Hitter of the Night: Trevor Story, SS, Rockies (New Britain, AA): 3-4, 3 R, 2 HR, BB, K. Story’s storybook (I’m not sorry) start to the season is showing no signs of slowing down and he continues to torch the Eastern League at the plate. He’s back playing primarily shortstop this season after splitting time at second base last year. Story is a premium athlete with tools for days, but gets knocked for his approach at the plate. The approach isn’t actually the issue, however. He doesn’t lack patience and even takes his share of walks. He just swings and misses a lot. That’s tolerable, however, when you're a middle infielder with double-digit home-run power and 20-steal potential.
Pitcher of the Night: Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Mets (Las Vegas, AAA): 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K. This is the version of Syndergaard that has Mets fans so excited, and with good reason. Armed with a mid-90s fastball that he maintained deep into the game, Sydergaard has bat-missing stuff and the size and strength to lead a rotation. Repeating Triple-A this year, he’s ready when the Mets call upon him and is one of the reasons they can be comfortable working in a six-man rotation for part of the season to save Matt Harvey’s arm.
Best of the Rest
Josh Bell, 1B, Pirates (Altoona, AA): 4-5, 2 R, CS. Bell has a strange swing, and an even stranger one from the right side. He’s what many scouts refer to as a weird athlete (some have even called him a bad athlete) and he doesn’t look smooth on the field (especially at first base), but there’s no denying his ability to make contact and feel for the barrel of the bat. The power that some scouts believe is in there (and will be necessary for first base) has yet to manifest itself in games, but he continues to hit at every level.
Jorge Alfaro, C, Rangers (Frisco, AA): 3-5, R, HR. Alfaro got to show off one of his plus tools on Monday for the first time this season, collecting his first home run of the year. Power is his calling card, with more to spare than most catching prospects. He’ll need to hit for power to play every day because his free-swinging ways lead to a ton of outs, but he shouldn’t have a problem clearing the low bar for offensive production behind the plate.
Joey Gallo, 3B, Rangers (Frisco, AA): 2-4, 2 R, 3B, BB, K, SB. Gallo has yet to connect on a home run in three games since returning from heel surgery. That wouldn’t be news for anybody other than the most prodigious power hitter in the minors. Gallo is healthy again, however, and showed that there is more to his game than just power. The home runs steal the show, but he’s also turned himself into a good third baseman with an elite arm.
Willy Adames, SS, Rays (Charlotte, A+): 2-4, 3 R, 2 2B, BB, 2 K. With Adames, it’s all about seeing the flashes of excellence. They don’t show up in every at-bat or every play on the field, but when they do, they stand out. He’s dripping with potential, but is very much still learning how to use it on the field. He profiles as a potential above-average offensive shortstop, though his body could potentially force him to third base where he would require more power production.
Julio Urias, LHP, Dodgers (Tulsa, AA): 6 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K. Urias continues to defy logic. Still shy of his 19th birthday, Urias remains unfazed by his increasingly difficult level of competition. He’s pitching as well as ever and throwing more strikes. With Brandon McCarthy done for the season, there were inevitable questions about whether or not Urias could be considered to replace him, which were met with the proper amount of scoffing for such a ridiculous suggestion. What Urias is doing in the minors is equally as ridiculous, however, so while he’s not coming to the majors any time soon (nor should he be), I certainly wouldn’t bet against him being able to handle such a challenge.
Robert Gsellman, RHP, Mets (St. Lucie, A+): 6 IP, 2 H, R, BB, 6 K. Gsellman is relatively unknown, flying under the radar in a deep Mets farm system, but it’s time to change that. A 13th round pick in 2011, the right-hander isn’t overpowering but sat comfortably in the low 90s with a two-seamer on Monday night that got good run on a strong downward plane. The separator for Gsellman, however, was his curveball, a 12-6 offering that is a true plus pitch. He threw it to hitters from both sides and generated swings and misses all night. One plus pitch will get you to the major leagues, and Gsellman has one, as well as a career ahead of him.
Alex Reyes, RHP, Cardinals (Palm Beach, A+): 5 1/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K. Reyes has worked deeper into games this year and has struck out more batters, but this might just be his best start of the season because he threw more strikes. That’s the most important thing for Reyes’ development right now. The arm is obviously lightning, but it’s time to learn how to use it more effectively. His walk rates have actually increased at each new level, but his strikeout rates have done the same, spiking to ridiculous new highs this year.
Preston Tucker, OF, Astros (Fresno, AAA): 3-3, R, HR. Tucker has some holes in his swing and isn’t much on defense, but he has big time power despite some strike out concerns. Sounds like an Astro, doesn’t it?
Kyle Schwarber, C, Cubs (Tennessee, AA): 2-3, R, HR, BB, K. Your daily reminder that even though they’ve promoted two of the top five prospects in the game to the majors in the past two weeks, the Cubs are far from out of impact-level prospects. And this one can catch.
Peter O’Brien, LF, Diamondbacks (Reno, AAA): 3-4, R, HR. This one can’t catch. No matter how badly some want him to be able to stick behind the plate, and no matter how bad the Diamondbacks current catching situation is, O’Brien is just not a big-league catcher in anything more than a pinch. The Diamondbacks have him in the outfield at the moment because of some yip-ish throwing issues that arose behind the plate in spring training. Even without this issue, however, he’s generally regarded as a poor receiver and a below-average thrower to the bases; and my brief looks have yielded the same conclusion. He does have good power, though it will come with swings and misses, but he could do enough damage with the bat to play if the Diamondbacks can find him a position.
Fight Another Day
Jonathan Gray, RHP, Rockies (Albuquerque, AAA): 3 2/3 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 2 BB, 3 K. It may be time to officially start worrying about Gray. The stuff has regressed from the arsenal that got him selected third overall less than two years ago, and he profiles now as more of a mid-rotation starter than a potential staff ace. Now he’s put together four poor starts in a row to begin the season.
Jhoan Urena, 3B, Mets (St. Lucie, A+): 0-4, 2 K. It was difficult to watch Urena on Monday. The tools that I’ve gushed about are all still evident, but he looks utterly lost at the plate, at times taking hittable fastballs early in counts to fall behind and other times flailing helplessly at what are surely some of the best off-speed pitches he’s ever seen. It’s almost as though there’s a huge gap between New York-Penn League and Florida State League off-speed pitches. Wait… The good news is that Urena looked quite good at third base, showing off good, soft hands and a plus arm. He doesn’t have great range, but he moves well enough to be a decent defender at the hot corner. Urena will ultimately be fine, but he’s in over his head in the Florida State League and I fail to understand how struggling at this level helps his development.
Notable Starting Pitchers
- Trevor Williams, RHP, Marlins (Jacksonville, AA): 6 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 3 K.
- Parker Bridwell, RHP, Orioles (Bowie, AA): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K.
- Ben Lively, RHP, Phillies (Reading, AA): 7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, BB, 7 K.
- Luke Jackson, RHP, Rangers (Round Rock, AAA): 3 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 5 BB, K.
- Jose Berrios, RHP, Twins (Chattanooga, AA): 6 IP, 2 H, R, 4 BB, 5 K.