Hitter of the Day: Peter O’Brien, OF, Diamondbacks (Reno, AAA): 3-4, 3 R, 2B, 2 HR
About a month ago, it looked like we’d be seeing O’Brien in mop-up duty for the Diamondbacks in September. Now, with their big-league club inching its way back into the NL West race, that may not be as foregone a conclusion as it once was. The bigger obstacle is a now-crowded Diamondbacks outfield and O’Brien’s limited positional versatility, which has already slowed down his asent to the big leagues. Also slowing him down, though not limiting his in-game power as much as you’d expect, is his free-swinging approach at the plate. It’s going to give him issues at the next level, but as long as he can run into enough home runs in between chasing pitches out of the zone, he could deliver Evan Gattis DH-type production.
Pitcher of the Day: Jose Berrios, RHP, Twins (Rochester, AAA): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 12 K
It’s beyond strange that a team on the periphery of the race for the second Wild Card spot hasn’t called upon the best card left in their deck to give them a late-season boost. Berrios is as close to ready for big -eague competition as he’s likely going to get without some firsthand experience, and is as prepared for the jump in competition as Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton were in their first tastes of the majors. Berrios is ready to help the Twins and is presently better than at least two of their big-league rotation members. He’s a guy who could make a difference down the stretch, if only the Twins are willing to give him the opportunity.
Best of the Rest
Albert Almora, OF, Cubs (Tennessee, AA): 2-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, K. The positives are that Almora has increased his walk rate incrementally this season (by far his biggest flaw as a hitter entering the season) and has also slightly decreased his strikeout rate. After struggles in Double-A last season and for the first four months of this year, Almora has been red-hot in August, which for hopeful Cub fans could be a sign that he’s making the necessary adjustments to let his raw hitting ability translate into more consistent contact in games.
Braden Shipley, RHP, Diamondbacks (Mobile, AA): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K. With Shipley, it’s all about not just throwing strikes but throwing good ones. Just being in the strike zone more consistently has been a big step forward over the past two months and has allowed him to be much more effective. His stuff is still that of a high-ceiling hurler, and given that he’s already 23, he could begin to move quickly and even make the jump to the majors by next season if he can continue to progress.
Ryan McMahon, 3B, Rockies (Modesto, A+): 2-4, R, 2B, HR. McMahon offers a solid but unspectacular set of skills that should carry him all the way to the big leagues, though his spot is blocked in Colorado for the foreseeable future. It’s a strong profile for a corner infielder, and hopefully one that can see him grow into even more power production as he continues to refine his hit tool, which, for someone who’s just 20, is already showing quite well.
Tyler Wade, 2B/SS, Yankees (Trenton, AA): 2-4, R, 2B, HR, K. Wade is playing shortstop primarily, and while he can handle the position, he’s not an asset there. He could, however, be an asset at second base. He handles the bat well, though don’t get used to any power production. He’ll be a single-digit home run guy at best who will have to prove to big-league pitchers that he’s at least a threat to find a gap. Still, bat control, up-the-middle defense, and some speed is a nice profile for a utility player, especially one who hits left-handed.
Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Cubs (Tenessee, AA): 2-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, BB. There’s been some lost developmental time for Vogelbach this season thanks to an oblique strain, but when he’s been on the field, he’s done what he always does: hit. Missed at-bats won’t kill Vogelbach’s development all that much, as he’s always been more refined as a hitter than his contemporaries, and since he’s not likely to ever use a glove much anyway, the missed reps at first base won’t kill him either. Regardless of injury and missed time, Vogelbach hits and will continue to do so until a team finds a spot for him in its lineup.
Notable Prospect Starters
- Jake Thompson, RHP, Phillies (Reading, AA): 6 IP, 6 H, R, BB, 7 K.
- Frankie Montas, RHP, White Sox (Birmingham, AA): 3 2/3 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 5 BB, 6 K.
- Steven Matz, LHP, Mets (Binghamton, AA): 6 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K.
- Taylor Guerreri, RHP, Rays (Montgomery, AA): 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 5 K.
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