Hitter of the Day: Kyle Schwarber, C, Cubs (Tennessee, AA): 2-7, 2 R, HR, K. This time last year, much of the baseball world was wondering if the Cubs had reached by taking Schwarber fourth overall. It turns out, they kind of know what they’re doing. Schwarber can flat out hit, and he’s yet to meet a challenge he can’t handle in the minors. There are questions about whether or not he can catch, a task to which he and the Cubs are committed. Schwarber won’t be a good defensive catcher, but he should be able to handle the position, at least on a part-time basis and possibly on a regular basis given the ability for his offensive potential to make up for some of his defensive deficiencies.
Pitcher of the Day: Frankie Montas, RHP, White Sox (Birmingham, AA): 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K. For a pitcher whose mechanics are all over the place, there are pitching prospects whose walk rates are significantly higher. Still, Montas is far away from commanding his impressively fast fastball with any kind of consistency. When he throws strikes, however, his extension and velocity create a formidable foe for hitters.
Best of the Rest
Steven Moya, OF, Tigers (Toledo, AAA): 3-6, 2 2B, HR, 2 K (DH). Mentioning Moya without mentioning strikeouts is like talking about s’mores without mentioning the marshmallow. It’s just a part of Moya’s game, the question is how much it takes over the rest of his potential. Moya has to hit for power in order to be a productive player, but his lack of pitch recognition threatens to hinder that potential. He’ll run into mistakes because of his size, but without a more refined approach, his raw power will struggle to manifest itself in games.
Trey Ball, LHP, Red Sox (Greenville, A-): 5 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K. Despite a fastball that tops out around 92, this kind of bat-missing capability is within reach for Ball thanks to the tremendous downward plane he generates on the mound with his 6-foot-6 frame. As C.J. Wittman pointed out earlier this month, the secondary pitches are coming along, but it’s the changing of the eye levels that comes with his height that has a chance to be the separator for Bell.
Ozhaino Albies, SS, Braves (Rome, A-): 3-5, 2 R, 2 2B, K. We use being young for a particular level as an excuse for the struggles of young hitters all the time, but the truly good hitters find a way to just hit, even when they’re facing advanced competition. Albies is showing that this year, handling an aggressive assignment to full-season ball as an 18-year-old as well as could be expected by controlling the strike zone remarkably well and even showing some gap power. His speed has been a given, but he’s been able to apply it in games as well, showing a strong all-around package for a teenager.
Byron Buxton, OF, Twins (Chattanooga, AA): 2-5, 2 R, 2 BB (DH). Buxton is leaving some people disappointed despite posting a .802 OPS in Double-A as a 21-year-old with elite defense and elite speed. Such is the unfair life as the game’s top prospect. His ceiling is extremely high, but it’s the height of his floor that might be the most impressive. At his worst, he’ll still be able to provide top-tier defense and speed at an up-the-middle position, and he can hit a little bit too.
Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres (San Antonio, AA): 2-5, R, 2B, K, SB. It hasn’t been a strong season for Renfroe, who has struggled to adjust to advanced pitching. His power is without question, but pitchers with more of a plan have been a challenge for a hitter who was never overly disciplined to begin with. Renfroe can hit a fastball as good as any hitter in the minors, but he’ll need to adjust to the better breaking stuff he’s currently seeing if he wants to continue along the developmental plan we had expected from him.
Fight Another Day
Brandon Finnegan, LHP, Royals (Omaha, AAA): 2 2/3 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K. Nothing is diminished about Finnegan’s stuff from what you saw in the playoffs last year, but there’s a chance, just a chance, that adrenaline and a lack of exposure might have helped it play up last October. That’s not to say Finnegan isn’t an excellent prospect, and this start doesn’t negate his stuff or anything he’s done by any means, but there is a reason scouts were split on whether or not he’d be a starter or a reliever. Either way, he’s a heck of a pitcher.
Notable Prospect Starters
- Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds (Pensacola, AA): 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 8 K.
- Henry Owens, LHP, Red Sox (Pawtucket, AAA): 5 IP, 3 H, 4 R (3 ER), 4 BB, 2 K.
- Tyler Kolek, RHP, Marlins (Greensboro, A-): 4 IP, 5 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 2 K.
- Mark Appel, RHP, Astros (Corpus Christi, AA): 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 5 K.
- Jose Berrios, RHP, Twins (Chattanooga, AA): 6 1/3 IP, 6 H, 2 R, BB, 5 K.
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