Hitter of the day: Tyler Naquin, CF, Indians (Akron, AA): 4-4, HR. Fun with small sample sizes, May edition: Naquin’s big day improved his triple-slash line from .291/.388/.379 to .318/.408.430 overnight. There may not be a ton of thunder in the Texan’s bat, but as a true center fielder with a good feel for the barrel, Naquin has a broad base of skills and he’s in line to contribute to the Indians at some point this season.
Pitcher of the day: Michael Kopech, RHP, Red Sox (Greenville, Low-A): 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 8 SO. Kopech thoroughly dominated the overmatched Augusta GreenJackets on Wednesday night. He faced 16 batters in his four innings: eight of them struck out and nobody mustered a fly ball (though there was one line drive). The 19-year-old breezed through four innings, inducing 12 swing and misses during his brief outing. He sat in the mid-to-high 90s, topping out at 99 mph while integrating the rest of his three-pitch mix into his game plan. Just a year out of high school, Kopech will spend the rest of the campaign improving his slider and changeup, and tightening up his command. Whether he does that in the Sally League or in a more competitive environment depends on how deliberate the Red Sox plan to be with their former first-rounder.
Best of the rest:
Albert Almora, CF, Cubs (Tennessee, AA): 2-5, HR, BB. The base on balls drags Almora’s walk rate—kicking and screaming—past six percent, but it’s the home run that’s more notable. It’s just the second dinger of the year for the Florida native, who’s posting an ISO below .100 this season. He’s a 21-year-old in Double-A, so it’s not time to sound the alarm yet, but 2015 has featured more of the same over-aggressive hacking and weak contact that has plagued him in seasons past. Whether he ever reins in his natural instinct to smack anything that moves and takes advantage of his impressive raw power remains an open question.
Byron Buxton, CF, Twins (Chattanooga, AA): 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 SO. Buxton hasn’t had a stretch of dominant play like fellow top prospects Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, and Kris Bryant can boast, but the Twins prized farmhand hasn’t been too shabby himself. The homer was his sixth of the year, and he’s now batting .271 with a slugging percentage over .500. He’s also running effectively, striking out less often than he did in High-A last season and, most importantly, has played in nearly every game for Chattanooga. Nothing but good signs across the board for Buxton thus far in 2015.
Alex Blandino, SS, Reds (Daytona, High-A): 2-5, 2 R, 1 HR. Cincinnati’s first-round pick last June, Blandino has been one of the best hitters in the Florida State League thus far. Entering play yesterday, he’d hit .316/.405/.430 on the year, good numbers in a pitcher’s league and an offense-suppressing park. Yesterday’s dinger gives him four on the year, an important number to track. Scouts are concerned about Blandino’s ability to extract power from his compact, line-drive stroke, an issue that becomes even more important if he has to shift to third base down the line.
Alen Hanson, 2B, Pirates (Indianapolis, AAA): 2-4, R, BB, E. Two more hits and a walk for Hanson yesterday, who’s rebounded to hit .310 with a .340 OBP in May after a slow start to the season. Interestingly, Hanson hasn’t started a game at short this year, after spending most of his career there. Most evaluators predicted that the Dominican would slide over to the keystone at some point, which is a better fit for his poor footwork and mediocre throwing arm. The switch down the defensive spectrum doesn’t mean the work is done, however. Hanson struggled with routine plays at short in the past, and he’ll have to maintain his focus in the field to minimize mistakes regardless of where he plays, but particularly as he adjusts to a new position.
Deven Marrero, 2B/SS, Red Sox (Pawtucket, AAA): 2-3, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 1 E. Wednesday’s multi-hit game was Marrero’s first such performance in nearly two weeks, and the empty .250 average he’s toting in Triple-A likely resembles his realistic ceiling at the plate as a big-leaguer. While he’s more than capable of handling shortstop, the Arizona State product started at second yesterday as part of his transition into a utility player, the role he’ll likely have in Boston when the Red Sox require his services.
