Hitter of the Night: Steven Souza, OF, Nationals (Syracuse, AAA): 3-5, 2 R, 2 HR.
What Souza is doing in Triple-A this year is nothing short of incredible, and while it’s also not sustainable, especially at the major league level, he does have good pop and on-base skills and can play all three outfield positions. A logjam in Washington means he’s not going to get a chance to prove it at the major league level anytime soon, but if I were a potential trading partner with the Nationals, I’d be inquiring about Souza in just about any deal. He should carve out a nice niche on a major league roster.
Pitcher of the Night: Aaron Nola, RHP, Phillies (Clearwater, A+): 4 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K.
It won’t get the fanfare that his first start got, but this was considerably more impressive and was closer to what the Phillies were expecting from Nola than his first outing. It only went four innings as he works himself back into game shape and the Phillies limit his workload, but that’s an impressive start for a guy who was pitching in the SEC a month ago.
Best of the Rest
Michael Feliz, RHP, Astros (Quad Cities, A-): 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R (0 ER), BB, 7 K. We were pretty aggressive with Feliz in our rankings this offseason, and he did not reward us out of the gate, posting a 6.39 ERA this April. A strong May helped him bounce back, however, and after an acceptable June, he got July off to a hot start in his first start as a 20-year-old. This was his longest start of the year by a full two innings in Houston’s tandem pitching system, and we could see him start to blossom the remainder of this year as the reins are taken off.
Kyle Crick, RHP, Giants (Richmond, AA): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K. This is a relatively large baby step for Crick, who still needed 95 pitches to get through five innings but managed to keep his walk totals down and thus was able to stay out of trouble for most of the night.
Christian Arroyo, SS, Giants (Salem-Keizer, SS): 3-4, R, HR. The struggles have continued for Arroyo, who couldn’t handle a full-season assignment and has struggled to hit in short-season ball. He’ll have to show more power like this for the eventual move to third base that most believe will be a necessity.
Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Rays (Durham, AAA): 3-5, 2 R, HR. It’s been a long road back from the knee surgery that cost him all of last season, and while he was never a power hitter, the Rays are still going to need to see Lee still post an OPS over .600.
Trey Ball, LHP, Red Sox (Greenville, A-): 5 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K. A fastball/changeup combination is usually a good way to carve up Low-A hitters, but it hadn’t worked out too well for Ball before Tuesday night. He has struggled to miss enough bats and has barely missed any barrels.
Michael Lorenzen, RHP, Reds (Pensacola, AA): 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R (0 ER), BB, 5 K. The transition to full-time pitcher is going so well that you rarely hear anyone still project him for a relief role. It’s still a possibility, as Lorenzen has seen his strikeout totals drop working out of the rotation, and his fastball command still has a way to go. But for now, starting is at least firmly entrenched in the discussion, something that was a remote possibility at this time last year.
Ryan McMahon, 3B, Rockies (Asheville, A-): 2-4, R, HR, 2 K. McMahon has some holes in his swing and an aggressive approach at the plate that is going to lead to big strikeout numbers without the on-base skills to make up for them, but his plus power potential may be enough to make the entire package work.
Luis Santos, RHP, Royals (Wilmington, A+): 5 2/3 IP, 3 H, R, BB, 2 K. Relying mostly on a 91-mph cut fastball, Santos carved up hitters and generated tons of poor contact. It’s a relief profile because the changeup has a long way to go and his crossfire delivery leads to some inconsistencies, but if his fastball continues to move like it did on Tuesday, he’ll find a role in a bullpen.
Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees (Tampa, A+): 2-3, R, 2B, HR, 2 BB, K. Judge will always strike out a lot because hitters his size have holes in the strike zone that can be exploited and he doesn’t have elite bat speed to correct it, but those strikeouts are coming with good power production and high walk totals, so they will be tolerable.
Fight Another Night
Lucas Sims, RHP, Braves (Lynchburg, A+): 4 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 4 BB, 5 K. It’s been a strange season for Sims, who has seen his strikeout numbers plummet on the year to an unsustainably low 5.0 K/9. Even when he’s missing bats like he did on Tuesday, he’s not missing enough barrels.
Jacob Gatewood, SS, Brewers (AZL, R): 0-4, 3 K. Even with the power production that the Brewers are expecting to come, this is a concerning amount of swinging and missing.
Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Mets (Las Vegas, AAA): 3 2/3 IP, 11 H, 5 R, 0 BB, 3 K. The sooner the Mets can get Thor out of Vegas, the better—though not all of his struggles can be blamed on his home park.