Gerrit Cole has joined the party. We’ve already been treated to plenty of standout performances from the 2011 draft class, but Cole, its No. 1 pick, had yet to come up with a signature performance of his own. Cole was just 0-1, 4.76 through his first four starts for high Class A Bradenton, but he made everyone forget about that on Monday.
The righthander threw six one-hit shutout innings against Jupiter, a lineup with no shortage of prospects of its own, most notably Marlins top prospect Christian Yelich. Cole struck out six and faced just one hitter over the minimum. He allowed a first inning single to Marcell Ozuna but promptly induced a groundball double play from Yelich, and the only other baserunner he allowed was on a two-out walk in the fifth after he’d retired 12 straight hitters.
Cole earned his first professional win and dropped his ERA to 3.52 in 23 innings, to go with a 29-7 strikeout-walk ratio.
The Diamondbacks today dipped into their enviable stash of pitching depth at Double-A Mobile, though they didn't call up No. 1 prospect Trevor Bauer or top lefty Tyler Skaggs. Instead they added 22-year-old southpaw Pat Corbin to the 40-man roster so that he can take Josh Collmenter's place in the big league rotation. He will oppose the Marlins and Mark Buehrle today.
An athletic lefthander who throws strikes with average stuff, Corbin impressed Arizona decision-makers with a strong spring-training performance that included 20 strikeouts in 21 innings and a 1.00 WHIP. In four starts for Mobile he went 2-0, 1.67 with 25 whiffs and 31 baserunners allowed in 27 innings. That 1.67 ERA ranks third in the Southern League, where Corbin has spent the past two seasons notching fine strikeout (8.0 per nine) and walk (2.3 per nine) rates over 187 innings.
What Corbin lacks in raw stuff compared with Bauer (who's wrestling with a high walk rate this season) or Skaggs (who's two years younger than Corbin), he compensates for with command of the strike zone, plus lateral movement on his low-90s fastball and rapidly-developing feel for his changeup and slider. That pitchability is somewhat unexpected in light of the fact that Corbin didn't first take the mound until 2006, when he was a junior at a Central New York high school. Now he's the first prospect from Arizona's Dan Haren trade to make it to Phoenix. [...] Continue Reading »
We turn our attention now to the top offensive performers from weekend series, April 27-29, this time counting down the top performances in terms of the Bill James runs created metric (the convoluted ’02 version). At the heart of RC are reaching base safely (on-base percentage) and total bases (slugging percentage), two factors that correlate strongly with run scoring, and for obvious reasons.
|TOP 10 RUNS CREATED BY PROSPECTS IN THE MINORS • APRIL 27-29
|Ryan Wheeler*||ARI||Reno||Pacific Coast||AAA||11||7||0||1||1||2||1||0||6.0|
|J.B. Shuck*||HOU||Okla. City||Pacific Coast||AAA||10||8||1||1||0||0||0||1||5.9|
|Christian Colon||KC||NW Ark.||Texas||AA||9||5||2||0||0||3||1||1||4.5|
|Tommy La Stella*||ATL||Lynchburg||Carolina||HiA||13||6||2||0||1||1||0||0||4.4|
|Cory Vaughn||NYM||St. Lucie||Florida State||HiA||14||5||0||0||3||1||4||0||4.3|
|Randal Grichuk||LAA||In. Empire||California||HiA||15||5||0||1||2||1||3||0||4.0|
|Francisco Lindor#||CLE||Lake County||Midwest||LoA||12||6||0||0||1||1||1||2||4.0|
|*Bats lefthanded. #Switch-hitter.
