Jeff Allison, RHP, High-A Jupiter (Marlins)
It’s one of those names that shows up in a box score and requires a double take. It’s understandable; after all, he hasn’t pitched in a game since 2005, although he’s kept his name out there nonetheless with his seemingly unending problems with narcotics and the law. But, again, there he was, in a box score. The 2003 first-round pick is now 23 years old, and currently on probation for a number of felonies, including grand theft auto and heroin possession. Yet, there he was in a box score, allowing three unearned runs but pitching much better than that–striking out four in three innings while giving up just two hits. His fastball touched 93 mph, his curve looked good and… well, there he was. I’m not sure what to make of it any more than you are.
Phillippe Aumont, RHP, Low-A Wisconsin (Mariners)
Yet another ’07 draftee who had yet to play in a game (thanks, new signing deadline!), the 11th overall pick last June made his highly-anticipated debut on Saturday. Aumont struck out the side in the first, walked a guy in the second, and that was about it, as he ended his day with four no-hit innings and four strikeouts. A six-foot-seven power arm who can dial his fastball up to 95 and has a ceiling that matches any high school arm from last year’s class, Aumont surprised many this spring by proving to be far less raw than thought earlier. This start only helps his cause, and the way the Mariners move prospects, who knows where he’ll be by the end of the year.
Yohermyn Chavez, OF, Low-A Lansing (Blue Jays)
The upper levels of the Blue Jays system may be a desolate wasteland in prospect terms, but the lower levels? Not so bad really, especially the Midwest League squad that’s loaded with ’07 high school draftees. Don’t forget about Chavez, the 19-year-old Venezuelan who ranks as the eighth-best prospect in the system and is coming off a GCL season in which he out-hit all of those big-budget signees. While players like Justin Jackson and Kevin Ahrens are off to great starts for the Lugnuts, it’s Chavez who is again providing even more thunder, as he hit a pair of home runs on Sunday as part of a 8-for-15 weekend that included four runs scored and five RBI. He’s not what you think of as a typical Latin American teenager–he’s not loaded with tools, and is instead more of a one-dimensional slugger, but that dimension is starting to show, and if you’re stuck looking at Toronto’s Double- and Triple-A rosters these days, you’ll take it.
Aaron Crow, RHP, University of Missouri
Ho hum, another great outing for Crow, who pitched his third shutout of the year to lower his ERA to a downright stupid 0.69 ERA in 52 innings. But that’s not the real story–the real story is the record that doesn’t really exist. The shutout ran Crow’s streak of scoreless innings to 42 2/3 frames, and that got Sam Miles, who covers the Tigers for the Columbia Missorian (and does a bang-up job, mind you), to wonder if that was a record. We know now that it’s not; Arizona State’s Eddie Bane, now the Angels‘ scouting director, put up a 43 inning streak in 1972, and LSU’s Ben McDonald (whose career was destroyed by college over-usage) went 44 2/3 scoreless frames in 1989. Is that the record? Nobody really knows, and the NCAA record book has no such category. College baseball statistics have no historical database, and there nearly no game logs, so it’s impossible to know what the record is. So, we just know that this is one helluva streak.
Ross Detwiler, RHP, High-A Potomac (Nationals)
After pitching a scoreless inning in the big leagues last year, most thought that Washington would send the sixth overall pick in last year’s draft to Double-A to begin the year. Instead, they went the less aggressive route and assigned him initially to their High-A Carolina League affiliate. After his season debut on Sunday, maybe Double-A wasn’t such a bad idea after all, as Detwiler fired five shutout innings, struck out seven, and of the remaining eight outs, seven were on groundballs. The old cliché in the minors is that it’s not where you start a year, it’s where you finish, and don’t be surprised if Detwiler’s season ends with some more innings in the big leagues.
Yasmani Grandal, C, University of Miami
Last year, Grandal was one of the top 50 talents in the draft, a switch-hitting catcher with defensive chops and a feel for the game beyond his years. However, he wanted more money than his talent dictated, and he had a strong commitment to Miami. Teams stayed away from him until the 27th round, when the Red Sox selected him as an insurance pick, but didn’t make much of a run on him. Currently sharing catching duties as a freshman, Grandal had the best game of his young college career on Saturday, going 4-for-5 with a double, home run, and four RBI in a 15-5 blowout of Clemson, raising his averages on the season to .340/.446/.617, highly impressive for a freshman at one of the best programs in the country. At the rate he’s going, he’ll get all the money he wanted and more in 2010.
