Hitter of the Night:
Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Phillies (Lakewood, A-): 4-4, 3 R, 2 HR, BB. A relative unknown in the prospect world as a fifth-round pick out of Cal State-Sacramento last year, Hoskins will go exactly as far as his power will take him. He’s limited to first base, so all of his value will have to come from his bat, and his power tool exceeds his hit tool. That can work at first base, but he’ll have to show that the power is for real and not a byproduct of being 22 and in the Sally League.
Pitcher of the Night:
Alex Meyer, RHP, Twins (Rochester, AAA): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 11 K. Meyer has never been a control artist, but 11 walks over his first two starts was what scouts first feared when he was coming out of college. Meyer’s control has been much better than some had expected, so his slow start this season should go down as more of a blip on the radar than anything else. His track record in the minors leaves little left to prove, and another start or two like this to get some momentum going could be all he needs to jump right into the Twins big-league rotation.
Best of the Rest
Jin-De Jhang, C, Pirates (Bradenton, A+): 3-3, 2B. Jhang was a disappointment last season, failing to hit at all in the Florida State League and showing a long swing and pitch recognition issues. Back in Bradenton, he’s off to an incredibly hot start, now riding a four-game hit streak during which he’s seven for his last 13. Still just 22, it’s not too late for Jhang to get back on track and show off his athleticism behind the plate and above-average arm.
Tony Wolters, C, Indians (Akron, AA): 3-5, R, 2 2B, BB, K. Converting Wolters to a catcher in his third season as a professional undoubtedly slowed down his development and has hurt his offensive production, but the increased versatility could be his ticket to the big leagues. While catching primarily, Wolters has also still seen time in the middle infield the past two seasons, giving him a unique set of skills that could fit nicely on a major-league bench or even in the lineup a few days a week. Wolters attacks the ball at the plate with a solid build and short left-handed swing that is built for contact but lacks power. That could play on a limited basis at up-the-middle positions, and he could be ideal for a National League roster.
Jose Peraza, 2B, Braves (Gwinnett, AAA): 3-4, R, BB, 2 SB. Off to a slow start to the 2015 season, there’s not too much to worry about with Peraza, who has been hindered by a .238 BABIP (entering Tuesday) that is unlucky for most and unsustainable for a player with his speed. He still offers no power, but his track record of being able to make contact and use his legs is pretty strong. He’s still a shortstop by nature, but has made the full conversion to the other side of the second base bag in deference to Andrelton Simmons. He’s still a few days shy of legally buying a drink, and the Braves aren’t playing for anything, so there’s no need to rush Peraza, affording the Braves the opportunity to let him spend the majority of 2015 developing properly in Triple-A.
Brian Johnson, LHP, Red Sox (Pawtucket, AAA): 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 5 K. Johnson is wholly unimpressive and yet at the same time represents what is so impressive about the Red Sox farm system. Limited in his arsenal, Johnson profiles as a back-end starter or bullpen piece, but for this year’s Red Sox team, he provides a valuable depth option better than the junk most teams have to resort to when they get to starters 8-10 on the season. He doesn’t have any plus pitches, but he knows how to use his stuff effectively.
Anthony Alford, OF, Blue Jays (Lansing, A-): 2-4, 2 R, 2B, BB, K. Incredibly raw as a baseball player because he was splitting time with a college football career, Alford is now a full-time baseball player and the Blue Jays are excited about his potential. One Blue Jays scout told me that Alford received the highest amateur grade he’d given out that year. The athleticism is what scouts rave about with Alford, and at 19 years old and in his first year of full-season ball, there’s still plenty of time for him to figure out how to use it on a baseball field.
Clint Coulter, OF, Brewers (Brevard County, A+): 5-8, 3 R, 2 2B, HR (DH). You wouldn’t teach Coulter’s swing to a young hitter. You should, however, teach them his approach at the plate. Coulter has plus plate discipline, but he’s not afraid to let it loose when he gets his pitch. The swing isn’t smooth, but it’s assertive and has good power. The production could grow now that the Brewers have gotten him out from behind the plate. He likely won’t be a good outfielder either, but as long as he continues to hit for power and get on base at a high clip, the profile will work.
Alex Reyes, RHP, Cardinals (Palm Beach, A+): 4 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 7 K. It was more of the same for Reyes on Tuesday, with potent stuff allowing him to get by with a lack of command. It’s not a long-term concern for Reyes yet, but it is going to require the Cardinals to be patient with the young right-hander, who should need a full season at each level in order to get to where he needs to be.
