Hitter of the Day:
He may have crushed my dreams last year with his it’s-on-it’s-off routine for a Buckaroo Banzai adaptation for T.V., but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve heard about Smith in the Appy this summer. Toronto’s fourth-rounder is much quicker than he is fast, with solid instincts at the six and just enough arm for the left side. There’s sneaky thunder in his stick, too, though the approach is aggressive and raw enough to keep expectations in check for the time being. He’s had a nice professional debut, though.
Pitcher of the Day:
Eric Lauer, LHP, San Diego Padres (Double-A San Antonio): 7 IP, H, 9 K
Lauer’s strikeout rate has plummeted back down to Earth since his mid-season promotion to the Texas League, but it has remained solid enough. And outside of a three-game speed bump in July, he’s continued to do what he does with great consistency: stay ahead of guys, locate, and mix his pitches. He’s not going to blow anyone away, but I’m a fan.
Other Prospects of Note:
Ronald Acuna, CF, Atlanta Braves (Triple-A Gwinnett): 3-6, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 K
I won’t go so far as to say the man’s been slumping, but prior to yesterday’s outburst he’d settled into a shockingly pedestrian groove over the prior dozen or so games, including a .238 mark over his preceding 10. I don’t know why I bothered writing that, he’s great. He’s going to be just great.
Franchy Cordero, OF, San Diego Padres (Triple-A El Paso): 4-4, R, 2 2B, RBI
Franchy got his first taste of The Good Life during a 30-game trial in San Diego earlier this season, and he feels like a pretty likely bet to accrue additional service time in the coming weeks. The debut exposed some of the more raw edges to his offensive profile, but all he did before the call-up, and all he’s done since going back down, is mash.
Willy Adames, SS, Tampa Bay Rays (Triple-A Durham): 3-4, SB, K
Adames is another one just on the cusp of his big-league debut, and he’s been stating his case in bold over the past few weeks, including three consecutive multi-hit games.
Cole Tucker, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates (Double-A Altoona): 3-5, BB
There aren’t many hitters in baseball hotter than Tucker, who just racked up his seventh multi-hit game in his last 11. His adjustment to Double A took a minute, but Javier gushed openly about Tucker’s above-average third-base profile earlier this summer, and he looks to be back on the path.
Austin Gomber, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals (Double-A Springfield): 6 IP, ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 11 K
Gomber struggled through the first couple months of the season, but boy has he managed to find it over the last couple. The bulky southpaw has tossed seven straight quality starts, with a gnarly, plus-flashing curveball leading the way.
Lewis Thorpe, LHP, Minnesota Twins (High-A Fort Myers): 7 IP, 2 R (ER), 5 H, BB, 11 K
Reports on the stuff have been inconsistent from start to start, but after missing two full seasons to injury and illness he’s acquitted himself pretty damn well on return this year. Not that the quality of performance matters too much in the here and now, as four-pitch lefties get all the time they need. He’ll be a candidate to take a big step forward next year.
Triston McKenzie, RHP, Cleveland Indians (High-A Lynchburg): 7 IP, ER, 5 H, 10 K
McKenzie’s one of my favorite arms in A-ball, mostly on account of how he’s been able to harness his extra-long, extra-thin frame pretty consistently into repeatable mechanics this year. Some deception and a ton of plane from his high three-quarter slot and 6-foot-5 frame combine to help already-pretty-great raw stuff play up that much further. On the strength yesterday’s second consecutive double-digit whiff game, he’ll finish the season with like 40 more strikeouts than anyone else in the Carolina League. Not bad for anyone, let alone a 19-year-old kid.
Brian Miller, CF, Miami Marlins (Low-A Greensboro): 3-4, R, 2 RBI, 2 SB
The 36th overall pick has impressed with his bat-to-ball and speed utility since signing. He’s a potential top-of-the-order type capable of holding down center, and that profile doesn’t grow on trees.
Michel Baez, RHP, San Diego Padres (Low-A Fort Wayne): 7 IP, ER, 4 H, 5 K
Just hook it to my veins. For the stat-line scouters: Baez has now punched out 84, walked 10, and given up 39 hits in 56.2 innings this year. For the regular scouters: there are two potential plus-plus pitches here, a workable third, and enough plane to make an albatross blush.
Blake Perkins, CF, Washington Nationals (Low-A Hagerstown): 3-4, 3 R, HR, RBI, K
A second-round prep bat in 2015 from a Goodyear company town in Arizona, Perkins is a fun athlete. He boasts plus speed, an interesting little dash of pop, and the nascent instincts of a true centefielder. It’s less clear that he’ll hit enough for any of that to matter, but he’s shown an advanced, patient approach in his first full season. He’ll be one to watch next year.
Cameron Bishop, LHP, Baltimore Orioles (Short Season Aberdeen): 6 IP, H, 5 K
Bishop has one of the weirder draft stories you’ll hear told. First he pulled an oblique right before the beginning of the season and didn’t throw a pitch in his draft year. Then the Orioles took him in the 26th round, messed up their offer and submitted it past the deadline, and ultimately signed him for over $600 grand after a league investigation. On the field, he’s got The Stuff: a mid-90’s, moving heater from the left side, and flashes of two quality secondary pitches. His mechanical consistency is Eddie Murphy in Prince purple, but there are some fun ingredients here.
Juan Soto, OF, Washington Nationals (Rookie GCL Nationals): 2-3, RBI
His second rehab game produced just his second and third base hits since the first week of May. It’s been a long, broken slog of an injury-riddled season for Soto, whose early flashes validated hopes for a full-season breakout but who has subsequently missed time with both a sprained ankle and a dreaded fracture to his hamate bone. The burn will be slower than what we had hoped pre-season, but the talent remains immense.
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