Yairo Munoz, SS, Athletics (Beloit, Low-A): 2-4, 2 R, 3B, HR. Hot as a pistol, Munoz belted his second homer in as many nights, giving him four in the last week. Since emerging onto the national prospect scene as a teenager in the New York-Penn League last season, Munoz has only seen his stock grow in 2015; he’s quieted his approach at the plate and has shown solid bat speed and good barrel control in full-season ball this year. He has plenty of raw power, but it’s unclear how often he’ll tap into it. He has a leveraged swing—which limits the amount of time his bat stays in the hitting zone—and his overly aggressive approach will get him in trouble as he faces better breaking balls, particularly since his max-effort swing limits his ability to adjust to pitches mid-flight. Right now, he’s a one-spot, one-pitch hitter.
Orlando Arcia, SS, Brewers (Biloxi, AA): 3-6, 2B, HR. Arcia's third dinger of the year brought his extra-base hit total to sixteen, which would be pretty good even if he wasn’t walking more than he strikes out as a 20-year old in Double-A. Most impressively, Arcia has done literally all of his damage on the road; Biloxi’s home stadium hasn’t been finished yet—further problems will delay opening night until August, at least—meaning that the Venezuelan is hitting .337/.392/.460 without ever getting to settle in at home after a long road trip. With a six glove and above-average speed, Arcia always looked like a big-leaguer and his offensive ascent this season suggests star potential.
Jose Peraza, 2B/CF, Braves (Gwinnett, AAA): 2-3, R. Two hits for Peraza (yawn), but more interestingly, he started the second game of Gwinnett’s double-header in center field. He caught some flies in the outfield this past spring, but yesterday marked the first time he’s appeared there in a game. He didn’t have a whole lot to do, but it’s nice to see the Braves working on their top prospect’s positional flexibility as he prepares to make the leap to Atlanta.
Jorge Mateo, SS, Yankees (Charleston, Low-A): 3-5, R, 2 3B, 2 SO. As often happens for 80-speed players, “developing power” largely consists of turning singles into doubles. In Mateo’s case last night, it meant turning doubles into triples.
Fight another day:
Sean Newcomb, LHP, Angels (Inland Empire, High-A): 3.1 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 BB, 3 SO. After dominating A-ball hitters for a month and a half, Newcomb’s inability to limit free passes finally caught up with him. Nobody is squaring up the southpaw this season—he’s allowed just one homer in nearly 50 innings of work—but his control bares monitoring, as he’s walked five hitters twice in ten starts, and his BB/9 is over five on the year. If he can throw strikes consistently, his mid-90s heater and 60 curveball portend a future in the Angels rotation, with front of the rotation upside if his improving changeup comes together as well. There are plenty of developmental hurdles remaining, but few lefties have anything resembling the Hartford product’s raw arsenal.
Jorge Lopez, RHP, Brewers (Biloxi, AA): 4 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 2 HR, 3 SO. A night to forget for Lopez, who had struck out 27 hitters over his last four starts coming into the game. His changeup isn’t a very good pitch right now, and between that and middling command, he has the kind of profile prone to taking a beating once in a while.
Notable pitching prospect lines:
- Daniel Norris, LHP, Blue Jays (Buffalo, AAA): 6.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 4 SO.
- Keury Mella, RHP, Giants (San Jose, High-A): 3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 6 SO.
- Dillon Overton, RHP, Indians (Stockton, High-A): 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 SO.
- Spencer Adams, RHP, White Sox (Kannapolis, Low-A): 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 SO.
- Felix Jorge, RHP, Twins (Cedar Rapids, Low-A): 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 2 HR, 5 SO.
- Casey Meisner, RHP, Mets (Savannah, Low-A): 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 HR, 5 SO.
- Kendry Flores, RHP, Marlins (Jacksonville, AA): 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 HR, 3 SO.
- Jason Hursh, RHP, Braves (Mississippi, AA): 6 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 8 SO.
Tip of the cap:
… and Aaron Judge homered again.
Thank you for reading
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