Biding his time
Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates (Triple-A Indianapolis)
Wednesday’s stats: 3-for-4, 2B, HR (3), 2 R, 2 RBI, SB
The Pirates are going to have a minor house cleaning this summer. Not in any huge way, but guys like Jack Wilson, John Grabow, and Adam Laroche could all be moving elsewhere. When that happens, the new youth movement might begin with McCutchen, who is hitting .293/.353/.489 in his second go-around at Triple-A while showing a much better approach, far better contact skills and an overall feel for the game that says he’s big league ready.
On a roll
Vin Mazzaro, RHP, Athletics (Triple-A Sacramento)
Wednesday’s stats: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 6 K
Three weeks into the season, Mazzaro had a tough two-game stretch when he allowed 11 runs over nine innings. Other than those outings, he’s been one of the best pitchers in the Pacific Coast League, with a 0.76 ERA in his other eight outings, including just one earned run in his last four.
Another Angel stuck in purgatory
Sean Rodriguez, 2B/SS, Angels (Triple-A Salt Lake)
Wednesday’s stats: 2-for-4, HR (17), 2 RBI, BB, 2 K
As if having Brandon Wood stuck in the minors isn’t enough, now they have this guy going off. Rodriguez has had plenty of big league chances with little results, but now he’s tied for the minor league lead with his 17th home run. He’s better off on the right side of the infield that the left, but surely somebody needs a second baseman with this kind of power, no?
Figuring it out
Justin Jackson, SS, Blue Jays (High-A Dunedin)
Wednesday’s stats: 2-for-2, 2B, 3B, 2 BB
Toolsy but far from converting those tools into baseball skills, Jackson had about as rough an April as one can have in pro ball, going 11-for-71 with 33 strikeouts. A two-week stint on the disabled list seems to have put a permanent end to his misery, as since returning, he’s suddenly 15-for-33 in eleven games with only seven strikeouts. Whether or not this is a bridge crossed is still to be determined, but at least he’s on the bridge again.
Back to throwing strikes
Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Braves (Low-A Rome)
Wednesday’s stats:3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K
A third-round pick last year out of an Alabama junior college, Kimbrel quickly established himself as the top relief prospect in the system by striking out 56 over 35.1 innings in his pro debut while showcasing a mid-90s sinker. This year began in totally nightmare territory for him however, as he walked 18 over 10.2 innings with a 10.32 ERA at High-A Myrtle Beach. The good news is that the ship has quickly been righted, as in nine sally league games, the short, stocky right-hander has 25 whiffs and only three walks in 11.2 innings, and other the other ten outs, only one is of the fly ball category.
Chris Archer, RHP, Cubs (Low-A Peoria)
Wednesday’s stats: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 9 K
One of three arms acquired from Cleveland in the Mark DeRosa trade, Archer arrived to Chicago as a 2006 fifth-round pick with a projectable frame, power arm, and big time control problems. With 20 walks in 35 innings this year, he’s still having trouble throwing strikes, but he’s also allowed only 19 hits while striking out 47 and showing two plus pitches with a fastball that gets up to 95 mph and a much improved breaking ball.