Prospect of the Weekend:
Brendan Rodgers, SS, Colorado Rockies (High-A, Lancaster): 8-13, 5 R, 3 2B, 3B, HR, 4 RBI, K, SB
Well, I think it’s safe to say Brendan Austin Rodgers has shaken off the rust after starting the year on the disabled list. Anybody that follows prospects understands how exceptionally talented Rodgers is offensively, and by this time next month it will just be a matter of whether or not the Rockies think the rest of his game is ready for a promotion to Double-A Hartford. If I were a betting man, I would wager heavily that he’s playing in Connecticut by the end of June.
Friday, May 12:
Jorge Mateo, SS, New York Yankees (High-A, Tampa): 4-6, 2 R, 2B, 2 HR, 2 RBI
One would have hoped that Mateo’s return to the Florida State League would have resulted in an improved line, but so far he’s been worse offensively than he was in a disappointing 2016 season. After clubbing two home runs and four total hits on Friday, optimists might suggest he’s snapping out of his funk and is ready to go on a run. Me? Color me skeptical.
Cole Tucker, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates (High-A, Bradenton): 4-6, 3 R, 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, K, E
On the other end of the spectrum, Tucker has returned to the FSL and hit markedly better than he did during the 2016 season. Any time you can tack on a four extra-base hit game with seven ribbies, that doesn’t hurt either.
Dylan Cozens, OF, Philadelphia Phillies (Triple-A, Lehigh Valley): 3-6, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, K
After 40 home runs and 81 extra-base hits in 2016, Cozens is off to a rocky start this spring, though his two bombs on Friday give him eight for the season as he tries to polish his game for the big leagues. There’s still a ton of risk with Cozens given his propensity to swing and miss, and I struggle to see a path to him being more than a platoon/bench bat.
Franchy Cordero, OF, San Diego Padres (Triple-A, El Paso): 4-5, R, K, SB, E
A premium athlete, Cordero’s off to a solid start in Triple-A this season, though the strikeouts are a touch concerning. Cordero should get a big-league trial later this year and could carve out a regular role over the next couple of seasons.
Tyler Watson, LHP, Washington Nationals (Low-A, Hagerstown): 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R/ER, BB, 8 K
Watson was handed $400,000 as a 34th-round pick in 2015 and he cruised through the NYPL as a 19-year-old last season before hitting some bumps with Hagerstown. He’s improved across the board in his return to trip to the South Atlantic League. Watson has the three-pitch arsenal and control to be a back-end starter, but with a fringy fastball there are scouts that project him to a relief role down the road, hoping his fastball plays up in spurts.
Julian Merryweather, RHP, Cleveland Indians (Double-A, Akron): 6 IP, 2 H, R, 0 ER, BB, 10 K
A bargain signing in the fifth round as a senior at Oklahoma Baptist, Merryweather broke out with a strong 2016 campaign split between High-A and Double-A. Back in Akron to start this season, Merryweather has had no issues thanks to a low-to-mid-90s heater with good angle, and solid secondary offerings. Scouts I’ve spoken to this year remain mixed on his future role, but as long as he continues to have success as a starter, he’ll be given chances to develop in that capacity.
Saturday, May 13:
Ronald Acuna, OF, Atlanta Braves (Double-A, Mississippi): 2-4, 3B, 2 RBI, BB, K, SB
In last week’s weekend MLU, I suggested that Acuna could force the Braves to get aggressive and promote him to Double-A later this summer. Never did I imagine it would happen this week, but it did and he’s kept on raking despite the challenge against more experienced pitchers.
Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays (Low-A, Lansing): 3-5, R, 2B, RBI, 2 K
Bichette is torching the Midwest League so far this season, hitting over .350, and all that’s managed to do is force his career batting average below .400; so much for being a success. Seriously though, all he’s done is rake since debuting last summer, and while he will likely spend the bulk of this year in Low-A, I would expect him to start moving more rapidly as a 20-year-old next season.
Lewin Diaz, 1B, Minnesota Twins (Low-A, Cedar Rapids): 3-5, 2 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K
Diaz should reach double digits in home runs for the first time in his career this season, and that would be a good sign for a player that earns double-plus grades for his raw power. Much bigger than his listed 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, Diaz has to stay in shape to reach and make an impact at the game’s highest level.
