Saturday, June 28, 2014

MLB Prospect Weekly News & Notes (6/28/14)

MLB Prospect Weekly News & Notes

- This week has been mixed for Houston Astros prospects and fans, as starting pitcher Mark Appel has shown some progression (or regression to the norm), but Carlos Correa fractured his fibula on a slide into third, keeping him out for the remainder of the season. Appel has a collective 5.40 ERA over his past two starts, with five total strikeouts. This may sound horrendous, but when you compare it to his previous three outings, allowing 17 earned runs in just 6.2 innings pitched, it is progress, just not as fast as the Astros front office and fans wish. Prior to his injury, shortstop Correa had an OPS of .926 on the season. Correa was named to the Futures Game roster, but, of course, will not play. Starting pitching prospect Mike Foltynewicz struggled on Thursday, giving up four earned runs in five innings. High-A third baseman Rio Ruiz went ice cold this past week, posting an OPS of .678 in 33 plate appearances, far below his season OPS of .817. Although he has not started this week, keep an eye on AA pitching prospect Kyle Smith, who is posting an 3.78 ERA on the season, displaying good command, walking only 1.89 batters per nine innings and striking out 9.82 batters per nine innings.

- Mookie Betts was called up to the major league Boston Red Sox today after posting an OPS of .869 in AAA, with a wOBA north of .400, which is very good. The big issue here is that some of his value comes from the position he plays, second base. He will be playing the outfield for the Red Sox, which he can do, and it makes sense to a degree as the Boston Red Sox outfield has been anemic offensively this year. A ton of people love Betts bat and it will be interesting to see how he translates in the next week. AA pitching prospect Henry Owens was selected to the 2014 MLB Futures Game. This news came out the same day Owens had a rough outing in AA, giving up four earned runs in six innings pitched. While starting pitcher Cody Kukuk looked great in A ball, he has since struggled in High-A ball, posting an 8.33 ERA in 35.2 innings pitched. He has been really roughed up in his past two starts, giving up ten earned runs in 6.1 innings pitched. I would be worried about Kukuk, as he has been killed in every appearance so far in High-A. Second baseman Sean Coyle has been impressive in AA this year, putting up an OPS of 1.024. With Betts movie up, I would expect a call-up to AAA for Coyle anytime.

- The curious case of Kris Bryant continues in AAA Iowa for the Chicago Cubs, as he has ten hits in 33 at bats, five of them being home runs. Yesterday, Bryant had a three hit performance, raising his OPS for the week up to 1.427. He still has some strikeout issues, but seems to be adjusting to AAA pitching, which is a good sign. Bryant is still playing third base for some reason that is beyond me. Bryant and teammate Javier Baez were both named to the Futures Game this week. Baez has had a good week in AAA, posting an OPS of .780, higher than his season average of .722. He showed some improvement in taking walks/striking out, raising his walk percentage to 9.7% and lowering his strikeout rate to 29%. While those still seem disappointing, baby steps with Baez and plate patience. According to Theo Epstein, president of the Chicago Cubs, the Cubs are trying to “re-program” the way Jorge Soler’s body moves to prevent future injury. Outfielder Soler returned to Rookie ball this week, having an OPS of 1.667 in fifteen plate appearances, which sounds impressive, but if he did not put up those numbers rehabbing in R ball, it would have been a major disappointment. Cubs AAA second baseman prospect Arismendy Alcantara had a great night last night, going 4-6 with one home run. Alcantara is putting up an OPS of .890 in AAA in 315 plate appearances. With major league second baseman Darwin Barney’s struggles on the season, Alcantara could (and should) be called up before year’s end. Reliever prospect Zack Cates has been putting up encouraging numbers, with an ERA of 2.89 in 9.1 innings after being promoted to AA. This week has been a rough one for Cates, putting three earned runs in four innings pitched. Cates gave up no earned runs prior to this week. Starting pitcher Dallas Beeler was called up this week and will start Saturday. Hunter Cervenka has quietly been pitching well in relief in AA, posting an ERA of 2.87 in 31.1 innings pitched. He should be promoted to AAA soon, but the Cubs front office is conservative on call-ups.

