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Hitter of the Night: George Springer, OF, Astros (Oklahoma City, AAA): 2-3, R, HR
There’s not much left for me to say about Springer, who is clearly ready for a big-league challenge, but I’m going to continue to include him in the MLU when he does well to point out the absurdity of a system that encourages a team to keep an obviously superior player in the minors while putting an inferior major-league product on the field.

Pitcher of the Night: Sean Manaea, LHP, Royals (Wilmington, A+): 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, BB, 5 K.
Manaea sat between 90-92 with his fastball on Monday and hit 95, and he missed bats with his slider. He’s still learning to be consistent with his stuff and how to use all of it, but his power arm is one that can’t be taught. (H/t to @CJWittJr for the velos).

Best of the Rest

Mikie Mahtook, OF, Rays (Durham, AAA): 5-5, 2 R, 3B. The power hasn’t developed for the former first rounder the way the Rays had hoped it would, leaving him as a right-handed-hitting right fielder with single-digit home run potential and an aggressive approach at the plate—a tough profile to succeed with.

Michael Taylor, OF, Nationals (Harrisburg, AA): 3-5, R, 2B. The jump to Double-A is the hardest part of the trek through the minor leagues, and it’s even more daunting for a player who already had to repeat the Carolina League. Monday was a good day for Taylor, but even with it, he’s a speed-based player with contact issues who has 17 strikeouts in his first 11 games.

Matt Wisler, RHP, Padres (San Antonio, AA): 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K. Wisler out-pitched fellow prospect Eddie Butler on Monday night in a matchup we could see in the NL West in a few years. The knock on Wisler over the years has been his splits against lefties, and thus far they are 7-for-15 (.467) against him this year.

Joey Gallo, 3B, Rangers (Myrtle Beach, A+): 1-2, 2 R, HR, BB. There are still contact issues for Gallo, but he’s limited his strikeouts thus far on the early season to around one per game, which is actually a significant improvement. He’s coupled that with an increased walk rate, and the difference is showing thus far. Gallo now has five home runs in 11 games, and we’re already getting close to a “Did Joey Gallo Homer?” section of the MLU.

Victor Roache, OF, Brewers (Brevard County, A+): 2-5, 2 R, HR. Roache showed off his plus power with 22 home runs last season, but those came with an awful lot of swings-and-misses for a college hitter in Low-A ball. His contact rates are slightly better in the early going this season, but the low average remains a constant.

Jorge Alfaro, C, Rangers (Myrtle Beach, A+): 2-5, 2 R, 2B, HR. Alfaro was actually playing first base on Monday, which the Rangers did to get him more at-bats throughout the season. Putting his arm at first base is like making Billy Hamilton wear roller blades, but it’s at-bats he needs to continue to refine his aggressive approach. He has legitimate power and ran into his first home run on Monday, but currently has a 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio on par with his career norms.

Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres (Lake Elsinore, A+): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 K. Renfroe is going to have a ton of stat lines like this before it’s all said and done, with power and strikeouts coming all at once. He’s still swinging and missing as much this year as he did in his brief time as a professional last year, but at least this year’s strikeouts are coming with his fair share of walks.

Alex Wimmers, RHP, Twins (Ft. Myers, A+): 6 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K. 25-year-olds in A-ball don’t usually make the MLU, no matter what they do, but when you’ve survived two elbow surgeries and a bad case of the yips, you get a little leeway. The former first-rounder is back in action after two lost seasons, and while he was never an elite prospect with a high ceiling, he could still turn himself into something the Twins can use.

Cody Kukuk, LHP, Red Sox (Greenville, A-): 5 IP, 4 H, R, BB, 8 K. The biggest knock on Kukuk is his control, so any time he walks just one guy in a start it’s a good sign.

Fight Another Day

Henry Owens, LHP, Red Sox (Portland, AA): 5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 K. This is the knock on Owens: great one day, hittable the next. It’s an issue of mechanics, not talent, for Owens, and it’s one that most tall pitchers battle during their development. The good news for Owens is that the good starts are outweighing the bad ones more and more these days.

