Hitter of the Night: A.J. Reed, 1B, Astros (Lancaster, A+): 3-4, 5 R, 3 HR, 2 BB. Reed was drafted as an advanced college bat in the first round last year, though he had split time in college with his pitching responsibilities. Still, a college hitter with his pedigree mixed with the hitting atmospheres in the California League can make for some pretty potent offensive numbers. He hasn’t shown the consistency yet that the Astros had hoped, but his power potential preceded him and pitchers have pitched him accordingly—and Reed has taken what they’ve given him. There’s some swing and miss in his game that could restrict the hit tool, but likely not enough to restrict him too badly. The challenge will be whether he has the bat speed to handle better competition, once he gets there.
Pitcher of the Night: Ariel Jurado, RHP, Rangers (Hickory, A-): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 11 K. Signed in 2012 out of Panama, the Rangers jumped Jurado straight to full-season ball for his first off-complex assignment. That’s an aggressive assignment, but it was likely triggered by Jurado’s reputation as an extreme strike-thrower, knowing that he would at least make his competition earn their way on base. Wednesday’s outing was only the third time as a professional (27 appearances) in which he’s walked two batters, but also represented the deepest he’s ever worked in a game (he reached seven innings a few times in the DSL in 2013 as well). Jurado still has a long way to go to build endurance and gain experience, but his ability to hit the strike zone allows his stuff to play up.
Best of the Rest
Yadiel Rivera, SS, Brewers (Biloxi, AA): 4-5, R, 2 2B. Known primarily for his defensive abilities, Rivera is hitting for the first time in his six professional seasons, albeit in a small sample size. He offers limited power and a below-average approach at the plate, so he’ll have to consistently find barrels and hit for average to have a chance to play regularly, no matter how good his glove is.
Franchy Cordero, SS, Padres (Fort Wayne, A-): 4-5, 3 R, CS. The Padres promoted Cordero aggressively to full-season ball last year as a 19-year-old, only to see him stumble and require a demotion back to short-season ball. He re-established himself in Eugene, but still battled issues with his approach at the plate that held him back. Those are being exposed once again in full-season ball, with a 28-to-3 K:BB ratio. If he’s already being exposed for being unable to control the strike zone, it doesn’t bode well for his chances against more advanced pitching.
J.P. Crawford, SS, Phillies (Clearwater, A-): 2-3, 2 R, HR, BB, K. Crawford made his triumphant return to the diamond on Wednesday, homering in his first game back from an oblique strain that cost him the first month of the season. By far the best prospect in the Phillies farm system, Crawford’s already strong skill set plays up because of his ability to control the strike zone, make consistent contact, and control the barrel of the bat to the baseball. He DHed in his first game back as the Phillies ease him back into game action, but it shouldn’t be too long before he’s back at shortstop, or on a flight to Reading.
Clint Coulter, OF, Brewers (Brevard County, A+): 2-4, R, HR, K, CS. It’s not pretty with Coulter, but the end results sure are. Coulter’s swing is not one you’d teach, but his plan at the plate might be, as his patient approach consistently puts him in good hitter’s counts and in position to do some damage. Coulter has carried over his power production to the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, where he’s now tied for the league lead in home runs. He’s also no longer bound by the rigors of catching, which puts more pressure on his bat, but should also keep him healthier throughout the course of the season.
Joe Ross, RHP, Nationals (Harrisburg, AA): 6 IP, 2 H, R (0 ER), 3 BB, 7 K. Ross was already an impressive pitching prospect with a strong pedigree (his brother is Padres starter Tyson Ross) when the Nationals traded for him this winter, but since joining his new club, Ross has seen his strike-out numbers jump significantly while making the most difficult developmental jump in the minors to Double-A (he had just 20 innings there last year). He still needs his command to catch up with his control, but his continued emergence has been impressive.
Jaime Schultz, RHP, Rays (Montgomery, AA): 6 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K. Schultz has similarly made the jump to Double-A this season, but big strike-out numbers are nothing new for the Rays right-hander. The former 14th-round pick has missed bats at excessive levels his entire professional career, but gets overlooked because of his lack of size. I wrote last year that Schultz has the Kris Medlen starter kit, and his fastball/curveball combination continues to work against more advanced competition despite his lack of size, a third pitch, or above-average command.
Clint Frazier, OF, Indians (Lynchburg, A+): 3-7, R, HR. Strikeouts have always been an issue for Frazier, and the 2013 first-rounder found himself on Chris Crawford’s list of prospects off to slow starts yesterday. Perhaps motivated by that (or perhaps oblivious to it), Frazier connected on his first home run of the season on Wednesday, and just his fifth extra-base hit. In order for the strikeouts (which are actually down this year) to be acceptable, Frazier will have to hit for big power, which remains in question. The Carolina League can be tough on power hitters, but as a potential corner outfielder whose swing and miss will likely suppress his batting average in the majors, he’ll need to show the in-game power to go with its raw counterpart in order to justify everyday playing time in the future.
Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox (Greenville, A-): 2-4, 2 R, 2B, 3B, 2 K. Some wondered how Devers and his raw ability would handle an assignment to full-season ball, but those people likely hadn’t seen him play. Devers is supremely talented with a bat in his hands, showing off elite bat-speed and the ability to drive the ball to the whole field. He’s still aggressive, and that tendency can be exploited from time to time, but he’s going to keep swinging away until someone throws him something he can’t drive.
Joey Gallo, 3B, Rangers (Frisco, AA): 1-7, 2 R, HR, 2 BB, 5 K. (DH) Gallo gets his own category today because, what the hell category does a day like this go in? Is this good or bad or just Gallo-esque? He homered—his first of the season—and reached base three times in nine trips, but struck out five times in the meantime, giving fans that stuck out a minor-league double header (bless those fans) the full Joey Gallo Experience. Once again, Gallo is finding tremendous success despite major swing-and-miss issues because when he does make contact, it’s just so damn hard.
Fight Another Day
Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds (Pensacola, AA): 6 1/3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 7 BB, 4 K. Is it time to start worrying about Stephenson yet? His control issues, which crept up somewhat surprisingly last season, have escalated this season in his return to Pensacola. Despite all of his talent, he’s trending the wrong direction. He’s still young, but the hope was that he’d be taking steps forward at this point, not back.
Notable Starting Pitchers
- Andrew Heaney, LHP, Angels (Salt Lake, AAA): 5 IP, 10 H, 2 R (1 ER), BB, 2 K.
- Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates (Altoona, AA): 3 IP, 3 H, 3 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 4 K. (left game early with ankle injury)
- Sean Newcomb, LHP, Angels (Burlington, A+): 5 IP, 5 H, R, 2 BB, 7 K.
- Nick Kingham, RHP, Pirates (Indianapolis, AAA): 5 1/3 IP, 3 H, R, 0 BB, 3 K. (left game early with “elbow discomfort”)
- Marcos Molina, RHP, Mets (St. Lucie, A+): 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, BB, 4 K.
Thank you for reading
This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.Subscribe now