Hitter of the Night: Tucker Neuhaus, 3B, Brewers (Wisconsin, A-): 3-5, 2 R, 3B, HR. Neuhaus is a virtual unknown in most prospect circles. Two years ago, Jason Parks mentioned him on our Brewers list as a potential on-the-rise player to watch, but the tools that scouts saw then haven’t come to fruition on the field. He’s just getting his 2015 season under way, but this is a solid second game of the season to get things off on the right foot. He’s still not 20 yet and is in full-season ball for the first time, so he could be a prospect to watch.
Pitcher of the Night: Justus Sheffield, LHP, Indians (Lake County, A-): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K. Sheffield bounced back from a rough start in his last outing to show why scouts believe he can develop into a dominant left-handed starter. Despite being undersized, he has the stuff to miss bats and when his secondary pitches are working, dominate Midwest League hitters.
Best of the Rest
Yairo Munoz, SS, A’s (Beloit, A-): 1-4, R, HR, K. Power potential at shortstop is becoming more and more rare in today’s game, which is what makes Munoz intriguing as a prospect. He’s still years away from the majors, with Wednesday night marking just his 18th career full-season league game despite being in his fourth year as a professional; he is holding his own and beginning to translate some of that raw power into its in-game counterpart.
Gleyber Torres, SS, Cubs (South Bend, A-): 2-3, 3B, BB. Hitting .318/.423/.379 in the freezing Midwest League in April would be impressive for any player and even more impressive for any shortstop. But when it’s done by an 18-year-old in his first full-season league, it easily becomes one of the more impressive things to be done this season. Torres is remarkably talented, and scouts have lauded his hit tool potential since his days as an amateur. What they may not have anticipated is the way he’s controlling the strike zone, with 12 walks to 17 strikeouts now through 19 games. There’s a reason a player this far from the majors was ranked 8th overall in the deepest farm system in baseball this offseason.
Domingo Leyba, SS, Diamondbacks (Visalia, A+): 3-4, 2B, SB. Leyba is acclimating himself nicely to his new organization, having come over to the Diamondbacks in the offseason from the Tigers in a three-way deal. The hit tool is his most impressive skill, though his frame limits his size and power potential. The Diamondbacks are using him at shortstop for now, though he profiles better on the other side of second base.
Francisco Mejia, C, Indians (Lake County, A-): 1-3, R, HR, BB. Despite finding success in the New York-Penn League last summer, we knew the road could be bumpy for Mejia as a two-way developmental project as both a catcher and a hitter. The Midwest League is a tough challenge for any 19-year-old, and Mejia has struggled early. Still, the loud tools are there and he hasn’t pressed or been plagued by swings and misses the way many young prospects do when they’re overmatched, suggesting that perhaps his struggles won’t be as long-lasting as they are for some.
D.J. Peterson, 3B, Mariners (Jackson, AA): 2-5, R, 2B, K. Peterson got off to a very rough start this April, but his track record of hitting is strong enough to prevent too much worry. Good hitters hit, and that’s what Peterson is. He’s playing primarily first base for the first time, both because his defense has never been more than adequate at third and because of the Mariners obvious organizational need. He’ll heat up as the summer does, and could be in the big leagues by the fall.
Justin Twine, SS, Marlins (Greensboro, A-): 2-4, 2 R, 2B, 3B. Twine was taken in the second round last summer based primarily on his athleticism, but those skills don’t translate well to success on the baseball field and already don’t look as loud as advertised. He struggles with bat speed and his arm belongs on the right side of the infield. Still, Twine came from a small school in Texas and is facing by far the best competition of his career after an aggressive assignment from the Marlins. There’s an awfully long way to go for Twine, but catching up on the experience could help.
Brandon Nimmo, OF, Mets (Binghamton, AA): 2-4, R, 2B, 3B, BB. Nimmo had been struggling in the first part of the season (as do many hitters trying to hit in the cold of Binghamton in April), but he’s been heating up of late, hitting .323 over his last 10 games. He left this game with a knee injury, but the Mets are saying he’s just fine.
Joey Gallo, 3B, Rangers (Frisco, AA): 2-5, 2 2B, 2 K. We’re still waiting for Gallo’s first big, majestic blast, but it’s coming. Extra-base hits are a good sign that he’s getting his timing back after missing a few weeks, but he’s now hitting .333, so he can’t be too far off. Keep an eye on those strikeouts though (eight in 19 plate appearances).
Fight Another Day
Matt Wisler, LHP, Braves (Gwinnett, AAA): 4 1/3 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 2 BB, 4 K. Wisler’s strength is commanding his fastball, so when he misses inside the strike zone he can be very hittable. He doesn’t have high-end stuff, but when he throws the good strikes he’s highly effective. He has yet to handle Triple-A either last year or early this season, but once he settles in he should get back to throwing strikes and missing enough bats to be effective.
Alex Jackson, OF, Mariners (Clinton, A-): 0-4, 2 K. It’s one thing to struggle, especially in your first attempt at full-season ball, and even more understandably so when it comes one year removed from facing high-school pitching. But it’s worrisome to see this kind of struggling, as Jackson now has 22 strikeouts in 18 games. The skills are still just as evident as they were this time last year when he was getting approaching the draft, but he’s clearly overmatched right now.
Notable Starting Pitchers
- Mark Appel, RHP, Astros (Corpus Christi, AA): 4 IP, 7 H, 6 R (5 ER), 2 BB, 0 K.
- Dylan Bundy, RHP, Orioles (Bowie, AA): 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K.
- Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Blue Jays (Lansing, A-): 3 IP, H, 0 R, 4 BB, 3 K.
- Jorge Lopez, RHP, Brewers (Biloxi, AA): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K.
- Austin Gomber, LHP, Cardinals (Peoria, A-): 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 K.
- Jesse Biddle, LHP, Phillies (Reading, AA): 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R (3 ER), 1 BB, 3 K.
- Henry Owens, LHP, Red Sox (Pawtucket, AAA): 5 IP, 4 H, 4 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 6 K.
- Tyler Danish, RHP, White Sox (Birmingham, AA): 6 IP, 7 H, R, BB, 6 K.
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