Joey Gallo, 3B, Rangers (Round Rock, AAA): 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, BB. Gallo hasn’t been the same since his stint in the big leagues, or perhaps it’s that he’s been the same and that’s been the problem. He’s going to strike out, and we know that. His strikeout numbers in the big leagues were obscene, yet he was able to be a productive hitter in spite of it. Because he puts so few balls in play, he’s extremely susceptible to BABIP fluctuations, and thus spikes to in batting average, while the rest of his peripherals remain steady. The question, as always, is whether or not the strikeouts will hinder the overall production. He needs to lower their frequency slightly in order for it to work, and that’s going to be difficult to do in the majors. He was rushed earlier in the season and needs at-bats in Triple-A to finish his development.
Nomar Mazara, OF, Rangers (Frisco, AA): 2-4, R, 2B, HR, K. The power is beginning to fill in, which is incredible given what Mazara has already been doing all year in Double-A as a 20-year-old who skipped High-A ball. There’s a reason the Rangers were willing to part with half of their farm system to avoid having to trade Mazara, who could be an elite middle-of-the-order bat. He may not have the elite power of Gallo, but he’s already a better overall hitter with a better approach.
Willy Adames, SS, Rays (Port Charlotte, A+): 2-3, 2B, 2 BB, K. Approach has been the biggest point of improvement for Adames, who has made tremendous progress in this area throughout the season. The results haven’t been necessarily obvious in the box scores, and there are some swing-and-miss concerns that aren’t the result of big-time power production, but those can be sorted out once he stops being a teenager.
Grant Holmes, RHP, Dodgers (Great Lakes, A-): 6 IP, 6 H, 0 R, BB, 7 K. Holmes’ power arm is his calling card, but like so many young high-velocity pitchers, he has trouble finding the strike zone consistently. It hasn’t hindered his ability to miss bats to this point, or even his overall effectiveness, but that’s the perk of being in Low-A ball. There’s no reason yet to believe he can’t throw more strikes, however, and Friday is a good example of what can happen when he does.
Alen Hanson, 2B, Pirates (Indianapolis, AAA): 2-3, 3 R, 3B, BB, SB. Officially a full-time second baseman for the first time in his career, Hanson has nonetheless remained largely the same hitter he’s been the past few years. He offers an average and some pop for an up-the-middle player but an unrefined approach can get him in trouble and limits the utility of both tools. He’s a good runner ,too, so there’s value there, and his defense at second base should be just fine. The Pirates are grooming him for next year, when it’s likely that Neil Walker will have moved on, and Hanson will have about four months of being thrown into the fire next season to prove he can handle the assignment on a winning club before the 2016 trade deadline.
Drew Jackson, SS, Mariners (Everett, SS): 4-5, 3 R, HR, 2 SB. Jackson has attacked professional ball like a ball of fire, dominating the Northwest League offensively. Scouts raved about Jackson coming out of Stanford, but his on-field production sometimes felt underwhelming and scared away some of the more statistically oriented teams. Those teams might regret their decision, as Jackson shows all of the tools necessary to be a legitimate big-league shortstop.
Renato Nunez, 3B, Athletics (Midland, AA): 4-5, 3 R, 2 2B. Unlike many who have struggled with the transition, Nunez managed to bring the majority of his power production with him to Midland upon departing the California League. He’s a hitter with big flaws in his game—namely an overly aggressive approach that causes him to expand the strike zone and strike out too often—but he’s reined in some of those issues this season and has done so without sacrificing too much of his power.
Bobby Bradley, 1B, Indians (Lake County, A-): 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, K. The power production has been huge for Bradley, who himself is a pretty big 19-year-old. But that power hasn’t come without a sacrifice, as his 112 strikeouts in 78 games would suggest. That’s a bad sign for Low-A ball, with the pitching only slated to get more difficult along the way up the ladder, but as long as there’s power production to go with it, the whiffs will be tolerated. It’s when they cut into the home run totals that we can start to worry.
Daz Cameron, OF, Astros (Greenville, R): 3-5, 2 R, 3B, 2 SB. Cameron was thought to be as physically gifted as any player in this year’s draft but fell because of concerns over his bonus demands. He signed and got sent to the GCL, where he struggled, was naturally promoted and immediately had a huge game. There isn’t anything to worry about just yet with Cameron, whose transition to pro ball should only be aided by his father’s pedigree.
Mark Appel, RHP, Astros (Fresno, AAA): 7 IP, 3 H, R, 0 BB, 10 K. It’s great to see Appel have outings like this where he dominates, but at this point, it’s still difficult to see them and not ask why they don’t happen more often. If he weren’t so talented and a former 1-1 pick, it wouldn’t be a fair question, but in Appel’s case, that’s where the expectations are and should be. The talent has always been there, but he’s never shown the consistency he’ll need in the big leagues.
Wilmer Difo, SS, Nationals (Syracuse, AAA): 5-7, 3 R, 2B, BB, 4 SB. Difo can take over a game at any time and in so many different ways. Able to play either middle-infield position, Difo has more than enough bat for both spots. Once he hits, that’s when his legs get to take over, showing off perhaps his best tool. Assuming he hits enough, Difo has the ability to be a dynamic everyday player. If the hit tool falls just short, he still does enough well to spend a long time in the big leagues as a role player.
JaCoby Jones, SS, Tigers (Erie, AA): 3-4, 3 R, 3 HR, BB. Athleticism and power are what drew Jones to the Tigers at this year’s deadline, and he’s capable of putting on these types of displays. His raw power is plus, and while the swing doesn’t always look pretty, the power plays in games despite his overly aggressive approach. It’s difficult to predict where he’ll end up or in what role, but a player with his combination of skills will find a niche.
Sean Newcomb, LHP, Angels (Arkansas, AA): 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 5 BB, 5 K. In his first start since being promoted to Double-A, it was more of the same for Newcomb. Hitters have trouble squaring him up, but extra baserunners continue to plague him. As he faces better competition, that flaw will be exploited more easily. Throw strikes, young man.
David Dahl, OF, Rockies (New Britain, AA): 2-4, R, HR, 2 K, SB. Dahl has one of the best all-around skill sets in the minors, with power potential attached to a plus hit tool and the speed to help the entire profile play up. At this point, the main thing he’s lacking is a better approach at the plate, which makes his time missed that much more important. He’s undoubtedly skilled, but he’s still learning how to use those skills in game action more effectively, especially now that he’s facing better competition. It’s a work in progress for Dahl, but the ceiling is very high.
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