Trea Turner SS, Padres/Nationals (San Antonio, AA): 4-6, 3 R, 2B, HR, K. Baseball purgatory is a comfortable place for Turner, apparently, as the shortstop prospect is hitting .319/.392/.467 while awaiting his eventual inclusion in this offseason’s trade that will ultimately make him Washington Nationals’ property. He's showing more pop that is expected out of a swing that's geared towards his speed-based skill set. He’ll never be an impact bat, but if he hits enough, he could have impact legs at an impact position, which will be just fine.
Carlos Tocci, OF, Phillies (Lakewood, A-): 4-7, K. On the one hand, Tocci is finally starting to drive the ball, not significantly, but at all, with his ISO creeping up to .118 on the season. He’s doing so with almost as many walks as strikeouts, which is also a good sign. On the other hand, this is his third season in the South Atlantic League, so these kinds of moderate gains should be expected. His success this season is fueled by a batting average that he can't possibly sustain, so let's temper expectations, but after being in over his head for two years after being pushed aggressively by the Phillies, it's good to see him finally having some success.
Billy McKinney, OF, Cubs (Myrtle Beach, A+): 3-5, 2 R, 2 2B. It was somewhat surprising to see McKinney repeating High-A ball this season. The A’s jumped him directly to the California League last year, just a year out of high school, and there were some understandable bumps in the road, but he more than held his own after being traded to the Cubs and joining the much more pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Now in the Carolina League (the Cubs switched High-A affiliates this winter), McKinney is not being challenged as he was last year, a good sign for his development and a possible indication that a promotion could be coming soon.
Trey Michalczewski, 3B, White Sox (Winston-Salem, A+): 3-4, 2 R, 3 2B, BB. Having anything to work with out of a former seventh-round pick is a relative win for the White Sox. That Michalczewski is hitting for power from both sides of the plate is a cherry on top. He’s far from a sure thing, with some swing and miss in his game that’s reason for concern; though his walk rate is up early this season and his strike-out rate is down. As our own Maurico Rubio put it to me, Michalczewski has a “good projectable body, has power potential. Gets adventurous at third and don’t think he sticks in the infield.”
Wuilmer Becerra, OF, Mets (Savannah, A-): 3-4, R, 3B, HR. Becerra, still just 20 and in full-season ball for the first time, is best known for his power, which he’s been able to show off despite being at Savannah. His swing makes no bones about what he’s trying to do; it’s violent, aimed for driving the baseball and with that comes an aggressive approach and swings and misses. Still, power is power, and Becerra has the bat speed to make an impact. He’s a high-risk prospect, but potentially holds a high reward.
Casey Meisner, RHP, Mets (Savannah, A-): 7 IP, 2 H, R, 0 BB, 9 K. The jump to full-season ball has been no issue for the almost 20-year-old Meisner, who is lauded for his body control and ability to throw strikes for such a tall, young, underdeveloped player. Scouts see the tall, thin frame and envision more velocity coming out of his right arm as he gains strength. That’s a possibility, but even at present, Meisner has been effective with his deceptive lankiness and ability to pound the strike zone.
Tim Anderson, 2B, White Sox (Birmingham, AA): 4-6, 3 R, 2B, 3B, HR, K. It’s a constant battle for Anderson, between the positive things that happen when he makes hard contact and all the times he doesn’t because of his approach. He’s overly aggressive, but games like this reward that kind of behavior, because of the dynamic nature of his skill set. Still, even while hitting .295, he sports a below-average .310 on-base percentage thanks to just two walks in 126 plate appearances. He does hit his way on, however, despite his aggressive approach, though limited power means he’ll have to continue to hit at elite levels to be effective.
Jorge Mateo, SS, Yankees (Charleston, A-): 2-4, 2B, BB, 4 SB. Mateo isn’t making an impact with his bat just yet, but his legs are more than ready to take over games. Four steals on Saturday give him 25 on the young season, in almost as many games. He needs to get his swing mechanics to a more consistent place in order to have continued success, the tools are there to be a good hitter.
Jacob Faria, RHP, Rays (Charlotte, A+): 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K. Faria continues to handle the Florida State League thanks to a strike-throwing fastball/changeup combination. He needs to improve his command and will need a third pitch as he moves up the minor-league ranks if he wants to remain a starter, but his downward plane gives the fastball an extra level of deception to go with his low- to mid-90s velocity.
