Hammerin’ Hank is hitting, just not hammering

Hank Conger, C, Angels (Double-A Arkansas)
Monday’s stats: 3-for-4, 2B, R, RBI
A Korean-American with the birth name of Hyun-Choi, Conger became Hank when his grandfather gave him the nickname in honor of Hank Aaron. He’s not showing the kind of power that he has in the past, but Conger is sure hammering the ball. Since an incredibly slow start that saw his batting average sitting at .140 on April 24th, Conger is 26-for-60 (.433), and the even better news is that scouts are seeing significant progress from him behind the plate as well.

Coming soon, to a Metrodome near you?

Anthony Swarzak, RHP, Twins (Triple-A Rochester)
Monday’s stats: 6 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K

Swarzak has always been a scouting darling due to his power frame and power stuff, but he’s battled inconsistency both on and off the field, including a 50-game suspension in 2007 for testing positive for drugs. Still only 23 and still in possession of a low-90s fastball that gets up to 94 mph and an excellent cuve, Swarzak may finally by putting it all together, lowering his ERA to 1.70 last night with his sixth very good outing in six tries. Kevin Slowey‘s magic act isn’t so magical this year and Scott Baker has been a mess, so we might see him this year.

On a roll, with butter

Esmil Rogers, RHP, Rockies (Double-A Tulsa)
Monday’s stats: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K

A converted shortstop, Rogers didn’t begin pitching until 2006, but his progress on the mound has been remarkably quick. Last night’s performance was the third time in four starts that the 23-year-old Dominican has delivered six shutout innings, including six no-hit frames last time out. Both his fastball and curve rate as plus, and unlike most converts, he has clean mechanics and very good control, walking just seven in 31.1 innings this year.

Yes Virginia, the Nationals really do have some prospects

Derek Norris, C, Nationals (Low-A Hagerstown)
Monday’s stats: 2-for-3, 2B, RBI, BB
Norris might be the best catching prospect nobody has heard of. After exploding onto the scene in the New York-Penn League last year, Norris has picked up where he left off, batting .287/.387/.554 while showing plenty of power and patience. He’s not just a one-dimensional catcher either, as he’s excellent defensively with an outstanding arm.

4-A guy, or late bloomer – you make the call!

Jesus Guzman, 1B, Giants (Triple-A Fresno)
Monday’s stats:5-for-6, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI
Guzman floated around the Dodgers chain for years, with mixed results, but he suddenly exploded with a .364/.419/.560 line in the Texas League last year for Oakland. Still seen as more of an organizational player than anything else, he was made a free agent despite the production, and picked up the Giants. Now at Triple-A, the 24-year-old (he turns 25 in June) Venezuelan keeps on mashing in Triple-A, now batting a healthy .347/.364/.573 in 31 games. Is it real? With Travis Ishikawa still trying to get his average to the Mendoza line, we might just get to find out.

From the lost and found department

Brian Dopirak, 1B, Blue Jays (Double-A New Hampshire)

Monday’s stats: 1-for-4, HR (8), R, RBI

Five years ago, Dopirak was the top prospect in the Cubs system, earning Midwest League MVP honors while hitting .307/.363/.593 and making a run at the league home run record with 39 bombs. Three years later, he was released after bombing out at Double-A. The Jays picked him up and he had a nice rebound year with 27 home runs for High-A Dunedin, and now he seems to have finally solved the big leap to Double-A, with a .317/.385/.617 line in 32 games for the Fisher Cats while leading the Eastern League with 19 extra-base hits. He turns 26 at the end of the year, so it’s hard to suddenly call him a prospect again, but it’s hard to not be interested.

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Andrew Brackman had his best professional outing yesterday. Also, what are your thoughts on Jorge Vazquez? 27 years old, straight out of the Mexican leagues, and hammering deep homeruns in AA.
Does Esmil profile as a starter or reliever?
Wasn't Norris a catcher conversion project? If so, that's remarkable that he's become a solid defender so quickly.
re: Norris' defense In your Wash Top 11 you wrote this: "Other than his arm, the rest of his catching game is rough around the edges, and he needs to improve his footwork behind the plate." Iirc, that roughness was similar to what other people who write about prospects said over the winter. I don't see spring training and 5 weeks as really enough to go from "rough" to "excellent".