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Games of Friday, June 28

Pitching Prospect of the Day: Cory Mazzoni, RHP, Mets (Double-A Binghamton): 6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 10 K. I hate to say that I may have given a false sense of confidence to Mets fans, but I previously talked to a bunch of scouts that thought Mazzoni was going to stay as a starter moving forward. Recently, I’ve talked to more scouts who think that Mazzoni will be better utilized in the bullpen.

Position Prospect of the Day: Miguel Sano, 3B, Twins (Double-A New Britain): 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI. Jason Parks was able to take in this game, and I’m sure at some point in the near future he will be able to explain to you how incredible it was to watch a talent like Sano firsthand.

Other notable prospect performances on June 28:

“The Good”

  • Mauricio Cabrera, RHP, Braves (Low-A Rome): 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K. Cabrera struggled out of the gates in 2013, but after being shut down for two weeks, he has come back looking much sharper. He shows the potential for a plus-plus fastball, plus changeup, and solid-average curveball. As long as things stay on track, Cabrera has the ability to become a mid-rotation starter; 11.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 14 K in last two starts.
  • Collin Cowgill, OF, Angels (Triple-A Salt Lake): 4-5, 2B, HR, R, 4 RBI. I remember back when I would write the MLU in spring training, Cowgill would be in the article daily, and now he is no longer a member of the Mets franchise. That is why spring training numbers are spring training numbers.
  • Tyson Gillies, OF, Phillies (Double-A Reading): 4-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. Gillies has the tools to steal the show on any given night, but lacks any semblance of consistency. And that is why he is unlikely to ever be a consistent contributor in the majors.
  • Travis Harrison, 3B, Twins (Low-A Cedar Rapids): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, K. Another Twins prospect taking a step forward in 2013. Harrison has plus power potential and shows the ability to hit. The hit tool may only be average, but he will provide enough power to stay in the lineup. The reports on the defense have been mixed; some believe that he can stay at third while others think he will have to try right field; .343/.489/.714 with 7 2B and 2 HR in last 35 at-bats.
  • Micah Johnson, 2B, White Sox (Low-A Kannapolis): 4-5, 2B, 3B, 2 R, K. A prospect on whom I am very lukewarm, Johnson deserves a shot to show what he can do in High-A. I know he has deficiencies on the defensive end, but I’m unsure of what else he has to prove offensively; .373/.439/.608 with 6 2B, 6 3B, 2 HR, and 14 SB in 102 June at-bats.
  • Tom Murphy, C, Rockies (Low-A Asheville): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI, K. Murphy shows the ability to hit and hit for power, but still has questions to answer defensively. The Rockies will give Murphy every opportunity to prove himself behind the plate, because if he has to move to first base, his prospect status will take a major hit; .375/.419/.850 with 4 2B and 5 HR in last 40 at-bats.
  • Matt Purke, LHP, Nationals (Low-A Hagerstown): 6.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K. This is exactly what Nationals fans wanted to see. Purke has returned to the mound and missed bats with his plus fastball/slider combination. The Nationals may allow him to dominate at Low-A all season, but I suspect that in the near future, he will get the opportunity to test his abilities in the higher levels of the minors; 29.0 IP, 25 H, 8 ER, 7 BB, 41 K in six starts.
  • Luis Sardinas, SS, Rangers (High-A Myrtle Beach): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB. Sardinas has always shown natural hitting ability, but the power potential is very limited. He can really pick it, and could be used as trade bait at some point due to the Rangers middle-infield depth.
  • Julio Urias, LHP, Dodgers (Low-A Great Lakes): 4.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K. Urias has put himself squarely on the prospect map; potential plus-plus fastball; plus curveball; feel for a changeup. It is real, people, jump on board. Some would like to accuse us of “shiny new toy syndrome,” but I’ve spoken to a few scouts in the Midwest League who would who have switched their coverage in order to match up with Urias’ starts. It is that special; 26.1 IP, 26 H, 10 ER, 13 BB, 30 K in seven starts.
  • Jonathan Villar, SS, Astros (Triple-A Oklahoma City): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI, 2 K. Villar’s defensive ability has always been his calling card, but in 2013 he has shown the ability to hit. The Astros have selling on their mind this trade season, and I expect Villar to end up in the majors after a job opens up for him; .333/.351/.611 with 3 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, and 2 stolen-bases in last 36 at-bats.

