Hitter of the Day:
Thairo Estrada, MI, New York Yankees (Double-A Trenton): 4-5, 2 R, 2B, 3B, HR, 3 RBI
Estrada dropped the third cycle in Trenton history on Binghamton to tie their playoff series at one. He’s got some fans here on the Prospect Team as an underrated utility player with excellent defensive actions and solid bat-to-ball skills.
Pitcher of the Day:
Mitch Keller, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Double-A Altoona): 9 IP, H, 2 BB, 4 K
Oh, no big deal, just a one-hit Maddux to open a playoff series. Is it crazy to call him the best pitching prospect in baseball? I think there are a handful of candidates, and I think he’s got as strong a case as any of ‘em.
Other Prospects of Note:
Yonny Chirinos, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays (Triple-A Durham): 7 IP, 7 H, BB, 4 K
I’ve kind of been waiting an embarrassingly long time for the chance to write about Chirinos, who finally pitched well on a night I’m on duty for this column. I’m a big fan of his delivery. It’s an artistic, fluid motion that he controls and repeats extremely well in spite of ample opportunity to fall out of sync. Nothing about this arsenal will overpower, but his slider and split work well with a fastball that he locates and manipulates effectively. He’s been this year what we thought Ariel Jurado was going to be, and with quite limited fanfare. The ceiling is your standard back-end type, but it’s a high-probability projection, and he’s a good bet to log big-league innings next year.
Cole Tucker, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates (Double-A Altoona): 3-5, 2 2B, R
Tucker continues to absolutely rip the ball lately. The switch-hitter held his own from both sides of the dish in High A to start the season, but Double-A pitching has exposed an extreme split in favor of the weak side, albeit in a wildly limited sample. If he keeps hitting, he’s got the glove to start at the six for someone down the line.
Keibert Ruiz, C, Los Angeles Dodgers (High-A Rancho Cucamonga): 5-6, 2B, 3 R
I’ll have an Eyewitness up on Ruiz shortly, but for now all you need to know is that he’s a pretty advanced kid for a teenager in High A. There are definitely a bunch of rough edges to his game, as you might expect, but the full slate of ingredients is here for a top-shelf catching prospect.
DJ Peters, CF, Los Angeles Dodgers (High-A Rancho Cucamonga): 3-5, 3 R, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, K
The MVP of the California League has produced consistently in the box all year, but where he’s really made the most encouraging progress has been in centerfield. There are some holes in the swing that are unlikely to ever fully close on account of his size – his propensity to wander after elevated velocity doesn’t help, either – but there’s plenty of playable power in the tank, and centerfield utility offers cover for an awful lot of offensive warts.
Randolph Gassaway, LF, Baltimore Orioles (High-A Frederick): 3-5, R, RBI, K
Large prep outfielders might as well grow on the state tree of Georgia, and Gassaway’s one of the more interesting ones out of the 2013 draft class. He remains quite raw in the realm of developed baseball skill, though it’s certainly not from lack of #want. There’s a bunch of latent offensive talent here, including potentially above-average raw power. But after regressing a good bit production-wise this year after a stellar full-season debut in 2016 we remain pretty far from seeing the finished product.
Kyle Lewis, CF, Seattle Mariners (High-A Modesto): 3-5, 2 R, HR, 2 K
Lewis is doing his part to make it so I finally get a look at him in the Cal League finals, adding a sprawling catch in center to the line above in leading the Nuts to a two-to-zero lead over Stockton. He has struggled for much of his time in Modesto, with rumblings of a premature return from the grisly knee injury that sidelined him for many months. When healthy, however, his power is the kind you can’t teach.
Jordon Adell, OF, Anaheim Angels (Rookie Orem): 3-4, 2 R, SB, CS
Back-to-back MLU mentions for Adell, who now has four consecutive multi-hit games to his credit. The vast array of sixes and sevens that fill out his run, glove, and arm tools point him in the direction of the big leauges by themselves, and plus raw power gives him an intriguing offensive carrying tool to boot, if he can just develop the requisite hit tool to bring it into games. So far, so good, as he’s torn it up pretty good in his first 200 at-bats against professional pitching.
Andy Yerzy, C, Arizona Diamondbacks (Rookie Missoula): 2-4, BB, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, K
The Snakes’ second-rounder a year ago has had a nice little season with the stick, showing the power that got him drafted and a solid command of the strike zone. His Canadian prep catcher profile means it’ll be a hot minute until he’s anywhere near the high minors, let alone Phoenix. But there’s a baseline to work off of, here.
Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Oakland Athletics (Short-Season Vermont): 2 IP, 4 K
I’m telling you, don’t sleep on this cat breaking out next year. The Tommy John survivor required more than a year from signing to throw his first professional pitch, but he’s been lights-out in short stints as he continues to build up arm strength. In addition to being a left-hander with mid-90s gas and feel for a changeup, he’s also the best current candidate to one day become the first Peruvian-born player to make a big-league debut.
Pavin Smith, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks (Short-Season Hillsboro): 1-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 K
It took nearly all season, but the seventh overall pick finally went yard for the first time as a pro. I could watch his balance play out in that stroke all day; the affairs displays a sweet kind of body control, with the hands staying back and fluid into the trigger even as his center of gravity has migrated forward already. There’s some concern that he never develops quite enough game power to cut it at first base, but I’m a believer. He’s got plenty of natural strength, and he’s a really, really good hitter.
Zac Lowther, LHP, Baltimore Orioles (Short-Season Aberdeen): 4 IP, BB, 9 K
If you watch Lowther pitch from, say, the third-base grandstand or on TV, it’s not immediately clear exactly how he misses as many bats as he does. He’s fastball-dominant with okay-not-great secondaries, and that fastball will top out around 91. But dominate he will, on account of hitters really struggling to pick up the heat. His arm arrives late with some sling, and coupled with some late run it is a really tough pitch to square up when he locates it.