Hitter of the Day:
Alex Call, CF, Chicago White Sox (Low-A Kannapolis): 3-5, 2 R, 2B, 3B, RBI.
Last year’s third-rounder for the Pale Hose has scuffled at times during his first full pro season, raising questions about whether his less-than-fluid stroke will play against more advanced pitching. He’s got a nice batch of tools out of the box and on the grass, though, with plenty of arm to handle all three outfield spots. If the stick takes a step forward next year it’d go a long way towards solidifying a fourth-outfielder trajectory.
Pitcher of the Day:
Ryan Yarbrough, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays (Triple-A Durham): 7 IP, 3 H, 4 K.
I wrote up Yarbrough’s impressive evolution recently in this very space, and after a clunker in his next turn he’s now rebounded with three outstanding efforts since to possibly close out his season. This start was a righteous shot across the bow to open the Governor’s Cup. Let’s bracket future value considerations for a second and all tip our collective caps together on account of Yarbrough having himself a truly excellent season at Triple-A this year.
Other Prospects of Note:
Willy Adames, SS, Tampa Bay Rays (Triple-A Durham): 2-3, BB, R.
Be still, John Eshleman’s heart, be still. Whilst attempting to mask his giggity-giggity in conversation with a veteran scout t’other day, Uncle Jack coaxed this report: “I mean, what's not to like? He's a regular at short who can hit at the very minimum, because he's only a half season away." A 50 floor at the six is, ah, a pretty good prospect, no?
Yusniel Diaz, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (Double-A Tulsa): 2-4, 3B, RBI, K.
It took some time wandering in the wilderness through multiple swing overhauls this season, but Diaz slipped into his comfort zone somewhere around the first half of June, and hasn’t stopped hitting since.
Drew Jackson, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers (Double-A Tulsa): 2-4, R, 3B, 3 RBI, SB.
All told this ended up being a pretty nice little rebound season for Jackson, whose new organization overhauled his swing pretty significantly as a first order of business in the spring. He made strides tapping into some of his natural strength and driving the ball with some authority for the first time as a result, while also making much-needed progress with his base-stealing technique. The glove and arm both remain tasty at short, and he’s very much an interesting prospect again after a disappointing season a year ago.
Brandon Waddell, LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Double-A Altoona): 6 IP, 5 H, 6 K.
Pittsburgh’s fifth-rounder in 2015 has been off and on the DL this year with arm issues, but has shown some reasonable improvement in his second look at Double-A hitters. It’s a fringy profile, but he’s left-handed, so he’ll get there.
Joe Rizzo, 3B, Seattle Mariners (High-A Modesto): 3-5, 2 R, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, K.
I’d have considered him for top honors, but yesterday’s ball-thrashing occurred in Lancaster, and that’s a tough handicap to overcome. It was nonetheless a welcome display for Seattle’s ’16 second-rounder, who was appearing a level above his pay grade for the post-season reps. Still a teenager, he showed a patient approach in A-ball that bordered at times on passivity. He’s something of a scouting conundrum at present, with some buying the glove as ultimately passable for the hot corner, while others question whether he’ll grow into enough power to justify holding first-base leather.
Peter Lambert, RHP, Colorado Rockies (High-A Lancaster): 4.2 IP, 7 ER, 8 H, 2 BB, 2 K, 2 HRA.
There are certain limitations to profiles like Lambert’s, and in this case that extends beyond just the vile chain gang of a pressure start at Lancaster. Still, his arsenal is deep enough that he’s got some places to turn and seek shelter from stormy fastball command. It’s an advanced pitchability and command profile (usually) for 20. I like him, and you should too.
Sam Hilliard, RF, Colorado Rockies (High-A Lancaster): 1-3, R, HR, 3 RBI, SB.
I’ve seen as much of Hilliard as anybody this year, and I’m still not entirely confident I know what to expect out of his hit tool next year. I wrote in June about his uncanny ability to leverage his length effectively and drag the barrel to pitches that beat him to line them the opposite way, and he’s continued to overcome pedestrian bat speed with the technique all year. There’s solid power in the pull swing, and he’s an unexpectedly efficient and powerful runner for his size: I’ve logged a couple 65-grade run times for him. I’m skeptical the offensive production holds at higher levels, but perfectly comfortable being wrong on this one.
Jake Burger, 3B, Chicago White Sox (Low-A Kannapolis): 3-5, 2 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, K.
Burger’s been in a gross little slump down the stretch here, so yesterday’s whooping stick is a welcome sign. He’s large, has corresponding power, and shows signs of an ability to get to it. Giddyup.
Santiago Espinal, SS, Boston Red Sox (Low-A Greenville): 5-7, 3 R, 2B, RBI.
Boston’s 10th-rounder a year ago is an undersized scrapper up the middle, with sound defensive actions at the six but just average speed and absolutely no power. His contact-based approach played okay in his full-season debut this year, but he’ll be challenged to hit enough for his sneaky speed or defensive versatility to matter.
Brendan McKay, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays (Short-Season Hudson Valley): 5 IP, H, 6 K.
Pitching in a deciding game, McKay dominated in his longest mound test as a professional. He set down 11 straight to open the game, ultimately tallying 15 outs on 62 pitches. After struggling in the box to start his career he’s also shown signs of life lately, hitting .300 and drawing twice as many walks (eight) as he’s whiffed over his last ten games in the field.