Prospect of the Weekend:
Brendan Rodgers, SS, Rockies (High-A, Lancaster): 10-19, 4 R, 4 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, K, 2 E.
Since the calendar flipped to May and Rodgers got his feet under him after starting the year on the disabled list, he’s gone hitless in just three of 25 games, while picking up multiple hits in 13 contests including each of his last six games. A 10-for-19 weekend with seven extra base hits is a hint that Rodgers may just be too much for the California League and he should be on his way to Double-A Hartford soon where I can go see him any time. Yeah, that’s the ticket!
Friday, May 26th
Lewis Brinson, OF, Brewers (Triple-A, Colorado Springs): 2-3, 3 R, 3B, RBI, 2 BB.
The Brewers have plenty of justification for calling up Brinson if they decide to pull the trigger, but I don’t blame them for letting him marinate in Triple-A a little longer. Brinson has a chance to be a star-level player and Milwaukee has every reason to hope his continued development will allow him to hit the ground running in the big leagues.
Carson Kelly, C, Cardinals (Triple-A, Memphis): 3-5, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB.
Aside from Francisco Mejia, there aren’t many catching prospects in the minor leagues better than Kelly. Unfortunately for him, despite his standing, Kelly needs a change of scenery or an injury to Yadier Molina to get his shot.
Ryan Mountcastle, SS, Orioles (High-A, Frederick): 4-4, 4 R, 3 HR, 3 RBI.
Ignore where he ends up defensively for a minute and focus on the fact that he’s in the process of turning his power potential to game power. In just 48 games this season, Mountcastle has already surpassed the 2016 home run total he amassed in 115 games. Mountcastle has a chance to hit for average and power, and if he does that, the Orioles will find a place for him to play on the field.
Jameson Fisher, OF, White Sox (Low-A, Kannapolis): 3-5, 3 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI.
Fisher is a bat-first player with the potential to develop into a .280-.290 hitter at the big league level. There’s some modest pop in his bat that will likely manifest more as doubles than home runs, which puts pressure on him to find a defensive home other than the outfield corners where he has spent his entire season.
Francis Martes, RHP, Astros (Triple-A, Fresno): 5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, ER, BB, 9 K, HRA.
Triple-A hasn’t been easy for Martes so far, and while walks have been a major issue for him this year, scouts are still high on the raw stuff and his potential as a front of the rotation starter. Martes is an electric pitcher with a chance to augment an already dominant Houston staff by the end of the year.
Jake Junis, RHP, Royals (Triple-A, Omaha): 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R/ER, BB, 12 K.
Junis has already made his MLB debut this season and he’ll be back in Kansas City before the campaign is over, particularly if he continues to turn in outings approaching this level of dominance. As the owner of a broad arsenal full of fringy pitches, Junis can keep hitters off balance but lacks the one pitch necessary to consistently put hitters away. As such, he maxes out as a back-end starter, but his durability could lead to a lengthy career eating innings in a major league rotation.
Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Tigers (High-A, Lakeland): 6 IP, 6 H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 9 K.
Funkhouser is a legitimate prospect again. After killing his draft stock returning to school and losing plenty of money in the process, Funkhouser looked like a back-end starter during his pro debut in 2016. This year he looks like a workhorse number three each and every time out, and some scouts are suggesting he could be a tick better than that.
Saturday, May 27th
Chris Rowley, RHP, Blue Jays (Double-A, New Hampshire): 6 IP, 7 H, R/ER, 2 BB, 5 K, HRA.
Rowley may not be a notable prospect (average build, fringe fastball and secondary stuff) and by the general standards of this article, his weekend start was only marginally noteworthy, but on Memorial Day weekend you can be damn sure I’m going to take an opportunity to highlight a West Point graduate. Rowley pitched in rookie-ball after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2013, before reporting to fulfill his active duty commitment with the Army that fall. Rowley bounced between assignments for a couple of years and was deployed to Eastern Europe before applying for, and receiving, an exemption from his full active duty commitment, to pursue his dream as a professional baseball player. Thanks for your service, Chris, and nice work in this outing!
J.P. Crawford, SS, Phillies (Triple-A, Lehigh Valley): 2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, K.
After going hitless most of last week, Crawford picked up three straight two-hit games over the weekend, highlighted by Saturday’s outing. It’s been a rough start to the season, but anybody jumping off the bandwagon right now is probably acting rashly.
Nick Williams, OF, Phillies (Triple-A, Lehigh Valley): 3-5, 3 R, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, K.
Williams has been hitting the cover off the ball over the last few weeks, ripping at a better than .300 clip and slugging eight of his ten home runs. It’s easy to get excited, but then you realize he’s only walked one time in that same stretch and you are quickly reminded of what could ultimately be his undoing at the Major League level.
Rowdy Tellez, 1B, Blue Jays (Triple-A, Buffalo): 4-5, R, 2B, 4 RBI, SB.
Tellez hasn’t followed up his breakout 2016 campaign so far at Triple-A, making many of his skeptics look pretty smart, but he is a talented hitter that can string together four-hit games like this one. I’m not a believer in any projection that has him as a big league regular, but he could carve out an up-and-down career.
Shed Long, 2B, Reds (High-A, Daytona): 3-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, K.
Following a mid-season promotion to High-A last year, Long took off and hasn’t looked bat since. He’s hitting just a touch better in his return to the FSL this year and will likely be looking at a promotion to Double-A Pensacola soon enough. Long is a natural hitter with average power in his bat and impressive speed for a former backstop.
Jalen Miller, 2B, Giants (High-A, San Jose): 2-4, 2 R, 2B, 3B.
