Welcome to the Minor League Update. Every day, we tell you the latest about what happened to the prospects you care about, and maybe a few more you should. Here’s who made waves last night:
Hitter of the Day:
Marcelo Mayer, SS, Boston Red Sox (High-A Greenville): 4-5, 2 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Mayer began the season in a bit of a swoon, but lately the former fourth-overall pick has reverted back to his track record as far as the hit tool is concerned. I had an in-person look at Mayer recently, and while the overall visage of his game isn’t overwhelming compared to his reputation, it’s clear that he has a skill set crafted with above-average and plus tools. He should be able to stick at shortstop long-term, and I sensed that he was making an effort to tap into his power potential. He’ll probably just keep producing until, one day, you look up and he’s near the top of a big-league lineup.
Pitcher of the Day:
Joey Cantillo, LHP, Cleveland Guardians (Double-A Akron): 5 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 2 BB, 13 K.
Cantillo throws in the low-90s and has missed a lot of time over the past couple of years, but the 23-year-old has a record of strong performance and is off to an excellent start this spring. Wednesday was his first five-inning effort this season, and he nearly tripled his previous high in strikeouts. The changeup is the elite pitch for him, and he also mixes in a pair of breakers. There are durability issues, and he’ll need to maximize pitchability because the stuff isn’t overwhelming. If asked to pick an organization that can be trusted to make sure that this set of characteristics turns into a big-league starter, the one he pitches for wouldn’t be a bad shout.
Drew Gilbert, OF, Houston Astros (High-A Asheville): 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.
It’s beginning to look like the Astros got a late first-round steal when they took Gilbert 28th overall in last year’s draft (it always kind of did, if I’m being honest). The lefty swinger is a good athlete who can handle center or right, and his huge bat speed is paired with a swing plane that’s crafted to maximize in-game power production. Oh, and he makes a lot of high-quality contact. It seems that the major deficiency here is that he is of below-average height. That seems to be less of an issue in the industry these days, and with good reason.
Cooper Hjerpe, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals (High-A Peoria): 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 7 K.
The 22nd overall pick in last year’s draft, Hjerpe had been knocked around a bit in his previous starts this season. The major question on him is whether his unique stuff profile will work as well against professional hitters as it did against college competition–-his fastball is only low-90s, but it has historically played up thanks to an exceptional vertical approach angle out of a very low arm slot. Throw in a sweeper and a change and you’ve got a starter’s repertoire, in theory. We’ll see if Hjerpe can build off this start and get rolling.
Erick Peña, OF, Kansas City Royals (Low-A Columbia): 3-4, 2 HR, BB, 3 R, 4 RBI, SB.
Peña is a former huge-bonus IFA signing whose sparkling tools made him extremely buzzy for a minute there, almost right up until he made his full-season debut last season and hit (or rather, didn’t hit) his way out of any sort of prospect conversation. He is repeating the level this year and is once again struggling immensely, but the game he had for the Fireflies last night is a reminder of the latent talent still in his possession. He’s still only 20, and undoubtedly doing better than most of us were at that age.
Carlos Rodriguez, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers (Double-A Biloxi): 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 10 K.
Rodriguez popped big-time after he was promoted to High-A last season, and continued progression for the 21-year-old would be a boon to a system that has lagged a bit in recent years. The 2021 sixth-rounder has had a dominant early spring, dicing up older bats with good fastball characteristics, a nasty changeup, and promising breaking stuff.
Jackson Rutledge, RHP, Washington Nationals (Double-A Harrisburg): 6 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 7 K.
Is it Jackson Rutledge comeback season? The former first-rounder made his full-season debut way back in 2019, but it’s been an odyssey of injuries and disappointing performance ever since. He’s been solid so far in 2023, and his mid/upper-90s fastball and plus slider still show big-league potential (even if it manifests out of the bullpen).
Others of Note
Blake Adams, RHP, Colorado Rockies (Low-A Fresno): 6 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 9 K.
Wuilfredo Antunez, OF, Cleveland Guardians (Low-A Lynchburg): 3-4, 2B, 3B, BB, 3 R, 3
Devonte Brown, OF, Toronto Blue Jays (High-A Vancouver): 3-5, 2B, R, 6 RBI, SB.
Ryan Cusick, RHP, Oakland Athletics (Double-A Midland): 6.1 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 3 BB, 5 K.
Chad Dallas, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (High-A Vancouver): 6 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 9 K.
Hunter Goodman, C/1B/LF, Colorado Rockies (Double-A Hartford): 2-2, 2 HR, BB, 2 R, 5 RBI.
Alejandro Hidalgo, RHP, Minnesota Twins (High-A Cedar Rapids): 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 1 BB,
Tatem Levins, C, Seattle Mariners (Low-A Modesto Nuts): 4-5, 3B, 2 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI.
Shane Murphy, LHP, Chicago White Sox (Low-A Kannapolis): 5 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 7 K.
Drew Rom, LHP, Baltimore Orioles (Triple-A Norfolk): 6 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 3 BB, 11 K.
Dionmy Salon, C, Kansas City Royals (Low-A Columbia): 4-4, 2B, BB, 2 R, RBI.
Aaron Schunk, IF, Colorado Rockies (Triple-A Albuquerque): 3-4, 2 2B, HR, 2 BB, 4 R, 5 RBI.
Jared Serna, IF, New York Yankees (Low-A Tampa): 3-4, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI, SB.
Creed Willems, C/1B, Baltimore Orioles (Low-A Delmarva): 3-3, 2B, HR, BB, R, 3 RBI.
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