Prospect of the Weekend:
Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros (High-A, Buies Creek): 4-11, 5 R, 4 HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 2 K, CS.
The Astros top pick in 2015, Tucker has performed well as a professional, including a strong start in the High-A Carolina League this summer. With four bombs over the weekend, he is already up to eight for the year, just one shy of his 2016 total of nine in nearly 90 less games. Tucker could be an all-around contributor with all five tools rating average to plus. He’s already moving quickly through the minor leagues and could reach Double-A this season, giving the Astros yet another premium young player in their lineup in the near future.
Friday, May 5th
Nick Gordon, SS, Twins (Double-A, Chattanooga): 3-5, 2 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, E.
Gordon’s ceiling varies among scouts, with some seeing a solid everyday player and others viewing him as more of an impact type. Off to a roaring start in his Double-A debut, Gordon could convert more scouts to the impact perspective should this strong early performance continue.
Clint Frazier, OF, Yankees (Triple-A, Scranton/Wilkes Barre): 2-2, R, 2 RBI, 2 BB.
I’ve long been a sucker for Frazier’s tools and ridiculous bat speed, dating back to his high school days, and early returns suggest an improved approach that could allow his bat speed to translate to more consistent electric performance. Frazier can be a middle-of-the-order thumper that also offers speed, if his approach continues to progress.
Raimel Tapia, OF, Rockies (Triple-A, Albuquerque): 3-5, R, 2 2B, K.
Three hits in a game seems relatively routine for Tapia, given his natural bat to ball ability, but a couple of doubles adds a bit of intrigue as increased power output would be a welcome addition to his offensive game.
Ronald Acuna, OF, Braves (Low-A, Rome): 4-6, R, 2B, 3 RBI, K.
Acuna officially broke out last summer, but some entered the season unfamiliar with his gifts. That population should be dwindling by the day as Acuna to hit as a teenager in High-A. Acuna can make an impact in every facet of the game, and there’s a chance the Braves could aggressively push him to Double-A this summer.
Keibert Ruiz, C, Dodgers (Low-A, Great Lakes): 4-4, R, 2B.
In his first taste of full-season ball, the 18-year-old Ruiz has performed admirably through the season’s first month. A glove-first backstop, Ruiz should be an above-average defender at the highest level, and his contact-oriented approach will allow him to be an offensive contributor as well.
Aramis Garcia, C, Giants (High-A, San Jose): 3-5, 2 R, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, K.
After an injury-riddled subpar 2016 season, Garcia looks to be back on track both offensively and defensively in the early going this season. Known for a solid approach and good power for a catcher, Garcia has shown both through his first 16 games, including six home runs. With his acceptable defensive skills keeping him being the dish, Garcia’s bat could make him an everyday player down the line.
Jose Pujols, OF, Phillies (High-A, Clearwater): 2-5, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K.
My first look at Pujols came in his first experience in the United States as he debuted during Fall Instructional League after signing with the Phillies, and his power was evident even then. He continues to be very much the same prospect with raw power and plenty of swing and miss, and while he can be a frustrating prospect at times, he warrants a lengthy developmental leash given the potential payoff.
Mitch Keller, RHP, Pirates (High-A, Bradenton): 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 9 K.
Keller turned in his second straight dominant outing after starting the season with a few uneven performances, hinting at the no. 2 starter potential his filthy fastball-curveball combination could lead to.
Max Povse, RHP, Mariners (Double-A, Arkansas): 5 IP, 3 H, R/ER, 2 BB, 8 K.
Back in Double-A to start the 2017 season, Povse continues to keep the ball in the yard with a groundball-heavy style thanks to steep angle and some sinking movement to his average fastball. Povse will augment his fastball with a solid-average curveball and a potentially average changeup.
Jack Flaherty, RHP, Cardinals (Double-A, Springfield): 7 IP, 2 H, R/ER, BB, 12 K, HRA.
Flaherty isn’t really known for his ability to miss tons of bats, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that looking at Friday’s line. Flaherty’s four-pitch mix and his strike-throwing ability keep hitters off balance and allow him to work deep into starts. He’s had little trouble with the transition to Double-A, and some scouts think he could be ready to help in the big leagues in relatively short order.
Saturday, May 6th
Clint Frazier, OF, Yankees (Triple-A, Scranton/Wilkes Barre): 2-3, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI, BB.
