Hitter of the Day: Rowdy Tellez, 1B, Blue Jays (Lansing, A-): 4-5, 2 R, 3 2B, HR. We’re getting glimpses of what Tellez can do on nights like these. He’s driving the ball better this season as he learns to use his size, which is considerably less than it was but still likely bigger than you. His strikeout rate has jumped this season, which is to be expected in his first taste of full-season ball, but it hasn’t jumped to significant red-flag levels. There is still a lot of development in front of the recently turned 20-year-old, and he’ll have to continue to work to keep himself in shape, but the power profile is intriguing.
Pitcher of the Day: Jose Berrios, RHP, Twins (Chatanooga, AA): 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K. Is it time yet to stop worrying about Berrios’ size? No, of course not—because that time has long since passed, as Berrios continues to work as a starter and not just handle the workload but excel in the role. He’s handling Double-A for the second straight season after finishing the year there last year, and just turned in perhaps his most impressive start for his last outing as a 20-year-old. The Twins don’t have too many arms that can miss bats like Berrios.
Best of the Rest
Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees (Trenton, AA): 3-5, 2 R, 2B, HR. Sanchez is still showing glimpses of the power that has made him such a highly touted prospect for so long, but there are also more and more red flags every year. In his third stint in Double-A, Sanchez has seen his walk rate decrease each year while his strikeout rate has increased progressively. His approach should be getting better as he continues to face the same level of competition, not getting worse.
Kevin Ziomek, RHP, Tigers (Lakeland, A+): 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K. The biggest thing for Ziomek is consistency, whether from game to game, inning to inning or pitch to pitch. When he puts it all together, the finished product dominates like this. As our resident Tigers expert Jordan Gorosh told me, “His stuff is way too good for High-A, but the execution from start to start isn’t. The stuff is probably fringe major-league quality right now, but the command can come and go at any time.” The issues are mechanical, due to inconsistent timing in his delivery, which means they can be corrected—though at 23 and coming from a big-time college program (Vanderbilt), you’d like to see a little more refinement already.
Bruce Caldwell, 3B, Cardinals (Palm Beach, A+): 3-5, 2 2B, 2 K. Caldwell is a flawed player with a limited ceiling as a utility player, but he can do enough well on a baseball field, and specifically with his bat, that there’s a major-league role for him. With a short left-handed stroke, Caldwell has some pop, and has vastly improved his approach this season. He struggles against lefties, but with the versatility to handle both second and third base, his bat could be an asset in a platoon/bench role against right-handed pitching.
Gleyber Torres, SS, Cubs (South Bend, A-): 3-5, R, 2B. Torres continues to handle his assignment to the Midwest League better than anyone could have expected. Not only does he continue to hit, but he’s showing contact rates far more advanced than most 18-year-olds. There’s no power in his game yet, but that will come over time as he fills out. There’s a lot to like here.
Jarlin Garcia, RHP, Marlins (Jupiter, A+): 5 2/3 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K. Garcia is getting by in the Florida State League thanks to the velocity of his fastball and ability to throw it for strikes. He’s still working on the development of his off-speed pitches, though his slider shows glimpses. He still might end up a reliever, but he’s young enough not to have to worry about making that decision any time soon.
David Dahl, OF, Rockies (New Britain, AA): 2-5, 2 R, 3B, HR. After just 29 games in High-A ball at the end of last season, Dahl is returning mixed reviews in an aggressive assignment to Double-A this season. The hit tool is what’s going to carry Dahl, but that’s also what’s being tested the most against advanced pitching. Trying to hit in the Connecticut cold in April doesn’t help either. Dahl wil be fine, but it’s a good example of the difficulty of making a jump this size, even for the best hitters.
Joseph Pankake, 3B, Tigers (West Michigan, A-): 2-3, 2 R, 2B, HR, 2 BB. The first taste of full-season ball can be a test for even experienced college hitters, as Pankake is showing early this season. He’s controlling the strike zone adequately, but he’s not hitting consistently or showing any power before Wednesday night. He’ll need to hit for power to be a significant third baseman of any kind.
Fight Another Day
Marcos Molina, RHP, Mets (St. Lucie, A+): 5 2/3 IP, 11 H, 6 R, BB, 4 K. The group of Mets hitters that got promoted aggressively to St. Lucie gets most of the attention, but 20-year-old Molina was in that group as well. That transition tends to be easier for pitchers than it is for hitters, and that’s shown in Molina’s performance this season, which has been generally strong sans Tuesday.
Stetson Allie, RF, Pirates (Altoona, AA): 0-4, 2 K. Despite repeating Double-A Altoona, Allie has seen drops in his batting average, on-base percentage and walk rate while his strikeout rate has gone up. Allie might have reached the point where his all-or-nothing power approach no longer works.
The Wayback Machine
Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Astros (Fresno, AAA): 4-5, 2 R, 2 HR, K. Singleton’s struggles in the majors last season were of the epic variety. We’re talking Agamemnon and wooden horses kinds of epic. Back in Triple-A, he’s showing essentially the same set of skills and production that he showed there last year, with big-time power and plate discipline sprinkled in amongst a much more manageable amount of swings and misses. There’s no guarantee Singleton will be able to carry his current PCL success over to the majors, as he was unable to the first go-round, but there’s not much left to test him in the minors. The Astros have invested a lot in Singleton, so they want to make sure he’s ready before they take him out of the oven for good, but it’s probably time to see what they’ve got in him at the major-league level.
Notable Prospect Starters
· Kodi Medeiros, LHP, Brewers (Wisconsin, A-): 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, BB, 8 K.
· Manny Banuelos, LHP, Braves (Gwinnett, AAA): 5 IP, 4 H, R, 3 BB, 4 K.
· Braden Shipley, RHP, Diamondbacks (Mobile, AA): 5 IP, 5 H, 5 R (3 ER), 4 BB, 2 K.
· Zach Lee, RHP, Dodgers (Oklahoma City, AAA): 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 5 K.
· Kyle Crick, RHP, Giants (Richmond, AA): 4 IP, 2 H, R, 3 BB, K.
· Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, Red Sox (Pawtucket, AAA): 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R (2 ER), BB, 5 K.
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