“The Bad”

  • Gregory Bird, 1B, Yankees (Low-A Charleston): 0-5, 3 K. Bird has plenty of power potential, but after moving to first base, he will have to really hit.
  • Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B, Royals (Double-A Northwest Arkansas): 0-3 , R, 3 K. It has been a bit of a struggle for Cuthbert, a player I’ve seen frequently, since he was promoted to Double-A.
  • Slade Heathcott, CF, Yankees (Double-A Trenton): 0-3, 3 K. Do not tell Slade, but I’m not sure he will make enough contact to be relevant.
  • James Ramsey, OF, Cardinals (Double-A Springfield): 0-5, 3 K. The former first-round selection has struggled at the plate since being promoted to Double-A.

”The Ugly”

Brett Eibner, CF, Royals (Double-A Northwest Arkansas): 0-4, BB, 4 K. The high strikeout rate has not changed, and I wonder if he will give it a shot on the mound at some point in 2014.

Games of Saturday, June 29

Pitching Prospect of the Day: Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Diamondbacks (Triple-A Reno): 8.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 13 K. This is the Skaggs we all know and love. Skaggs offers a solid-average fastball, easy plus curveball, and average changeup. He has seemingly worked out his early-season kinks and is ready for another look at The Show at some point in the near future; 24.1 IP, 22 H, 6 ER, 11 BB, 33 K in four June starts.

Position Prospect of the Day: Carlos Correa, SS, Astros (Low-A Quad Cities): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. Correa may not be Buxton, but he is a damn fine prospect. He has the potential to be a plus hitter with easy plus power, and has shown a good feel for shortstop. The makeup is off the charts, and he could be an all-star-level player; .425/.452/.600 with 2 2B, 1 3B, and 1 HR in last 40 at-bats.

Other notable prospect performances on June 29:

The Good”

  • Nick Castellanos, OF, Tigers (Triple-A Toledo): 3-5, 2 2B, R, RBI. Castellanos has very natural hitting ability. However, some scouts question what else he will be able to provide; .343/.442/.571 with 5 2B and 1 HR in last 35 at-bats.
  • C.J. Cron, 1B, Angels (Double-A Arkansas): 2-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB, K. Cron has plus-plus power potential, but he is a first-base-only prospect who will have to really hit in order to profile as a major-league regular.
  • Cody Martin, RHP, Braves (Triple-A Gwinnett): 7.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 11 K; Martin, an unheralded Braves pitching prospect, has a solid four-pitch mix. He throws a solid-average fastball, easy plus slider, average changeup, and average curveball. The Braves may use Martin in the bullpen in the near future if the opportunity arises.
  • Vincent Velasquez, RHP, Astros (Low-A Quad Cities): 4.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K. Velasquez has taken major strides forward in 2013. Velasquez is torturing Low-A batters with his potential plus fastball/changeup combination; 25.0 IP, 28 H, 10 ER, 7 BB, 31 K in seven June outings.

“The Bad”

  • Gregory Bird, 1B, Yankees (Low-A Charleston): 0-4, 3 K; Hm… I feel like I’ve seen this before
  • Jake Hager, SS, Rays (High-A Charlotte): 0-5, 4 K. The young shortstop prospect has done a good job at the plate thus far in 2013—but not on this night.

“The Ugly”

Charles Jones, OF, Giants (Low-A Augusta): 0-5, R, 3 K. This Giants farmhand has had a rough go at the plate so far this year; .201/.291/.304 with 79 K in 224 at-bats.

Games of Sunday, June 30

Pitching Prospect of the Day: Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Mets (Double-A Binghamton): 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K. Text from a scout: “I know you love Syndergaard; you are correct, this guy is going to be really, really good”; 11.0 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 16 K in two Double-A starts.

Position Prospect of the Day: Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Red Sox (Triple-A Pawtucket): 2-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, BB, K. Middlebrooks has the ability to be an above-average major league regular. He is back in the minors looking to get it right. I still believe he can get to his ceiling, but I’m not sold it will be for the Red Sox.

