The Eastern League East All-Stars defeated the Eastern League West All-Stars 7-1 on Wednesday night in Manchester, New Hampshire. The West was up 1-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth before pitchers Jairo Labourt and Lucas Long combined to give up 7 runs. Here is a rundown of the game’s notable performers:
Rafael Devers (Portland, 3B; 1-2) and Francisco Mejia (Akron, C; 0-3)
I was pleasantly surprised to see these two elite prospects suit up after participating in Sunday’s Futures game. Both players were strong candidates for the top spot in our Midseason Top 50. However, their impact in this game was minimal. Mejia had a particularly rough night, which included striking out on a 101 mph fastball from Connor Greene and bobbling a dribbler hit by Danny Mars. Devers nearly made a fantastic play diving to his right, but Slade Heathcott ran well and beat out the throw. Concerns about his body will not go away anytime soon. Nonetheless, he is a better defender than expected and should stick at third for the foreseeable future. A promotion to Pawtucket should come any day now, and while Tzu-Wei Lin and Deven Marrero have been effective for Boston, don’t be surprised if Devers ends up at Fenway by the end of the season.
Connor Greene (New Hampshire, RHP; 2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K)
The Blue Jays should absolutely not convert him into a reliever yet. That being said, it’s hard to not envision him as a future lights-out closer after this performance. As a starter, his fastball’s velocity typically sits 94-97, but in this relief appearance it sat 98-100 (t101) with the usual plus movement. Both the changeup and curveball even generated multiple swings and misses. His breaking balls must become more consistent for him to remain in the rotation. In the most recent Ten Pack, Greg Goldstein explains why Greene should have made our Midseason Top 50.
Christin Stewart (Erie, LF; 1-2)
It’s pretty clear that Stewart possesses at least plus raw power. He is currently tied for second in the Eastern League with 19 homers. The main question with him is the hit tool (batting .268 so far this season with 93 strikeouts). He has plus bat speed yet has struggled against elite velocity and breaking balls due to a relatively lengthy swing and spin recognition difficulties. During Wednesday night’s game, he struck out on a Yefry Ramirez off-speed pitch in the second inning but later hit a hard line drive base hit off of a changeup that Greene left too high in the zone. Stewart arguably possesses the highest offensive ceiling of any Tigers positon prospect. However, due to his subpar defense and questionable hit tool, his floor is a bench bat.
Thairo Estrada (Trenton, 2B/SS; 1-3, R, 2 BB) and Luis Guillorme (Binghamton, SS; 0-3)
I wrote about both Estrada (here) and Guillorme (here) in Ten Packs earlier this season. Estrada started at shortstop on Wednesday night while Guillorme manned second. Both are excellent defenders who lack power, but consistently make contact and get on base. Estrada returned to shortstop following the promotion of Gleyber Torres but has been playing more second base again with the addition of Jorge Mateo to the team. He continues to make an impact at the top of the Trenton lineup, slashing .319/.374/.415 for the year. Guillorme has regressed slightly as expected and is now slashing .298/.370/.351. If asked to choose between the two, I would give the nod to Estrada because of his better bat speed and ability to drive the ball. His sixth inning walk ignited the seven run explosion for the East.
Zack Zehner (Trenton, OF; 2-3, R, 2 RBI): Zehner was actually the MVP of the game. His two-run single in the sixth broke the tie. His ceiling is probably a fourth outfielder. He is almost 25 years old and has just one average tool (glove). His solid approach and knack for getting on base give him a shot of eventually making a major league roster. He currently sports .387 OBP for the season.
Danny Mars (Portland, CF; 3-4, R, RBI): Another potential fourth outfielder. Mars profiles well in center due to his plus speed, athleticism, and below average arm. He has a quick swing, but his lack of strength and below-average power limits him to a possible future reserve role.
Carlos Tocci (Reading, CF; 2-4, R): A better and younger version of Danny Mars. Tocci rarely strikes out and possesses above-average bat speed thanks to quick wrists. He is a great defender with a plus arm. Despite his plus speed, he has stolen only one base this year. He definitely has room for additional weight. At least a future reserve outfielder and possible major league regular.
Yu-Cheng Chang (Akron, SS; 1-2, RBI): Chang obviously won’t be playing shortstop for the Indians, but he is a fluid defender with above-average arm strength and speed. The combination of his quick bat, moderate loft in his swing, and added strength explain this season’s power surge (19 homers). His All-Star game hit was a loud, line-drive double to left. Potential MLB starter for a different team.
Danny Jansen (New Hampshire, C; 1-2, R, BB): Jansen is probably my favorite 2017 Fisher Cats player. Earlier in the season, Connor Greene passionately told me that he and the rest of the staff really love throwing to him. He is also a solid hitter and tough out due to his bat speed, strength, and command of the strike zone. He should at least develop into a quality big league backup.
Aderlin Rodriguez (Bowie, DH/1B; 1-3, R): At nearly 26 years old, Rodriguez has essentially become an organizational player. I mention him because he won the Home Run Derby on Tuesday and barely missed a homer during the All-Star game. His raw power is elite, but his hit tool and pitch recognition are….not the best I’ve seen.
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