This ain’t the big leagues . . .
Jason Heyward, OF, Braves (Triple-A Gwinnett)
Sunday’s stats: 2-for-4, R, RBI, SB, K
While the big leagues have the trade deadline and August waiver period, the minors have no such thing. So as the Gwinnett Braves prepare for the playoffs starting later in the week, they got a pretty big gift over the weekend with the addition of one of, if not the best prospect in baseball. It’s a common occurrence, really, as prospects get juggled to teams still playing, but this by far could be the biggest of them.
Finishing on a high note
Yonder Alonso, 1B, Reds (Double-A Carolina)
Sunday’s stats: 3-for-3, 2 2B, BB
Alonso’s first full year has been middling at best, as he’s slugged just nine home runs in 291 at-bats, missed significant time with a broken bone is his hand, and had added pressure put on him by the performance of White Sox third baseman Gordon Beckham, who the Reds passed over to take him. Trying to finish the year on a high note, he’s 11-for-21 in his last six games.
I dare you not to root for him
Scott Mathieson, RHP, Philllies (Double-A West Tenn)
Sunday’s stats: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K
Once one of the best pitching prospects in the system, Mathieson reached the big leagues in 2006 when he hurt his elbow in September, which ultimately required Tommy John surgery. He still felt pain during his 2007 rehab stints, leading to nerve surgery on the joint. Early last year, the ligament went pop again, leading to a second Tommy John procedure. All but written off, Mathieson has converted to a bullpen role successfully, moved up to Double-A, and compiled a 0.84 ERA on the way in 22 appearances. With a fastball getting up to 95 mph at times, he’s got a real chance to get back to the majors.
Eduardo Nunez, SS, Yankees (Double-A Trenton)
Sunday’s stats: 4-for-4, 2 2B, R
Four years ago, Nunez was the talk of the New-York Penn League as an 18-year-old toolsy shortstop who hit .315 in a college-dominated league. Three years of little performance left him all but written off, but he’s suddenly put everything together again at Double-A. At just 22, it’s not like he’s suddenly one of those older prospects. Batting .394 in his last 35 games and .325/.352/.436, Nunez has some holes in his game, like erratic defense and an over-aggressive approach at the plate, but the tools remain impressive.
Peter Hissey OF, Red Sox (Low-A Greenville)
Sunday’s stats: 3-for-4, 2 R, BB, 2 SB
A fourth-round pick last year who received a $1 million bonus, Hissey had a miserable first half of the year, batting just .231/.324/.275, but the tools are starting to show up in his performance of late. A projectable athlete with above-average speed and a good approach, Hissey hit .400 in August, and with back-to-back three-hit games, he’s beginning to look like a solid leadoff prospect that is well worth his bonus.
Bruce Pugh, RHP, Twins (Low-A Beloit)
Sunday’s stats: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 10 K
A 19th-round pick last year out of a Florida community college, Pugh entered the year with very little prospect status, but he’s slowing generating some attention, especially since the beginning of August, when he moved into a rotation role. In eight starts for the Snappers, Pugh has a 1.74 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 41.1 innings while allowing just 27 hits. His fastball has been sitting consistently at 93-94 mph. He needs better control and more consistent secondary offerings, but there’s definitely something here.