It’s been another strange week in MiLB. A top prospect receiving a team suspension, some big name promotions, and a few change-of-scenery desperation moves highlight this week’s Wrap. Let’s get to it!
On The Shelf
The Yankees top prospect, Jorge Mateo, has been suspended two weeks for a violation of team policy. Mateo, who ranked 29th on the BP Top 50, will be forced to miss his appearance in the upcoming Futures Game, making this suspension particularly sour. There are rumors that Mateo had warranted the suspension by complaining to top executives about deserving a promotion, though the team has not confirmed. Mets shortstop Amed Rosario will take his place in the All-Star game, which feels rather appropriate.
Movin’ On Up
The buzz continues to grow for David Dahl, who ranked 14th on the BP Top 50 and has just reached Triple-A Albuquerque. Dahl lived up to the hype in his Double-A campaign, where he slashed .278/.367/.500 with 16 steals. The five-tool upside is an undeniable selling point in Dahl’s profile, though concerns about his strikeout rate and long-term defensive future still continue to swirl. Recommended reading: Adam Hayes’s Eyewitness Report, Dahl’s comment in the 2016 BP Annual.
The White Sox have chosen a fairly aggressive development path for their 2016 first-round draft pick, flamethrowing pitcher Zack Burdi. Burdi was promoted to Double-A Birmingham, where he walked four batters without recording an out his debut. Rough start aside, it appears the White Sox may be grooming Burdi for a bullpen role this season due to his major league fastball, which has been consistently clocked over 100 mph.
The Dodgers have promoted Ariel Sandoval to High-A Rancho Cucamonga. Sandoval, an intriguing outfield prospect from the Dominican Republic, flexed his in-game power against Low-A pitching to the tune of a .449 slugging percentage, though his aggressive approach dampered his walk rate. Will Siskel wrote up Sandoval in a recent 10-Pack where he expressed concerns about the swing mechanics, and lauded his easy-going makeup.
One of the more unexpected prospect stories this season has been Andrew Toles, who was just promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Toles has a rap sheet that would put Avon Barksdale to shame: Kicked out of an SEC program, suspended by JUCO, suspended for half a season by Tampa in 2014, skipped professional baseball entirely in 2015. To his credit, Toles sought help for his bipolarity, and now in a treatment program, he’s been able to stay focused on his game. With the Dodgers, Toles started in High-A Rancho Cucamonga, where he posted an OPS of .914. The Dodgers braintrust, impressed and intrigued, bumped him up to Double-A, where he slashed .314/.363/.514. While there’s still a chance of the wheels coming off the proverbial bus, Toles has been downright astounding in his return to professional baseball.
The Chattanooga Lookouts have gained an impressive arm in Tyler Jay, the pitcher Minnesota chose with their sixth-overall pick in the 2015 draft. This is Jay’s first year starting, and he’s been effective, posting strong strikeout-to-walk ratios and pitching relatively deep into games. Now that he’s in Double-A, Jay needs to prove he can stick in a rotation over a full season against advanced lineups, or he’ll end up sliding back into the bullpen.
The Royals have promoted Bubba Starling up to Triple-A Omaha despite his rather abysmal .185/.251/.322 slashline in 255 PAs. Perhaps the offense-happy Pacific Coast League will boost his confidence, but if not, the center fielder could be in danger of being cut from the 40-Man roster.
Junior Fernandez, a pitching prospect in the Cardinals organization, was promoted to High-A Palm Beach. Fernandez has a high ceiling largely due to his high-velocity fastball, but the secondaries and control have been lagging behind. He posted the highest walk rate of his career (3.9) at Low-A, and was seemingly struggling before his call-up. Hopefully the vote of confidence and change of scenery can get Fernandez back on track.
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