It’s been another strange week in the minors, as weird injuries run wild and Texas sends a wave of talent up to Triple-A. Let’s get to it!
On The Shelf
I was really, really hoping we’d get a week free of catastrophic injuries to young minor leaguers. That reprieve never came, and the announcement that Chris Paddack will need Tommy John surgery was released just days ago. Given the standard 12-18 month recovery time, it’s possible that he will miss all of the 2017 season. At just twenty years old, Paddack was enjoying a breakout season with the Marlins organization, which is a rare thing to say about anyone. In his six starts in the Sally League, Paddack posted a 0.95 ERA, 0.38 WHIP, and a 15.2 K/9. In combination with his eye-popping numbers, he burst onto the prospect radar when he was traded straight up for Fernando Rodney. The Padres got just 14 innings out of Paddack this season before the injury, and it will likely be a long time before they get any more. For a pitcher whose road to the majors already stretched long, this injury makes the journey Tolkienesque. Hopefully, Paddack is up to the challenge and can return in time to bring his dominant, intriguing stuff back to the mound.
Bad news looms large for Tyler Jay, who the Twins placed on the Disabled List with a neck strain. Originally listed as a shoulder issue, news is still under wraps for Minnesota’s promising pitching prospect, though interim GM Rob Antony has mentioned “some fear” regarding the issue. While Jay is fully evaluated, Twins fans should keep their fingers crossed that Jay can avoid any long-term issue.
Bo Bichette, the young infielder that the Blue Jays selected in the second round of the 2016 draft, has just undergone an emergency appendectomy. This procedure removes the appendix, usually after a painful series of symptoms caused by an inflammation. It’s unclear how much time Bichette will miss, though it’s unlikely that this procedure will have much long term effect on his game.
The Phillies have placed Thomas Eshelman on the 7-Day Disabled List with turf toe. Turf toe, a rare injury in baseball but quite common in football, is a strain of the ligaments that move the big toe, often caused by an awkward landing when running or hyperextending the toe. It’s likely Eshelman won’t miss more than a few weeks from this injury, which might prove to be a nice break for the young righty after struggling after his recent promotion to Double-A Reading. Eshelman, a return in the Ken Giles trade, certainly has the potential to start in the back end of a rotation, with a handful of average pitches but plus command and control.
Movin’ On Up
The Rangers have made a series of moves, bumping a handful of prospects to Triple-A Round Rock. Ronald Guzman, Yohander Mendez, John Fasola, and Jose Valdespina all received the nod from the organization. Guzman, a big first baseman, checked all of his boxes in his stint at Double-A, where he slashed .288/.348/.477. Look for Guzman to join Texas as a September call-up if he continues to stay hot at Triple-A. Yohander Mendez, a lefty with big potential, could have been considered an under-the-radar prospect until his excellent campaign this year, where his electric stuff has dominated all over the minors. Fasola, a pen arm taken in the 31st round, has proven to be a promising choice, as he posted a 10.1 K/9 at Double-A and could see some middle-relief duty within the next year. Round Rock as a team should have some of its thunder restored after a slew of promotions, and Texas has yet another wave of talent to call on when they need it.
The Cardinals have bumped Sandy Alcantara up to High-A Palm Beach. The promising right-hander had an up-and-down campaign at Low-A, but flashed the devastating fastball that put him on the radar while making progress with his developing secondaries. Alcantara was written up recently in a Eyewitness Report by our own James Fisher, who details the potential the Cardinals have on hand.
Triston McKenzie, the Indians supplemental first-round pick in 2015, has been promoted to High-A Lake County after proving his dominance at Short-Season ball. In his 61 career innings, he’s allowed only four earned runs. McKenzie is extremely projectable but still a risk due to his distance from the majors. The Indians clearly believe in his potential, after they bought him out of his Vanderbilt commitment, and must feel satisfied with their decision thus far.
The probably-underdiscussed Phil Pfeifer has made it to Double-A Mississippi, where he’ll look to continue posting his impressive strikeout numbers. Pfeifer, who was sent to Atlanta in the Bud Norris trade earlier this season, was signed out of Vanderbilt. A lefty with impressive raw stuff, Pfeifer can get strikeouts out of the bullpen, but his violent delivery, noisy motion, and timing issues have held back any progress in his command. There’s potential for Pfeifer to be getting outs in a major league bullpen, but I expect he’ll undergo a long trial in Mississippi before we start talking about that kind of development.
Thank you for reading
This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.Subscribe now