Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians (Peoria): 3-4, R, 2B. I’m not breaking any new ground by saying that Lindor is among the best, if not the best, shortstop prospect in the game, but he’s also perhaps the surest bet of any prospect at any position around whom you could build your team. There is no doubt that he is prepared to step in and provide defensive value in the majors today if necessary, as has been the case for some time. What will separate him from the pack, however, will be his ability to drive the ball for extra bases. He has just enough pop to keep pitchers honest and punish them when they leave the ball over the plate, something pitchers don’t fear with Lindor’s most frequent comp, Elvis Andrus. If Lindor can consistently get into the 30-double/10-home-run range (well within reach), the rest of his skill set should make him one of the best players in the American League.
Mark Appel, RHP, Astros (Salt River): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K. It’s safe to say that Appel has rebounded from his bizarre struggles at the start of the season, and Monday night’s start was the best of three strong outings thus far in the desert. These performances make his struggles early this season even more bizarre, as they were at least partially contributed to the unforgiving hitting environments of the California League, something not unlike what he’s handling quite well this October. Assuming he finishes the month as strong as he has started it, Appel is giving the Astros hope that he could get to the big leagues by some point next season, which seemed almost impossible earlier this year.
Jaime Schultz, RHP, Rays, (Peoria): 3 2/3 IP, H, 3 R (1 ER), 6 BB, 4 K. Thus far, Schultz has had as much success as any organization could expect from a 5-foot-10 14th-round pick, but he’s also gotten by dodging bullets in the form of too many additional baserunners. Schultz has a two-seam/curveball combination that helps him miss bats, but his fastball command is below average and it gets him into trouble. When he can’t get ahead of hitters, it negates the effectiveness of his other pitches and he struggles to compete. Because his curveball is a plus pitch, he can get away with the tightrope act, but it will be tougher and tougher against better competition. That lack of command, and concerns about his size, could land him in a bullpen if not corrected, but the pure stuff is good enough to start.
Nick Williams, OF, Rangers (Surprise): 2-3, 2 R, 2B, HR. It takes elite hitting ability to get away with striking out more than six times for every walk you take, but Williams does have elite hitting ability so he may just be able to pull it off. He really needs to refine his approach, because even the slightest improvements could allow his elite bat speed and feel for the barrel to make the jump into the upper echelon of hitters. As it stands, he’s on pace to be an effective, but flawed, hitter.
Joely Rodriguez, LHP, Pirates (Scottsdale): 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 5 K. It took Rodriguez three years to get out of the New York-Penn League, largely due to the fact that he missed most of 2011 with an elbow injury, but the Pirates patience appeared to be rewarded with a strong season last year between Low and High-A. The Pirates were aggressive with Rodriguez and sent him to Altoona this season, where his inability to miss bats finally caught up with him. Despite a low-90s arm, Rodriguez has never been much of a strikeout pitcher, and while his control is good, his command is not. He was used in a relief role consistently for the first time this season after his struggles got worse, and that could be a role for Rodriguez down the line. He’s been much better this fall, however, allowing just one run over three outings.
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