Hitter of the Day: Victor Roache, OF, Brewers (Brevard County, A-): 4-6, 2 R, 2B, 2 HR, 2 K. In a repeat of the Florida State League, Roache is beginning to show signs of figuring things out. He’s striking out more than ever, but in between, he’s making better contact, drawing more walks, and hitting for more power. The reactive hitter who expands the strike zone is no longer as prevalent in his second go-round in the league, and his improved approach is showing, though his numbers are fueled by a ridiculous .437 BABIP.
Pitcher of the Day: Lucas Giolito, RHP, Nationals (Potomac, A+): 6 IP, 5 H, R, BB, 11 K. After being held back in extended spring training in order to preserve his innings limit on the season without shutting down mid-summer, Giolito announced his presence with authority. Widely considered to be the best pitching prospect in the game, the righty dominated Carolina League batters much like he did the South Atlantic League last season. Giolito offers the best 1-2 punch of pitches in the game, and unlike the short list of players about whom an argument can be made against Giolito, none have close to his level of refinement.
Best of the Rest
Austin Meadows, OF, Pirates (Bradenton, A+): 5-6, 2 R, CS. The consistent ability to barrel up the baseball is what’s going to carry Meadows, but he does it well. He doesn’t drive the ball frequently, but he does consistently find the barrel of the bat and hit the ball with authority. I went into more detail about Meadows here.
Jake Bauers, 1B, Rays (Charlotte, A+): 4-5, 2 R, 3 2B, CS. Bauers has turned out to be a pleasant surprise for the Rays, as the first baseman continues to walk more than he strikes out, despite hitting for moderate power. At just 19, he’s more than handling the Florida State League, showing off his power while maintaining control of the strike zone.
Max Kepler, OF, Twins (Chattanooga, AA): 2-4, R, 2 2B. Kepler has been a continual example of a player looking the part more than actually backing it up, but the Twins have continued to promote him anyway. Their persistence has been rewarded for the moment, with Kepler enjoying his best stretch as a professional in his brief stint since heading to Double-A. At 6-foot-4 and well-built, Kepler looks like he should hit for more power than he does, but his contact-oriented approach limits him.
Billy McKinney, OF, Cubs (Tennessee, AA): 2-4, R, 2 2B. McKinney gets lost in the Cubs system, but the guy who was considered the least-significant piece of the Addison Russell trade could end up making quite an impact. I had been calling for his promotion over the past couple of weeks, as he was no longer being challenged in A-ball, and he received both the promotion and the challenge on Thursday, making his debut for Double-A Tennessee. McKinney picked up right where he left off, continuing to pepper line drives and hit gaps.
Ben Lively, RHP, Phillies (Reading, AA): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 5 K. A strong stat for Lively, who has been up and down this season, but continues to profile as a no. 3 or 4 starter in a big-league rotation. He’s built to eat innings and has the stuff to handle lineups multiple times through the order, though it’s not potent enough to carry a staff. He also got a pitch-clock violation on Thursday, which is dumb, not because he got one, but because there’s a clock on a baseball field.
Austin Barnes, C, Dodgers (Oklahoma City, AAA): 2-4, 2B, SB. I don’t know how the Austin Barnes story ends. It’s difficult to predict. And at 25 and still in the minors, he’s on the periphery of being a prospect. What I do know, however, is that he’s hit well at every level, walks as often as he strikes out, has enough pop to keep pitcher’s honest, and can catch, while also having experience at second and third base. That sounds like I guy I’d like to have on my roster somewhere, and I’ll figure out how to use him later.
David Dahl, OF, Rockies (New Britain, AA): 3-4, R, HR, K. Dahl’s hit tool gets rave reviews, but his power has been slower to catch up as he ascends the Rockies farm system rapidly. Dahl isn’t necessarily a home-run hitter, but he’s the type of good all-around hitter with enough bat speed and strength to run into more than his fair share along the way.
Miguel Andujar, 3B, Yankees (Tampa, A+): 2-3, 2 R, HR, BB. Andujar is long in every aspect of his game. Long stride, long swing, long throwing motion. When it all connects, the balls he hits also go a long way, as they did on Thursday night. Andujar has big power and swings the bat that way, attacking pitches to a fault, even though he can’t hit some of them. It’s a work in progress to get the refinement where it needs to be, but his raw skills are impressive
Fight Another Day
JaCoby Jones, SS, Pirates (Bradenton, A+): 0-5, 3 K. There are holes in Jones’ game, and playing everyday will elicit games like this. At his best, Jones will be used in advantageous situations, likely against left-handed pitchers or against hard throwers where his bat speed can play up and breaking balls are less of a concern.
Notable Prospect Starters
- Michael Feliz, RHP, Astros (Lancaster, A+): 5 IP, 3 H, R, 2 BB, 6 K.
- Frankie Montas, RHP, White Sox (Birmingham, AA): 6 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 4 K.
- Luke Weaver, RHP, Cardinals (Palm Beach, A+): 5 IP, 5 H, R (0 ER), 2 BB, 2 K
- Justus Sheffield, LHP, Indians (Lake County, A-): 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R (1 ER), BB, 7 K.
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