Alex Meyer, RHP, Twins (Rochester, AAA): 2 2/3 IP, 9 H, 8 R, BB, 2 K. There’s no way to sugarcoat it, it’s been a terrible year for Meyer, who was thought to be knocking on the door of the big leagues. The control has been an issue, but games like this bring to light the fact that even when he’s throwing strikes, Meyer has been getting hit around unlike every before as a professional.
Jake Thompson, RHP, Rangers (Frisco, AA): 2/3 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 2 BB, 2 K. Thompson, too, has been a largely different pitcher this year than he had been previously as a professional. He’s striking out more batters than ever, walking as few as ever, but also getting hit as hard as ever. This isn’t his first taste of Double-A, so he should be past the transition period. He’s simply getting hit in a way his stuff suggests he shouldn’t.
Wilmer Difo, SS, Nationals (Harrisburg, AA): 2-3, R, 2 2B, SB. So it doesn’t appear that Difo was just picking on younger competition. In his short stint in Double-A, Difo has picked up right where he left off, driving the ball with authority and proving he can be more than just your typical athletic middle infielder. He’s not physically imposing, but he’s strong enough to do his damage and rack up the extra-base hits.
Adam Brett Walker, OF, Twins (Chattanooga, AA): 2-5, 2 R, 2B, HR. I still have yet to see many hitters who can square up a fastball and do as much damage with it as Walker. Of course, pitchers throw a lot more than just fastballs, but you wouldn’t know by Walker’s swing. He’s geared up to do one thing with one pitch, and when he gets it, he does his damage. But as his 38 percent strikeout rate would suggest, his adjustemtns at the plate have been even more non-existent in Double-A than it was in the low minors.
Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees (Trenton, AA): 2-5, R, HR, 2 K. Seriously, how is Gary Sanchez still only 22? The hype has fluccuated surrounding Sanchez over his many years as a well-known prospect, as has his performance. His production has been above average for a catching prospect, yet underwhelming, as has been his effort at times. After all this time, there’s still a chance he might not end up as a catcher, but that could actually help his bat blossom. The power potential is very much still there, however, which could allow the bat to play anywhere, though the drop off in player value would be significant if that becomes the case.
Jorge Lopez, RHP, Brewers (Biloxi, AA): 7 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K. This is the kind of start Lopez needed to get his season back on track after struggling through April. He’s missing the strike zone at greatly increased rates thus far, and his lack of changeup is showing it’s warts. The additional base runners are being offset by Lopez’s ability thus far to avoid giving up hits, but his pure stuff doesn’t suggest that he’ll be able to maintain that trend without a decent third offering.
Aaron Nola, RHP, Phillies (Reading, AA): 8 IP, 4 H, R, 0 BB, 8 K. Minor-league success shouldn’t dictate things like big-league promotions, but the gap in potential between Nola and the likes of David Buchanan, Jerome Williams, and the crapstorm of other starters the Phillies are going to trot out this season is becoming more and more evident with each passing week. Nola will be in the majors at some point this season, where his extreme strike throwing abilities will be put to the test by his ability to miss enough bats to at least avoid hard contact.
Steven Matz, LHP, Mets (Las Vegas, AAA): 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K. I’ve been touting Matz as a potential mid-rotaiton starter since I first saw him last season popping his catcher’s mitt with a mid-90s fastball, but even I wouldn’t have predicted it would have all come together for him this quickly. He’s handling one of the toughest challenges in the minors without missing a beat, a skill that should serve him well in the Big Apple. He’ll be ready when the Mets call upon him, which should happen at some point this summer.
Jose De Leon, RHP, Dodgers (Rancho Cucamunga, A+): 7 IP, 5 H, R, 0 BB, 12 K. De Leon continues to strike batters out at insane rates, just like he has his entire professional career. He’s doing so, however, while throwing a ton of strikes and is now working deeper into games, which appears to have been one of the few chinks in his armour. The Dodgers have not been shy about mid-season promotions with De Leon, so while he now has just six High-A starts under his belt, he’s also never thrown more than 54 innings at any single level. That’s not indicitative of anything as much as it’s just a statement of facts, but it could make the Dodgers more comfortable if De Leon continues to force their hand.
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