Hitter of the Night: Phil Ervin, OF, Reds (Daytona, A+): 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR. You’re not supposed to be able to hit for this kind of power in the Florida State League, but Ervin continues to show off his best tool on a nightly basis, giving him six bombs on the season. More importantly, he’s doing so without the massive strike-out numbers which plagued him last season.

Pitcher of the Night: Brent Honeywell, RHP, Rays (Bowling Green, A-): 6 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K. I’m a big fan of having a player master a level before promoting him, but we’re not too far away from that point with Honeywell and the Midwest League, and it’s only been four starts. The 2014 second-rounder has been nothing short of dominant, missing bats, throwing strikes, and generating poor contact on a consistent basis.

Best of the Rest

Eric Jagielo, 3B, Yankees (Trenton, AA): 2-4, 2 R, HR. With below-average athleticism and defense at third base, Jagielo will need to reach every bit of his power ceiling in order for his bat to play. He does have plus pull power, but he struggles to use the whole field and can be beaten on the outer half. Still, with power at a premium in today’s game, Jagielo has enough to be a desirable bat in the lineup if given the right situation.

Carlos Correa, SS, Astros (Corpus Christi, AA): 2-2, R, 2B, HR, 2 BB SB. We’ve discussed Correa’s merits ad nauseam, so there’s not much left to cover there, but with current Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie going down with an injury this week, there are natural questions about whether or not Correa will be called upon to replace him. It’s a pretty simple question actually. Could he handle the jump straight to the big leagues with 79 plate appearances in the upper minors to his name? Probably about as well as any prospect in the game, and certainly as well as any 20-year-old forced into action. Should the Astros promote him? Absolutely not. Jonathan Villar is an acceptable stopgap for a month or so and while Correa could handle the jump, he’s not a finished product just yet. There would be struggles, and such a jump would not be good for his development. Will the Astros promote him? Probably at some point this year, but not immediately. They recognize that the next few months could include major developmental boxes to check off en route to the majors, and despite how well they’re doing to start the season, they won’t want to rush through that process. They are also extremely sensitive to service time issues and don’t want to start his clock before the Super Two deadline sometime in Late May/Early June.

Javier Guerra, SS, Red Sox (Greenville, A-): 2-4, 2 2B, K. Guerra gets lost among the slick-fielding prospects of the world like Amed Rosario, but he’s similarly talented with the glove. He doesn’t have Rosario’s ideal 6-foot-2 frame, but Guerra’s 155-pound stature packs a punch at the plate for his size, with strong wrists and bat speed generating moderate power for such a small, young player. There are a ton of obstacles for Guerra, who is in his first full-season league and swings at literally everything (walk rate around two percent over the last two seasons), but there is also a lot to like.

Austin Hedges, C, Padres (El Paso, AAA): 2-5, R, 2 2B, K. Unlike our segment from yesterday, there’s no debating whether or not Hedges will remain behind the plate. Generally regarded as the best catching prospect in the minors, Hedges’ bat lagged behind his glove last season. He’s making up for that this season, hitting .345 on the young season, and while that’s likely aided by the Pacific Coast League to a certain extent, he is doing a much better job of controlling the strike zone this season.

Bradley Zimmer, OF, Indians (Lynchburg, A+): 2-4, 2 R, 2B, BB, K. Zimmer has had nothing but success in his short professional career, hitting at every stop and this season adding some power to the mix. He’ll never be a big-time power hitter with his current approach, which our own Craig Goldstein noted in Monday’s Ten Pack as “a contact-heavy approach, as he doesn’t involve his lower half much in his swing.” He should produce heavy doubles numbers, however, giving him enough pop to potentially play every day.

Tyler Kolek, RHP, Marlins (Greensboro, A-): 5 IP, 6 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K. As I’ve noted before, there’s almost no amount of numbers Kolek can produce in Low-A ball to change much in our current perspective of him, as hitters at that level can be dominated with premium velocity, which has never been a question for Kolek. His biggest challenge will be when he gets to High-A ball and has to use his breaking stuff more frequently. What I do like seeing, however, is this number: 76 pitches. That’s what it took him to get through his five innings of work. Knowing that he can handle hitters primarily on the back of his fastball, it’s good to see him attacking the zone, throwing strikes, and working efficiently.

Raimel Tapia, OF, Rockies (Modesto, A+): 2-4, 2 R, 3B, HR, BB, K. Tapia’s hit tool gets most of the attention, but his violently beautiful swing also projects to potentially hit for average power when it’s all said and done. Perhaps the friendly confines of the California League are helping to activate that part of his game.

Fight Another Day

Lucas Sims, RHP, Braves (Carolina, A+): 2 2/3 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 3 K. Sims has good stuff, but doesn’t get many batters out or throw many strikes. This seems like a problem.

Jake Stinnett, RHP, Cubs (South Bend, A-): 2 2/3 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 2 K. There was some thought that Stinnett would advance through Low-A competition with ease this season, but a failure to find the strike zone has derailed that thought process rather quickly. He was around the zone more consistently on Tuesday, but that led to getting hit hard. Either way, it hasn’t worked this spring for the Cubs second-rounder from last summer.

Aramis Garcia, C, Giants (Augusta, A-): 0-4, 2 K. Garcia is a strong defensive catcher and leader behind the plate whose bat catapulted him up to the second round in last year’s draft. He hasn’t hit at all as a professional, but his struggles at the plate have come as a surprise to many scouts who have seen the tools to do so.

Notable Starting Pitchers

  • Aaron Nola, RHP, Phillies (Reading, AA): 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 5 K.
  • Chi Chi Gonzalez, RHP, Rangers (Round Rock, AAA): 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K.
  • Jacob Faria, RHP, Rays (Charlotte, A+): 5 2/3 IP, 7 H, R, 2 BB, 3 K.
  • Amir Garrett, LHP, Reds (Daytona, A+): 5 IP, 3 H, R, 3 BB, 6 K.
  • Rafael De Paula, RHP, Padres (Lake Elsinore, A+): 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 5 K.

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JM - any thoughts re: Buxton so far this season? Off to a fairly slow start, but figure on most of that being attributable to a lost 2014. Scouting reports still encouraging, I hope?
"[Bradley Zimmer] should produce heavy doubles numbers, however, giving him enough pop to potentially play every day."

The high average / low power hitters are out of fashion, but couldn't he be a Pete Rose - Rusty Staub - Lou Piniella - Rusty Greer level of hitter? Paul O'Neil?
I actually think it's the other way around. With offense on the decline, teams are more willing to go with less-prototypical players in traditional power positions, instead putting more value on defense, on-base skills, doubles power, etc. I think the current environment actually helps players like Zimmer, Austin Meadows, Brandon Nimmo, Billy McKinney, etc. And in the majors, Christian Yelich, Nick Markakis, etc. It's nice to have Nelson Cruz, but there aren't too many of him around. more and more teams are using guys like Yelich, Markakis, Brett Gardner, Cole Kalhoun, etc. That helps a player like Zimmer.
It could be swinging back that way, now, thanks for your response. I had been reading that slowed bat movement through the strike zone like the high average types of the 1960s and 70a are extinct. Scouts look for bat speed and hence we have more and more strikeouts and more players with 15-25 homers (20-40 during the steroids era).