Where experience and readiness collide
Mat Latos, RHP, Padres (Double-A San Antonio)
Monday’s stats: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 12 K
The Padres’ top prospect finally got touched up for a few runs on Monday night, but still, it’s hard to get more dominant than 12 of 16 outs coming via the whiff. The six-foot-six righty got up to 96 mph on several occasions. With Jake Peavy out of the picture for quite a while, it seems way too early to give Latos, who has less than 170 innings of pro experience a big league look . . . or does it?
Austin Jackson, OF, Yankees (Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre)
Monday’s stats: 3-for-4, 2B
With Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera doing a serviceable job as the Yankees’ center field tandem, one can’t help but wonder is Jackson would be an upgrade. While it’s unlikely that he’s in line for anything more than a September call-up, the top prospect in the Yankee system is stating his case for something earlier, as he has hit at least .328 in every month of the year as part of an overall line of .345/.415/.459 while going a perfect 12-for-12 in the stolen base department.
Stuck in the middle with you
James Darnell, 3B, Padres (Low-A Fort Wayne)
Monday’s stats: 2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI
For now, Darnell is kind of stuck in the Midwest League, though he clearly doesn’t belong there as a 22-year-old college player with an intriguing combination of tools and skills. Now 11-for-19 in his last five games with three doubles and batting .320/.466/.519 overall, Darnell ranks second in the minor leagues with 55 walks, but the guy he’s trailing, with 57, is Logan Forsythe, the San Diego third base prospect who is one step ahead of him at High-A Lake Elsinore. For now, he’s just biding his time and, clearly, remaining patient.
Little guy, big bat
Caleb Gindl, OF, Brewers (High-A Brevard County)
Monday’s stats: 1-for-2, HR (8), 3 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, SB
While he’s only five-foot-nine, Gindl is actually one of the more impressive offensive prospects in the Milwaukee system, with good plate discipline, gap power, and at least average speed. The power has been for more than the gap variety of late, as with three home runs in his last four games, the 2007 fifth-round pick is now batting .287/.371/.470 in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League.
Like waking up from a long nap
Matt Dominguez, 3B, Marlins (High-A Jupiter)
Monday’s stats: 2-for-4, RBI, K
The Marlins first-round pick in 2007, Domiguez hit .296/.354/.499 last year in his full-season debut, and when you combined that with his plus-plus defensive ability, some thought he looked like a right-handed Eric Chavez. Moving to the Florida State League proved to be a far more significant challenge than expected, however, as his averages sat at a miserable .216/.277/.287 at the end of May. While his OPS is only up to .662 since then, the good news is that he’s definitely found his stroke, batting .351 in his last 13 games with a .630 slugging percentage.
For more than just a sleeper
Thomas Neal, OF, Giants (High-A San Jose)
Monday’s stats: 2-for-4, HR (12), R, RBI, K
A draft-and-follow signed in 2006, Neal bounced back from shoulder surgery and earned some praise for a solid season in the Sally League, but he’s really exploded this year in California, and now that the scouting reports are coming in, it’s looking like this guy is legit. With a stocky build that one evaluator likened to that of an NFL running back, Neal generates tremendous leverage in his swing, and has been hitting balls all over the place of late, going 18-for-39 in his last ten games with 37 total bases to raise his season averages to .346/.426/.626. This isn’t a sleeper folks, this is a very real prospect.