Hitter of the Day: Nick Williams, OF, Phillies (Reading, AA): 4-4, 5 R, 2B, 2 HR, BB, SB.
The centerpiece of the Cole Hamels trade, Williams made an impressive first impression (technically it was his second game, but work with my narrative here) with his new organization with a complete display of his all-around skill set. The hit tool has been evident for years, but he’s shown its lofty ceiling more frequently this season with a newly minted approach that still isn’t exactly patient but has Williams picking which pitches to unleash his bat speed on. This allows the raw power he’s shown off with such ease in batting practice to play more frequently in games.
Pitcher of the Day: Cody Reed, LHP, Reds (Pensacola, AA): 8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 12 K.
There’s been a lot of change for Reed to handle in the past month. First, there was a promotion from High-A Wilmington to Double-A Northwest Arkansas for five starts that he handled admirably. Then he was sent to the Reds as part of the package for Johnny Cueto. Reed has had a successful season, and his appeal to the Reds is obvious, with premium velocity from the left side and a potentially tough slider to boot. But despite the stuff, Reed hasn’t missed bats at this rate often as a professional, which is surprising for a pitcher with his stuff.
Best of the Rest
Greg Bird, 1B, Yankees (Scranton/W-B, AAA): 3-5, 3 R, 3B, 2 HR, K. Scouts who like toolsy athletes have stayed away from Bird because, well, that’s not him. What he does have, however, is plus raw power and an advanced approach that lets him tap into it. He doesn’t have elite bat speed, but he has enough, and he boasts the on-base ability to make up for a merely average hit tool. He’s been able to maintain his power at every level as he’s risen through the minors and has found a good balance compared to his earlier days, now being patient without missing his pitch because he’s overly passive.
Jorge Mateo, SS, Yankees (Tampa, A+): 4-6, 2 R, 3B, K, SB. After literally running his way right out of the South Atlantic League, Mateo made his presence felt in the Florida State League in a big way. True 80-grade speed will play at any level if you can get on base, and while the rest of tools certainly fall short of his speed, he’s not just a burner without baseball skills. The question, as with most minor leaguers who put up ridiculous stolen-base numbers, is whether or not the hit tool will be strong enough to allow that speed to be a real threat. His approach at the plate and hitting skills are both strong enough to give it a chance at this early stage.
Victor Roache, OF, Brewers (Biloxi, AA): 2-3, R, HR. Roache does one thing well, but luckily that thing is hitting for power. His approach and swing mechanics both work against him, but he can crush mistakes on the inner half, which is where he makes his living. It won’t be enough production to make him an everyday player against better pitching, which will exploit his lack of plate coverage, but he could find a role as a lefty-masher on a big-league bench.
Luke Weaver, RHP, Cardinals (Palm Beach, A+): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K. Too much has been made of the concerns about Weaver’s ability to remain a starter. Yes, he’s thin. Actually, he’s downright skinny. But that didn’t slow him down at Florida State and it’s not slowing him down now. The lack of weight is less concerning than it might be on other pitchers because of his effortless delivery. His velocity, which sits in the low-90s and touches 95, is generated with ease and his mechanics and arm speed keep the rest of his body from having to work too hard. Weaver is ready for a new challenge, as the FSL hasn’t been able to handle his fastball command and ability to change speeds.
Brandon Nimmo, OF, Mets (Las Vegas, AAA): 3-4, R, HR, BB. I noted on Monday that I think the concerns over Nimmo’s lack of bat speed have been largely overblown. The concerns about his lack of power production, though, have not been. Even if he can remain in center field, he’ll need to hit for more power than he’s shown thus far as a professional, largely because he’ll only be average defensively at the position. If/when he eventually slides over to a corner spot, he’ll definitely need to leave the yard more often. He has the ability to do so, and his on-base skills limit the need slightly, but his approach does lead to passing on some balls he needs to jump on. Finding that balance is a fine line, and Nimmo is still making up for the experience he lacked when he entered pro ball, so it doesn’t mean the power won’t come. But he may get to the majors before he truly learns to tap into it.
Notable Prospect Starters
- Keury Mella, RHP, Reds (Daytona, A+): 5 IP, 3 H, R, 4 BB, 4 K.
- Frankie Montas, RHP, White Sox (Binghamton, AA): 3 1/3 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 0 K.
- Sean Manaea, LHP, Athletics (Midland, AA): 6 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 7 K.
- Robert Gsellman, RHP, Mets (Binghamton, AA): 5 IP, 2 H, 2 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 3 K.
- Jen-Ho Tseng, RHP, Cubs (Myrtle Beach, A+): 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 6 K.
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