431 (81-for-188) in last 50 games.
  • Jeremy Hazelbaker, OF, Red Sox (Low-A Greeneville): 1-for-3, HR (12), R, RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, CS. 2009 fourth-round pick is getting attention from scouts for his power/speed combination; .270/.363/.467 with 60 stolen bases.
  • Aaron Hicks, OF, Twins (Low-A Beloit): 3-for-4, BB, K. Interesting that season is seen as a disappointment, yet he's hitting .280/.398/.420.
  • Brett Lawrie, 2B, Brewers (Double-A Huntsville): 3-for-5, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI. Power has disappeared in second half; just two home runs in last 55 games.
  • Starling Marte, OF, Pirates (High-A Bradenton): 2-for-3, 3B, RBI, SB. Hitting .366 in last 30 games and .328/.403/.446 overall; gets a mulligan this year for lack of power due to hand injury.
  • Trevor May, RHP, Phillies (Low-A Lakewood): 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K. 92 whiffs in 65 innings since moving down to Low-A, but more importantly, the control is back.
  • Jesus Montero, C, Yankees (Triple-A Scranton/WB): 3-for-4, HR (19), R, 2 RBI. .355/.405/.671 line since the All-Star break with 12 home runs in 152 at-bats; leads International League in passed balls while throwing out just 23% of opposing base stealers.
  • Brent Morel, 3B/SS, White Sox (Triple-A Charlotte): 2-for-4, R, RBI. 23-for-63 (.365) in last 16 games with a .714 slugging percentage; called up to the big leagues this morning.
  • Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals (Triple-A Omaha): 1-for-4, HR (14), R, RBI. Keeps pace with Trumbo for minor league lead; seven home runs in last seven games.
  • Rafael Ortega, OF, Rockies (Rookie-level Casper): 2-for-4, 2B, 2R; 1-for-3, 2 R, BB, K. 19-year-old Venezuelan has been among Pioneer League's best thanks to plus speed and lightening bat; 14-for-28 in last six games and .364/.413/.519 on the season.
  • Francisco Peguero, OF, Giants (High-A San Jose): 3-for-5, R, RBI, CS. .355/.390/.502 line since All-Star break; leadoff man profile hindered by just 18 walks in 117 games and 22 caught stealing in 60 attempts.
  • Ben Revere, OF, Twins (Double-A New Britain): 3-for-4, 3B, 2 R, BB, SB. Missed three weeks after getting hit in the face by a pitch; 9-for-26 (.346) since return.
  • Kyle Russell, OF, Dodgers (Double-A Chattanooga): 4-for-5, 2 HR (10), 2 R, 2 RBI, K. Rebounding well from miserable Double-A start; hitting .333 since August 1st with seven home runs in 108 at-bats.
  • Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Rangers (Triple-A A Oklahoma City): 1 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 0 BB, 0 K. Something has gone horribly wrong here; three straight really bad starts.
  • Marquez Smith, 3B, Cubs (Triple-A Iowa): 2-for-5, HR (17), 3 R, 4 RBI, BB. Excellent sleeper has 13 home runs in last 25 games; good defensive skills help his chances.
  • Sammy Solis, LHP, Nationals (Low-A Hagerstown): 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. Pro debut for 51st overall pick; massive lefty with solid stuff, better command.
  • Cody Stanley, C, Cardinals (Rookie-level Johnson City): 2-for-4, 2 HR (2), 3 R, 3 RBI, BB. Fourth-round pick starts the playoffs with a bang; hit .321/.380/.498 during regular season.
  • Mike Trout, OF, Angels (High-A Rancho Cucamonga): 2-for-4, HR (3), R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, K. Not as crazy hot as Midwest League stint; .296/.376/.419 line in Cal League as teenager is still mighty impressive.
  • Edinson Volquez, RHP, Reds (Low-A Dayton): 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 9 K. Not that the Reds need it at this point, but more help is on the way.
  • Christian Yellich, 1B/DH, Marlins (Low-A Greensboro): 2-for-3. Full-season debut for 18-year-old first-round pick, went 9-for-24 (.375) in Gulf Coast League.
