Hitter of the Night: Rymer Liriano, OF, Padres (El Paso, AAA): 3-4, 3 R, 2 HR. Liriano has long been a favorite of scouts because of the body/athleticism/tools combination he projects. While he reached the upper level of the minors (and the majors for a cameo last season), he still has yet to show an approach at the plate that will allow that skill set to manifest itself. He was exposed last season versus major-league pitching, and his road to at-bats at Petco is now blocked with a full outfield, but a season in Triple-A to refine things isn’t the worst thing in the world for the 24-year-old.
Pitcher of the Night: Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Twins (Cedar Rapids, A-): 7 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 11 K. The numbers would suggest that Gonsalves has overpowering stuff, but it’s really a testament to just how unfair it is to have fastball command and a usable changeup at the Low-A level. Our own Mauricio Rubio Jr. saw him and noted, “he can locate the fastball and it has good movement. He also works with a slow change that flashes plus and an 11-5 curveball with average movement.” Midwest League hitters aren’t prepared to hit such a refined combination. Sitting in the low 90s, Gonsalves will be challenged to prove he has a third pitch as he moves up to more challenging levels, but fastball command and a good changeup are a strong foundation for a good pitcher.
Best of the Rest
Jose Osuna, 1B, Pirates (Bradenton, A+): 4-4, R, 2 2B, BB. Osuna is an in-between prospect who is limited to first base, but doesn’t quite have the over-the-fence power or hit tool to play there everyday. He does run into the gaps like this from time to time, but he’s not ultimately going to hit enough to be an everyday first baseman.
Deivi Grullon, C, Phillies (Lakewood, A-): 3-4, R, 2B, HR. As a young (19-year-old) catcher with an elite arm, the bar is exceptionally low for Grullon’s offensive expectations at this point. There’s a lot of work to be done, both at the plate and behind it, to turn the raw tools into on-field skills, but he does have the bat speed to turn himself into a good enough hitter to work behind the plate.
Wuilmer Becerra, OF, Mets (Savannah, A-): 4-8, R, HR (DH). It’s been a long road to full-season ball for Becerra, who is still just 20 but feels like he’s been around forever, especially after landing firmly in the national spotlight in the R.A. Dickey trade. Becerra has legitimate raw power, but approach issues that limit it’s in-game effectiveness at present. Still, assigned to the Savannah, well known for its reputation to diminish home-run production among top prospects, he’s already managed to hit his third long ball in 13 games, proving it can, in fact, be done.
Richard Urena, SS, Blue Jays (Lansing, A-): 3-5, R, HR. Unsurprisingly, the transition to full-season ball has been bumpy for Urena, but he’s still loaded with potential. He projects to have solid power for his size, but approach issues that need to be ironed out. At 19, he’s going to need three to four full seasons in the minors, but is young enough for the Blue Jays to give him the time he needs.
Kyle Schwarber, C, Cubs (Tennessee, AA): 3-6, 2 R, 2B, HR, K. Schwarber’s refined approach continues to serve him well, as even Double-A pitching has failed to truly challenge him. None of this raises his ceiling as a hitter, though his ability to continue to hit while now catching every day is noteworthy and bodes well for his future, though it will be interesting to see how his offensive production holds up over the rigors of a long summer behind the plate. He’s certainly built for it, though.
Giovanny Urshela, 3B, Indians, (Columbus, AAA): 2-5, 2 R, HR, K. It’s been a long climb onto the prospect landscape for Urshela, but his track record of contact and moderate power should speak for themselves at this point. He may not be your prototypical third baseman, but given what the Indians are working with at the hot corner right now and Urshela’s experience level coming off a full season of Triple-A, it’s only a matter of time before he’s given a chance.
Jacob Faria, RHP, Rays (Charlotte, A+): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K. I saw Faria for the first time last week and came away impressed. The combination of downward plane, velocity, and a usable changeup give him a chance to be a starter, and at least end up in the bullpen in a Ryan Madson type role (with similar stature and mechanics). It’s not an elite arm, but it’s a nice one for the Rays to have in their system.
Jesse Winker, OF, Reds (Pensacola, AA): 2-5, R, HR, K. Winker projects as a tough profile, offering little with the glove or arm in left field, but the hit tool and power potential should be enough to hold up even without additional value. The swing can get mechanical, which could limit his plate coverage and give him issues against same-side pitching, but the overall offensive profile is strong.
Greg Bird, 1B, Yankees (Trenton, AA): 2-4, R, 2 2B, BB. Bird gets knocked for his lack of athleticism and elite tools, but the raw power is impressive, and I’ve seen him leave the yard dead center and to the opposite field. Additionally, the plate discipline is elite and I consider that to be a sixth tool. He may not be an all-star, but he does enough things well with the bat to be an everyday player in some capacity.
Fight Another Day
Magneuris Sierra, OF, Cardinals (Peoria, A-): 0-3, BB, 2 K. Sierra set the scouting world on fire after hitting .386 in the Gulf Coast League last season, but much of that world didn’t lay eyes on him during that stretch. The tools are undeniable, with plus bat speed matched with quick-twitch athleticism. He’s undersized, however, and offers little in the way of power, even when he barrels the ball up. Don’t get me wrong, he’s good, with a strong hit tool matched with plus speed that can make him a top-of-the-order threat. But there’s a long way to go, and the lack of power limits the ceiling.
Justus Sheffield, LHP, Indians (Lake County, A-): 2 2/3 IP, 6 H, 5 H, BB, 6 K. Fair or not, there’s a reason why teams prefer tall pitchers. The lack of margin for error with shorter pitchers like the 5-foot-10 Sheffield make even a plus fastball hittable if it’s left up in the strike zone. Sheffield has an intriguing arm, but he’ll have to show improvement with his command in order to put it to use.
Notable Pitching Performances
- Mark Appel, RHP, Astros (Corpus Christi, AA): 4 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 3 K.
- Rafael Montero, RHP, Mets (Las Vegas, AAA): 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 4 K.
- Braden Kline, RHP, Orioles (Bowie, AA): 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 6 K.
- Aaron Nola, RHP, Phillies (Reading, AA): 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 6 K.
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