Peter O’Brien, C, Diamondbacks (Reno, AAA): 3-4, 2 R, HR. Few scouts believe O’Brien can remain a catcher, and throwing issues have rendered the decision moot in the short term. Scouts are more torn on his bat, where some see slow bat speed that will get exposed by better velocity while others see legitimate raw power. Ultimately, they’re probably both right. O’Brien does have plus raw power, but most of it is derived from size and strength rather than natural bat speed. What that does is leave him susceptible to better pitching, forcing him to capitalize on mistakes against better pitchers. Plenty of players have made careers out of doing just that, but most of them have a position to play. Hitters with power always get opportunities, especially in today’s game, but the outfield isn’t a good fit and he’s blocked at first base. Still the Diamondbacks have shown no hesitation towards playing bat-only/poor defensive outfielders at the corners in recent years (Mark Trumbo, Yasmany Tomas, etc.).
Ronald Guzman, 1B, Rangers (Hickory, A-): 3-4, 2 R, HR. Guzman was in over his head at Low-A Hickory last season, but that doesn’t mean he’s a lost cause. Still just 20, he’s still figuring out how to be his massive self. Guzman remains incredibly raw and gets exposed even by Sally League pitchers without much of an approach of their own. He’s also a below-average athlete already, limiting his profile to the bat. That bat could produce power numbers, which is what intrigued the Rangers to him in the first place, but the in-game application of that power is still a long way from coming to fruition. Still, young and large is a good place to start.
Fight Another Day
Julio Urias, LHP, Dodgers (Tulsa, AA): 4 IP, 6 H, 5 R, BB, 2 K. He’s 18. What was your worst day as an 18-year-old? Mine was…on second thought, let’s move on.
Jhoan Urena, 3B, Mets (St. Lucie, A+): 0-6, 3 K (DH). I’ve been perhaps the biggest supporter of Urena over the past year and a half, at least here at BP, but I’m not at all surprised that he’s in over his head in the Florida State League and have yet to hear a reasonable explanation for why he was jumped over Low-A Savannah for his first full-season assignment.
Tom Windle, LHP, Phillies (Reading, AA): 5 IP, 9 H, 9 R (8 ER), 3 BB, 3 K. A potential plus breaking ball as a left-hander made Windle a safe acquisition for the Phillies when they finally parted with long-time mainstay Jimmy Rollins this offseason. That slider helped Windle survive the California League, though his lack of other swing-and-miss offerings gave him some trouble in the hitter-friendly league. By comparison, the Eastern League in April should be a piece of cake, but it was an unsuccessful attempt on Tuesday at following up a successful first start. Windle profiles as a potential mid-to-back rotation starter who should be a usable big-league piece in some capacity even if his command never improves.
Notable Pitching Performances
- Michael Feliz, RHP, Astros (Lancaster, A+): 4 IP, H, 2 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 6 K.
- Tyrell Jenkins, RHP, Cardinals (Mississippi, AA): 5 2/3 IP, H, 0 R, 4 BB, 4 K.
- Aaron Blair, RHP, Diamondbacks (Mobile, AA): 5 2/3 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 6 K.
- Tyler Beede, RHP, Giants (San Jose, A+): 6 IP, 3 H, R, 2 BB, K.
- Jarlin Garcia, RHP, Marlins (Jupiter, A+): 6 IP, H, R, ER, 0 BB, 6 K.
- Luke Jackson, RHP, Rangers (Round Rock, AAA): 6 2/3 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 8 K.
- Kohl Stewart, RHP, Twins (Fort Myers, A+): 6 1/3 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 2 K.
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It was an encouraging start for sure, but he has done nothing to indicate that he is ready for the show.
You're right, he has not fully figured out his command, but he also may not ever fully get there. It's also not as poor as some other top flight prospects who continue to start. Tyler Glasnow comes to mind yet no one is moving him to the pen. I do believe that 350 innings of minor league work over four seasons constitutes a solid track record, even if that track record isn't spotless. The initial concern with Meyer coming out of college was whether his height would preclude him from ever throwing enough strikes to be effective. He's eased those concerns to a certain extent and while there are still issues with walks, almost every scout I spoke with agreed that he has thrown more strikes than was originally expected of him. The bar was pretty low on his control coming out of college.
All that said, the entire point here isn't that he's definitely going to remain a starter. It's that, at 25 and with four minor league seasons under his belt, he pretty much is what he is at this point: inconsistent yet potentially dynamic and you get the good with the bad, the strike outs with the walks. You may not like the finished product, but at this point, he's pretty close to it.
Could he be looked at as a heir for Wright in 2-3 years, or is that too much at this stage? Would love to hear more about him.