The Giants surprisingly promoted Miller to High-A after he was overmatched in the South Atlantic League last season, and the results have been about what you would expect. One of the highlights of his season, Miller can make decent contact and has enough strength to pick up some doubles and the above-average speed to stretch some of those to triples. Miller’s game centers around his glove at second base, and the bat will have to catch up for him to stay on the prospect radar.
A.J. Puk, LHP, Athletics (High-A, Stockton): 5 IP, H, 0 R/ER, 4 BB, 8 K.
Puk is handling the high-octane environment of the California League well this season, including the occasional dominant outing like Saturday. There’s little doubt Puk has the raw talent to pitch at the front of Oakland’s rotation, but he will need to improve his consistency as he moves up the ladder; limiting his walks to maximize the impact of his bat-missing stuff.
Erick Fedde, RHP, Nationals (Double-A, Harrisburg): 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 4 K.
They made him a reliever in the short term in what likely amounts to giving themselves an option to salvage their big league bullpen. Fedde yielded a run in each of his first three outings as he adjusted to his new role, but he cleaned it up on Wednesday and then struck out half of the eight batters he faced in this game.
Brian Johnson, LHP, Red Sox (MLB, Boston): 9 IP, 5 H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 8 K.
Sure, he did this in Boston and this is supposed to be the Minor League Update, but when you are still technically a prospect, you are optioned back to the minor leagues immediately following the game, and you work your way back from anxiety issues to toss a complete game shutout in a spot start for the big club, I’m going to make note of the achievement.
Ofelky Peralta, RHP, Orioles (High-A, Frederick): 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R/ER, 7 BB, K.
Peralta has the arm strength (FB reaches 97 mph) and dynamic changeup (consistently plus offering) to be an effective reliever if he can ever figure out where the hell the ball is going. Control has been a major issue so far in his career, and while he is still young and developing, Peralta will have to start throwing strikes soon to continue getting priority attention in the Orioles organization.
Sunday, May 28th
Nick Senzel, 3B, Reds (High-A, Daytona): 3-4, 3 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, BB, K.
Senzel was arguably the most polished college bat in last year’s draft, and he’s had little trouble so far in his professional career. The Reds don’t need to rush him, but there hasn’t been much of a challenge for him in High-A, and they could be forced to promote him right along with fellow infielder Shed Long before the summer is over.
Nick Williams, OF, Phillies (Triple-A, Lehigh Valley): 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 K.
And the tear continues….
Miguel Andujar, 3B, Yankees (Double-A, Trenton): 3-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI.
Andujar continues to swing at most everything thrown his way, which could be a problem against more polished pitchers, but he’s been able to make it work so far as he hits well in his second tour through the Eastern League. There’s a chance for average hitting ability and average power down the line, and if Andujar can stick at third base, that could make him a valuable player.
Brent Honeywell, RHP, Rays (Triple-A, Durham): 3 IP, 8 H, 7 R/ER, BB, 3 K, 3 HRA.
Honeywell has been sensational so far this year so a stinker can certainly be forgiven. I’m curious to see how he bounces back this week.
Nick Neidert, RHP, Mariners (High-A, Modesto): 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R/ER, BB, 9 K.
Neidert absolutely pounds the strike zone with his entire arsenal, taking it a step further and locating his fastball impeccably to every part of the strike zone. He rarely walks hitters and has been able to limit hits by inducing weak contact consistently throughout his career. Previously, there were questions about his ability to miss bats with regularity, but he’s doing his best to quiet those questions as he fans 10-plus batters per nine inning so far this season.
Alec Hansen, RHP, White Sox (Low-A, Kannapolis): 7 IP, 5 H, R/ER, 0 BB, 15 K, HRA.
If Brendan Rodgers wasn’t so absurdly talented and hadn’t decided to hit over .500 with extra-base power over the holiday weekend, Hansen likely would have been your “Prospect of the Weekend.” Hansen has ridiculous raw stuff and he just needs to harness it more consistently to become a fantastic starting pitching prospect.
Monday, May 28th
James Nelson, 3B, Marlins (Low-A, Greensboro): 3-5, R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, K, E.
Nelson’s early progress has been intriguing for scouts, as he’s shown more feel for hitting than expected at this point in his career. He lifts the ball well and has the strength (with more to come) to drive the ball out of the yard; projecting for average power at his peak. Nelson has the tools to play third base, including athleticism and a strong arm. In an empty Marlins system, Nelson could quickly make a name for himself if he continues to show out like this.
Scott Kingery, 2B, Phillies (Double-A, Reading): 3-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, RBI, BB, K.
Kingery was an interesting prospect the day he was drafted, but it’s hard to believe anybody saw this type of performance coming. Kingery projects as a solid offensive contributor at second base, one that hits for average, gap power, and chips in 20-plus steals each season, and if you don’t take his current hot streak with a grain of salt, that type of production could seem like a disappointment.
Conner Capel, OF, Indians (Low-A, Lake County): 2-3, 2 R, 2B, HR, RBI, 2 BB, K.
Capel hasn’t hit well during his full-season debut, still residing below the Mendoza line, but there’s a solid approach and the bat-to-ball ability to turn that around before the season is over. A speedy center fielder with a chance to be a quality defender, Capel could develop into a top of the order threat that makes contact, gets on base, and steals bases if he can put things together.
Jon Duplantier, RHP, Diamondbacks (Low-A, Kane County): 6 IP, H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 6 K.
Entering Monday’s game, Duplantier had a career 0.55 ERA in nearly 50 innings of work; a number that dropped with six more scoreless innings on Memorial Day. One would have to believe he’s looking at a promotion to High-A before too long, and when that comes, he may actually be tested for the first time in his professional career.
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