Hitter of the Day: Austin Barnes, C, Dodgers (Oklahoma City, AAA): 4-4, 3 R, 2B, HR, BB. Barnes is one of my favorite prospects, not because he’s an elite level player, but because as scouts we all have preferences that we lean towards and Barnes fits two of mine: he can play multiple positions and he walks more than he strikes out. As a bonus, one of his positions is catcher. He’s already 25, and because he doesn’t flash elite tools, Barnes has moved slowly. He’s not overly impressive in a short viewing, but in longer looks (like I got while he was in Jupiter for parts of two seasons), you can really see what Barnes can do well on the field. That starts with his control of the strike zone and of his barrel, and that paired with his ability to catch, even part time, gives him tons of value on a major-league roster. I don’t know if he can handle the grind of catching every day, but he’s good enough back there to handle the position when called upon as well as play two other infield spots when needed. His versatility and contact skills are going to lead to a solid, late-blooming major-league career.
Pitcher of the Day: Jaime Schultz, RHP, Rays (Montgomery, AA): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 9 K. Schultz knows how to miss bats in bunches, but he also misses the strike zone far too often. When he’s throwing enough strikes he’s quite effective, but the extra baserunners hinder his effectiveness. He’s almost 24 and is undersized, but the arm is legitimate, as is his ability to generate strike outs. The command might end up pushing him into the bullpen, but he would be extremely effective there.
Best of the Rest
Dominic Smith, 1B, Mets (St. Lucie, A+): 2-4, R, HR, K. Smith’s strong couple of weeks have been well documented, but even during his hot streak, this is just his second home run. The reason is the same as why I had concerns about him last month. Even in a recent look last weekend, well into his hot streak, Smith still gives away at-bats and does not attack pitches on the inner half with the authority he should. His home run on Monday night, like his one earlier this season, was to left field. He has enough strength to get one out the other way occasionally, but he won’t leave the yard that direction consistently. That’s what leads to the high doubles total, but low home-run production. He’s driving the ball more consistently right now, but until he starts pulling the ball with authority, he won’t see big time home-run numbers, and that will limit his ceiling.
Brett Phillips, OF, Astros (Lancaster, A+): 3-5, 2 R, 2B, K. Phillips continues to put up monster numbers that, even in the California League, can’t be ignored. If there’s one flaw in his game it’s some issues with contact, but he’s in the right organization for that, as the Astros aren’t ones to shy away from a player just because he strikes out a lot, nor should they. California League production has to be taken with a grain of salt, but the positive for Phillips is that he’s already established a track record outside of Lancaster that coincides with what he’s doing this season.
Mitch Nay, 3B, Blue Jays (Dunedin, A+): 2-3, R, HR. Nay is going to need more power production like this to remain on the prospect radar for much longer. He’s built for power, and doesn’t swing and miss much, but he doesn’t drive the ball the way you’d expect from a guy who shows the prototypical third-base build. He’s also not a good defender, so all of the pressure resides on the bat.
D.J. Davis, OF, Blue Jays (Dunedin, A+): 4-5, 2 R, 2 2B, HR. Davis has made some impressive adjustments this season, showing a more patient approach at the plate while making significantly more contact. The result has been a significant improvement in the manifestation of his skills into on-field success and us getting to enjoy his loud tools. The power is still developing, but he’s been impressive thus far this year.
Dylan Cozens, OF, Phillies (Clearwater, A+): 2-4, 2 R, HR. I really liked Cozens last season when he was able to show off his tremendous raw power more frequently, but his swing has gotten long and it’s zapped his power production in games. He’s not a premier athlete, so he’ll need to hit and hit for power to be an effective player, but there are too many holes in his swing for pitchers to exploit.
Jesse Winker, OF, Reds (Pensacola, AA): 3-4, R, HR, BB, SB. Turning the calendar to June has been huge for Winker, who is heating up after a slow start to the season. He’s driving the ball more consistently and showing off his power potential, which he’ll need. Even during his slow start, however, he’s managed to maintain his control over the strike zone, which is a testament to his polish as a hitter.
Fight Another Day
Andrew Heaney, LHP, Angels (Salt Lake, AAA): 5 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 4 BB, 7 K. Heaney hasn’t been bad this season, but he has tossed in a few clunkers like this one into the mix.
Notable Prospect Starters
- Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Twins (Fort Myers, A+): 5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 2 K.
- Daniel Norris, LHP, Blue Jays (Buffalo, AAA): 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 3 K.
- Braden Shipley, RHP, Diamondbacks (Mobile, AA): 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, BB, 4 K.
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