Colton Welker, 3B, Colorado Rockies (Low-A, Ashville): 4-5, 2 R, 2 2B, K
When you speak of young infielders with offensive gifts in the Rockies organization, the conversation typically shifts to our Player of the Weekend, Brendan Rodgers. Some of that conversation could–and probably should–start to shift to Welker in the near future. Welker is a natural hitter with excellent instincts at the plate and in the field, giving him the potential to be a dynamic two-way player.
Matt Olson, 1B, Oakland Athletics (Triple-A, Nashville): 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI
I’m not a huge fan of Olson as an impact MLB bat, but you can’t ignore the raw power and ability to work pitchers for walks. Olson will be a big leaguer and he will probably stick around for quite a few years, but I don’t see him ever blowing anyone away.
Johan Mieses, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (Double-A, Tulsa): 3-4, 2 R, 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, K
Mieses has raw power, as evidenced by his three extra-base hits on Saturday, but he doesn’t have many nights with three hits because his hit tool development lags behind the rest of his game by quite a bit. If the Dodgers can coax anything out of his hitting ability, Mieses could be a big-league regular, but few are counting on it at this point.
Sandy Alcantara, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals (Double-A, Springfield): 5 IP, 8 H, 7 R/ER, 4 BB, 4 K
Alcantara is an exciting young arm with tons of velocity and some intriguing potential as a high-octane starting pitcher, but he will struggle to command the ball at times, leading to nights like this.
Jon Duplantier, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Low-A, Kane County): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R/ER, BB, 8 K
With a power fastball and above-average curveball, Duplantier should do this to Low-A hitters, and he’s had little trouble en route to a 0.86 ERA through his first six outings of the season. There are concerns about how his arm will hold up after being abused at Rice and some issues with soreness late last year, but until something happens, expect Duplantier to continue dominating the Midwest League as he tries to earn a promotion to High-A.
Sunday, May 14:
Ronald Guzman, 1B, Texas Rangers (Triple-A, Round Rock): 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB, K
Guzman has long been lauded as a gifted hitter, but he hadn’t truly shown that skill over the last two seasons, outside of a short stint back in the South Atlantic League for a third season in 2015. He’s off to a great start this season, hitting for average and picking up five home runs through his first 36 games to put him well on his way to matching his career high of 16 home runs from 2016. Guzman should continue to the Rangers' roster by this time next year, and at just 22 years old he still has a chance to be a mainstay in their lineup for a very long time.
Ronald Acuna, OF, Atlanta Braves (Double-A, Mississippi): 4-5, 2B, 3 RBI, CS
Stop it. Seriously, just stop it.
Randolph Gassaway, OF, Baltimore Orioles (High-A, Frederick): 4-6, 2B, 2 RBI, K
Gassaway will need to continue to maintain his .300-plus average and developing raw power in order to have a big-league future, thanks to below-average defense in left field, but his performance last season and so far in 2017 is suggesting his bat may be capable of carrying the load.
Joey Wentz, LHP, Atlanta Braves (Low-A, Rome): 5 IP, 5 H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 7 K
Wentz had struggled a bit to start the season, giving up more hits than innings pitched, but he carved up his Low-A counterparts on Sunday; thanks in large part to his average fastball, big curveball, and occasionally plus changeup. That’s a deadly mix against inexperienced hitters and I would expect him to find similar success more frequently as the season moves along. Wentz is a potential no. 3 starter, particularly if his fastball bumps forward.
Lucas Sims, RHP, Atlanta Braves (Triple-A, Gwinnett): 6.2 IP, 6 H, 0 R/ER, BB, 10 K
Stop teasing me!
Jairo Labourt, LHP, Detroit Tigers (Double-A, Erie): 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R/ER, BB, 2 K
Following a promotion to Double-A, Labourt had given up runs in each of his first two outings before dominating the opposition Sunday afternoon. A power lefty out of the bullpen, Labourt appears to be taking to the role with improved control and electric raw stuff, giving him a chance to help Detroit out of the bullpen next season.