Hitter of the Day: Francisco Mejia, C, Indians (Lake County, A-): 2-4, R, 2B, HR. There’s so much to love about Mejia from a pure talent standpoint. The road to the majors from Low-A ball for an 18-year-old catching prospect is measured in years, not months, but Mejia is already showing signs of putting his potential to good use in games. The power will develop later as he grows into himself as a hitter, but he’s already showing glimpses of it, especially in the gaps. The glove is strong too, allowing him to remain behind the plate and make a potential two-way impact.
Pitcher of the Day: Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds (Pensacola, AA): 8 IP, H, R (0 ER), BB, 8 K. Stephenson has never gotten hit hard as a professional, thanks to premium velocity and elite stuff. The issue for him lately has been his command and ability to throw strikes. When he’s in the strike zone, even when he’s not hitting his spots, he has the ability to dominate. The upper levels of the minors have forced him to throw more strikes, failing to chase his stuff the way lesser hitters did, but if and when Stephenson makes that adjustment, he can get back to being an elite pitching prospect very quickly.
Best of the Rest
Richard Urena, SS, Blue Jays (Lansing, A-): 2-4, R, 2 2B. Urena is handling his first full-season challenge well, though there are still a lot of wrinkles to iron out. He’s showing off good power, especially for a player without imposing size, and driving the ball consistently despite a propensity to expand the strike zone. He has no approach just yet, and his plate discipline has fallen apart against better pitching, but he’s still just 19 so some of that is to be expected and can be corrected. There is still some major bust potential with Urena, but there’s also quite a bit of boom.
Stryker Trahan, C, Diamondbacks (Kane County, A-): 2-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, K. Back behind the plate again this year, but he was already considered to be a project defensively and has now lost developmental time at the position. The bat hasn’t developed as hoped either, certainly not the point where it will play every day in the outfield, his other position. He’s geared up for power and has the ability in raw form, but his approach leads to him being behind in the count frequently, causing him to expand and chase. He’s already 21 and has yet to progress beyond Low-A ball, where he’s currently struggling, leaving a long road still ahead of him.
Aaron Nola, RHP, Phillies (Reading, AA): 7 IP, 5 H, R, BB, 4 K. Nola has yet to be challenged in the minors and may not be until he gets to the big leagues, as his advanced feel for pitching is far ahead of any competition that he’s faced. You can count me in the camp that doesn’t see much benefit to calling him up to the majors just yet (for the Phillies, not necessary for Nola), but a bump to Triple-A, where much of his competition has major-league experience and thus has a plan of their own, could be a nice test for him until the Phillies decide it’s the best time to promote him.
Cole Tucker, SS, Pirates (West Virginia, A-): 2-5, R, HR, SB. It was almost exactly a year ago, on draft day last year, when the collective baseball world scratched their heads at the Pirates decision to reach for Tucker at the back end of the first round when most had him graded out a few rounds later. An aggressive assignment straight to full-season ball this year has challenged Tucker, but he’s shown glimpses of his potential this season in between the struggles. Despite the hiccups, there’s plenty to like about Tucker, who doesn’t have any standout tools, but can do a lot of things well, including remain at shortstop.
Phillip Ervin, OF, Reds (Daytona, A+): 3-4, 2 R, 2B, BB. Ervin has cooled off a bit since a scorching hot start to the season, but he’s still hitting for solid power in a tough power league, which is a good sign. He’s also made some slight improvements in his approach, allowing him to drive the ball more consistently. His raw power/speed combination remains one of the more versatile in the minors.
Trey Ball, LHP, Red Sox (Salem, A+): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 2 K. Ball’s development has picked up since last year and the Red Sox are seeing some returns from the chance they took selecting him 7th overall in 2013. For a more in-depth look, you can read C.J. Wittman’s report on him here, or listen to him talk about Ball on the latest edition of the Raw Projection podcast here.
Fight Another Day
Blake Snell, RHP, Rays (Montgomery, AA): 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 6 K. After not allowing a run in his first 8 starts, Snell has now allowed runs in three straight (that’s actually pretty normal), but this is by far his worst start of the season, mostly because he set the bar so high to begin with. He’s been getting away with far too many free passes for the tight-rope act to continue, and despite his tremendous success early this season, he’ll need to throw more strikes.
Kohl Stewart, RHP, Twins (Ft. Myers, A+): 5 IP, 10 H, 5 R (4 ER), 2 BB, 3 K. The results haven’t been terrible for Stewart (Thursday notwithstanding), but they also haven’t matched the production you’d expect from a player with his pure stuff.
Notable Prospect Starters
- Michael Feliz, RHP, Astros (Corpus Christi, AA): 3 1/3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 2 K.
- Alex Reyes, RHP, Cardinals (Palm Beach, A+): 5 2/3 IP, 7 H, R, 2 BB, 3 K.
- Trevor Williams, RHP, Marlins (Jacksonville, AA): 7 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K.
- Henry Owens, LHP, Red Sox (Pawtucket, AAA): 5 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 7 K.
- Brandon Finnegan, LHP, Royals (Omaha, AAA): 3 1/3 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K.
- Dylan Covey, RHP, Athletics (Stockton, A+): 6 1/3 IP, 5 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 3 K.
- Frankie Montas, RHP, White Sox (Birmingham, AA): 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K.
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