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One of the good things about scouring minor league box scores this time of the year is finding familiar names still plugging away and hoping for another chance in the big leagues. And I am happy to announce that there's been a Runelvys Hernandez sighting in the Dominican Winter League! The 34 year-old former Royals and Astros starter, who has a career line of 25-36 with a 5.50 ERA in 82 big league starts (none since 2008), is currently pitching for the Leones del Escogido. Hey, Royals fans. Remember that one time when Runelvys was your Opening Day starter, and he threw like six shutout innings and beat Mark Buehrle and the White Sox? That was awesome. Here are some notable performances from Thursday:
  • Boof Bonser, RHP, Free Agent (Margarita-VWL): 6 IP, 0 R, 4 H, BB, 5 K. The 31 year-old former Giants and Twins prospect made it back from Tommy John surgery in mid-2012 and now he’s trying to show teams he’s worthy of an invite to big league camp next spring.
  • Bryce Brentz, OF, Red Sox (Surprise): 2-for-4, RBI, BB, K, 2 R, SB. The Sox could use an upgrade at both corner outfield spots in 2013, which is bad timing for Brentz since he’s not quite ready. The 23 year-old is doing just fine in the AFL, however, with 7 hits in 15 at-bats with runners in scoring position and an overall .819 OPS.    
  • Gary Brown, OF, Giants (Scottsdale): 2-for-4, R, SB (2). The 24 year-old speedster has 5 hits in his last 8 at-bats, but it’s unlikely that he can do enough to convince the Giants that he’s ready to fill their CF void. A free agent center fielder, such as Angel Pagan or Michael Bourn, signing a multi-year deal in San Francisco this offseason means Brown goes on the trading block.
  • Evan Gattis, OF, Braves (Zulia-VWL): 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, K, R. We already know Gattis can hit (.920 OPS in 222 minor league games) and his future doesn’t appear to be as a big league catcher. So while he continues to hit down in Venezuela (.964 OPS in 17 games), the Braves are trying to figure out if he can play a passable left field. If he can, the 26 year-old would be a nice fit as a right-handed bat coming off the Braves' bench in 2013.
  • Slade Heathcott, OF, Yankees (Scottsdale): 2-for-4, 3B, RBI. The former 1st Round pick has 6 hits in his last 10 at-bats, including 3 triples and 6 RBI. If he can stay healthy, the 22 year-old could force his way into the Yankees’ plans by 2014, which could be the post Curtis Granderson era. 
  • Kyle Jensen, OF, Marlins (Phoenix): 3-for-3, HR, 3B, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB. Tied Nationals outfielder Brian Goodwin for the most extra-base hits in the AFL with 9 (3 HR, 5 2B, 3B). Could have 30+ HR in the hitter-friendly PCL (Triple-A) next season, although scouting reports indicate he could be more of a 4A hitter (too good for AAA, not good enough for the majors).
  • Chris Owings, SS, Diamodnbacks (Salt River): 2-for-4, K, SB. All the tools to become a very good big league shortstop, but he continues to show that he has a long way to go. After posting an ugly BB/K rate of 24/132 between Hi-A and Double-A in 2012, the 21 year-old is hitting just .233 without a walk in 60 AFL at-bats. He's never passing Cliff Pennington on the depth chart with those types of numbers.
  • Josh Prince, IF/OF, Brewers (Phoenix): 3-for-3, 2B, RBI, 2 BB, 2 R, CS. Might not ever be a big league regular but there’s a lot to like about this 24 year-old out of Tulane University: speed (41 SB with Double-A Huntsville in 2012), on-base ability (.346 OBP, 74 BB), and versatility (has played CF and SS in the minors). Oh yeah, and he’s totally tearing up the Arizona Fall League (.443/.521/.623 in 17 games).
  • Kevin Quackenbush, RHP, Padres (Peoria): 1.1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K, Sv (5). After posting an 0.82 ERA in his first two pro seasons across three levels (A-, A, A+), you probably shouldn’t be surprised that he hasn’t given up a run or a hit in 8.1 AFL innings. Fortunately for people that like to hear the name ‘Quackenbush’ often, he’s on the fast track to the big leagues.
  • Nate Roberts, OF, Twins (Peoria): 4-for-5, 2B, RBI, R, K, SB (5). Career .307 hitter in the minors with a .439 OBP and stolen base ability (27 SB in 76 Lo-A games in 2012), but the 23 year-old gets the ‘tweener’ label because of his lack of power or ability to play center field on a regular basis.  
  • Ben Rowen, RHP, Rangers (Surprise): 2 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 BB, K. The 2012 winner of the MiLBY Minor League Pitcher of the Year award, Rowen already has more walks (4) in 8 IP than he had in 57.1 IP for Hi-A Myrtle Beach. The sidearmer is likely to start the 2013 season with Double-A Frisco.
  • Matthew Szczur, OF, Cubs (Mesa): 3-for-5, HR, 2 RBI. Same old story for Szczur. Gets on base (.375 OBP, 8 BB, 7 K) and steals bases (6 SB in 16 games), but has yet to show very much power. The 23 year-old hit his 1st HR of the season on Thursday, giving him 3 extra-base hits compared to 15 singles on the season.   

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Four names I've never seen before -- always nice to be exposed to new talent. Welcome aboard, Jason. Looking forward to more from you.
Thanks! Glad to be here.
baseball website worlds colliding
Will Bonser be the next Vogelsong? To make it as late as Vogelsong has must give hope to a lot of seemingly washed up pitchers.
Once I realized that Bonser was only 31 and remembering that he was once a pretty good prospect, I immediately asked myself that same question. Guys like Vogelsong and R.A. Dickey who become All-Stars in their mid-to-late 30's aren't going to come around very often. But it's always interesting to identify candidates who could become contributors in their 30's. Bonser definitely fits the bill as someone who could end up on a major league roster at some point in 2013.