- On Sunday, Diamondbacks pitching prospect Braden Shipley had one great day, striking out ten in seven innings pitched. Reports indicate his changeup and curveball were killer pitches alongside his easy plus fastball. Yesterday, Shipley could not get it going, giving up eight earned runs and striking out zero in 3.1 innings pitched. Although Shipley has an ERA of 4.97 in 29 innings with the High-A affiliate, he shows flashes of potential, as seen on Sunday. There is some concern that he is almost 22 ½ years of age and does not have High-A locked down yet, but he shows enough to keep an eye on him and expect him to develop. With the fastball, changeup, and curveball, we are looking at three likely plus pitches at the least. Shipley made the Futures Game roster. Since being promoted to AAA, starting pitching prospect Archie Bradley has struggled, putting up an ERA of 5.18 in 24.1 innings pitched. The walk rate of 4.44 in nine innings pitched is concerning in AAA, especially for the Diamondbacks top prospect. Since being promoted to AAA, Jake Barrett has been mixed performance-wise, alternating outings, allowing a home run in one outing, then allowing no earned runs, then back to a single home run outing, then no earned runs. I would not consider this bad news as it has been just four innings, so give him time and he will make the big league club. Another interesting story for the Diamondbacks farm system has been shortstop Nick Ahmed, who has an OPS of .829 in AAA this year. He has been hot this week, posting an OPS of 1.219 in 37 plate appearances. With Chris Owings and Didi Gregorius already taking up shortstop spots, it is unclear if they will move Ahmed to a different position, trade him, or perhaps trade Owings or Gregorius. Now that La Russa is the man in charge, it is still unclear what this means for the Diamondbacks franchise.

- Washington Nationals starting pitching prospect Lucas Giolito has been one of the success stories for those who come back after a UCL injury and Tommy John surgery. The nearly twenty year old Giolito has been a killer in A ball, with a K/9 of 10.04, a BB/9 of 3.46, and an ERA of 2.30 in 54.2 innings pitched. He dazzled in six innings on Thursday, striking out nine and giving up no earned runs. He was named to the Futures Game and will likely be promoted to AA before the end of the year. Everyone loves him and seems to think he will be a possible ace in the major leagues before long. Starting pitching prospect A.J. Cole was promoted to AAA yesterday after posting an ERA of 2.92 in 71 innings pitched. Cole gave up an astonishing 0.13 HR/9 in AA. AA outfielder was named to the Futures Game roster after putting up an OPS of .984 in 325 plate appearances. Taylor had what was a down week for him, posting an OPS of .753 in twenty-eight plate appearances. If the Washington Nationals can find a spot for him on their big league club, he might be called up by the end of the year. I would be shocked if he is not in the majors beginning in 2015.

- Top Cleveland Indians prospect Francisco Lindor was the lone representative on the Futures Game roster for the Indians. Despite struggling this year with an OPS of .770 in 319 plate appearances, Lindor is still considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball and the top shortstop prospect in baseball by many. One reason for this is his BB% and K% compared to someone like Javier Baez. On the year, Lindor has a BB% of only 11%, but his K% is only 16%. Lindor has developed some pop, hitting six home runs on the year, beating his home run totals in High-A and AA last year combined. While it is only been three games, Lindor has had a good week, putting up an OPS of 1.111. While old at twenty-seven years of age, reliever Austin Adams has been fairly productive pitching in AAA for the Cleveland Indians, putting up an ERA of 2.65 in 34 innings pitched. He really could be called up by the Indians or be used as a trade chip to a team looking to add a bullpen arm (there are many). Adams has given up one run since May 7, which is pretty impressive.

