Hitter of the Night: Gregory Polanco, OF, Pirates (Indianapolis, AAA): 3-5, 3 R, HR, 2 K.
Polanco is perhaps the best candidate currently in the minors for a contract extension without ever having played a major-league game, due to his talent level but also his proximity to the majors and the Pirates’ blatant need for him right now. Instead, we’ll just have to sit through Travis Snider and Jose Tabata while the Pirates second-best outfielder (yes, he may already be better than Starling Marte) tears up Triple-A.
Pitcher of the Night: Ben Lively, RHP, Reds (Bakersfield, A+): 6 IP, H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K.
Lively has done nothing but miss bats since being selected in the fourth round last season, and Tuesday night’s outing was his second straight 10-strikeout performance. His delivery has some effort to it, but if he can maintain that throughout his outings, he’ll be able to remain a starter.
Best of the Rest
Arismendy Alcantara, 2B, Cubs (Iowa, AAA): 2-5, 2 R, 2B, HR, K. Alcantara grew into his power last season in Double-A and now has his first two home runs of the 2014 season on back-to-back nights. What’s going to hold Alcantara back if it doesn’t improve is his plate discipline. Always an aggressive hitter, he made great strides last season by more than doubling his walk rate to 10.9 percent. This year, it’s down to a career low 2.9 percent. It’s early, but an approach that aggressive will get exploited quickly at the major-league level. He needs to show that the changes he made last season were for real.
Rubby de la Rosa, RHP, Red Sox (Pawtucket, AAA): 6 IP, 3 H, R, BB, 7 K. The Red Sox have insisted on continuing to develop de la Rosa as a starter despite his injury history and the obviousness of how well his velocity would fit in a bullpen role. Sometimes, teams really do know best about how to handle their own players.
Trevor Bauer, RHP, Indians (Columbus, AAA): 6 2/3 IP, 6 H, R, 3 BB, 3 K. That three walks is a season high for Bauer is a testament to just how far he’s come. The Indians are having some rotation issues right now, and probably need Bauer’s adjustments to be for real if they want to have a shot at a playoff spot, so it may be time to call him up and see what they have.
Stetson Allie, 1B, Pirates (Altoona, AA): 3-5, R, HR, K. The Pirates aren’t exactly taking it slow with Allie, considering he was a pitcher for the first few years of his career. His hit tool still has some holes in it, but his plus raw power does enough damage to mask his issues, and his low-average/high-strike out profile hasn’t been as extreme as you’d have expected it to be.
Marco Gonzales, LHP, Cardinals (Palm Beach, A+): 6 IP, 3 H, R, BB, 7 K. It’s easy to overlook Gonzales in the Cardinals farm system because of their extraordinary depth and his high-floor/low-ceiling profile, but he could be in the majors making an impact before any of his fellow prospects. What he lacks in ceiling he makes up for with polish and is a testament to just how far a plus change-up can take you.
Patrick Leonard, 1B, Rays (Charlotte, A+): 2-4, 3 R, 2B, HR, BB, K. The forgotten part of the Wil Myers/James Shields trade, Leonard does offer power potential but there are some questions about his hit tool.
Rock Shoulders, 1B, Cubs (Daytona, A+): 3-5, 4 R, 2 2B, HR, BB. It’s a reasonable question to ask just how much we’d know about Shoulders if his name were Bob Smith, but he can do some things with the bat to justify the attention. It’s a tough profile as a first base only and it’s questionable whether or not his raw power will play in games, but his approach isn’t terrible and he could turn out to be a second-division regular at some point.
Dylan Cozens, OF, Phillies (Lakewood, A-): 2-4, 2 R, 3B, HR, K. Cozens is incredibly big and strong, but there are questions about his hit tool and whether the power will translate against better pitching. He’s a below-average outfielder, so he’ll have to hit for power to justify playing time.
Fight Another Day
Michael Taylor, OF, Nationals (Harrisburg, AA): 0-4, 4 K. This is the second time in the past four games that Taylor has made this portion of the MLU courtesy of a golden sombrero, and he now has 28 strikeouts in 16 games. Things are getting ugly for Taylor.
Clint Frazier, OF, Indians (Lake County, A-): 0-4, 3 K. Full-season ball has been a tougher transition than many expected, with the 2013 first-rounder hitting just .211 thus far, but none of that negates his tools and talent.
Notable Pitching Performances*
- Justin Nicolino, LHP, Marlins (Jacksonville, AA): 4 2/3 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 BB, K.
- Hunter Harvey, RHP, Orioles (Delmarva, A-): 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R (0 ER), 5 BB, 5 K.
- Lucas Giolito, RHP, Nationals (Hagerstown, A-): 4 IP, 3 H, 3 R (2 ER), 3 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.