With no Triple-A games in action and rainouts lightening the schedule around the country, we don’t have as deep of an Update as we usually do. There’s nothing to fear, however. If we made it through January and February, this is a piece of cake.
Hitter of the Night: Albert Almora, OF, Cubs (Daytona, A+): 5-7, 4 R, 2B, 3B, HR.
Yep, that’s a cycle. Almora is coming on strong of late after a horrid start to the season. His aggressiveness at the plate is still a concern, but there are some guys who are talented enough, and do enough other things well, to get away with it. Almora may just be one of those guys.
Pitcher of the Night: Ben Eckels, RHP, Diamondbacks (Hillsboro, SS): 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 11 K.
The Diamondbacks were probably hoping to see Eckels in High-A ball by now, but struggles at Low-A South Bend last season put that schedule on hold. He’s throwing more strikes now, which had been a big concern, and missing bats, though he should be doing that at this level. A few more starts like this could earn him another shot at the Midwest League before the season is up.
Best of the Rest
Rio Ruiz, 3B, Astros (Lancaster, A+): 2-3, R, 2B, BB, SB. Ruiz has been a work in progress but he’s coming along. Don’t put too much stock in the raw numbers in the California League, but the strikeout-to-walk ratio is heading in the right direction and he’s already surpassed last season’s walk total. His defense is a work in progress too, but third base hasn’t been ruled out. The total package could still be en everyday third baseman, and the arrow is pointing upward.
Max Muncy, 1B, Athietics (Midland, AA): 3-4, 3 R, HR, 2 BB, K. Muncy is a prime example of why we have to take California League numbers with a grain of salt. He hit 21 home runs last year before a promotion, but this was just his fourth of this year. He hasn’t been a power hitter anywhere outside of Stockton, and he’s playing more first base than anywhere else—two traits that don’t go well together. He has strong on-base skills, but it doesn’t look like that’ll be enough.
Jose Peraza, 2B, Braves (Mississippi, AA): 3-6, K, SB, CS. If you watched the Futures Game, you got a glimpse of Peraza’s speed. He’s got the Billy Hamilton profile, though the speed isn’t quite on that level (it’s okay, no one’s is). He’s probably a better pure hitter, though, and is certainly a better infielder who will stay at second base, but like his speedy counterpart, he has no power to speak of. He’ll have to hit close to .300 to have value as an offensive player and will still need to field and run.
Dorssys Paulino, LF, Indians (Lake County, A-): 1-3, R, HR, 2 K. A former shortstop, Paulino is now playing more left field than anywhere else, making his struggles at the plate even more daunting to overcome. It’s hard to believe this is just Paulino’s second home run of the year, a disappointingly low total for a player with much better raw power than that. Some guys just can’t make it translate to games, however, and Paulino is having that issue because of the amount of bad contact he makes.
Franmil Reyes, OF, Padres (Fort Wayne, A-): 3-5, R, 3 2B, K. It’s a raw and extremely large package that surely will not age well, but you can’t ignore what Reyes is doing in full-season ball as an 18-year-old. His strong Monday performance gives him 20 doubles on the season with more power production on the way. He’s going to get exploited at higher levels because of his long limbs and aggressive approach, but if he can get enough of the power to translate, he’s got a chance to develop nicely.
Josh Bell, OF, Pirates (Bradenton, A+): 2-4, R, 3B, BB. Bell participated in the Futures Game, comes back and gets a triple, and if his teammate is to be believed, is getting promoted to Double-A. If true, that’s a nice long weekend, though it would be strange to send a player back to his old level for one game then promote him, just from a logistic standpoint. Either way, Bell has hit exceptionally well this season in the FSL and the Pirates have never shied away from mid-season promotions with worthy prospects.
Grant Kay, DH, Rays (Hudson Valley, SS): 5-6, 5 R, 2B, 3B, HR, K. So Grant Kay gets to professional baseball, homers on the first pitch he sees, then goes on to hit for the cycle. It’s not supposed to be that easy. I won’t pretend to have a scouting report on a 27th-round pick from Louisville whom I never saw play (though it wouldn’t surprise me if Nick Faleris has one on him somewhere), but if that performance isn’t Update-worthy, nothing is. Good for you, Grant.
Notable Prospect Starters