More extra-base hits and another walk – all without a strikeout – from a player that needs to provide both of those things consistently….
Meibrys Viloria, C, Royals (Low-A, Lexington): 2-2, 2 R, 2B, HR, RBI, 2 BB.
I mentioned Viloria for the first time in these parts late last year, and while he has gotten off to a rough start in his full-season debut, he remains an intriguing offensive player with a chance to stick behind the dish.
Nick Solak, 2B, Yankees (High-A, Tampa): 3-3, 2 R, 2B, 3B, RBI, BB.
The Yankees second-round pick last summer, Solak jumped straight from short-season ball to High-A in his first full season, largely on the back of his polished offensive game. Likely limited to second base, Solak should hit for average and gap power, making him a potentially solid contributor from the keystone.
A.J. Puk, LHP, Athletics (High-A, Stockton): 5 IP, H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 9 K.
Consistency has never been Puk’s trademark, and while he’s had some ups and downs this spring, he certainly looked like the dominant college star he was billed to be with his Saturday start in the California League. Puk shouldn’t spend much time in High-A, but a move to Double-A would require the A’s loosening the reigns a bit.
Justin Dunn, RHP, Mets (High-A, St. Lucie): 2 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, K.
I was a marginal fan of Dunn entering last year’s draft, having watched him extensively at Boston College, and while I thoroughly loved his athleticism and electric fastball, he was never a guy I felt confident projecting as a starter down the road. This start certainly isn’t an indication that I was right—or wrong—but Dunn has had an extremely rocky start to his full-season career.
Michael Shawaryn, RHP, Red Sox (Low-A, Greenville): 6 IP, 3 H, R/ER, BB, 12 K, HRA.
Shawaryn is too advanced for the South Atlantic League, a fact that was probably true when he toyed with NYPL hitters during his professional debut in 2016. He should move on to High-A at some point this summer, a level that still may not be much of a challenge for a pitcher that has rediscovered his ability to miss bats with a quality arsenal. Shawaryn should move quickly through the Red Sox system and has the potential to develop into a mid-rotation starter.
Sunday, May 7th
Brendan Rodgers, SS, Rockies (High-A, Lancaster): 4-4, R, HR, RBI.
A solo home run and three singles aren’t exactly a banner night in the California League, but it should be further evidence that Rodgers is shaking off the rust and ready to continue raking as he did last season. Still the shortstop of the future for the Rockies, Rodgers could be a dynamic offensive player that becomes one of the game’s powerful young players.
Christin Stewart, OF, Tigers (Double-A, Erie): 2-6, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB, 2 K.
After a 30-homer 2016 season, Stewart is at it again with eight already this year in Double-A. Blessed with plus raw power and a potential above-average hit tool, Stewart has middle-of-the-order offensive potential, but he’ll need to develop every ounce of that potential to mitigate his well below-average defensive profile.
Carter Kieboom, SS, Nationals (Low-A, Hagerstown): 4-7, 3 R, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, BB, K.
I touched on Kieboom last week as the Player of the Weekend, and he was back at it with three more extra-base hits this weekend. Kieboom’s bat isn’t really a question, but his long-term defensive position remains one.
Jason Martin, OF, Astros (High-A, Buies Creek): 3-6, 3 R, 3 HR, 5 RBI, K.
There were open questions about Martin after a 23-home run season with High-A Lancaster last year, largely because the power output didn’t match his smaller stature. With three home runs on Sunday, Martin has already picked up five dingers this season, suggesting his pop could be at least somewhat real, and that he may still have a future as an extra outfielder.
Beau Burrows, RHP, Tigers (High-A, Lakeland): 7 IP, 5 R, R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K.
Burrows has gotten off to a dominating start during his High-A debut, with Sunday’s strong outing just the latest evidence that he is gaining consistency and developing as a pitcher. Burrows has a low-to-mid-90s fastball and strong breaking ball that give him a chance to be a no. 3 starter when combined with his improving changeup and command profile.
Edgar Garcia, RHP, Phillies (High-A, Clearwater): 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R/ER, BB, 5 K.
Garcia hasn’t drawn much praise throughout his career, but scouts have noted that his fastball has bumped to 94-96 mph this season to go along with a consistently plus slider that is allowing him to miss more bats out of the bullpen. Garcia needs to improve his command to find consistent success, but he could be an intriguing power-armed reliever down the line.
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