Hitter of the Day: Daniel Robertson, SS, Rays (Montgomery, AA): 7-9, 3 R, 3B, BB (DH). Robertson’s future in the field may be up in the air, but whether or not he can hit is not. I’m not sold that he’ll be able to remain at shortstop, as he could outgrow the position, but even if he is forced to slide over to third base, he should provide enough offensive production to be an everyday player at the position. Robertson took advantage of the hitter-friendly California League last season, but he’s continued to drive the ball this year
Pitcher of the Day: Reynaldo Lopez, RHP, Nationals (Potomac, A+): 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K. I’m going to hand this one off to C.J. WIttmann and Tucker Blair, who were in attendance for Lopez’s performance.
Reynaldo Lopez 97-98 T99; heavy. More control than command. CB 80-82; 2-plane break w/ bite. Potential plus. CH 86; flat. #nationals
Lopez went 99 coming back to the black and CB 82 bottom quadrant few pitches later. Just wow. #nationals
— CJ Wittmann (@CJWittJr) May 12, 2015
Reynaldo Lopez has shown improvement from my 1st viewing last season; CH improved; CB more consistent; one of better arms in MiLB #Nationals
— Tucker Blair (@TuckerBlairON) May 13, 2015
Best of the Rest
Yairo Munoz, SS, A’s (Beloit, A-): 4-5, R, 2 3B. Munoz is just getting his feet wet in full-season ball, and while the production thus far has been inconsistent, there’s a base to build on for the future. Our own Mauricio Rubio had this to say about him: “above-average bat speed, good hand-eye coordination, but his hit tool gets undercut by his approach and leveraged swing plane. He’s not long for short, average hands and bad footwork.” That’s a player who can do some things well but also has some work to do. At just 20, he also has plenty of time do to it.
Nomar Mazara, OF, Rangers (Frisco, AA): 3-5, 2 R, 2 2B, K. With all the hitting talent in the Rangers farm system, Mazara might just have the highest floor of the bunch, or at least of the high-ceiling guys. He controls the strike zone well for such a young hitter, and while the power hasn’t manifested itself in game action just yet this year, his track record of driving the ball is strong enough not to worry.
Aramis Garcia, C, Giants (Augusta, A-): 2-4, R, HR, K. The transition to pro ball is tougher for catchers than anyone else, so a little leeway for Garcia’s offensive struggles can be expected. He’s beginning to hit the ball with more authority as he adjusts to full-season ball, and he does project to have moderate power for a catcher. Even if he doesn’t hit, his defense and leadership behind the plate could be enough to see him in the big leagues.
Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Phillies (Lakewood, A-): 3-5, 2 R, 3B, HR, K. Rhys got off to an incredibly hot start to the season, but he’s managed to come back to Earth slowly rather than crash and burn. He’s continued to hit into May, and continues to show off some power, which will be necessary for him as a bat-only profile. Still, power production in a pitcher’s park without excessive swings and misses is a solid base from which to build upon.
Dominic Smith, 1B, Mets (St. Lucie, A+): 3-5, 3 R, 2B. There haven’t been too many positive things to say about Smith lately, so it’s good to see him finally get the bat going, no matter how temporarily, and see him drive the ball. After a perplexing season in 2014, in which he hit for average and controlled the strike zone, but offered no power whatsoever, Smith has offered none of the three thus far in 2015. He still shows off the tools to be a good hitter in batting practice, but he does not bring the same swing into the games. Extremely passive at the plate, he continually finds himself down in the count and putting poor swings on pitcher’s pitches. Tuesday’s double was only his second extra-base hit of the year, a by-product of his contact-oriented swing. The tools that got him selected in the first round may still be present, but they don’t play in games right now, and he’ll need to change that to have any kind of success.
