It’s been a busy week in the world of minor league transactions. Let’s get you caught up.
On The Shelf
Mark Appel, former overall top pick in the 2013 draft (we remember that fiasco, right?), will miss time due to a right shoulder strain. Something was clearly off in Appel’s last start, when his velocity slipped from the mid-90s to high-80s. Appel was posting middling results in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, with a 4.46 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 38.1 innings.
Pirates 2015 first-round selection Kevin Newman has suffered an orbital fracture after being hit in the face with a pitch. This is a serious injury, and could result in vision problems in the future. Newman will miss an indefinite amount of time and will likely be eased back into live pitching upon his return.
The ACL gods strike again. Sam Travis tore the ACL in his left knee during a run-down in Triple-A Pawtucket. Travis will miss the remainder of the 2016 season as he undergoes surgery and a lengthy rehab process. Boston’s 2014 second-round pick has a career OPS of .824 through three years in the minors.
Nationals 2014 first-round draft pick Erick Fedde will suffer a minor setback as he recovers from oblique soreness. The injury comes at an unfavorable time for Fedde, who was turning a corner after a rough start by posting two scoreless outings in which he struck out eleven and walked a single batter.
If it feels like we’ve talked about Tyler Stephenson a lot lately, it’s because we have. The beleaguered catcher in the Cincinnati system recently returned from the concussion DL just in time to sprain his left wrist. Stephenson will return to the 7-Day DL but isn’t expected to miss much time.
Texas utility-man Isaiah Kiner-Falefa will hit the DL with a knee infection. Kiner-Falefa recently won the Texas Minor Leaguer of the Month award and has been raising eyebrows by getting starts behind the plate as well as in the middle-infield. While his defensive versatility is compelling, Kiner-Falefa has been underwhelming at the plate.
Movin’ On Up
In a corresponding move to Appel’s DL stint, Ben Lively was promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He earned the bump by posting a 1.87 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and recording 49 strikeouts in 53 innings at Double-A. Gaudy numbers aside, Lively had a few years on his competition at that level and his stuff might not garner similar results at higher levels, as his success relies upon a deceptive fastball. Regardless, Lively is proving to be a solid return for Philadelphia in the Marlon Byrd trade.
It’s been a mixed week for Pittsburgh’s first-round selections. Cole Tucker has been promoted to High-A Bradenton after breezing through his second tour of the Sally League. Tucker will slot into Newman’s spot on the roster.
Kohl Stewart, taken fourth-overall by the Twins in the 2013 draft, has been promoted to Double-A Chattanooga. Stewart had little trouble with his second tour of the Florida State League, and still flashes four potentially plus pitches.
Joe Jimenez, a Tigers relief prospect out of Puerto Rico, has been promoted to Double-A Erie after not allowing a run in six weeks at High-A Lakeland. Jimenez continues to move quickly and his fastball, which touches 97, continues to frustrate his opposition.
Oakland’s 2014 second-round pick, Daniel Gossett, has been promoted to Double-A Midland. Gossett has an impressive repertoire of three potential 55 pitches and had little trouble with the level of competition at High-A.
After destroying the Midwest League in his second tour (61 IP, 0.74 ERA, 0.82 WHIP), Randy LeBlanc has been promoted to High-A Fort Myers. LeBlanc doesn’t strike a ton of guys out but does induce weak contact and rarely walks a batter.
The Phillies have signed 19-year-old Italian pitcher Alessandro Ciarla. He’s the first Italian pitcher to be signed to a major-league team since Alex Maestri was signed by the Cubs in 2006. He’ll begin in the Dominican Winter League, where he’ll work on refining his secondaries and learning Spanish.
Back In Action
Clint Frazier has returned to Double-A Akron after recovering from his hamstring strain. With Marlon Byrd joining fellow Indian Abraham Almonte on the Suspended List, there has been a lot of buzz about a potential call-up of either Bradley Zimmer or Frazier, but that appears to be unsubstantiated. For now, Frazier will try to settle back in after missing over a week.
Having just completed a thirteen month Tommy John rehab process, Astros 2013 third-rounder Kent Emanuel has rejoined Double-A Corpus Christi. Before the injury, Emanuel was known as an advanced pitchability guy with solid command and control. In his first start back, he pitched five innings of one-run ball.
Rookie Davis has returned to the Pensacola Wahoos after missing most of May with a groin strain.