Hitter of the Day: Christian Walker, 1B, Orioles (Norfolk, AAA): 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR. Walker has had plenty of time in the minors to finish his development, one that started at the University of South Carolina. He’s as close to being a finished product as he’s going to get without major-league experience, which he should get as soon as next spring. His ceiling remains to be seen, and will be completely dependent on how well his power translates at the big-league level. If he can tap into it completely, he can be an everyday first baseman. If it falls short, he’ll be a second-division regular or a platoon player. Either way, with Chris Davis’ likely departure this offseason, he should get a chance next season.
Pitcher of the Day: Sean Manaea, LHP, Athletics (Midland, AA): 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 13 K. Manaea was still working his way back to full strength when the A’s acquired him at the trade deadline, but he’s been dealing ever since arriving to his new organization. When healthy, Manaea shows the potential for two plus pitches, including a fastball that can touch the mid-90s. He’s got the size and strength to be a starting pitcher, and the physical durability to handle the workload, assuming his left arm cooperates.
Best of the Rest
Dansby Swanson, SS, Diamondbacks (Hillsboro, SS): 5-6, 3 R, 3B, K. Sometimes the adjustments are so obvious, we can see them being made in front of our eyes. No one expected it to be a long adjustment period for the top overall pick from June’s draft, especially given his SEC pedigree. Swanson appears to have figured out short-season ball, with three multi-hit games in as many tries in September to cap a whirlwind season. He should be able to jump straight to High-A ball next season should the Diamondbacks decide to push him aggressively.
Charlie Tilson, OF, Cardinals (Springfield, AA): 3-4, 3 R, 2B, 3B. Tilson doesn’t offer much power at the plate, but be made important strides this season at refining his leadoff-role approach, limiting his swings and misses and allowing his plus-plus speed to go to work. He’s a strong up-the-middle defender and has worked towards becoming an effective base stealer, something that didn’t come naturally with his speed last season. He won’t be an impact bat, but if he reaches his ceiling, he can be an offensive catalyst while providing plus defensive value.
Anthony Alford, OF, Blue Jays (Dunedin, A+): 2-5, 3 R, HR. Alford has a chance to dominate the game on both sides of the ball, and to watch him, you’d never know he had been sharing his time with another sport. Not only is Alford a premium athlete, but he’s also a remarkably refined player for having just turned 21. His refusal to expand the strike zone and get himself out is a skill that typically comes with experience, but for Alford it happens naturally. That allows his plus athletic ability to take over, which generates premium bat speed and strong bat-to-ball skills. His swing can get flat, which limits his power at present, but as he learns to drive the ball he has the size and strength to hit for power as well. As he gains experience, the sky is the limit for Alford.
Andrew Benintendi, OF, Red Sox (Greenville, A-): 2-5, 2 R, 2B, HR. You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but Benintendi is going to hit for power. He did it in college and it’s already translating into big-league production. Even more impressive, however, is his ability to do so without excessive swings and misses, allowing his hit tool to play up in the process. The Red Sox were able to promote him aggressively to finish up this season, and his ability to handle that challenge, even in the small sample, could allow them to be even more aggressive with him in his assignment for next season.
Brandon Nimmo, OF, Mets (Las Vegas, AAA): 1-2, R, HR, 2 BB. The biggest knock on Nimmo has generally been a lack of bat speed, but I believe that that’s generally been overblown. It’s not elite, but he has more than enough to catch up to most fastballs, and is able to cheat on the better ones by refusing to expand the strike zone and being in hitters’ counts. Even when he’s struggling to hit, he gets on base. He’s scuffled in his first taste of each new level, largely because the better pitchers have exploited his patience (he can sometimes be too passive), but he’s made the necessary adjustments at each level and will do so at Triple-A as well. I’m still a believer in him as an everyday player and potential leadoff hitter.
Notable Prospect Pitchers
- Alex Reyes, RHP, Cardinals (Springfield, AA): 5 1/3 IP, 3 H, R, 3 BB, 5 K.
- Carson Fulmer, RHP, White Sox (Winston-Salem, A+): 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K.
- Jose De Leon, RHP, Dodgers (Tulsa, AA): 4 2/3 IP, 8 H, 4 R, BB, 6 K.
- Nick Travieso, RHP, Reds (Daytona, A+): 6 IP, 2 H, R (0 ER), 0 BB, 4 K.
- Trevor Williams, RHP, Marlins (Jacksonville, AA): 6 IP, 5 H, R, BB, 5 K.
- Lucas Sims, RHP, Braves (Mississippi, AA): 7 IP, 3 H, R, BB, 7 K.
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