Working his way back
Cameron Maybin, OF, Marlins (Triple-A New Orleans)
Thursday’s stats: 3-for-4, 3B, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB
When Maybin flamed out in his first shot at a full-time big league role, it didn’t diminish his prospect status. It just told us he wasn’t ready yet. He remains ultra-athletic with a good approach and tons of upside, and he’s clearly making progress back in the minors, going 11-for-24 in his last six games to raise his Pacific Coast League averages to .318/.387/.449 while addressing his biggest issue with a relatively low 18 strikeouts in 107 at-bats.
The long-anticipated hot streak
Chris Carter, 1B, Athletics (Double-A Midland)
Thursday’s stats: 2-for-4, 2B, HR (10), R, RBI, BB, 2 K
Carter led the minor leagues in extra-base hits last year, and while his 10 home runs this year is a significant downturn from last year’s total of 39, one of the streakiest hitters around has yet to have that really big hot streak. He might be starting one now, as he’s had 15 hits and three home runs in his last nine games to raise his season averages to .303/.403/.513.
You make the call: breakout or Cal League mirage?
T.J. Steele, OF, Astros (High-A Lancaster)
Thursday’s stats: 3-for-5, 3B, 2 K
A fourth-round pick last year out of Arizona, Steele has power and speed to go with a big athletic frame, but it has never really all clicked for him. Injuries have limited him to just 23 games this year, but he’s been healthy since the end of May, and is 13-for-29 in his last seven games with three home runs and 12 RBIs. He’s playing in the best hitter’s park in the best hitter’s league, so for most scouts, the jury is still out.
Ultra-projectable, but plenty good now
Mike Montgomery, LHP, Royals (Low-A Burlington)
Thursday’s stats: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 K
A supplemental first-round pick last June, Montgomery made massive improvements leading up to last year’s draft, and he’s still getting better. With a fastball that sits in the low 90s and gets up to 94, what is already a plus curve and a solid changeup, Montgomery has allowed just four earned runs over 23.2 innings in his last five outings, and he’s the highest ceiling pitching prospect in the system.
Since you’re wondering, it’s pronounced Zep-chin-skee
Marc Rzepcnynski, LHP, Blue Jays (Double-A New Hampshire)
Thursday’s stats: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 K
Rzepcnynski had a 2.83 ERA at Low-A last year while striking out over a batter per inning, but scouts weren’t especially impressed by those numbers coming from a 22-year-old in Low-A. Pushed up two levels to Double-A, Rzepcnynski is finally getting the attention of scouts by showing one of the best sinkers around while allowing just one run over 20 innings in his last three starts to lower his ERA to 2.93.
Darwin Barney, SS, Cubs (Double-A Tennessee)
Thursday’s stats: 1-for-4, HR (2), R, RBI, K
Now is good timing to talk about Barney, who first gained attention when he won a pair of College World Series titles at Oregon State. A fourth-round pick known more for his glove than his bat, all of a sudden the 23-year-old is batting .330/.383/.414 in his first taste of the upper level, and scouts don’t just like his glove, they rank him among the best defensive shortstops in the minors.