Gary Brown has come as advertised—in some ways, at least.
The Giants drafted Brown in the first-round with the 24th overall pick last year in part due to his blazing speed, an asset getting down the line with his contact-oriented bat, on the basepaths and in center field, where he’s a plus defender.
Brown, 22, hasn't electrified the high Class A California League with his numbers yet—he's 8-for-29 (.276) and doesn't have an extra-base hit so far. Yesterday's box score line for Brown wasn't anything fancy—he went 1-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts—yet he also managed to create his own run without help from any of his teammates.
Brown led off the game with an infield single to the shortstop, stole second base, then proceeded to steal third and came home on the catcher’s errant throw to third base. It was his only hit of the night, but it was his ninth stolen base of the year, putting him second in the minors behind fellow Giants farmhand Emmanuel Burriss, who has already swiped 12 in 12 attempts with Triple-A Fresno.
One of the knocks on Brown was that his lack of patience at the plate could be an obstacle in pro ball, both in terms of his ability to get himself into hitters’ counts and limiting his potential to get on base. Yet just one year after drawing nine walks in 50 games at Cal State Fullerton, Brown has already drawn five walks in seven games (with just three strikeouts). Between that and his brief pro debut last summer, Brown has drawn 11 walks in 19 professional games.
We’ll still need a larger sample of information to see whether those walks are a sign of truly improved plate discipline or just a blip, but it’s certainly an encouraging sign early in Brown’s career.
Shelby Miller, rhp, Cardinals: There was some talk before the season that Miller could start the year in Double-A Springfield, but the Cardinals opted to keep their 20-year-old fireballer going one level at a time instead. At this rate, though, Miller might not be in the high Class A Florida State League for long. Miller struck out 11 and walked one yesterday in 5 2/3 innings, yielding four runs (two earned) to improve his K-BB mark on the season to 20-2 in 10 2/3 innings.
Trevor Rosenthal, rhp, Cardinals: It was a good night on the farm for Cardinals starters. While Miller has lived up to the expectations of a 2009 first-round pick, Rosenthal could turn into a heck of a 21st-round pick from the 2009 draft out of Cowley County (Kan.) CC. With a fastball that can reach the mid-90s, Rosenthal allowed only one run in seven innings for low Class A Quad Cities, striking out seven with one walk. That puts Rosenthal, 20, at a 2.45 ERA through 11 innings with 17 strikeouts and just three walks, though he has also hit four batters. Given his arm strength and early results, he’s absolutely a sleeper to watch.
Bryce Harper, rf, Nationals: For the first time in an official minor league game, Harper did what scouts expect him to do a lot of in the future: Hit a home run (you can check out video of the hit here). Harper’s third-inning blast was his first extra-base hit of the season for low Class A Hagerstown, bringing him to .240/.321/.360 with seven strikeouts in 28 plate appearances. Before anyone panics, remember that: 1.) it’s just seven games, and 2.) He’d be about a month away from his senior prom if he hadn’t left high school early to go to junior college last year.
Keyvius Sampson, rhp, Padres: Hot Sheet alert: After striking out 10 in six perfect innings on Opening Day, Sampson followed that by striking out nine in five scoreless innings for low Class A Fort Wayne yesterday, allowing just two hits and one walk. Sampson, 20, was a $600,000 sign out of the fourth round two years ago and ranked as San Diego's No. 20 prospect entering the season, but he'll shoot up those rankings if he can keep mowing down Midwest League batters.
Rubby de la Rosa, rhp, Dodgers: De la Rosa missed his first turn through the rotation to return to the Dominican Republic after his grandmother passed away, but he came back firing yesterday, striking out nine with one run allowed in five innings for Double-A Chattanooga. De la Rosa, 22, had scouts talking in spring training about his power arm that reached the high-90s, which isn't even as hard as he's thrown in the past.
Zach Lee, rhp, Dodgers: Lower in the Dodgers system, their first-round pick in 2010 made his second strong start for low Class A Great Lakes. Lee, 19, allowed one run with seven strikeouts and one walk in five innings, showing a combination of stuff and savvy that made him the system's top pitching prospect.
Edward Salcedo, 3b, Braves: Salcedo registered his second three-hit game of the year for low Class A Rome, going 3-for-6 with a double and a triple to bring him up to .321/.387/.464 through his first seven games. On the other hand, he also struck out for the seventh straight game, giving him 10 in 31 trips to the plate and three errors at third base.
David Sappelt, cf, Reds: At some point, production has to override physical and tools-based concerns. Much like Chris Heisey, Sappelt was a late-round pick as an undersized outfielder who has proved his doubters wrong up through the high minors. After winning the Double-A Southern League MVP last year and putting on a monster display this spring in big league camp, the 24-year-old Sappelt is still battering baseballs for Triple-A Louisville. He went 3-for-5 with a home run and a double yesterday, bringing him to .423/.500/.615 in 30 plate appearances. Like Heisey, he doesn't have star upside, but he should find a role on a big league team in the very near future.
Jeurys Familia, rhp, Mets: The Mets have to be pleased with the front of their rotation at high Class A St. Lucie, where Familia and 2010 first-rounder Matt Harvey are off to terrific starts. Familia, 21, carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning yesterday, departing after allowing one run in six innings with two walks and six strikeouts. The 13 strikeouts in 13 innings are to be expected for a guy who can run it up to the high-90s most times out, but more encouraging is that Familia's walked just two all year after averaging 5.5 walks per nine a year ago with St. Lucie.
Jenrry Mejia, rhp, Mets: After the previous front office rushed Mejia to the big leagues and forced him into the bullpen, the new regime has sent him back to Triple-A Buffalo to develop as a starter. With a lively mid-90s fastball, Mejia has picked apart International League hitters, and he extended his scoreless innings streak this year to 12 2/3 innings with five strikeouts in 6 2/3 shutout innings yesterday. Yankees catcher Jesus Montero will be glad to move on to a new pitcher after Mejia got him out all three times, including a pair of swinging strikeouts in his first two plate appearances.
Neil Ramirez, rhp, Rangers: Ramirez struck out nine in 4 2/3 scoreless innings for high Class A Myrtle Beach in his first start of the year, but the Rangers brought him up to Triple-A Round Rock yesterday for an emergency start in place of Eric Hurley. The results were impressive: six shutout innings with three hits, no walks allowed and five strikeouts for a 21-year-old who repeated low Class A last year. The opposing hitters were no slouches, either, as Ramirez did it against an Omaha Roayls team that included Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer.
• The Twins placed high Class A Fort Myers righthander Alex Wimmers on the disabled list with “flu-like symptoms.” Minnesota’s first-round pick last year out of Ohio State, Wimmers walked the first six hitters he faced before getting the hook in his first start of the year on Tuesday, an outing that included several pitches that sailed to the backstop on the fly as Wimmers’ typically impressive control completely deserted him.
• Royals 2010 second-round pick Brett Eibner, 22, is expected to miss two to three months after he tore a ligament in his left thumb while diving for a ball in the outfield for low Class A Kane County.
• The Yankees placed Double-A Trenton righthander Dellin Betances on the disabled list with a blister on his throwing hand, according to Josh Norris of The Trentonian.
• Indians lefthander Drew Pomeranz had his second dazzling outing for high Class A Kinston, outdueling Royals righthander Tim Melville by striking out eight in 5 2/3 innings with only one run allowed. J.J. Cooper was there and will have a full report on what he saw next week for subscribers, though his Twitter feed should give you a sneak preview of what's to come
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