Hitter of the Day: Preston Tucker, OF, Astros (Fresno, AAA): 2-5, 3 R, 2 HR, K. Tucker isn’t the kind of guy that gets scouts talking, as his tools generally don’t jump off the field at you. But it’s impossible to argue with his production, which has always included big power numbers dating back to his days as a Florida Gator. He may not profile as an everyday player on a first-division team, but power is a scarce commodity in today’s game and Tucker has it. That alone will find him a role on a big-league roster sometime soon.
Pitcher of the Day: Edwin Diaz, Mariners RHP, (Bakersfield, A+): 6 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K. I’m not sure what’s more impressive—that Diaz was able to beat his first performance of the season and now hasn’t allowed a run in 11 innings over two starts, or that he was able to do this in Bakersfield, perhaps the most hitter-friendly park in all of minor-league baseball. It’s a testament to the importance of being able to miss bats when necessary, which Diaz is doing in droves. His fastball/slider combination is already proving to be too much for A-ball hitters, but he’ll need to continue the development of an off-speed pitch in order to continue such success at higher levels.
Best of the Rest
Jake Gatewood, SS, Brewers (Wisconsin, A-): 1-3, R, HR, K. Big time power and the potential to stick at a premium position is what got Gatewood drafted 41st overall last season, but in his first dose of pro ball, we saw the holes in his swing that come with that power get exposed in a big way. It’s been more of the same in the early going for Gatewood, with strike outs in half of his at-bats thus far. The Brewers were questionably aggressive with him, electing to throw him directly into the full-season fires rather than refine his swing and being him along slowly. The power is enticing, but there is a lot of work to be done in order for him to make more contact, and don’t be surprised to see him look overmatched for the better part of this season.
Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers (Tulsa, AA): 3-4, R, HR, CS. We’re only a week into the minor-league season and we’re already running out of superlatives for Seager. He’s one of the best pure hitters in the minors, and won’t be there too much longer.
Carlos Correa, SS, Astros (Corpus Christi, AA): 2-4, R, HR. You could take the entire write-up for Seager and use it for Correa. He may be slightly further from the majors because of the time he missed last year, but he could also be in the majors by year’s end because he’s already probably the best shortstop in the entire Astros organization.
Jorge Mateo, SS, Yankees (Charleston, A-): 2-5, 2 R, K, 3 SB. Mateo is incredibly raw, jumping directly from the complex leagues to full-season ball. He’s holding his own nonetheless, however, and is allowing his top-of-the-charts speed to play in games, now with eight steals already in as many attempts. He also looks to have strong makeup, which should help bridge the gap between his current level of readiness and his competition.
Blake Snell, LHP, Rays (Charlotte, A+): 5 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K. This is the second straight very strong start from Snell, who now has 18 strike outs in his first 11 innings. More impressively, however, he’s throwing significantly more strikes, which changes everything. He has the potential for three plus pitches, but his inability to keep them in the strike zone has held him back. He’s corrected that in a big way thus far this season and the results show.
Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Blue Jays (Lansing, A-): 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K. Reid-Foley has a big arm, which is what got him selected in the second round in last year’s draft. The Blue Jays, feeling aggressive up-and-down their minor-league system this spring, assigned the 19-year-old to full-season ball despite just 22 2/3 Gulf Coast League innings on his resume. Reid-Foley is going to have some issues throwing strikes initially, with a lot of movement in his delivery, but his raw stuff should be enough for him to get by in the Midwest League as he refines the rest of the package.
Carlos Tocci, OF, Phillies (Lakewood, A-): 2-5, 2 R, 2B, HR, K. It took Tocci two-and-a-half years to hit his first professional home run, and posted a career high of two last season, so when he hits one in the second week of the season, it’s noteworthy. While he’s never going to be a home-run hitter, the fact that he’s driving the ball with more authority this season is a strong sign that his bat may be able to develop into enough to allow his defense to work it’s way into a starting lineup.
Casey Gillaspie, 1B, Rays (Bowling Green, A-): 5-8, 3 R, 2 2B, HR, 2 K (DH). The 20th overall pick in last year’s draft, Gillaspie had no issue with New York-Penn League pitching last year, not surprising for an advanced college bat. It was some surprise then that the Rays chose to be cautious with him and send him to Low-A Bowling Green rather than challenge him in the Florida State League to start the season. Gillaspie shows off good power, though it might not be enough to be a true impact bat at first base. The Midwest League won’t challenge him too much, and he should earn himself a midseason promotion at some point.
Manuel Margot, OF, Red Sox (Salem, A+): 2-6, 2 R, 3B, HR, BB (DH). Pure fun on a baseball field, Margot is having no issues with the challenging assignment the Red Sox have asked him to handle. The 20-year-old center fielder possesses one of the best power/speed combinations in the minors.
Luis Severino, RHP, Yankees (Trenton, AA): 5 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K. Pure fun on a mound, unless you have to face him, of course. The scouting world is still split on whether or not Severino will be able to stay as a starter or ultimately end up in the bullpen, but nobody questions the stuff of his ability to miss bats.
Fight Another Day
Colin Moran, 3B, Astros (Corpus Christi, AA): 0-4, 2 K. Still a plus feel for finding the barrel of the bat, but there is little authority in his swing or impetus to drive the baseball. Moran has slugged just .404 as a professional and .388 in Double-A between last year and the start of this season. That won’t get it done at third base, and it certainly won’t be enough for first base, where he’s likely to end up.
Ketel Marte, SS, Mariners (Tacoma, AAA): 0-5, 3 K. Because of his contact ability and aggressive approach at the plate, Marte doesn’t have issues with strikeouts too often. In fact, he had just one three-strikeout game all of last year. Good to see he got this year’s out of the way early.
Michael Mader, LHP, Marlins (Greensboro, A-): 3 2/3 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 6 BB, K. We gave Mader a bit of a pass last week for a poor performance because of the weather. The temperature hasn’t warmed up too much since, but Mader was even worse in his second outing, struggling to find anything resembling the strike zone. His arm is very live, but completely unrefined.
Dominic Smith, 1B, Mets (St. Lucie, A+): 0-4, 3 K. There has to be some pressure mounting for Smith. Much was made of his power outage at Savannah last year, though at least he held his own hitting for average and controlling the strike zone. The early returns for this season can’t say the same thing, as he’s now three for his first 23.
Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees (Trenton, AA): 0-5, 4 K. Judge had been off to a hot start to the season, but tall hitters with long arms are going to be prone to these types of games no matter how short they keep their swing. Judge generally does a good job of limiting strike outs for a player his size, but there’s only so much a 6-foot-7 hitter can do to eliminate holes. He’s also quite patient at the plate and it leads to as many called third strikes as swinging. No reason for concern here.
Notable Prospect Starters
- Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Braves (Gwinnet, AAA): 4 2/3 IP, 5 H, R, 4 BB, 5 K.
- Jen-Ho Tseng, RHP, Cubs (Myrtle Beach, A+): 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 5 K.
- Nick Kingham, RHP, Pirates (Indianapolis, AAA): 4 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 6 K.
- Nick Travieso, RHP, Reds (Daytona, A+): 5 2/3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 5 K.
- Kevin Ziomek, LHP, Tigers (Lakeland, A+): 5 IP, 7 H, 5 R (4 ER), BB, 8 K.
- Chris Anderson, LHP, Dodgers (Tulsa, AA): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K.
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