Other notable prospect performances on June 30:

“The Good”

  • Luis Diaz, RHP, Red Sox (Low-A Greenville): 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K. Diaz, an under-the-radar prospect, has a potential solid-average fastball, average slider, and developing changeup; 13.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 15 K in last two starts.
  • Alex Dickerson, OF, Pirates (Double-A Altoona): 3-5, 2 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI, K. I recently talked to a scout about Dickerson, and he said, “Dickerson shows you the ability to hit for big power in batting practice, but he rarely crosses that ability in the game. He is not an outfielder and will have to move to first base. I don’t know if it works; he’s not someone I will put on our acquire list”; .333/.385/.583, 3 2B, and 2 HR in last 36 at-bats.
  • Nolan Fontana, SS, Astros (High-A Lancaster): 4-6, 2 2B, R, 4 RBI, K. Fontana is a grinder; he may not provide many plus tools, but he really knows how to play the game of baseball. He will find a role in the majors just because of that.
  • Eddie Gamboa, RHP, Orioles (Double-A Bowie): 7.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K. Gamboa, a knuckleball pitcher, threw a no-hitter in today’s game. This leads me to a thought that I would love feedback on: Why don’t all organizations have a designated knuckleball prospect(s)?
  • Wes Parsons, RHP, Braves (Low-A Rome): 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K. Parsons is a deep sleeper among Braves pitching prospects. What a great organization to be in for pitchers looking to capitalize on their abilities; 41.1 IP, 40 H, 16 ER, 8 BB, 41 K in eight starts.
  • Kevin Pillar, OF, Blue Jays (Triple-A Buffalo): 4-6, 2B, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, K, BB; I do not believe he is an everyday player, but Pillar will be an excellent extra man.

“The Bad”

  • Stetson Allie, 1B, Pirates (High-A Bradenton): 1-5, 2B, RBI, 3 K. Allie is having much less success against High-A pitching than he did in Low-A.
  • Santiago Nessy, C, Blue Jays (Low-A Lansing): 0-4, 3 K. I’m carrying his torch, and I am far from giving up hope that Nessy can stay on the prospect radar.
  • Renato Nunez, 3B, Athletics (Low-A Beloit): 0-3, RBI, BB, 3 K. Nunez’s approach really makes me wonder what is going to happen when he goes to the next level.
  • Patrick Wisdom, 3B, Cardinals (Low-A Peoria): 0-5, 3 K. I’m sure someone is providing him with plenty of Wisdom at this point in the season.

“The Ugly”

Navery Moore, RHP, Braves (High-A Lynchburg): 4.0 IP, 10 H, 10 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. The former Vanderbilt pitcher had to wear it on this day.

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Is there any real precedence for what urias is doing? A 16 year old LHP missing over a bat an inning in a full season league, who does that? Dude would be a sophomore in high school if he was born in the states!! Very very cool

Anyway, great stuff and i love these recaps
Kevin Pillar is going to be a star. I dont care what any scout says, he's elite. =)
This is Eddie Gamboa's first year throwing a knuckleball, at age 28, correct?

I keep wondering when some team will get aggressive with cultivating knuckleballers. It seems like such a low risk / high reward approach to try with minor league depth that otherwise has a less than zero chance of contributing to a major league club. Are there any clubs who attempt conversions on pitchers with any regularity?
I wonder the same thing frequently. The thing that stands out to me is Why not? What do you have to lose with some organizational talents who may be able to develop the pitch.
"Why don’t all organizations have a designated knuckleball prospect(s)?"

On the one hand, I agree. On the other, though, you have to remember that Gamboa is a serious makeup guy. I've met him and I've also seen how he interacts with other players, coaches and people in general. I don't know that you could go to any pitcher and just say, "scratch that, you're throwing a knuckleball," and have them not only accept what you're telling them but also work as hard as Gamboa has to cultivate the pitch and make it something that is not only usable but quite effective in game action.
Another response would be "because then they would also have designated knucklecatcher prospects."

Generally I'd think trying to catch a knuckleballer 1/5th of the time (or more) would hinder catching prospect development. Particularly as the minors are loaded with "if he can stay behind the plate" catching prospects, there's a real developmental cost to having to teach and learn different things 1/5 of the time.
That's a really, really good point. I didn't even think about the catcher.
The padres had a pretty deep system going into the year but I rarely see any of their prospects on these updates.

Have injuries turned this system into something average or below average?

Besides Fried and Hedges, are there any other (healthy) impact prospects on the horizon?
Good call on Purke - promoted to High-A today.