Tommy Hanson, RHP, High-A Myrtle Beach (Braves)
Last year, Hanson’s season was a tale of two halves. His first half at Low-A Rome: excellent. The second half at High-A Myrtle Beach: pretty good, but highly inconsistent. Back in the Carolina League to begin ’08, Hanson had the best line of the weekend during Friday night’s game with Wilmington. He faced 16 batters on the night. In the second inning, Chris McConnell walked. In the bottom of the second, Joe Dickerson popped out to third base. In the bottom of the fourth, McConnell grounded out to short. The other 13 batters in Hanson’s five innings? They all struck out. Sitting at 91-94 mph with his fastball and showing off a nearly untouchable curve, Hanson dominated from pitch one, and has made his case that he’s the best of Atlanta’s plethora of impressive young arms.
Evan Longoria, 3B, Triple-A Durham (Rays)
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Sure, Longoria should be in the big leagues, but that’s water under the bridge, and now the Rays will be able to keep him one more year without worrying about arbitration or free agency. It’s not a decision some (including me) agree with, but it can certainly be defended. Now, after four Triple-A games, Longoria is 0-for-14 with five strikeouts. Last year, while Longoria established himself as the top infield prospect in baseball, he had a six-game 0-for-23 streak in June. It happens to the best of them. Still, it wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Cameron Maybin, CF, Double-A Carolina (Marlins)
When the Marlins finally did the inevitable and dealt away Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera before the pair cost the team a ton of money, Maybin was the big prize they got in return. Many believed he might start the year in the big leagues, as the Marlins would be under pressure to reap immediate dividends from the deal. Instead, Maybin’s problems with contact showed up in a big way this spring, and he begins the year in Double-A, a perfectly reasonable assignment for the 21-year-old. After going deep in Thursday’s opener, Maybin continued his strong start with a 5-for-9 weekend that included a triple, his second round-tripper of the year, four walks, a stolen base, and, oh yes, just one strikeout. While Maybin’s Marlins debut might come a little after the originally planned schedule, this is still a supremely talented player who will do great things for the Fish… until it gets to the point where he’s going to cost the team a ton of money.
Matt Wieters, C, High-A Frederick (Orioles)
Yet another highly-anticipated debut that met expectations. After a strong showing in the Hawaiian Winter League fresh off receiving the biggest up-front bonus in draft history, Wieters finally played in an official game on Friday night, and he wasted no time showing why the Orioles shelled out a cool six million for him by bashing two home runs on Friday and scoring five runs in his first three games. Like Detwiler, he doesn’t belong in High-A; he’s a man amongst boys here. And like Detwiler, he’s going to get to the big leagues in a hurry.
Five Stories That Missed The Cut
- So far, so good for Oakland’s prospect-laden rotation at High-A Stockton. On Friday, Henry Rodriguez struck out eight over five innings while giving up one run on three hits. Brett Anderson followed that with six shutout frames on Saturday, but then Trevor Cahill topped them all by giving up just two hits over seven shutout innings on Sunday afternoon.
- One of the big names in the Johan Santana deal, Deolis Guerra allowed just two hits and one run in five innings while striking out six in his Twins debut at High-A Fort Myers. The only run against him: a homer by Blue Jays über-prospect Travis Snider.
- Another player from the ‘Remember Me?’ files, Dallas McPherson, now in the Marlins organization, still has monster power, showing it by going deep in each of his first three games for Triple-A Albuquerque.
- After signing for $1.3 million last summer but then going 8-for-80 with 30 strikeouts in the Hawaiian Winter League, Yankee third baseman Brad Suttle regained some of his prospect status with a 9-for-16 beginning at Low-A Charleston.
- Two San Francisco first-round picks made their full-season debuts. Tim Alderson, in High-A San Jose as a teenager, went five innings without allowing an earned run, but the news was not so good for Madison Bumgarner at Low-A Augusta, as the flame-throwing lefty struck out six in three innings, but also gave up five runs on seven hits.