Hitter of the Day: JaCoby Jones, SS, Pirates (Bradenton, A+): 3-5, 2 R, 2 2B, HR.
Jones is going to find a place on a big-league roster in some capacity, the only question is what that capacity will be. He’s probably not an everyday shortstop, though he’s better at the position than his somewhat-awkward actions would suggest. He’s got some funk to his swing, too, which leads to lots of swings and misses, but when he finds the barrel, he has the ability to do some real damage. I don’t know if there’s a spot for him in the lineup every day, but he has enough athletic ability to play multiple positions and enough power to do damage if put in the right spots. Those signs point to an oft-used utility player, who could excel with a smart manager who deploys him properly. He has his flaws, but he does enough things well to carve out a very productive niche.
Pitcher of the Day: Jacob Faria, RHP, Rays (Montgomery, AA): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 8 K.
Ignore the walks for this evening, as they are rarely a problem for Faria. His command was strong in the Florida State League, and there’s no reason to think that it won’t carry over now that he’s been promoted to Double-A. The strikeouts are a fantastic sign. Faria’s swing-and-miss numbers weren’t outstanding in A-ball, but his stuff suggested they should have been better. He was dominant, and he creates a strong downward plane that makes it difficult to square him up. His curveball doesn’t miss bats, but it does generate weak contact, and his changeup has great deception thanks to his arm action. He has all the stuff to be a highly effective starter.
Best of the Rest
Ryan Mountcastle, SS, Orioles (GCL Orioles): 4-5, R, SB. There was some well-voiced questioning of the Orioles selection of Mountcastle at 36th overall last month, given that there were questions about his bat and his ability to stay at shortstop long term. Of course, he hasn’t outgrown it in a month, so we’ll have to wait and see on that—and in the meantime, he’s off to a hot start in his pro career.
Victor Robles, OF, Nationals (GCL Nationals): 3-4, 2 R, SB. When people ask about sleeper prospects they should know, Robles is currently the first name off the tip of my tongue. He won’t be unknown for long. Boasting elite talent, the Nationals center fielder is still growing into his body and beginning his development. Stateside for the first time, he’s currently torching the Gulf Coast League as an 18-year-old, doing everything you could want from a hitter. He controls the strike zone exceptionally well for a player his age, and while he’s far from reaching his physical peak, he’s already showing some power production thanks to plus bat speed. He’s also a strong up-the-middle defender. While Robles is still far away, he has all the makings of an elite prospect.
Carlos Tocci, OF, Phillies (Clearwater, A+): 3-5, 3 R, HR, SB. It’s been a rough transition to the Florida State League for Tocci, who called Lakewood home for longer than a House of Representatives term. His offensive production finally took a step forward this year, with the word finally in reference to his stay in the Sally League and not his still youthful age. He’s still not a power hitter, but he was beginning to shoot the gaps with more frequency. That change hasn’t translated since his promotion, but any time the ball leaves the yard in the Florida State League, it’s an accomplishment.
Ozhaino Albies, SS, Braves (Rome, A-): 2-4, 2 R, BB, K, 2 SB. Albies has almost no in-game power to speak of, though there may be just enough in his bat to keep it from getting knocked out of his hands. In Futures Game batting practice, he was able to leave the yard to the opposite field, a sign both of strength and of the proper spin to allow a ball to carry. The issue is that, even at 18, he doesn’t have much physical projection remaining. He’s never going to hit for significant power, so he’ll have to hit over .300 in order to be an effective offensive player, which is always a scary proposition. He may have the barrel skills to pull it off, though.
Reese McGuire, C, Pirates (Bradenton, A+): 3-4, R, BB, 2 SB. The power hasn’t kicked in for McGuire yet (though he has more than he’s showing this season), but the bat is coming around. He may never be an offensive force, but he’s going to hit enough to clear the offensive bar for catchers, especially catchers of his caliber. Meanwhile, the stolen-base thing is bordering on bizarre. Two more on Wednesday gives him 14 on the season. He’s slow, but very smart, which is what’s getting it done at this level. He’s not going to be a stolen-base threat at higher levels, but it is a testament to his mental acuity on the field.
Orlando Arcia, SS, Brewers (Biloxi, AA): 2-4, R, HR. Arcia’s entire offensive game has taken a step forward this season, at least somewhat in part to a swing change that has seen him look to drive the ball more consistently. A bigger load has enabled him to hit the ball with more authority, and while his power numbers don’t jump off the page, they have taken a step forward from previous seasons. He’ll never be a power hitter, but as long as he shows some ability to drive the baseball, he can be an effective offensive player.
Notable Prospect Starters
- Tyler Kolek, RHP, Marlins (Greensboro, AA): 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 4 K.
- Sean Manaea, LHP, Royals (Wilmington, A+): 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 2 BB, 5 K.
- Touki Toussaint, RHP, Braves (Rome, A-): 5 IP, 7 H, 6 R (5 ER), 3 BB, 3 K.
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