- Let us talk about Mariners top prospect Taijuan Walker. Since the last prospect news and notes, Walker had one start in which he pitched nine innings, striking out eight, walking one, and giving up no earned runs. After the game, Walker was quoted as saying he is “back to feeling normal,” which may just be talk, but that mindset is encouraging, especially with a top prospect like Walker. Walker’s status with the Mariners organization is up for questioning, with the Mariners seemingly in on Jeff Samardzija. I do not think it is likely he will be traded, as he would have been traded for David Price in the offseason if General Manager Jack Z. wanted to trade him. Perhaps with the team in the playoff hunt the Mariners finally may make a move and if it is a big one, it will require Walker. Two prospects for Seattle were named to the Futures Game: outfielder Gabby Guerrero and third baseman D.J. Peterson. Guerrero being named to the roster is a bit of surprise, as he has not had the best year, putting up an OPS of .794 in High-A ball. Guerrero has been ice cold this past week, putting up a poor OPS of .524 in six games. After putting up an OPS of .997 in A ball, D.J. Peterson was promoted to AA on Tuesday, where he has played two games. He has had two hits and a walk in nine plate appearances, but that is a sample size too small to even think about. AA pitching prospect Victor Sanchez did not have a good week, giving up four earned runs in 6.1 innings in one start and four earned runs in four innings in the other start. His strikeout numbers were down for both games to four and two, respectively.

- Time for your weekly Joey Gallo update, Texas Rangers fans. Over the past week, third baseman Gallo has put up a disappointing (yes, disappointing for him) OPS of .833 with three home runs. The really bad news is the BB% and the K%. He took no walks this week and struck out 58.3%. That is seriously concerning, but that is the type of player Gallo is, a swing for the fences without regard-type. Historically guys with such poor plate patience do not make it, but Gallo has elite power, probably the best in the minor leagues (sorry Javier Baez). Rangers outfielder Nick Williams heated up since making his High-A debut on Tuesday, posting an OPS of 1.218 in 13 appearances before being placed on the seven day DL for an undisclosed injury. The expensive Jairo Beras had an above average week in A ball amid a disastrous season. For the year, Beras has posted an OPS of .552, but has posted an OPS of .750, which is a small sample, but perhaps Beras is finally trending in the right direction. Seventeen year old starting pitching prospect Marcos Diplan has quietly been tearing up Rookie ball, putting up an ERA of 1.52 in 23.2 innings pitched. He has had a relatively tight leash on innings pitched, often going out for four or five innings, but he strikes out four, five, or seven in that short amount of time. Diplan is definitely a guy to keep an eye on.

-  Baltimore Orioles starting pitching prospect Dylan Bundy was at one time considered the best pitching prospect in all of baseball, and even the best overall prospect by some. An UCL injury and Tommy John surgery derailed that, but since coming back and rehabbing in Low-A ball, Bundy has looked like his old self. In three starts, he has twenty-two strikeouts, three walks, and one earned run in fifteen innings pitched. His fastball has been sitting in the 91-93 mph range. He is still throwing a solid curveball and his cutter sat between 86-89 in his most recent outing. Dylan Bundy will be an ace on a major league team in two years. Both the Rays and Cubs should use Samardzija or Price to try and get him before his prospect hype gets back into the stratosphere. Outfielder Dariel Alvarez and starting pitcher Hunter Harvey both were named to the Futures Game roster. Alvarez has been solid in AA this year, putting up an OPS of .825, but he has only drawn walks 2.5% of the time and is already twenty-five years of age. Nineteen year old Hunter Harvey has just been a force in A ball with a 2.98 ERA over 66.1 innings pitched. In his most recent outing on Monday, Harvey struck out seven and gave up one earned run in six innings pitched.

- AA pitcher Robert Stephenson was the lone selection for the Cincinnati Reds in the Futures Game. Stephenson has been mediocre to say the least this year, putting up an ERA of 4.17 in 82 innings pitched. He also has a fairly concerning BB/9 of 4.50. The past week has been mixed for Stephenson going seven innings, striking out seven, and only allowing three runs, then going five, striking out five, and allowing four earned runs. If anything, Stephenson is trending sideways, which has to be worrying for a top prospect in a club’s farm system. In semi-prospect news, the Reds signed Raisel Iglesias, a 5’11” Cuban pitcher. His fastball touches 96 and his breaking ball sits in the 76-81 range via Ben Badler. Some expect him to start, but with the height, I think it is more likely that he is headed to the bullpen.

