With no International or Carolina League games on the schedule and torrential rains wiping out most of the Eastern League slate, the MLU is a little lighter than it would be on most Thursday mornings. Not to worry, however. It’s been 90 degrees all week down here in Florida, so there’s nothing stopping the Update from carrying on, even with a limited schedule.
Player of the Night: Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B, Royals (Northwest Arkansas, AA): 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, K.
The pair of home runs Cuthbert hit on Wednesday night matched his total in 60 games in Wilmington last season. It’s important to see Cuthbert develop some power if scouts are going to continue to project him as a potential impact bat. Cuthbert has been pushed aggressively, but that can only be a crutch for so long.
Best of the Rest
Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers (Albuquerque, AAA): 3-4, 2 R, HR, BB. Pederson is hitting .383 with five home runs thus far this year, but what’s more impressive is his batting eye. He’s walked 20 times in 25 games, continuing a trend that has seen him increase his walk rate at each level—no small feat. He may not have the prototypical power of a corner outfielder or the defense required for a true center fielder, but if he continues to get on base, he’ll be deserving of a spot in someone’s lineup everyday.
Preston Tucker, OF, Astros (Corpus Christi, AA): 1-4, R, HR. Tucker may not have the high ceiling or premium bat speed we look for in a corner outfield prospect, but he continues to produce in every aspect of his offensive game.
Aaron Northcraft, RHP, Braves (Mississippi, AA): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 6 K. Save for an outlier season in the Carolina League in 2012, Northcraft generally doesn’t miss too many bats. What he does, however, is limit the free passes and generate a ton of ground balls with his sinker/slider combination. He has a back-end ceiling, but as the Braves have shown this season, having those guys in your organization can provide tremendous value.
Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Angels (Arkansas, AA): 4-5, 2 R, 2B. The Angels are in desperate need for some good news from what has become the weakest farm system in baseball, but Cowart, once their top prospect, has failed to deliver it thus far. He raised his batting average 37 points tonight, it’s his power the Angels need to see more of if they want to count him as a part of their future.
Matt Wisler, RHP, Padres (San Antonio, AA): 5 IP, 4 H, R, BB, 5 K. Things haven’t gotten much tougher for Wisler in Double-A, as he’s generally been the model of consistency in the Texas League. Having made 20 starts there before his six this year, it’s hard to believe he’ll be there much longer.
Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Cubs (Daytona, A+): 3-4, 2B. The power hasn’t kicked in yet for Vogelbach this season, but that’s easy to project. What’s most impressive about the Cubs’ young slugger is how he doesn’t have to sell out for it, allowing him to control the strike zone at the same time.
Dixon Machado, SS, Tigers (Lakeland, A+): 3-5, 3 R, HR. Machado is only good for one or two home runs per year, so there’s a chance that this is all the power we’re going to get out of him in 2014. Machado doesn’t offer much with the bat, and it’s his glove that will carry him to a backup/utility role in the majors.
Julio Urias, LHP, Dodgers (Rancho Cucamonga, A+): 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K. The Dodgers are still taking it easy with Urias and his young arm, but any time you can throw multiple innings in the California League without any baserunners, it’s an accomplishment.
Austin Wilson, OF, Mariners (Clinton, A-): 1-3, 2 R, 2B (Game 1), 3-4, R, 3B, HR. This is the first time we’ve really seen Wilson’s power join him in game action, despite his massive frame. He’s extremely raw and over-aggressive at the plate, which limits how the power plays in games, but if he can refine his approach, the power could jump.
David Dahl, OF, Rockies (Asheville, A-): 1-4, 2 R, HR, BB, 2 K. There were many who believed that Dahl could make a huge jump this season, and with his fifth home run of the year on Wednesday night, it looks like the power is certainly ready to play. He, too, has an aggressive approach at the plate, but at the moment he has it under control enough to keep from getting exploited. It’s something he’ll have to keep an eye on against more advanced pitching.
Fight Another Day
Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs (Tennessee, AA): 0-5, 2 K. There’s little to complain about with Bryant, but it does appear that strikeout totals will be something to keep an eye on as he progresses, as he’s currently racking up more than one per game. It won’t keep him from being a largely productive player, but it may be just enough to keep his batting average from ever cracking the .300 mark in the majors.
Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates (Bradenton, A+): 2 IP, H, 2 R, 7 BB, 0 K. Whoa. Glasnow wasn’t exactly a control artist last season, either, en route to striking out a billion batters per inning, but seven walks in two innings is a lot. He had a seven-walk outing last year, too, so this isn’t a complete aberration, but Glasnow will need to begin to make some progress in his command if he’s going to be someone the Pirates can count on for their rotation. Right now, it’s heading in the wrong direction.