Rehabs go well

Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP, Red Sox (Triple-A Pawtucket) and John Lackey, RHP, Angels (Triple-A Salt Lake)
Tuesday’s stats: Matsuzaka: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K; Lackey: 4.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K
Two pitches that hold key roles at the top of their team’s rotation, both Dice-K and Matsuzaka looked sharp on Tuesday. Matsuzaka had good velocity, threw all of his pitches and had the occasional control problems, but what else is now, while Lackey was especially sharp, retiring the first nine batters he faced and taking a no-hitter into the ninth.

Let’s play two!

Tim Beckham, SS, Rays (Low-A Bowling Green)
Tuesday’s stats: Game one: 2-for-3, 3B, 2 RBI, K, CS; Game two: 2-for-4, HR (2), R, RBI, K

Any concerns over last year’s poor debut by the No.1 overall pick in the draft should now be completely gone, as Beckham is now batting .307/.330/.455 while driving in nine runs in his last five contests. Poor plate discipline (three walks all year versus 25 whiffs) is a legitimate ding, but his tools are beyond outstanding, and more than one scout has put a Barry Larkin comp on him.

Tools starting to click

Zach Collier, OF, Phillies (Low-A Lakewood)
Tuesday’s stats: 3-for-5, 2B, 3B, 3 R, K

One of many high-risk/high-ceiling guys taken by the Phillies in last year’s draft, Collier’s batting line of .265/.315/.410 isn’t especially eye catching, but keep in mind that less than two weeks ago he was hitting .163. He’s 15-for-40 since, and as we know, sometimes tools guys just start getting it. It’s too early to call this a complete conversion, but it’s worth following.

Tools starting to click: redux

Joe Benson, OF, Twins (High-A Fort Myers)
Tuesday’s stats: 3-for-5, 2 HR (3), 2 R, 4 RBI
Benson’s had his share of ups and down since being a second-round pick in 2006. At Joliet Catholic High School in Illinois, he was the best football player in the state, and his power, speed and overall athleticism have always been hard to ignore. Now batting .280/.394/.451 for the Miracle, Twins officials are hoping he’s finally turned a corner.

Taking off, eh

Brett Lawrie, 2B, Brewers (Low-A Wisconsin)
Tuesday’s Stats3-for-4, HR (4), R, 2 RBI, CS
No hitter in the Midwest League is generating more buzz than Lawrie, Milwaukee’s first-round pick last June. 21-for-51 in his last 13 games with 14 RBIs, Lawrie entered the year seen as somewhat raw due to his Canadian background, but he’s showing a good approach, a feel for consistent hard contact, and the ability to use all fields. At .326/.375/.616, he’s one of the best combinations of numbers and scouting reports you can find, as long as we don’t talk about the defense, where the reviews of him at his new position of second base are borderline laughable.

Remember Dave Parker?

Kyle Blanks, 1B, Padres (Triple-A Portland)

Tuesday’s stats:3-for-4, HR (6), R, RBI

When the Padres signed Blanks as a draft-and-follow in 2005, they had dreams on him as another Parker type, as despite being six-foot-six and somewhere around 290 pounds, Blanks is a shockingly good athlete who actually ranks as only a slightly below-average runner. Scouts have been slow to warm up to him due to his size and unorthodox swing, he’s swing more power and patience than ever at Triple-A. Now comes the scary part. With Blanks seriously blocked by Adrian Gonzalez, those Cobra dreams are back in effect as the Padres have been working him out in the outfield in preparation for a possible conversion later this month, as the Padres are desperately looking for more offense.

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LOL Just what the Brewers need, another very good hitter who can handle an infield position - other than 1B perhaps. They need to switch leagues ASAP. When you say his fielding is "laughable", does that mean he's simply hasn't had the practice req'd or is he simply a poor fielder period.
Yeah, I don't really get "laughable". I'm not a scout, but if the kid really is that bad, he should stick out like a sore thumb to even non-trained observers, and neither I nor anyone else I've talked to that's caught a T-Rats game this year have found his defense nearly that offensive. He seemed to move around pretty well out there and has quite the arm, though that's obviously not much of a consideration at second. Can you elaborate on just what is so risible about Lawrie's defense, Kevin?
Timber Rattlers manager Jeff Isom on Lawrie's defense: "Seeing his first few games in spring training, I thought ‘Wow, this could be interesting this season,’" Isom said. "But he’s such a great athlete. He’s taken to it. He’s made himself into a pretty good second baseman. "You see the improvement on a daily basis. What makes him so special is you can tell him what he’s doing wrong and then he adapts and changes right away. He applies everything that you say right away. You won’t have to tell him a second time, whether it’s positioning or the little nuances of the game. He makes adjustments on the fly, picks up things, retains information and throw in he’s a great athlete in there. The kid’s done a great job and continues to improve daily."
re: Padres are desperately looking for more offense ... seems like an overstatement for a team with a 95 OPS+ ... On the contrary, I'd say the Padres are desparate for more pitching ... given they have an NL-low ERA+ of 80 ... So, will the Padres trade Blanks for an arm? Not if he's as good as Dave Parker, I hope :-)
apparently joe sheehan hasn't written enough "it's only May 6th" articles...
Yes, both Dice-K and Matsuzaka looked sharp! Pretty soon the Sox will have two of their 5 starters back. Maybe they should trade Matsuzaka and only keep Dice-K.
Kevin, do Collier's lack of walks worry you at all? He walked 17 times in 146 PA last year, and was collecting walks early this year, but they've completely dried up as he's gone on his current hot streak (9:0 strikeout-to-walk over his past 10 games). Coincidence, or do you think he struggles to produce unless he starts free-swinging a bit?