6/21/14 Minor League News & Notes for the Week
- It has been a very newsworthy week for Chicago Cubs prospects, as Kris Bryant joined the AAA Iowa Cubs on Thursday, already hitting one home run in just eight plate appearances thus far. This resulted in the Cubs demoting third baseman Christian Villanueva down to AA, as he is blocked by Olt at the big league level, Bryant in AAA now, and had a weak on base percentage of .283. 2014 fourth overall pick Kyle Schwarber was promoted from Short-Season-A Ball to Low-A Ball in Kane County after hitting four home runs in 24 plate appearances. This is about what was expected of Schwarber being a polished college power bat in the Northwest League. Third baseman Jeimer Candelario was demoted from High-A Ball to Low-A Ball in Kane County. In 244 plate appearances, Candelario had an on base percentage of just .270.
- Two notes on Red Sox prospects this week, as Mookie Betts continued to prove that he has big league-caliber stuff, posting an OPS of 1.054 over the past week, and an OPS of .888 on the season in AAA Pawtucket. Betts plays second base, so he is currently blocked by Pedroia, but his bat could play in the outfield. Top pitching prospect Henry Owens has been tearing up AA this season, posting an ERA of 1.99 after 86 innings pitched. Owens had a quality start Friday night, throwing seven innings, walking two, striking out eight, and allowing no earned runs.
- Twenty year old Twins prospect Jose Berrios posted a great start in High-A Ball, striking out nine in seven innings, walking only two, and allowing no earned runs. Berrios currently has an ERA of 2.09 after 77.1 innings pitched. He is almost certain to be promoted to AA later this year. Arguably the top prospect in all of baseball, Byron Buxton, has yet to return after a wrist injury. Kohl Stewart had a short start last Saturday, pitching only four innings, striking out three and allowing no earned runs. This short start was due to the MWL All-Star Game that Stewart wanted to pitch in. He has an ERA of 2.44 in 59 innings pitched in High-A Ball. AAA pitcher Trevor May has been great since being acquired, posting an ERA of 2.77 in 74.2 innings pitched. In his last start, on Monday, May pitched 8.1 innings, striking out eleven, walking two, and only one earned run. I would be shocked if he is not called up to the Twins soon.
- Miami Marlins top prospect Andrew Heaney made his major league debut on Thursday against the Mets, giving up only one run, a home run to David Wright, in six innings pitched. Third baseman Colin Moran struggled this week, having only one hit in sixteen plate appearances while in High-A Ball.
- Mets enigma Travis d'Arnaud spent the past week tearing up AAA Las Vegas, posting an OPS of 1.400 in 35 plate appearances with four homers. Although he looked like a deer in headlights during his stint with the Mets this year, expect him to be called up relatively soon, especially if he keeps putting up great numbers, despite being in player friendly Las Vegas. On Wednesday, outfielder Brandon Nimmo was promoted to AA after posting an OBP of .448 in High-A. He has had one hit in nine plate appearances, which is meaningless due to the sample size.
- Future Mariners ace Taijuan Walker had a mixed week in two starts. Last Saturday he pitched 6.2 innings, giving up one run and striking out seven. He followed that performance by pitching five innings on Thursday night, giving up three earned runs, two of which were home runs, and striking out only four. Walker has had his struggles this year in AAA, posting an ERA of 4.57 in 21.2 innings pitched. Other top Mariners prospect D.J. Peterson has been killing it this past week, posting an OPS of 1.744 in four games in High-A, and an OPS of .975 in 285 plate appearances. High-A pitcher Dylan Unsworth has had a disappointing season, posting a 6.46 ERA, but pitched a great game yesterday, pitching seven innings, striking out twelve, walking zero, and allowing zero earned runs. Unsworth has really struggled in High-A, so perhaps this is the start to him adjusting to advanced batters somewhat.
- White Sox top prospect Matt Davidson continues to show how weak the White Sox’s prospect depth is, as he has put up a good OPS of .758 in 28 plate appearances over the past week, considerably higher than the .633 OPS he has put up through 266 plate appearances this year. AAA shortstop Carlos Sanchez put up an OPS of .987 over the past week, a large rise from the .791 he has posted on the season. With Alexei Ramirez having an above average season for the White Sox, Sanchez will probably remain in AAA for the foreseeable future. Starting pitching prospect Francellis Montas has been gold in High-A, posting an ERA of 1.76 in 51 innings pitched. Montas had a rough outing this past week, allowing four earned runs and five walks in seven innings pitched.
- In Kansas City Royals news, Kyle Zimmer remains out due to a back muscle injury for a few more weeks. There has to be some concern regarding his long-term health. Shortstop prospect Raul Mondesi returned from injury yesterday to join the High-A team, going hitless for the day. Sean Manaea has been having such a strange year in High-A, posting an ERA of 4.89, but striking out 12.32 batters per nine innings. He had a good short outing Saturday, being pulled after four innings, presumably for the all-star game. Yesterday, in five innings, Manaea struck out six, walked two, and allowed three earned runs. His fellow High-A starter Christian Binford has had a great season, posting a 2.19 ERA in 70 innings pitched. In his last start one week ago, Binford pitched six innings, striking out five, walking none, and allowing no earned runs. Binford is likely headed to AA sooner than later.