Julio Urias, LHP, Dodgers (Rancho Cucamonga, A+): 4 1/3, 6 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 6 K. Most players would try to forget about a start like this with a few beers or a fresh tin of Skoal. Urias isn’t old enough to buy any of that stuff, but I imagine he’ll get over it all the same anyway. If his worst start of the year still includes striking out over a batter per inning, then he’s every bit as good as we think he is anyway.

Rougned Odor, 2B, Rangers (Frisco, AA): 0-4, 2 K. One day after making the list with a two-home-run game, this happens. It’s tough being a prospect. You could even say it stinks.

Notable Pitching Performances*

  • C.J. Edwards, RHP, Cubs (Tennessee, AA): 5 IP, 3 H, 3 R, BB, 7 K.
  • Eddie Butler, RHP, Rockies (Tulsa, AA): 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 5 K.
  • Alex Reyes, RHP, Cardinals (Peoria, A-): 3 IP, 3 H, R, 5 BB, 5 K.
  • Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Mets (Las Vegas, AAA): 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.

*The point of the Minor League Update is to keep you, the reader, up to speed on how prospects are doing throughout the minor league season with scouting reports and explanations along with a daily stat line. Sometimes, however, you just want to know the result, especially with pitchers who were neither spectacular nor terrible on a particular night. This is that section.

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nschneider
4/15
Blue Jays 2013 sixth-round pick Matt Boyd pushed his record to 3-0 with a 0.00 RA for Dunedin, with a 16-2 K/BB. He had mostly similar success in limited action after being drafted last year.
heterodude
4/15
Ken Giles struck out the side in AA last night to get his fifth save. Lots of grumbling about how the Phillies should consider bringing him up to the Majors.
heterodude
4/15
Rio Ruiz - 4/5 w/ 2 2Bs, a HR, and 5 RBI Bryan Mitchell - 6 shutout innings w/ 12 strikeouts
bigchiefbc
4/15
Oh man, seeing Gallo's boxscores every morning is making me irrationally excited.
MaineSkin
4/15
Gallo is 19/20yrs old and in 1yr looks to be cutting down the Ks, adding a batting eye, but showing no less power. Everyone should be excited about this dude. I mean, it's not like he's headed to Marlins park like Stanton a fee years ago. This massive man who's still a kid will be in Arlington making a mockery of the HR record. 😎
roarke
4/15
Well, there is definitely reason to be excited, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. I'd like to see him against advanced pitching before we start talking about him and HR records.
JoshuaGB
4/15
Why no love for the Guerreros? (Alex Guerrero and Gabriel Guerrero)
moore315512
4/15
Alex is 27. I included him the other day but he's not really a prospect, other than that we don't know much about him. He did have a good night, though.
Muboshgu
4/15
Oof that's some bad control there, Alexander Reyes...
justiniodiddly
4/15
Jeff, anything on the guy Manaea last night? Wendelkon is a year older, so maybe old for the league, but he put up a nice line as well.
hyprvypr
4/15
Doesn't the decision with Springer have wholly to do with service time/arbitration schedule and possibly the desire to rack up another 1st round pick? I know it might not be ethical, but strategically, it makes sense, assuming they don't completely alienate their fans.
moore315512
4/15
Not sure how they'd get another first round pick but it is completely based on his service time and arbitration clock. I don't blame the Astros one bit. I'd do the same thing. I blame a broken system that incentivizes keeping talent out of the majors.
hyprvypr
4/16
Oh I completely agree the rules are broken, but if you're a billionaire and there are tax-write offs that are ridiculous, hard not to take advantage of them. In regards to the first round pick, I was suggesting by intentionally fielding an inferior team and stockpiling talent, they increase the chance of another last in MLB finish, for another #1 overall pick next year. Again, highly unethical and another bad part of the system, but strategically makes a lot of sense?