Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians (Columbus, AAA): 4-5, 3 R, SB. Lindor isn’t the impact bat that fellow shortstop prospects Carlos Correa and Addison Russell are, but he is the best defender of the bunch. Being able to offer plus value at a premium position sets the bar pretty low on what is needed from Lindor’s bat in order for him to become an everyday shortstop at the major-league level. This isn’t meant to discount his hit tool, which is a plus skill. He should be able to hit for average in the major leagues and controls the strike zone well. The power likely won’t be there, but he’ll hit enough gaps to warrant batting somewhere near the top of the Indians lineup in his prime. With the Indians lineup struggling as a whole and current shortstop Jose Ramirez leading the way, it’s only a matter of time before Lindor is in Cleveland.
Steven Matz, LHP, Mets (Las Vegas, AAA): 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 5 K. What’s frightening about the early season success the Mets are having is that when they need to call on starters six through nine this season (and every team does at some point), rather than rely on organizational arms they will be able to call up legitimate rotation prospects like Matz and Noah Syndergaard. Matz is having no issues with Vegas or the Pacific Coast League, and while his walk rate is up from it’s normal rate early this season, it’s nothing to be concerned about. The Mets rotation is full at the moment, but at the first sign of trouble, Matz will be ready to step in.
Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres (San Antonio, AA): 3-5, R, 2 2B, K. There’s no denying Renfroe’s talent as a hitter, punctuated by his tremendous raw power and bat speed. He can tee off on fastballs with the best prospects in the game and understands his role as a power hitter and run producer, and attacks his at-bats as such. He has struggled in Double-A, however, both in the second half of last season and the beginning of the 2015 campaign. One reason could be the pronounced weight transfer in his swing. He commits early to the swing, which can lead to issues with breaking balls when not recognized immediately. The biggest gap between High and Double-A is the difference in breaking balls, specifically the pitcher’s ability to throw them for consistent strikes, and it appears that difference is currently giving Renfroe issues. It’s not something he can’t work out, but an adjustment will need to be made.
Tyler Danish, RHP, White Sox (Birmingham, AA): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K. Scouts are split on Danish’s future because of some funk in the delivery and the mechanics, but he gets rave reviews across the board on his mentality on the mound. In discussing him this weekend, our own Mauricio Rubio said “dude is a bulldog on the mound, highly competitive.” That mentality coupled with a hard sinking fastball in the low 90s and a progressing slider could spell a bullpen role, but it’s too early for such a change yet, especially with a workable changeup in the mix. At 20 and already handling Double-A, and with Carlos Rodon now in the big leagues, Danish is now the best arm in the White Sox system, regardless of future role.
Kyle Crick, RHP, Giants (Richmond, AA): 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K. When Crick is on, he has the ability to miss bats and dominate. The problem has been two-fold, however: he’s not “on” nearly as often as the Giants would like from a potential mid-rotation starter and even when he is, his command is poor enough that he can’t go deep into games because of his pitch count. Crick was “on” Friday night, but he still walked three batters in four innings and that, coupled with striking out eight batters, ran his pitch count up to 92 through just four innings. This is a common theme with Crick, and one that will likely eventually land him in the bullpen.
Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Blue Jays (Lansing, A-): 1 2/3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 3 K. The delivery concerns that surrounded Reid-Foley before the draft and partially caused him to slip to the second round were mostly due to potential injury ramifications, but they also plague his command, which is below average at present. The mid-90s arm is full of potential, but he’s loose with his command at this point, even by Midwest League standards.
Michael Conforto, OF, Mets (St. Lucie, A+): 3-4, 2 R, 2B, HR. The Florida State League wasn’t expected to provide Conforto with too much of a challenge, but it’s a pretty standard landing spot for college hitters from the previous year’s draft. Hopefully he’s renting not owning, however, as he won’t be there too long. It’s not that he’s significantly better than his current level of competition, but he is a much more refined, closer-to-finished product than most of the pitching he’s facing. The Mets weren’t afraid to make midseason promotions last year and won’t be with Conforto either. He should be in Double-A by the all-star break, if not sooner.
Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers (Tulsa, AA): 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR. Unlike Conforto, Seager might actually just be better than anyone he’s played against to this point, and that includes his all-star brother. You’re not supposed to be able to hit .400 over extended periods of time, but Seager is flirting with ending April above that plateau. The sweet-swinging lefty is showing off power as well, and has begun to see some time at third base in the past week, you know, just in case. The only thing Seager doesn’t do well is control the strike zone, as he’s relatively free swinging, but it hasn’t been an issue yet and he doesn’t have egregious strike out numbers. With a hit tool as strong as his, he can get away with a lower walk rate and be just fine.