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cooper7d7
9/02
Can Montero take over for Posada in '11?
Gotribe31
9/02
Why does there have to be a Montero comment every single day? Did all the Yankee fans get together to play a joke on the rest of us? We get it, he's a really, really good hitter. Point conceded.
kgoldstein
9/02
I don't think he can catch in the big leagues. He's made incredible improvements in the last few years, but it's still not enough. He's not the Yankee answer at catcher, but he'll hit in the middle even that lineup.
greenday8885
9/02
I think the Montero fascination is due in large part to the Yankees positional log-jam. If he was on the M's he'd be up next year playing 1B, but what will the Yankees end up doing with him? His second half shows he's ready for a shot at MLB, but he can't: catch, play the OF, or supplant Teixiera at 1B...can the Yankees make him a 21 year old full time DH?
kgoldstein
9/02
Bill James wrote a very long time ago about how he didn't understand why teams didn't just do that with some players -- just throw up their hands and say, "screw it, just go hit." I agree with that, and would have no problem with DH-ing him.
holgado
9/03
Amen!
DanLong
9/03
Would anyone be surprised if the Yankees asked Montero to spend a few weeks at the Pena (Tony, not Ramiro) household in hopes of making a major breakthrough, much like swisher reported lived with the Longs (Kevin, not me) last winter to work on hitting? If nothing else, then as a last ditch effort to make him **serviceable** behind the plate, before full time DH? Side note, RiverAveBlues.com reported earlier this week (not sure if it was quoting someone else or their own report) that Montero was seen in the OF before the game taking pop-ups. Makes you wonder...
briankopec
9/02
He is among the worst (if not the worst) defensive catchers in the International League. Do you think CC Sabathia might have something to say about throwing to Montero next year?
nonspin
9/02
A closer look at Montero's CS% leads me to believe that citing his 23% rate as a indictment of his defense may not be the best way to present his defensive inadequacy. SWB_Catcher 2010_SWB_CS% CareermL% CareerMLB% Moeller 10% 24% 24% R. Rivera 21% 39% 37% Montero 23% 23% N/A This season at AA Trenton, Rivera is throwing out 55% of would be base stealers (in a similarly small sample.) Last year in Trenton, Montero CS% was 32. Seeing as every catcher on the SWB roster has seen their CS% drastically reduced, what does it tell us about Montero? Now, I'm not saying Montero is even a passable C. But I don't see how his CS% can be used as proof that he isn't.
nonspin
9/02
blasted formatting...hopefully you get the idea.
sde1015
9/02
It does seem that the SWB pitching staff has problems holding runners on, but I think that if you look at steal attempts per game, teams are not only successful against Montero, they're running on him more while against other catchers, they're only running with their better runners/more advantageous opportunities. It wouldn't surprise me if he's on the team next year DHing most of the time and getting spotted at catcher against bad running teams or when a pitcher who's good at controlling the running game is on the mound and Posada needs a day off. But I don't think there's anyway he becomes an every-day catcher.
kgoldstein
9/02
I was going to make this point as well. I'm surprised Montero's CS% is even this high, because teams love running on him. Everyone can keep looking at the numbers all they want to find a glimmer of hope, but I still can't find a single scout, literally NOT ONE, who thinks he can catcher every day in the big leagues.
alskor
9/03
I would think the poor but not atrocious CS% is in large part due to guys not being scared of running on him... being more aggressive and less selective deciding when to run. He's had 126 SB attempts in his 101 games at Catcher. No other IL catcher is really all that close in attempts allowed or SB allowed... and there are some BAD defensive catchers in that league right now. Tyler Flowers has been awful and drawn awful reviews from what I've heard and his defensive numbers, while eye-bleedingly bad, actually look significantly better than Montero. Take Flowers & Adam Donachie out and no one is even near the guy. His SB allowed are like 2 standard deviations off the average IL starting catcher's.
chabels
9/02
Despite Kevin's repetition, Montero can't catch any days, not even against bad running teams. His inability to prevent steals isn't even the big problem. He's leading the international league in PB, I'd bet he also leads the league in WP not caught (Kevin?). And of course that's catching guys with half the stuff as big leaguers. Even if the Yankees were to accept that every runner on first had a free pass to second, that's less of a problem than seeing a ball hit the backstop every inning.
