Gleyber Torres, SS, Cubs (Kane County, A-): 3-5, R, 2 2B, K, SB. There’s no question about Torres’ bat, though there are some doubts about his eventual overall profile. Unlike many of the game’s young shortstop prospects, Torres doesn’t project to be a strong defender at the position. In fact, he may not remain there at all, due to a lack of foot speed that limits his range. If he has to shift to third base, the bat may not have enough power, but at least one scout has told me Torres might be a strong offensive second baseman, which wouldn't be the worst result in the world either.
Luke Weaver, RHP, Cardinals (Palm Beach, A+): 7 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K. There were questions about Weaver coming out of Florida State, with many scouts wondering how his thin frame would handle the workload of a starting pitcher. Well, he’s still skinny, but the stuff comes out of his arm effortlessly, putting little strain on his arm or frame. His fastball command alone is too much for the Florida State League to handle, and he’s in need of a tougher test for the remainder of the year.
Jesse Biddle, LHP, Phillies (Lehigh Valley, AAA): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 7 K. They Jekyll and Hyde routine continues for Biddle, and given that it’s been an on-going show for a few years now, it’s not likely to end any time soon. There are days when Biddle can be dominant—like he was on Friday—and these days typically coincide with his fastball command, which when present allows his breaking ball to play off the heater and gives hitters a powerful one-two punch to consider. When he throws strikes, the bat-missing rate spikes and he’s excellent. When he can’t command the fastball, he’s very hittable. Consistency is a bigger obstacle than development at this point for Biddle.
Sean Newcomb, LHP, Angels (Inland Empire, A+): 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K. Newcomb still struggles to throw strikes consistently, but his stuff is good enough that he’s routinely getting away with it. His fastball/breaker combination is more than A-ball hitters can handle and allows him to get out of jams when he gives up extra baserunners. Already promoted once this season, Newcomb needs another challenge so that the bases on balls begin to hurt him.
Brent Honeywell, RHP, Rays (Port Charlotte, A+): 9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K. Honeywell has continued to throw strikes at an elite level since his promotion to High-A ball, but his outing on Saturday was the first time he showed the dominance that he displayed in the Midwest League earlier in the season. With a unique repertoire, Honeywell has broken out this year, his first full season since being selected in the second round last year.
Jarlin Garcia, LHP, Marlins (Jupiter, A+): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 6 K. Garcia boasts a live left arm, one that will play in the big leagues in some capacity. However, he features the same flaws that make scouts question whether or not he can remain a starter: a thin frame, some effort in the delivery, and the lack of a quality offspeed pitch. On the other hand, his fastball/slider combination can be death to left-handed hitters. There’s still time for him to develop a passable change-p and add strength, so it’s not time to write him off as a starter just yet, especially with his ability to miss bats.
Henry Owens, LHP, Red Sox (Pawtucket, AAA): 6 IP, 4 H, R, 2 BB, 9 K. It’s all about control for Owens, whose stuff has never really been questioned. What was once a major issue for Owens seemed to have improved in recent years, before the walks returned this season. He doesn’t have to have elite walk numbers given his ability to miss bats, but they have to be better than they’ve been this year. Saturday’s outing is a good example of what can happen when he throws enough strikes.
Michael Conforto, OF, Mets (Binghamton, AA): 2-3, R, HR. Conforto has been unfairly labeled as the answer to the Mets offensive woes and savior to a dying season, neither of which meshes with his profile. The disappointment will be unfair, given that he’s a solid hitter and good prospect who should be a nice piece to add to the Mets lineup. Given the Mets current situation, he would likely be an improvement in left field, but to expect him to come in and carry the lineup or solve their offensive issues is unrealistic.
Clint Frazier, OF, Indians (Lynchburg, A+): 3-4, R, 2B, HR. I like when young players make improvements to address their biggest weaknesses. Entering the season, Frazier’s biggest issue was his massive strikeout rate, with far too many swings and misses to allow his raw power to adequately play in games. He still strikes out a lot, but the rate has been much more manageable this season, and he’s shaved it without having to be more aggressive. The overall result is a better all-around hitter.
Greg Bird, 1B, Yankees (Scranton/W-B, AAA): 4-5, K. This could be the start of the adjustment for Bird, who has started slow in his first stint at most levels until he develops a better idea of pitchers’ plans for him. A smart hitter, Bird can fall into the trap of being too passive at the plate, though he seems to have found a much better balance in that regard. Once he has adjusted his approach at each level, the power has followed.
Jake Bauers, 1B, Rays (Montgomery, AA): 3-5, 2 R, HR, K. Bauers continues to impress and is looking more and more like the future solution to the Rays’ first-base problem. With a smart approach for such a young hitter, Bauers allows his smooth swing produce power despite his lack of elite size and strength. It’s more bat speed and trajectory than brute force, which should only set him up to hit for more power as he fills out.
Gavin Cecchini, SS, Mets (Binghamton, AA): 4-6, R, HR. After some inconsistent performances and injury issues over the past two years, Cecchini is finally putting together the kind of offensive season the Mets expected from him when they made him the 12th-overall pick in 2012. He’s a good athlete who is figuring out how to use that athleticism as a hitter. What he’s not, however, is the Mets shortstop of the future, because he’s not likely to remain a shortstop. His actions don’t match his athleticism, though he should be able to handle a shift to center field, where his bat would play as well.
Frankie Montas, RHP, White Sox (Birmingham, AA): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 8 K. Montas spent all of one day in the big leagues and did not appear in a game, shuttling back to Double-A where he still belongs. Armed with as live an arm as any prospect in the minors, he still needs to take steps forward in his refinement and command; even his triple-digit fastball becomes hittable when it flattens out and misses within the strike zone. There is still a chance he can remain a starter, though that will take much more time in the minors. The more likely outcome is that he ends up a high-leverage reliever, though even that will take some more time.
Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox (Greenville, A-): 2-5, R, HR. There’s not much Devers can’t do with a bat in his hands, and he’s showing that this season as an 18-year-old in Greenville. His only flaw as a hitter is an aggressive approach that could be exploited to a certain extent at higher levels, but his barrel control is so good that he’s able to get away with it and doesn’t swing and miss very often. If he can develop a slightly more refined approach—something that all 18-year-olds need to work on—he could tap completely into his raw power and become one of the game’s truly elite hitters.
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