Byron Buxton, OF, Twins (Chattanooga, AA): 2-5, 2 R, HR, K. It’s been quite some time since we’ve seen the good Byron Buxton, and while one home run doesn’t mean he’s all the way back, it’s still a positive sign. Marred by injuries last season, one lingering and one sudden and frightening, Buxton is less concerned with regaining his footing as the top prospect in the game and mostly just trying to stay healthy and on the field.
Tim Anderson, 2B, White Sox (Birmingham, AA): 2-3, BB, K, 2 SB. Anderson is at his best when he’s on base and able to run, and his pair of steals on Saturday gives him 10 on the young season. More importantly, however, he earned his first walk in 68 plate appearances this year. It’s a two-fold issue—one because it keeps his on-base percentage below average despite hitting over .300 and two, because that type of aggressiveness is typically exploited at the major-league level. Anderson’s speed and athleticism is a real weapon if and when he can get on base to use it. For now, he’s able to hit his way on enough to be effective. That will continue to be tested as Double-A pitchers figure him out.
Joe Ross, RHP, Nationals (Harrisburg, AA): 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K. It’s been a bumpy start to the season and his Nationals career for Ross before Saturday’s outing, though his peripherals haven’t been as frightening as his 5.54 ERA (before this game). He’s striking out more batters than ever, seeing a significant jump in swings and misses this season. That’s coming with some more free passes, but not so many that there’s major cause for concern. With a mid-90s fastball and the potential for two above-average off-speed pitches, Ross profiles as a possible mid-rotation starter.
Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, Red Sox (Pawtucket, AAA): 7 IP, 3 H, R, 0 BB, 7 K. Since joining the Red Sox organization last season, Rodriguez has pitched like a different pitcher. He’s been considerably more consistent from start to start and it is looking like reaching his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter is a much more distinct possibility. He’ll likely spend the majority of the season in Triple-A, though he might force his way up the deep Red Sox pitching depth chart and into consideration for some big-league time if he continues to throw like this and if the Red Sox have to dig into their Triple-A rotation for help. –Jeff Moore
Trevor Story, SS, Rockies (New Britain AA): 2-4, HR, 4RBI. Story is coming out of the gate strong after a tough 2014 at the Double-A level. He has some power and some speed, but the main question with Story is whether the hit tool will allow him to be productive at the major-league level. Story was impressive in the AFL this past fall and while there's swing and miss in the profile, he teases a power/speed combination that makes him interesting. The strong start here is promising. –Mauricio Rubio Jr.
Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees (Trenton AA): 3-4, 2 2B, BB. While the defense is still a concern for evaluators, the bat continues to show potential. Sanchez has strong wrists that help play up his above-average bat speed, and the plus raw power allows him to barrel offerings hard. While the defensive concerns are hindering his overall future potential, the bat is still chugging along enough to eventually force him to the majors. –Tucker Blair
Carlos Correa, SS, Houston (Corpus Christi AA): 3-5, HR, 6 Total Bases. Correa is crushing Double-A to the tune of a .356/.415/.661 line and he's starting to actualize the raw power in game as a 20-year-old. As Jeff Moore said in a previous update, we're going to run out of superlatives for Correa soon. If he stays healthy throughout the year, he's going to make it real tough to keep him out of the no. 1 spot on prospect lists. –Mauricio Rubio Jr.
Dace Kime, RHP, Cleveland Indians (Lake County A-): 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 12 K. The third-round selection out of the 2013 draft has seen a slow development path in the minors, mainly working on repeating his delivery and cleaning up the mechanics. However, the fastball can touch 95 and he shows flashes of an above-average curveball and the makings of a changeup and slider. –Tucker Blair
Gleyber Torres, SS, Chicago (South Bend Low-A) 3-4. It says a lot about Torres that the Cubs were comfortable testing him in full-season ball. At just 18 years old Torres is handling himself well and his three-hit day pushes his early season average over .300. His carrying tool is his hit tool, he's quick to the point of contact, and he has a smooth swing with an advanced approach. His glove work is advanced as well; Torres has fluid motions and a baseball IQ that makes up for a first step that's just average. The swing doesn't lend itself for too much power, but there's still some projection there. He's still a work in progress, but he's another Cubs shortstop to watch. –Mauricio Rubio Jr.
Bradley Zimmer, OF, Cleveland Indians (Lynchburg A+): 3-3, SB (Game 1), 2-4, 2B, K, SB. Zimmer has all the makings of a solid hit tool, with quick hands and plus bat speed. While there is still some lingering pessimism surrounding the overall power output of his stick, the lanky outfielder has started the season off on a torrid start. He has displayed an all-around effort, showing contact, speed, and power. The real question will be whether it continues at such a high level moving forward. –Tucker Blair
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