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Hitter of the Day: Corey Seager, 3B, Dodgers (Tulsa, AA): 2-4, 2 R, 3B, HR. Great hitter, off to a fantastic start, yada yada yada. There’s not much else to say about Seager’s bat that hasn’t already been said. He’s just a great hitter. It’s worth noting, however, that he did play third base on Thursday night. Many have suggested that he has been destined to move there out of athletic necessity, but not all agree, myself included. He won’t be Andrelton Simmons at short, but he has enough range to handle it in his 20s. The Dodgers may be thinking short-term, however, and if they have any part of 2015 in their minds for Seager, they want to at least get him some experience at third base in case he needs to fill in for Juan Uribe at some point.

Pitcher of the Day: Julio Urias, LHP, Dodgers (Tulsa, AA): 5 2/3 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, BB, 10 K. Urias makes Seager look like an under-achiever. Now teammates, when Seager was the same age Urias is now, he was dominating high school competition in North Carolina. Urias, instead, is embarrassing hitters who are, on average, around six years his elder. That’s nothing new for Urias, who has been the youngest player at every level as a professional and will continue to be until about his third year in the major leagues. It’s important to remember, however, that just because he’s doing what he’s doing at such an impressively young age doesn’t raise his ceiling. Dominating advanced competition at 18 doesn’t make him a future ace when his arsenal says number two starter. He’s an incredibly talented young pitcher, but it’s more accurate to say that he’s reaching his ceiling at an exceptionally young age than it is to say that his ceiling is exceptionally high. It’s not the only way the expectations surrounding him are, or are about to get, out of control. Still, he’d be the top pitching prospect in all but one or two organizations, and he’s closer to the big leagues than any other 18-year-old in baseball.

Best of the Rest

Nick Williams, OF, Rangers (Frisco, AA): 4-4, SB. Early season numbers are fun and ridiculous, like raising your batting average 110 points in one game. Williams is a 4-hit game waiting to happen, both because of his elite natural bat-to-ball skills that have led to elite grades from scouts (one scout I spoke with said Williams’ hit tool grade was the highest he handed out all year), but also because his patience at the plate makes Albert Almora look like Ted Williams. Williams is never going to be patient at the plate, but it took elite ability to get away with a 117:19 K:BB ratio in High-A ball last year, and that kind of approach won’t work at any of the level’s he’s got in front of him.

Dwight Smith, Jr., OF, Blue Jays (New Hampshire, AA): 2-5, R, HR, K. Smith was impressive last season on a Dunedin team that at one point featured current major leaguers Dalton Pompey and Daniel Norris as his teammates. Smith isn’t prepared to move as quickly at his counterparts, but he does have the makings as a potential contributor at the major-league level. His bat will have to do most of the work, as he’s destined for left field defensively. The issue is that he’s not a natural power hitter. He has enough pop to keep pitchers honest, which could land him as a fourth outfielder in the major leagues. He was instituting a leg kick in spring training in an attempt to generate more power in his swing. Even if he doesn’t end up hitting more than 10-15 home runs a season, he should still be a major-league contributor in some capacity, and perhaps as early as the end of this season.

Mark Appel, RHP, Astros (Corups Christi, AA): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K. After last season’s California League hiccup (which was more like a Heimlich-requiring choking fit), Appel has settled back in as the polished, almost major league-ready prospect we expected him to be. He’s handling the Texas League without concern and is a phone call away from Houston whenever they have a need.

A.J. Reed, 1B, Astros (Lancaster, A+): 2-2, 2 R, 2B, HR, BB. Reed transitioned nicely to professional ball last season, showing that the switch to wood bats did nothing to limit his power potential. Now in the California League, Reed is poised to move quickly and could take off now that he’s focusing solely on hitting for the first time in his career.

Austin Gomber, LHP, Cardinals (Peoria, A-): 7 IP, 6 H, ER, 0 BB, 8 K. Gomber slid to the fourth round after a disappointing junior season in 2014, but the potential in his arm caused the Cardinals to take a chance on him, landing him in a terrific organization for a pitcher with great stuff but in need of refinement. His mechanics can be rough, causing command issues, but if they can be streamlined, his production could take off.

JaCoby Jones, SS, Pirates (Bradenton, A+): 2-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, K. Jones features an enticing power/speed combination and the ability to play shortstop, at least in short stints. There are enough holes in his game—mainly in his hit tool and its in-game application—where he doesn’t necessarily project as an everyday player, but he also does enough things well as an up-the-middle athlete with some pop that there could be a major-league niche in his future as a utility man.

Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees (Trenton, AA): 2-5, R, HR, K. The hype machine that runs rampant in New York is bound to get out of control with Judge. He’s a solid player in the making, one who could begin to reward the Yankees for selecting him in the first round as soon as this fall. He’s not an elite talent, but he does have elite size and strength and a strong approach at the plate that allows him to use his skill set it the most advantageous way possible. He’s going to be a regular contributor.

Fight Another Day

Mike Papi, OF, Indians (Lynchburg, A+): 0-5, 3 K. Professional baseball hasn’t been kind to Papi thus far, who hit just .181 last year after signing. Without elite power, speed or defense, the hit tool will have to be the calling card for Papi.

Alex Jackson, OF, Mariners (Clinton, A-): 0-6, K. The hit tool is the calling card for Jackson, who was considered the best pure high-school hitter in last year’s draft. That, coupled with some success in the Arizona Rookie League, gave the Mariners enough confidence to challenge Jackson with a full-season assignment this year. The early returns haven’t been good, and Jackson could be pressing as he now also has the weight of moving from catcher to right field, thus putting more pressure on his bat to carry the load. He’s still an excellent hitter, just a little bit in over his head at the start of a new season against significantly better competition than he’s ever previously faced.

Steven Moya, OF, Tigers (Lakeland, A+): 0-4, 4 K. Moya is rehabbing a foot injury in Lakeland before heading for his regular assignment in Triple-A. Normally a game like this wouldn’t be of much concern for a rehabbing player, but Moya has well-documented issues making contact, which significantly limits his in-game power application. Long story short, Moya has severe contact issues that can be exposed by even inferior pitching. Some believe his power will be enough to overcome it, while others believe it will be enough of an issue to squash his power production and render him inferior at the plate. You can probably guess where I land on this plate discipline-related debate.

Notable Prospect Starters

  • Tyrell Jenkins, RHP, Braves (Mississippi, AA): 6 IP, 4 H, 5 R (2 ER), BB, K.
  • Aaron Blair, RHP, Diamondbacks (Mobile, AA): 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 K.
  • Zach Lee, RHP, Dodgers (Oklahoma City, AAA): 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K.
  • Carlos Rodon, LHP, White Sox (Charlotte, AAA): 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 4 K.

And in a fitting end, we’ll say it one last time… and Kris Bryant homered.

Thank you for reading

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BPKevin
4/17
And who will be the next, "...and ______ homered"? Will it be Gallo in a few weeks? Will it change to "and Seager had a multi-hit game"?
Muboshgu
4/17
I nominate "... and Bubba Starling flailed."
bigchiefbc
4/17
Peter O'Brien: 3/4, 2 2B, 3 RBI

Michael Lorenzen: 6IP, 6H, 1ER, 1BB, 2K
DetroitDale
4/17
The foot injury to Moya was reported as Plantar Fasciatis, which is exactly what caused Albert Pujols to have a lost year in Anaheim. This is a very bad time in his development to lose a year.

That aside, I don't know how you can overcome "plate discipline issues" with power. Power doesn't matter at all if you can't make contact.
BCermak
4/17
SSS Alert! But given how early BB% and K% stabilize for hitters, we might be on our way to some improvements for Nick Williams. 3 Ks and 1 BB in 27 AB as opposed to 117 Ks and 19 BBs in 377 AB. K% stabilizes after ~60AB and BB% after 120 AB. I'm interested to see where Mr. Williams finds himself in a month...
oldbopper
4/17
The Oldbopper jinx strikes again! Last year I was excited to see Byron Buxton's Double-AA debut in New Britain, he fanned in all three plate appearances and had his career almost end before it began in the terrifying collision. Opening night yesterday and David Dahl, the shining star of the Rockies system, goes 0-5 with 3 ugly K's. He most certainly belongs on the Fight Another Day list because he is the top prospect and is already at a much higher level than those mentioned.
onegameref
4/17
Kris Bryant homered...and there was much rejoicing.
boards
4/18
I was at the San Antonio-Tulsa game last night just to watch Urias pitch. I was not disappointed. I am the furthest thing from a scout you will ever encounter. But I sat 15 feet away during his warmups and behind the plate for the game. Everything just looks fluid and easy. For some reason, I was counting pitches. I didn't realize he had 10 Ks although I noticed he had quite a few. The second inning he scuffled through 29 pitches of his total of 90 in 5 2/3 (that's what I counted; may not be exact) and still only allowed one baserunner. Remove that inning and he averaged 13 pitches per inning. I apologize if I'm adding to the hype.

Bottom line: a great baseball experience and what I go to the games for.