The draft is an all-consuming event at Baseball America. But after a week of all-draft, all-the-time, the Daily Dish returns with a look at what happened this past weekend. If there was a theme this weekend, it was redemption, as a number of prospects who have gotten off to less-than-spectacular starts to the season starred.
Desmond Jennings, cf, Rays: By pedigree and preseason ranking, the Rays center fielder is one of the top prospects in the minors (seven of our preseason Top 10 Prospects are now in the big leagues). But for much of this season he hasn't played like it. Injuries wiped out almost all of April and Jennings hit only .247/.326/.325 in May.
But now that June is here, Jennings is reminding everyone why he's a key part of the Rays' future. Jennings hit his second and third triples of the year over the weekend. Over the past week for Triple-A Durham, he's 14-for-26 with four doubles, three triples and nine runs scored. And when it comes to stealing bases, Jennings is still almost impossible to nab–he's 14-for-15 this year.
Aaron Hicks, cf, Twins: Hicks' story of the 2010 season isn't a whole lot different than Jennings'. Like Jennings, he got off to a slow start (eight games into the season he was hitting .033) and had an awful May. But Hicks' impressive toolbox has mixed his slumps with impressive streaks. In addition to his 1-for-30 start to the season, Hicks has also had hot streaks (22-for-52 in late April) and mediocre ones (a stretch of 23 games with only one multi-hit game). He's now back on a roll, as he celebrates his spot in the low Class A Midwest League all-star game. Hicks was 5-for-11 this weekend with five runs scored.
Fernando Martinez, of, Mets: Unlike Jennings or Hicks, Martinez's problems have been largely health related. Martinez missed nearly a month with a strained hamstring and didn't return to the Triple-A Buffalo lineup until Friday. But in the three days since he's returned, Martinez has put together his best three-game stretch this season–6-for-11 with two doubles and a home run.
There were plenty of other happenings around the minors this weekend. Here are some of the other performances worth noting.
Arodys Vizcaino, rhp, Braves: Vizcaino's introduction to the high Class A Carolina League didn't go as well as his time in low Class A Rome. Vizcaino was chased after four innings having given up eight hits and four runs. Vizcaino had ended his time in Rome with a 20-inning scoreless streak and hadn't allowed an earned run in exactly a month. But even more surprisingly, Vizcaino walked a batter—his first base on balls in 38 innings.
Tyler Chatwood, rhp, Angels: Pitching in the high Class A California League is never easy, but Chatwood's having no problems. The Angels' righthander lowered his ERA to 1.67 with eight shutout innings against Rancho Cucamonga—and that 1.67 ERA includes a trip to Lancaster. Chatwood hasn't always done it in the conventional way—witness his 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 7 BB, 1 K line against San Jose two weeks ago—but he has been one of the California League's best pitchers all season. And he does it with plus stuff—a 92-93 mph fastball and a solid curveball.
Craig Westcott, rhp, Giants: The only pitcher in the California League who has been better than Chatwood is Westcott. A 2009 30th-round pick of the Giants out of Bellhaven (Miss.) College, an NAIA school. Westcott lowered his ERA to a get-out-an-electron microsope to see it 1.23 with 6 2/3 scoreless innings against Bakersfield.
Westcott is an interesting story. He was primarily a first baseman through most of his college career, but he transferred to Bellhaven for his senior season and starting pitching full-time. He set a Bellhaven record for strikeouts that season and won the Ferriss Trophy given to the top college baseball player in Mississippi—it was the first time an NAIA player had ever won the award.
Westcott has been just as effective as a pro. He went 7-0, 2.49 last year in stops in the Rookie-level Arizona League and the short-season Northwest League. He then jumped straight to high Class A this season. He's yet to allow more than two earned runs in any outing and he started the season with an 18-inning scoreless streak. Westcott's biggest success has come when he's gotten into trouble. Hitters are 0-for-18 against him with runners in scoring position and two outs, and they are hitting only 7-for-53 (.132) overall with runners in scoring position.
Westcott has been doing it with a 89-91 mph fastball, a deceptive delivery and so-so command. Early in the season the biggest knock on him was his inability to work deep into games because he would reach his pitch count after four or five innings. But he's shown improved command in recent starts. His last two starts are the first times all season he's gotten into the seventh inning.
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