Ever since he was drafted in the third round out of Notre Dame, Kyle Weiland has faced one question about his future: Will he wind up a starter or a reliever?
Weiland was a great closer at Notre Dame, but like many college pitchers, he moved to the rotation in pro ball, in part to get more innings, but also because unlike many relievers he had three solid pitches and had good command. With outings like last night, Weiland is making a pretty strong case that he's a starter.
Pitching for Triple-A Pawtucket, Weiland has been a picture of consistency. He's allowed more than two earned runs in only three of his 16 starts this year. But on Wednesday night, he added a touch of dominance.
Weiland struck out 12 Rochester batters while allowing only one hit and one walk. He did hit three batters, showing a sign of his tendency to pitch inside. He has led his league in hit batters in each of the past two seasons, though he came into Wednesday's game with just two hit batters this year.
Weiland has improved his curveball over the years, he doesn't tip off his changeup like he used to, and he's added a cutter, but it's his fastball that still is his first option. He sits in the low 90s, but he'll touch 94-96 mph, and he generates plenty of sink.
"That's the guy we saw for about six weeks last year that can come out and really trust his stuff and pound the bottom of the zone and just get ahead of guys," Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler told the Providence Journal.
ADVANCED STUDIES: When the Yankees assigned Angelo Gumbs to short-season Staten Island, it was a pretty aggressive assignment. Although he was a 2010 second-rounder, Gumbs is an 18-year-old in a league filled with newly-signed college draftees. Signed for $750,000, he played only six games in the Gulf Coast League last year after signing, so he wouldn't have looked out of place in a return to the GCL this year.
So far it doesn't seem to be a problem. Gumbs hit a pair of home runs on Wednesday and is now 7-for-14 over his last three games. He's also shown nice patience at the plate, as his eight walks have given him a .365 on-base percentage. Gumbs was a shortstop in high school, and some scouts believe he'll end up in the outfield, but the Yankees have moved him to second base for now. If he can stick in the middle infield, his excellent bat speed and his plus speed project well.
THUMBS UP: Gumbs wasn't the only prospect to have a two-homer day. Royals outfielder Brett Eibner hit a much-needed pair of home runs for low Class A Kane County. The Arkansas product hurt hit thumb in the second game of the season this year making a diving catch in the outfield. He didn't get back on the field for two months, and when he did, it was clear that his timing needed to catch up.
Eibner was 4-for-37 (.108) in his first 10 games back in the lineup. He had only one extra-base hit over that stretch. But lately he has started to shake off the rust. He went 3-for-4 with a home run on Saturday against Peoria, and last night he had his best game as pro, going 3-for-4 with a pair of home runs on the road at Burlington.
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