Hitter of the Night: Addison Russell, SS, Cubs (Tennessee, AA): 2-5, 2 R, 2B, HR.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out for the Cubs, who have more shortstop depth than any organization in recent memory. Starlin Castro’s reemergence has pushed Javier Baez to second base, but Russell could be a more complete (note that choice of words very carefully) player than either of them.
Pitcher of the Night: Nick Tropeano, RHP, Astros (Oklahoma City, AAA): 6 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K.
Tropeano has done all he can to prove himself in the minors, which has included showing that he can continue to miss bats at the highest level despite a mediocre fastball. The key to that is a plus changeup, which can be the great equalizer for any pitcher. It’s not a high ceiling, but he’s going to be a major league pitcher, and there’s no reason he can’t stick at the back end of a rotation for a while.
Best of the Rest
Alex Reyes, RHP, Cardinals (Kane County, A-): 6 1/3 IP, 3 H, 4 R (2 ER), BB, 10 K. Reyes has been throwing more strikes lately, walking more than two batters in just one of his last seven starts. It’s an important step forward for a young arm that has missed a ton of bats as a 19-year-old in full-season ball and avoids hard contact but gives away too many free passes.
Julio Urias, LHP, Dodgers (Rancho Cucamunga, A+): 5 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K. He may have just turned 18 a week ago, but the only thing left for Urias to prove is that he can pitch deep into games—a skill that he may already possess, but that the Dodgers’ kid gloves have protected him from displaying. This is, however, the second straight game in which Urias finished five innings of work, a noticeable step forward considering he did it just once in his first 20 appearances of the season. There’s no reason the endurance and command won’t improve to where they need to be as he completes his teens.
Aaron Blair, RHP, Diamondbacks (Mobile, AA): 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, BB, 7 K. Getting Blair out of the California League has done wonders for the 2013 first-rounder, who continues to pound the strike zone with quality strikes. He should continue to move quickly and could be in the major leagues by next summer if he continues to progress.
Justin Williams, OF, Diamondbacks (South Bend, A-): 3-4, 4 R, 3B, HR, BB, K. It’s games like this that remind us why teams take chances on raw prospects, even extremely raw ones like Williams. After tearing up short-season and rookie leagues over the past calendar year, Williams is finally in full-season ball. It’s exposing his rawness, but Monday was a display of what he can do and what he’s progressing toward.
Yorman Rodriguez, OF, Reds (Pensacola, AA): 4-5, 3 R, HR, SB. It’s difficult to still be raw after over 2,100 minor league at-bats, but Rodriguez is still just 21 and is still learning to tap into his extreme tools. He has a great arm and plus raw power, but it doesn’t play in games because of his approach, among other reasons. He never become a major leaguer, but it’s awfully tough to rule out a 21-year-old with a pair of plus tools.
Steven Moya, OF, Tigers (Erie, AA): 3-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, K. There is no debating Moya’s size or tools, but how they will play out in the majors is certainly debatable. In fact, exactly such a debate is currently taking place behind the scenes at BP (and is being moderated by yours truly), proving once again that two good scouts can look at the same player and formulate two different opinions. Moya is a polarizing player who generates extreme opinions, some of which match the ridiculousness of his 143-to-19 K:BB ratio this season.
Fight Another Day
Amir Garrett, LHP, Reds (Dayton, A-): 2 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 5 BB, 3 K. Just a few days ago, I used this space to talk about Garrett’s tremendous potential. Then he goes out and does this. It’s the kind of things that happen to pitching prospects when they spend half of their career playing college basketball. It’s also the kind of outing that should become less frequent now that he’s a full-time baseball player.
Notable Pitching Performances