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Looks like we can call last year’s breakout the real deal

Michael Taylor, OF, Phillies (Double-A Reading)
Thursday’s stats: 3-for-5, 2 2B, HR (3), 5 RBI
After three disappointing years at Stanford, Taylor got away from the single-plane “Stanford swing” in 2008 and suddenly delivered a .346/.412/.557 season while suddenly looking like the player who in high school was one of the best tools guys in the country. A monster athlete at six-foot-six and 250 pounds, Taylor is batting .424 during a current seven game hitting streak and .338/.389/.569 overall. The scary part? Some think he’s just starting to tap into his potential.

The mountain air is good for you

Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Rockies (Triple-A Colorado Springs)
Thursday’s stats: 5-for-6, 2B, 2 3B, 5 RBI, SB

He seems older than 23 somehow. Once one of the top prospects in the Arizona system, Gonzalez fizzled a bit in the upper levels before going to Oakland in the Dan Haren trade. Whispers about his effort level abounded, and many thought the change of scenery would do him well. After getting a legitimate big league shot last year and doing nothing with it, he went to Colorado, and once again, talk was of how this might finally be the wake up call. It’s hard to say if he’s awake yet, but he has 17 RBIs in his last six games. Too bad the second he was traded he ended up behind Dexter Fowler on the depth chart.

Man or myth

Manuel Pina, C, Rangers (Double-A Frisco)
Thursday’s stats: 3-for-5, 2 2B, HR (3), RBI, K

Pina entered the year with career averages of .248/.306/.322 and the reputation of a no-hit catcher with very good defensive skills who might profile as a backup. Now, all of a sudden the guy is 25-for-52. So what do you want to with? A four year track record of performance (or lack thereof), or what’s right in your face right now. I’m fine if you want to say some progress has been made here, or that he should be upgraded a bit, but let’s take a deep breath and see where we are in August before we call him the next big thing.

Coming soon to a ballpark near you?

Tommy Hanson, RHP, Braves (Triple-A Gwinnett)
Thursday’s stats: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K
The goal at the bigging of the year was to get Hanson 100-120 innings in the big leagues this year, but one look at the ERAs of the Braves starters, and you can see why Hanson’s timetable might get accelerated. He’s now dominated in four of five International League starts, limiting the league to a .198 batting average while recording 38 strikeouts in just 26.2 innings.

Welcome back

Michael Saunders, OF, Mariners (Triple-A Tacoma)
Thursday’s Stats3-for-4, 2B, HR (3), 3 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB
A tremendous athlete whose Canadian background had him entering pro ball a bit more unrefined than most, Saunders made excellent progress over the last two years in translating his tools into actual baseball skills. With his season delayed by shoulder surgery, he begin his delayed 2009 season with a bang, hitting a three-run bomb off Matt Kinney is his second at-bat of the year. All five of his tools rate as average or better, and combined with a patient approach, he could be in line for a September look.

Sleeper alert!

Dan Hudson, LHP, White Sox (Low-A Kannapolis)

Thursday’s stats: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 13 K

A fifth-round pick last June out of Old Dominion, Hudson certainly passes the scouting sniff test as a physically imposing six-foot-four lefty with plus velocity. Unfortunately, that was about all he had going for him, as his secondary stuff and lagged behind. While he’s a bit old for the Sally League, he’s having no problem dominating, delivering his second straight double-digit strikeout game and giving him a ridiculous 30-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 22 innings.

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PhillyFriar
5/01
After a 46:19 strikeout-to-walk ratio in Clearwater last year, Taylor went to the Hawaii Winter League with the professed goal of working on his plate discipline. He only hit .244/.333/.415 there, but posted a 10:11 K-to-BB ratio. Looks like his work there has carried over -- a 10:6 K-to-BB ratio thus far is solid, especially for someone's first exposure to Double-A pitching. So yeah, Taylor's continuing to evolve as a hitter. As you said, Kevin, that's definitely scary.
jpm9263
5/01
Dan Hudson is a RHP.
vonckx
5/01
indeed. and i don't think he has plus velocity, either.
mswain784
5/02
He sits low 90's, I don't think that's plus from a righty. But his fastball has wicked movement and his has a long stride.
invictus
5/01
Braves starters' ERA: 1.72, 3.10, 3.38, 4.26, 7.06. Sure, Kawakami's been bad, but really it wasn't nearly this bad before that last terrible start in Cincy, and this definitely isn't a set of numbers that should prompt a '!$@&, gotta fix that!!'
RahulN
5/02
Yeah, exactly. And for an even better, look at their FIPs. 1.71, 3.35, 3.50, 3.65, 6.32
Straightflush27
5/03
Kevin, I have always enjoyed your articles the most but this new format is a quick, easy read and very informative. The best.