sde1015
9/02
Well, they may have half the stuff, but they also have half the command. Yes, he's leading the IL in passed balls, but that means he's given up 15 of them all season, which is about one every 7 games. In his career, he's average one PB every 6 games. Is that something you live with on occasion to keep his bat in the lineup when you're not worried that the other team will run wild and Posada needs a day to DH? Maybe. (And in this scenario, the Yankees are keeping Cervelli to sub for Posada when he needs rest a good running team is up, so Montero can be subbed for a defensive replacement if they have the lead.) Further, SWB pitchers have given up 64 WPs this year, although baseball-reference doesn't break that down based on who's catching. That seems like a lot, but Trenton pitchers, throwing to the supposedly better Romine, and Yankee pitchers have given up 54. So it doesn't seem like WPs are a huge problem in comparison.
sde1015
9/02
Trenton pitchers have given up 75 WPs and Yankee pitchers have given up 54 WPs. Not sure how that 75 went missing in the above comment.
derekv
9/02
Will Moose see some Big League action this season with expand rosters?
HankScorpio
9/02
Doesn't look like it. He's not on the 40-man and doesn't have to be put on it this offseason. Royals seem adamant that he's not going to be in KC this year.
kgoldstein
9/02
What he said.
lemppi
9/02
Come on Kevin....no mention of the 13.1 hitless IP thrown by four guys in Lakeland?! Cole Nelson (7 IP), Bruce Rondon (2 IP), Matt Little (2 IP), and Wil Ramirez (2.1 IP before yielding a single) took a no-hitter into the 14th inning. Their club finally pulled out a 2-1 in the 17th w/a 2-run rally.

Cole Nelson is a 6'7" lefty from Auburn....he's done well since being drafted this June.

kgoldstein
9/02
I stared at the box score for a while, and while it's a great achievement, are any of these guys really prospects? Nelson is certainly the best of the group, but he's not going to be close to Top 11 or anything.
lemppi
9/02
No question...it was a relatively ho-hum crew that had the big night. I was mostly kidding....I just thought maybe 13.1 hitless IP would get a mention from you. No big deal. Maybe Cole Nelson will evolve into something down the road for the Tigers.
gogotabata
9/02
Any read from scouts on James Jones, OF in the Mariners system? He's flipped some kind of switch in the second half, and is looking like a decent power/speed guy, with a great arm in RF.
kgoldstein
9/02
I've seen him a few times in the second half, and he is definitely getting notice from scouts. Lots of athleticism, seems to be clicking a bit, but there are holes in his game. Until he gets to AA, we might not know just how good he is.
gogotabata
9/02
Thanks KG, for dropping the knowledge.
ehunke
9/02
How about Ackley? WIll he be called up?
buffum
9/02
Is Phelps likely to pass Donald in the UIF pecking order? Donald's an execrable SS. Can Phelps play 3B? (By 2012 I expect Kipnis > Donald > Phelps > rhesus monkeys > invertibrates > Valbuena, but I don't know if I should switch Donald and Phelps.)
kgoldstein
9/02
That Rhesus guy is pretty good actually.
mattymatty2000
9/02
Jack Z reads this column every day praying Montero isn't on it.
onegameref
9/02
Guyer should be brought up for a look. Brad Snyder too. Why not? Trade Byrd for pitching if possible or a 2B. They need athletes with some skills. They got lucky with Colvin's rebirth this year. Go for it Cubs.
lemppi
9/02
Kevin....have you heard any scout-scoop on two Tigers' teens, Dan Fields and Avisail Garcia? Are they on course? Thank you.
BeplerP
9/03
Startled to see Volquez in Low A! I guess I'm not keeping up, was this a demotion or is it a rehab stint? Ah, wait a minute, prbably the latter, Dayton is sort of a bike ride from Cincy?
kringent
9/03
Check the game logs from Volquez' last few MLB games - he had completely lost his control.
judyblum
9/03
Their season ends sooner, so they don't have to wait the full 10 days to bring him back.