Hitter of the Day: J.P. Crawford, SS, Phillies (Reading, AA): 2-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, BB.
On the day that fellow Phillies prospect Aaron Nola made his major-league debut, Crawford continued to show that he’s hot on his heels to the big city. He’s not there yet, but he’s closer than perhaps any other shortstop who can’t legally order an adult beverage. The refinement is what stands out about Crawford. In today’s game, we simply don’t see players who walk more than they strike out very often, yet Crawford has done it for his entire minor-league career. Even without significant power, bats like that are rare, and ones that can play a plus defensive shortstop simply don’t exist.

Pitcher of the Day: Jefry Rodriguez, RHP, Nationals (Auburn, SS): 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K.
Rodriguez has started his season at Low-A Hagerstown each of the past two years only to find himself demoted to short-season ball later in the year. At 21 years old, that’s concerning, as are the on-field results. Still, there are some things to like, and our own Tucker Blair sees the potential for two plus pitches and a possible bullpen role in his future. A lot has to improve for Rodriguez to get there, but he does have some talent, even if it hasn’t shown up in the box scores.

Best of the Rest

Austin Meadows, OF, Pirates (Bradenton, A+): 2-5, R, HR. Meadows doesn’t hit for much power, thanks to a swing that is geared toward contact and doesn’t use his full allotment of size and strength. He is a big, strong kid, however, so when he connects on one, he has the power to leave the yard. He won’t do it frequently, as he’s more interested in hitting .300 and limiting his strikeouts, but there is enough power in his bat to occasionally pop one.

Tim Anderson, SS, White Sox (Birmingham, AA): 4-7, 2 R, 3B, 3 SB (DH). You know the drill by now. Fantastic athlete, major plate-discipline concerns, continues to hit anyway. It’s an incredibly unique profile that he continues to get away with despite his flaws. He’s still likely to have to move off of shortstop, but his athleticism will allow him to stay in the middle of the diamond somewhere.

Balbino Fuenmayor, 1B, Royals (Omaha, AAA): 6-8, R (DH). Fuenmayor’s unique journey through the independent league circuit has been well documented at this point, and he’s parlayed his breakout season into a promotion to Triple-A. I have major concerns about his approach, pitch recognition, and swing mechanics—and the way all three will play against major-league pitching—but he’s been productive enough that we’ll likely get an actual answer to those questions rather than having to speculate about them, which is a lot more than anyone could have imagined at this time last year.

Josh Bell, 1B, Pirates (Altoona, AA): 4-9, 4 R, 2 2B, 2 K (DH). Bell continues to hit at every single level and do so in impressive fashion, limiting his swings and misses to elite rates, and this year displaying a more patient approach at the plate. His power hasn’t manifested the way it should for a player of his size, but a newly added leg kick to his load could help him create the leverage in his swing that he needs to drive the ball more consistently.

Trea Turner, SS, Nationals (Syracuase, AAA): 3-3, 3 R, 2 2B, 2 SB. Turner’s breakout campaign continues, though breaking out is a relative term for the 13th-overall pick in last year’s draft. Still, even the teams that were high on Turner coming out of NC State would have to say that his bat has progressed faster and more impressively than even they would have expected. For the Nationals, that means that he can be in legitimate consideration for a spot on their major-league roster next season, and can at least be a minor factor in their offseason decision-making.

Nomar Mazara, OF, Rangers (Frisco, AA): 2-4, R, HR. The power is coming, and when it does, look out. Mazara is as talented a hitter as there is in the minors in terms of raw hitting ability and power potential, and he’s just tapping into it in game action. He just turned 20 and is putting together a strong season in Double-A despite a limited professional track record. He’s been an incredibly fast-mover, but there is so much more still left in there, it’s simultaneously frightening and exciting to consider.

Fight Another Day

Jaime Schultz, RHP, Rays (Montgomery, AA): 1 2/3 IP, 0 H, 3 R, 7 BB, 4 K. We’re nearing the point of giving up on Mr. Schultz. I really like the stuff, personally, and he misses bats at an exceptional level, especially for a shorter pitcher who struggles to create downward plane. But the inability to throw strikes is inexcusable. Even as a reliever, he’ll need to control the ball more effectively than this. A player with his breaking ball and ability to miss bats will find a place somewhere, but pitchers who walk as many batters as he does don’t stick around for long, at least not in the big leagues.

Notable Prospect Starters

  • Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates (Altoona, AA): 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 10 K.
  • Julio Urias, LHP, Dodgers (AZL Dodgers): 4 2/3 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 4 K.
  • Lucas Sims, RHP, Braves (Mississippi, AA): 4 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 6 BB, 3 K.
  • Vincent Velasquez, RHP, Astros (Corpus Christi, AA): 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 7 K.
  • Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Blue Jays (Dunedin, A+): 4 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 6 K.

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Velasquez's line last night was for Houston, I think.
Curious how you can scout strength. You don't have results for squat and bench max, let alone results for something that tests functional strength, right? Is it all looking at the build? Aren't some people's builds misleading for how strong they are?
This is a good point, and it's quite tricky. Yes, you're right. Looking at builds is a part of it but they can be misleading. A player can be quite big and not be as strong as he looks or not have massive size and still be quite strong. This is where batting practice becomes important. It's easier to see in the controlled environment of BP where you can get much closer to a player and see exactly how his build is, whether his size is well-defined or soft (a full uniform is often deceiving but they take BP in shorts and t shirts which is much more telling), etc. The real sign, however, is how the ball jumps off the bat, especially in BP. Strength doesn't have to be giant biceps. When I say strength in this context I mean hitting strength. In the case of Meadows (who I mentioned in terms of strength), he's not overly muscular but he has strong forearms and wrists. That's incredibly important to hitting, much more so than the larger upper body muscles. This wouldn't have been overly evident in games but in a much closer look in BP, where I could get closer to him and where he attempted to hit for more power in the later rounds, this was much easier to evaluate.

Good question.
Thanks! Makes sense.
Trevor Story, SS, Rockies (Albuquerque, AAA): 3-4,2R, 2HR, BB. Hitting .310 over his last 10 games.
Hitting .310 in Albuquerque is not a particularly notable achievement.
Colin Moran is 5-10, 4R, 3RBI, 2B, 2HR over the last two days
Anderson is making some improvements in his plate discipline. In his first 50 games, he had a 5/48 BB/K ration. In the 37 games since, he has a 10/31 BB/K ratio. Still not good, but getting more into the acceptable range and showing substantial improvement.

Also, why will he probably have to move off SS? I had heard his defensive consistency was much improved this year.
I haven't seen him this season, so that's possible, though the people I've talked to who have seen him still seem to think he'll end up in center field. The general consensus I've gotten, and what I saw in the AFL last fall, was that while he's a fantastic athlete, his actions on ground balls aren't the smoothest and that his athleticism translates better to the outfield.