To the DL
Late last week, Cleveland Indians catching prospect Francisco Mejia hit the DL with a groin strain. In Double-A Akron as a 21-year-old, with his plus bat control and plus bat speed, he is slashing .293/.333/.451. He has also thrown out 41 percent of would-be base stealers. Per Chris Mellen’s eyewitness report on Mejia, he has the kind of arm that stymies the running game. Let’s all go back in time and relish in his record-breaking 50-game hit streak.
Garrett Whitley has been placed on the DL retroactive to May 8. The 13th overall pick in 2015 from Niskayuna, New York is in A-ball, and is striking out in nearly 33 percent of his PAs, which in part explain his meager .227 batting average. Not a huge deal since Whitley is rated to have outstanding defensive abilities for CF, and that plays in the big leagues. The bigger obstacle is the stellar defender Kevin Kiermaier, the Rays’s centerfielder who this past offseason signed a six-year extension with a 2023 club option.
The day after starring in a MiLB article, Washington Nationals shortstop prospect Carter Kieboom was placed on the DL with a right hamstring strain. The 2016 first-rounder was legging out an infield hit for the Hagerstown Suns (A-Ball). Through 29 games, he has hit .333/.398/.586 with 37 hits, 10 doubles and 6 home runs.
With similar bad luck, on May 10th Atlanta Braves 1B/DH prospect Carlos Castro went 5-5 with 3 HR and 8 RBI. For this performance he received recognition on MiLB and even here on our Minor League Update. The next day, he was hit in the face with a pitch while at-bat, suffering a minor cheek bone fracture, per an Atlanta Braves source. His stint will be brief.
Chattanooga Lookouts (Double-A) placed RHP Kohl Stewart on the 7-day disabled list retroactive to May 8 with left knee tendonitis. Stewart has battled multiple injuries since going 4th overall in 2013 for the Minnesota Twins – right shoulder soreness in 2013, right shoulder impingement in 2014 and right elbow inflammation in 2015, and right bicep tendonitis in 2016. This season unfortunately has not been good. Through 24 innings, he has given up 15 runs, 26 hits, 22 walks and 10 wild pitches to 14 K’s.
Chicago White Sox placed top prospect Yoan Moncada placed on the DL with a bruised left thumb. It is a nagging injury that requires rest, and should return shortly. Similarly, LF Courtney Hawkins was placed on the DL on May 15th. A first-rounder in 2012, this is Hawkins second stint on the DL this season. No word on his injury.
With an 0-2 count on Brewers starting pitcher Junior Guerra who was rehabbing in Double-A Biloxi, Luiz Gohara left the game pointing to his left bicep (his pitching arm). It was his Double-A debut. Gohara is an easy throwing lefty with a plus-plus fastball, a good slider and decent change-up. He has battled control and weight issues, but seems to sure up the former thus far. He was acquired this past offseason. You can see watch the events unfold in the video included here.
Similarly, Cubs RHP Dylan Cease left Thursday’s game after rolling his ankle covering third base. Per Emily Waldon at 2080ball, it is possibly a slight sprain, though he is walking on it. You can read Nathan Graham’s scouting report on Cease here. An interesting Cease stat: 54 K’s over 34 innings pitched.
Off the DL
More Cubs news….After starting the season on the DL, Cubs slugging prospect RF Eloy Jimenez has returned, and has made his return known. Collecting six hits, five walks, one home run and two strikeouts over 22 PAs. After 14 homeruns last season in A-ball, everyone should keep tabs on this one in his time in High-A Myrtle Beach.
New York Mets RHP Marcos Molina was activated from the DL as he is coming back from TJS (November 2016) and a shoulder strain this spring. Per Paternosto, who last saw him pre-TJ, has this to say about Molina: Potential plus fastball/slider combo, who could ramp it into mid-90s with a feel for a changeup. The worst mechanics without any usage coming from his lower half and a violent arm action. He pitched in the AFL this past season and reports were decent considering he was a year off of surgery. He is likely a reliever at this point.
For those interested on the Tommy John Procedure, and can stomach the graphic images and video of an ulnar collateral ligament replacement, click on the link at the end of this paragraph. Again, it is not for readers with light stomachs, or if you are easily squeamish to human flesh. You have been warned: click here.
Up the Ladder
New York Yankees, in the past week, promoted pitching prospects Chance Adams and Domingo Acevedo, Adams to Triple-A and Acevedo to Double-A. Both have swing-and-miss stuff. The third best reliever in the 2015 stacked TCU bullpen, Adams features a plus fastball with a plus slider and average curveball, to which he can manipulate the shapes and command. He comes at you and looks to blow it right by you. Since becoming a starter in 2016, he has gone 18-1 with his last loss coming on August 11th. As for Acevedo, he intimidates hitters. At a towering 6’7", he owns an 80-grade fastball. Recently, I have seen him hit 99 mph multiple times, and in 2015, he hit 103 mph on pitch that went straight to the home plate netting. He complements it with a rather fringy to average slider and a change, both of which play up due to velo. Though his delivery is not pretty and control can suffer when he revs up, he has been able to pitch the octane-fueled velo in strike zone effectively. In fact, his control rates at the very top. Of the 155 High-A pitchers who have at least started 3 games as well as pitched at least 20 innings through Sunday, May 14, Acevedo ranked 11th in K/BB with 5.78 – that is with other pitchers such as Beau Burrows, Nick Neidert and ahead of AJ Puk, Taylor Hearn, Mitch Keller and Triston McKenzie.
Boston Red Sox have promoted former University of Florida closer Shaun Anderson to High-A Salem. He is the Sox’s 2016 third rounder. In his first start on Tuesday, he gave up six runs in his first inning, but settled in allowing only one run in the following five innings.
Houston Astros promoted OF Yordan Alvarez to Quad Cities from extended Spring Training. He is so far most notable for being a Cuban international sign who was later traded for relief pitcher Josh Fields. He is a big lean strong lefty (6’5”, 220lb) who has yet tap into his game power. Maybe his home run in his second game of the season is a sign?
Fellow New Yorker and undrafted signee by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of Molloy College, Shea Spitzbarth was promoted from High-A Rancho Cucamonga to Tulsa (Double-A). In his last two appearances in High-A, he struck out the side each time. In his first appearance in Double-A, he recorded one over two innings allowing two hits. Not bad for an undrafted signee.
After signing Daniel Schlereth in April, the Miami Marlins have transferred him from Jupiter (High-A) to Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimps (Double-A). He provides depth and experience to a barren minor-league system. The Marlins also transferred RHP Andy Beltre from Jupiter to Jacksonville. Younger than Schlereth at 23, he has a chance to pitch in the major leagues with a 70 fastball and a late biting slider and batting practice
fastball, I mean changeup. His control is below average, but as Steve Givarz insisted on reminding me, there is a space for these kind of relief pitchers.
Detroit Tigers have promoted Kyle Funkhouser to Lakeland (High-A) from West Michigan Whitecaps (A-Ball). After being selected 35th overall in 2015 by the Dodgers, Funkhouser rolled the dice and did not sign. Unfortunately, he did not have a season worthy of going higher, and fell to the fourth round to Detroit. Nonetheless, in the Midwest League, Funkhouser, in seven games started, pitched 31.1 innings, allowing 30 hits, 11 earned runs, 13 walks and striking out 49.
Down the Chutes