- Catcher Kevin Plawecki and starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard were the two selections for the Futures Game for the New York Mets. Plawecki was promoted to AAA on Thursday after putting up an OPS of .864 in AA on the year. He has had eight plate appearances in AAA, so I am going off of a tremendously small sample size in analyzing two games. While Plawecki’s OPS of .821 in AAA sounds impressive so far, you have to keep in mind that the Mets AAA club is in the Pacific Coast League where hitters can put up video game numbers, so that number is about average to above average, not something to rave over quite yet, especially with a miniscule sample size. On the other hand, Noah Syndergaard’s ERA of 5.35 in AAA sounds horrible, but it is a hitter’s league, so I would not put too much stock in either hitters or pitchers’ numbers in the Pacific Coast League. Since being promoted to AA, Brandon Nimmo has not set the world on fire offensively, posting an OPS of .714 in thirty plate appearances. Nimmo still displays great plate patience, walking 20% of the time, while striking out only 16.7% of the time. In High-A, Nimmo was walked 17.9% of the time and struck out 18.3% of the time. Thought Nimmo might make the Futures Game roster, but he did not.

- The two individuals named to the Futures Game for the Phillies were shortstop J.P. Crawford and third baseman Maikel Franco. Crawford was just promoted to High-A ball last week and has struggled since, putting up an OPS of .686 in 40 plate appearances. In 267 plate appearances in A ball, Crawford put up an OPS of .804. What is especially concerning with him is his BB% and K%. He gets walked 10% of the time and strikes out 27.5% of the time in High-A, but then again, small sample size, as he was literally 1:1 in BB/K in A ball. Franco has spent the entire season in AAA, but has looked pretty bad, posting an OPS of .596. The past week has not been kind to him, as he has put up an OPS of .405 in his past seven games. Someone who made the Futures Game roster last year, pitcher Jesse Biddle, continues to struggle in AA. On the season, Biddle has an ERA of 5.03 and was given a “mental break” by Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and is now listed as day-to-day.

- The Colorado Rockies had one person selected to the Futures Game, SS Rossell Herrera. Herrera has spent the entire year in High-A ball, putting up a mediocre OPS of .706. He has only had one game where he has homered the entire year, hitting two home runs, creating a power surge for the rest of the season for Herrera. High-A catcher William Swanner has struggled all year in High-A, posting an OPS of .743. He spent all of last season in High-A and put up very similar numbers, so he is not progressing like he should. Swanner has been on a hot streak over the past week, though, putting up an OPS of .919 in seven games. It probably is too small of a sample size to analyze too seriously, but he is trending in the right direction. Last year’s third overall pick Jon Gray continues to perform fairly well, putting up an ERA of 3.77 in 74 innings pitched. Last Friday was not Gray’s best outing as he was roughed up in five innings pitched, giving up five earned runs, but striking out seven. He is still performing better than the pitcher chose two spots ahead of him, Mark Appel.

- Marten Gasparini just turned seventeen and is already playing in Rookie ball for the Kansas City Royals. The highest paid European free agent ever, Gasparini is putting up an OPS of .642 in 27 plate appearances. Two points on this. 27 plate appearances in a career is certainly small sample size. He also just turned seventeen. The only other seventeen year old more advanced than Gasparini at this point is Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias. Christian Binford was the lone person named to the Futures Game roster, putting up an ERA of 2.35 in 76.2 innings pitched in High-A ball. Binford was hit up in his last start, giving up three earned runs in 6.2 innings pitched, but striking out six in the process.

- The aforementioned pitching prospect Julio Urias was named to the Futures Game roster, alongside shortstop Corey Seager. Urias is seventeen years old and playing well in High-A ball, which is unbelievable really. In 49.2 inning in High-A, Urias has an ERA of 3.44. He has a plus fastball and a plus curveball at seventeen. I cannot overemphasize how impressive this is. Shortstop Corey Seager has spent the entire season in High-A, putting up an OPS of 1.010, which is also impressive. Seager is likely to end up at third base, so I am not sure why they are playing with him at shortstop. The past week has been slightly above average for Seager, putting up an OPS of 1.096 during the seven game stretch. Joc Pederson was snubbed from the Futures Game, despite hitting 1.005 in 332 plate appearances in AAA. Pederson was just placed on the seven day DL for a shoulder injury. All three are a big part of the Dodgers future plans.

- Braves pitcher Lucas Sims has been good at times in High-A ball, putting up an ERA of 4.71 in 84 innings pitched. On Thursday, Sims had an impressive performance, striking out six in seven innings, allowing no earned runs.

No comments:

Post a Comment