- Over the past week, top Yankees prospect, catcher Gary Sanchez has shown some improvement, posting an OPS of .824 for the week, an increase from his season long OPS of .748 in 246 plate appearances. Outfielder Aaron Judge was promoted to High-A Tampa this week after posting an OPS of .958 in 278 plate appearances in Low-A ball. Reliever Jose Ramirez was called up to the big league club and has been struggling, posting a 6.75 ERA in 5.1 innings in relief.
- Likely trade piece and Blue Jays starting pitcher prospect Aaron Sanchez was promoted to AAA about a week ago and has struggled in two outings, posting an ERA of 6.00 in nine innings pitched. As far as his trade value, his slight struggles in AAA probably eliminate the Blue Jays from the Samardzija or Price contests. Pitcher Daniel Norris made his first start in AA on Wednesday, striking out nine, but allowing four hits and four earned runs in 5.2 innings pitched. Norris has been gold in High-A ball this year, posting and ERA of 1.22 in 66.1 innings pitched. John Stilson has been very productive as a reliever in AAA this season, posting an ERA of 3.00 in thirty innings pitched. Not quite sure why he has not been called up to the Blue Jays bullpen.
- Although San Francisco Giants prospect Kyle Crick has a 3.88 ERA in 48.2 innings pitched in AA, he’s been really inconsistent lately, giving up four runs, then one run, then zero, then four, then one, then one, then four. I think he has had some command issues that inflate his walks and his ERA lately, which hopefully can be fixed. Andrew Susac is an interesting case, as he has put up an OPS of .815 for the year in AAA, but has been ice cold for the past week. He did suffer a concussion earlier in the year, so I am not sure if he is completely over it. Sometimes guys like Justin Morneau just struggle to recover. Regardless, he is blocked at the major league level by Posey, but could very well end up as the backup catcher by the end of the year for the San Francisco Giants. About a week ago relief pitching prospect Derek Law was diagnosed with a torn UCL and will most likely undergo Tommy John surgery, although he has yet to as of press time. Second baseman and shortstop Joe Panik has been called up by the Giants and will join the team tonight against the Diamondbacks.
- Top Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Archie Bradley who was shut down with arm strain a while ago, threw three innings of a rookie-league game on Monday. They are taking it slow with him. Third baseman prospect Jake Lamb has been tearing up AA, posting an OPS of .981 in 286 innings. This past week, he has posted an OPS of 1.015. There is no reason he should not be called up to AAA at this point. Reliever Jake Barrett was promoted to AAA where he has been mixed in two starts, giving up one run in a one inning performance and no runs in another one inning performance. He posted an ERA of 2.39 in 26.1 innings pitched in AA, so he should adjust with time.
- Rangers third baseman prospect Joey Gallo has been in AA for two weeks and has an OPS of 1.109, down from his OPS of 1.199 in High-A ball. I would not be shocked if he finished the season in AAA, which would be especially impressive given that he is only twenty years of age. Outfielder Nick Williams from a seven day DL stint yesterday, hitting one single in five plate appearances in his return in rookie ball. Nineteen year old second baseman prospect Travis Demeritte has played well in Low-A ball, posting an OPS of .854, but has chilled off posting an OPS of only .784 over the past week.
- Pirates top prospect Gregory Polanco was called up roughly a week and a half ago, posting an OPS of .864 in 53 plate appearances with the big league club. Pitching prospect Tyler Glasnow has absolutely been on a tear in High-A ball, posting an ERA of 1.71 and K/9 of 10.60 in 52.2 innings pitched. Glasnow has a shutout streak of 21.1 innings pitched currently. He really should be promoted to AA soon. Pitcher Nick Kingham was promoted to AAA Friday, where he pitched a seven inning, eight strikeout, no earned runs gem. On Wednesday, Kingham pitched seven innings, allowing only one run, walking zero. The Pirates could probably call Kingham up to the bullpen, but they would be best served letting him develop the rest of the year in AAA.
- It has been a real bummer for the Houston Astros when it comes to starting pitcher prospect Mark Appel. In 17.1 innings pitched for the High-A ball club, Appel has an ERA of 11.94. This guy was at one time considered the most major league ready pitcher in his draft class and now it is likely he will be sent down to Low-A ball. Domingo Santana has performed well at the AAA level, posting of .867 in 332 plate appearances for the season. As of late he has been on a tear, posting an OPS of 1.119 in 39 plate appearances. No idea if he is going to be a late season callup or if they will wait until next year. Low-A pitching prospect Michael Feliz has been impressive as of late, not allowing an earned run in 22.1 straight innings. Feliz has an ERA of 2.68 in 43.2 innings pitched on the year. Outfielder prospect Teoscar Hernandez has been unbelievably good this year in High-A, posting an OPS of .927 in 305 plate appearances, but over the past week, he has had a bit of a cold streak, only hitting for a .154 average.
- Top Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect Dylan Bundy made his return after Tommy John surgery in Low-A ball, pitching five innings on Sunday and striking out six, while allowing no walks. Ton of realistic potential is still there in Bundy. Another pitching prospect, Hunter Harvey, has been good in 60.1 innings pitched, posting an ERA of 3.13 over the course of the season. His last two starts on June 4 and June 10 in Low-A ball have proven to be problematic, posting a cumulative ERA of 14.85 for those two starts in 6.2 innings pitched. Orioles top catching prospect Michael Ohlman has really struggled this season, posting an OPS of .678 in 237 plate appearances in AA. Over the past week things have been looking up with him posting an OPS of .935 in 25 plate appearances.
More teams and prospects will be covered later in the week