At this point, is there really anyone who doesn't think Stephen Strasburg would dominate big league hitters right now?
Sure, there are financial reasons to keep him in the minors and physical ones to get him used to pitching every fifth day, but Strasburg showed again last night why he's not just the best pitching prospect on the planet, but one of the best pitchers anywhere.
After allowing one hit in six shutout innings in his Triple-A Syracuse debut, Strasburg managed to somehow top that performance yesterday, tossing six no-hit, shutout innings with one walk and seven strikeouts. Strasburg's fastball sat in the mid-90s and he froze Norfolk hitters with a deadly breaking ball while mixing in an above-average changeup for good measure, leaving the game after throwing 55 of his 80 pitches for strikes.
On talent alone, there's no reason for Strasburg to be in the minors. But at least it has to be good for the Syracuse economy.
Weglarz Back To Mashing
If you jumped off the Nick Weglarz bandwagon when he hit .227/.377/.431 last year in Double-A Akron, you might have abandoned ship prematurely. Weglarz's numbers dipped at the end of the 2009 season when he played through a back injury and a stress fracture in his left shin, but Weglarz is healthy again after having offseason shin surgery. The results have been outstanding for Weglarz, 22, in his return to the Eastern League. In a doubleheader yesterday, Weglarz, 22, went a combined 2-for-7 with a double and hit his sixth home run, bringing his line to .284/.385/.532 in 130 plate appearances. Weglarz, whose .917 OPS ranks seventh in the EL, is one of the most disciplined hitters in the minors, and his outstanding raw power is translating to game situations.
Off To A Faster Start
At this time last year, Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez wasn't looking so hot. Making his pro debut with high Class A Lynchburg, Alvarez slumped his way to a .215/.326/.411 start before going on a power tear that he carried to Double-A Altoona. Alvarez's first month and a half in his second full season has been considerably better with Triple-A Indianapolis, and he clocked his eighth home run of the year yesterday to raise his numbers to .256/.343/.504 in 143 plate appearances. He's going to strike out a lot—he has 37 in 33 games—which means he's probably not going to hit much better than .270 or so in most big league seasons, and he's still struggling against lefthanded pitching. Still, Alvarez has the patience and plus-plus power that could make him the best hitter on the Pirates by 2012 with a few more adjustments.
Starting To Come Around?
OK, so there's not much good about the second overall pick in the 2009 draft hitting .200/.344/.314 in his first 128 plate appearances. Dustin Ackley can loft a ball with backspin out of the park with some regularity in batting practice, but the Mariners second baseman has shown little power in pro ball, with only one home run in 29 games with Double-A West Tenn. But after a terrible April, Ackley is starting to put things together. Ackley went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles yesterday, and in his last nine games he's gone 10-for-30 and hit .333/.474/.533. That's really not a meaningful sample for any analysis, but he's at least been better lately. Given the aggressive assignment to Double-A and learning a new position, Ackley has a lot on his plate right now, so let's wait until at least the all-star break to figure out what his slow start means.
Triple-A Baseball Is Good, And So Is Buster Posey
Giants general manager Brian Sabean made the bizarre comment to Giants correspondent Andy Baggarly this week that "Triple-A baseball isn’t very good. I’m going to tell you that right now. Especially from a pitching standpoint. Anybody who can pitch is in the big leagues." Well, aside from the the theory being demonstrably false since hitters in the aggregate see their numbers decrease going from Double-A to Triple-A (and agreeing with everything Garrett Broshuis wrote on his blog), it also seems clear that Buster Posey is going to hit regardless of the league. Posey, 23, went 3-for-5 with two doubles yesterday and is now hitting .355/.448/.579 in 32 games for Fresno. The defense might need some fine-tuning, but his 1.026 OPS is fifth in the Pacific Coast League and by far the best of any catcher in the PCL, with the Angels' Hank Conger checking in at No. 2 at .742.
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