Just when I thought the craziness of the minor league transactions had subsided, a flurry of moves happen. A freak accident, another Appel injury, and a beloved prospect promotion (spoiler alert: it’s Robles) highlight this week’s Wrap. Let’s get to it!
On The Shelf
Just when you thought the Mark Appel Story™ couldn’t get any wilder, it did. Appel has been recovering from a shoulder injury, and had recently begun throwing again as part of a rehab program. Feeling discomfort in his elbow, he was diagnosed with a bone spur in his right elbow and will undergo season ending surgery. Appel will lose significant development time as he rides out a four to six month recovery process but should be healthy in time for Spring Training in 2017. In addition to this sour news, the Phillies may have to add Appel to the 40-Man roster this offseason or risking losing him in the Rule 5 Draft.
Though the Yankees pitching prospect James Kaprielian has been on the shelf for over two months now, he recently received news that his injury was worse than than the initially diagnosed elbow inflammation. Doctors told Kaprielian that he has a flexor tendon strain, an injury that shouldn’t require Tommy John, but likely will result in some form of surgery. This is a frustrating setback for Kaprielian, who looked outright dominant in his first three starts at High-A Tampa.
In what looks like the most terrifying freak accident of the year, Matt Imhof has suffered a serious injury to his right eye after the mounted base of a rubber resistance band broke off the wall during his arm care workout and struck him in the face. In a recent Instagram post, Imhof listed the injuries resulting from the accident: fractured nose, two fractured orbital bones, and complete loss of vision in his right eye. Unfortunately, Imhof will lose his right eye and have a prosthetic one installed. It seemed that Imhof, the Phillies second-round draft pick in 2014, was finally starting to put it together after a move to the bullpen boosted his velocity and control. For now, Imhof will miss an indefinite amount of time as he recovers from this freak accident and will hopefully rejoin the game as soon as he is ready and able.
If it feels like Trent Clark has been popping up in the Wrap a lot lately, it’s because he has. For the second time this season, a right hamstring strain will sideline the talented outfield prospect. While the strain has been classified as mild, the Brewers player development team are being cautious to avoid any kind of long-term complications.
The 19-year-old Cuban outfield import Yusniel Diaz has returned to the 7-Day DL. Word on the injury is sparse besides “shoulder issue” though he has received an MRI. The Dodgers signed Diaz as a talented outfielder that could handle center and hit for average, though these injury setbacks may slow his path to Double-A.
Astros pitching prospect David Paulino is serving an indefinite team suspension for violation of team rules. While the nature of the incident hasn’t been disclosed, Paulino hasn’t pitched since June 22. Suspension aside, Paulino has had a brilliant campaign at Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 1.86 ERA with 10.2 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 rates.
The Cardinals’ supplemental first round selection in 2015, Jake Woodford, has hit the 7-Day DL with a strained right shoulder. An athletic pitcher with a potentially plus fastball, Woodford’s ceiling could be pitching in the back of the rotation, though he has a lot to prove before he gets there.
Movin’ On Up
The heralded, pedestaled, Victor Robles has made his triumphant arrival to High-A Potomac. The oft-acclaimed Nationals prospect has a grand total of 66 mentions in BP chats and 43 tags in BP articles. He’s certainly earned the hype thus far in his Low-A campaign, where he slashed .305/.405/.459 with 19 SB in 285 PAs.
The Astros have bumped Alex Bregman up to Triple-A Fresno, and a call-up to the major league level this season looks ever-more likely. The shortstop was taken second-overall in last year’s draft and has raked at every level of the minors he’s reached, including a ridiculous .297/.415/.559 slashline at Double-A. Bregman is undoubtedly one of the most tantalizing prospects in baseball, and the Astros will soon have the pleasure of adding him to their talented core in Houston. Lucky them. Joining Bregman in Triple-A is Teoscar Hernandez, who has been unfairly overshadowed by his teammate. Hernandez, a centerfielder with great speed, slashed .305/.384/.437 with 29 steals at Double-A.
Sometimes I forgot how loaded the Nationals’ minor league system is, and for that, shame on me. Washington promoted Andrew Stevenson to Double-A Harrisburg after he slashed .304/.359/.418 at High-A Potomac. Stevenson is showing promise in nearly every aspect of his game, as his speed boosts his range in the outfield and stolen base totals, and his bat seems to be improving at a rapid pace.
The flame throwing right-hander, Reynaldo Lopez, joined the flurry of Nationals promotions. Lopez has arrived at Triple-A Syracuse ahead of schedule, largely due to excellent rate stats in his 14 Double-A starts: 11.8 K/9, 2.9 BB/9. Adam McInturff posted an excellent Eyewitness Report on Lopez just last month. Other Washington promotions this week include 3B Drew Ward, RHP Trey Lambert, and more.
D.J. Peterson has been promoted to Triple-A Tacoma after OPSing .805 at Double-A. This has been a great bounceback season for Peterson, who floundered in his 2015 campaign. For a first-base-only prospect, Peterson is going to have to rake, and rake consistently to break into the major leagues. If Peterson can sustain his progress at Triple-A, he should recover most of the prospect sheen that escaped him last year.
Francisco Mejia has reached High-A Lynchburg, and my hopes for his future continue to soar. A switch-hitting catcher, Mejia finally unleashed the power potential of his bat at Low-A Lake County where he slugged .531. On top of that, Mejia touts his plus-plus arm and improving receiving skills, and was recently named to the World roster of the 2016 Futures Game.
The Blue Jays have promoted Conner Greene, one of their top pitching prospects, to Double-A New Hampshire. Greene projects as an above-average major league starter with a potentially plus-plus fastball with promising secondaries.
The Rockies have promoted Kyle Freeland, the eighth-overall pick in the 2014 draft, to Triple-A Albuquerque. As noted in Adam Hayes’s recent Eyewitness Report, Freeland is a lefty with plus-plus control and four average pitches who profiles as a middle-of-the-rotation starter. His aversion to the strike out and tendency to give up the long ball are certainly red flags for the Coors field atmosphere, but limiting the free pass might minimize the damage.
Rodolfo Martinez, a flame-throwing relief prospect, has been promoted to Double-A Richmond. I’m a sucker for relievers with high strikeout rates (isn’t everyone?) and his 9.7 K/9 at High-A was enough to earn him the promotion.
The Giants promoted a few other players along with Martinez, with the most notable being Steven Duggar, an outfielder coming off a nice season at High-A. Other promotions include Chris Shaw and Steven Hinojosa.
Back In Action
Micker Adolfo, a high-profile IFA signing for the White Sox in 2014, is back on the field after missing a few weeks to a hand injury. Adolfo is extremely raw at the plate and utilizes an ultra-aggressive approach at the plate, but projects to have plus power, speed, and arm tools.
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