Mallex Smith, OF, Braves (Mississippi, AA): 3-7, 2 R, HR, 2 K (DH). It’s going to come down to whether or not Mallex can hit, because there’s no doubting his speed, athleticism, and defense in center field. He’s an interesting player who can do a lot of things, but hitting with any kind of impact isn’t one of them. If he does provide anything offensively, it will come in the form of on-base skills and base-running value. He could hit his way into an everyday lineup as a third outfielder, but he profiles as a backup.
Willy Adames, SS, Rays (Charlotte, A+): 2-4, 2 R, 2B, HR. Adames is a prime example of a player whose production doesn’t match the ability, but you can see it coming. You get glimpses of what Adames can do, like he showed on Tuesday night, hitting for power while playing a solid shortstop, but he doesn’t yet do it on a consistent basis. He has good size, and while he could outgrow shortstop, he appears to have the actions to stay there even if he puts on some weight. The refinement of the approach at the plate will be key to bringing out the full effect of his hitting tools.
Stephen Piscotty, OF, Cardinals (Memphis, AAA): 2-5, R, HR, K. In a different organization, Piscotty would already be in the majors, but with a perennially deep Cardinals roster, there’s simply not room for him at the moment. A solid, refined hitter, Piscotty is ready to slide into the Cardinals order when called upon, though likely not in the middle of it. He doesn’t project ot be an impact power-producer, but his consistent contact and hit tool should make him a solid everyday player at a corner outfield spot.
Justin Nicolino, LHP, Marlins (New Orleans, AAA): 6 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K. Nicolino continues to produce without offering awe-inspiring stuff. He’s done nothing but pitch well as a professional despite never striking out batters with any kind of frequency, to the point where there’s a legitimate concern as to how it will translate against major-league hitters, but no reason to believe he won’t be effective to some extent. He throws a ton of strikes and changes speeds, which gives him a chance to create enough poor contact to be effective.
Jomar Reyes, 3B, Orioles (Delmarva, A-): 2-3, R, HR. Young and unrefined, yet extremely talented, the future is in front of Reyes with a lot of development to be had. As Tucker Blair put in his Eyewitness Report of Reyes earlier this year: “All the signs of a productive power bat are evident with Reyes, although the projectable growth and defensive deficiencies likely move him to a first base profile. Regardless, I believe Reyes will be able to hit enough for the profile to work.”
Miguel Andujar, 3B, Yankees (Tampa, A+): 2-4, 2 R, HR. Andujar is another big-bodied third-base prospect with big-time power and strong contact skills currently being held back by approach issues. Andujar has plus bat speed, but wants to swing at everything. His contact skills are actually quite good given his swing rate, a testament to his ability, but also a microcosm of his approach. He should tap into that power once he figures out what to swing at and what to let pass by, and he also offers a big arm at third base, provided he doesn’t outgrow the position.
Fight Another Day
Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres (San Antonio, AA): 0-4, 2 K. The visual nature of the human mind makes it difficult for us to forget images we’ve seen, especially ones that inspire awe. That means anyone who has seen Renfroe connect with a fastball and drive it to oblivion tends to overlook his flaws, myself very much included. The power and bat speed are impressive, but there is a lot of movement in his swing, including a significant weight transfer forward that troubles me in terms of Renfroe’s ability to hit better breaking stuff. His struggles against Double-A pitching, which now extended to over 380 plate appearances, support this concern.
Notable Prospect Starters
- Andrew Heaney, LHP, Angels (Salt Lake, AAA): 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 9 K.
- Aaron Blair, RHP, Diamondbacks (Mobile, AA): 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, BB, 5 K.
- Julio Urias, LHP, Dodgers (Tulsa, AA): 3 1/3 IP, 4 H, 4 R (3 ER), 4 BB, 7 K.
- Michael Mader, LHP, Marlins (Greensboro, A-): 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K.
- Joe Ross, RHP, Nationals (Harrisburg, AA): 7 IP, 7 H, R, BB, 5 K.
- Tyrell Jenkins, RHP, Braves (Mississippi, AA): 7 IP, 7 H, R, 0 BB, 4 K.