Chart considers only players who appear in 2012 BA Prospect Handbook
Diamondbacks Triple-A Reno first baseman Ryan Wheeler connected for a first-inning grand slam as part of a 2-for-3 day yesterday at Salt Lake. Like Arizona prospect Matt Davidson in Double-A, Wheeler is splitting his time between first and third base . . . White Sox shortstop prospect Tyler Saladino already has accumulated 18 walks in 23 Double-A games, and now he appears to have found his power stroke with a homer and a triple over the weekend . . . High Class A St. Lucie right fielder Cory Vaughn homered once on Friday, once on Saturday and once on Sunday, and he's now tied for the Florida State League with five longballs . . . The Reds' Billy Hamilton leads the California League with 29 steals, four triples and 24 runs scored, giving him the "speed" triple crown. Oh, and the high Class A Bakersfield shortstop also leads the circuit in average (.398) and on-base percentage (.481) . . . Angels right fielder Randal Grichuk mashed a pair of homers versus High Desert on Saturday. The 2009 first-rounder is batting .253/.293/.473 through 91 at-bats for high Class A Inland Empire as he attempts to turn in his first healthy season since his debut summer . . . Speaking of first-rounders, Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, taken eighth overall last June, now shares the Midwest League lead with 32 hits. He's batting .314/.369/.451 through 102 at-bats for low Class A Lake County. [...] Continue Reading »
Bill James' game score calculation rewards pitchers who work deep into games without allowing many runs or hits while providing extra credit for dominance (strikeouts) and control (few walks). It may not be perfect, but tallying game scores for a number of pitchers can winnow a crowded field in a hurry. Presented here are the top 10 game scores from weekend series, April 27-29, by pitchers who appear in the 2012 Baseball America Prospect Handbook.
|TOP 10 GAME SCORES BY PROSPECTS IN THE MINORS • APRIL 27-29
|Nick Maronde*||LAA||Inland Empire||California||HiA||7||3||0||0||12||2||81|
|Austin Wright*||PHI||Clearwater||Florida State||HiA||7||2||1||1||10||2||77|
|Jimmy Nelson||MIL||Brevard County||Florida State||HiA||7.2||2||2||1||6||3||73|
|Garrett Gould||LAD||R. Cucamonga||California||HiA||6||4||1||1||12||0||72|
|*Lefthander. Chart considers only pitchers who appear in 2012 BA Prospect Handbook
Lefty Justin Wilson and Indianapolis relievers Jose Diaz and Doug Slaten combined to no-hit Durham and send the Bulls reeling to their 13th consecutive loss. Wilson features premium heat from the left side but needs to continue finding the strike zone (16 walks in 30 innings so far) as he did yesterday to one day make an impact in the Pittsburgh rotation . . . Rockies lefty Edwar Cabrera has not only survived the jump to Double-A, but so far his changeup has wreaked havoc on Texas League opponents . . . Angels lefty Nick Maronde, a third-rounder from Florida last June, is gaining speed in the California League. He delivered seven shutout innings and 12 strikeouts against High Desert on Friday, and over his past three starts for high Class A Inland Empire he's allowed just four runs in 21 innings while fanning 23 and walking three. Forgive him his two homers allowed—they came in High Desert . . . Maronde isn't the only lefty who bears watching in the Cal League this season. Bakersfield's Tony Cingrani (Reds) and Visalia's David Holmberg (Diamondbacks) also have been stellar, but perhaps no southpaw has outperformed Visalia's Andrew Chafin, the 43rd pick in last year's draft from Kent State. With 12 strikeouts versus San Jose on Saturday, Chafin assumed the minor league lead with 45 whiffs in 27 2/3 innings . . . Give Astros righty R.J. Alaniz credit: He's already made two starts at home in Lancaster and one other in High Desert this season, and he's lived to tell about it (his 31 innings ranks third in the Cal League). The line you see above (seven strikeouts, two walks in seven shutout innings) was compiled at home versus Stockton. [...] Continue Reading »
Miles Head collected a hit in his first 19 games for high Class A Stockton this season, and though that hit streak got him less than half way to the three-year-old California League record, his offensive exploits indicate that the 20-year-old Athletics farmhand is a prospect of interest.
Following hitless performances on Thursday and Friday, Head made the most of his time in Lancaster, going 4-for-5 with a homer and two doubles on Saturday and then 2-for-5 with a double in Sunday (game log). Through 95 at-bats he's batting .368/.390/.716 with six homers and nine doubles. His slugging percentage leads the Cal League, and he's also tops with 24 RBIs and 18 extra-base hits.
Drafted by the Red Sox as a third baseman in 2009, Head spent the subsequent two seasons playing first base in the Boston system prior to his inclusion on last winter's Andrew Bailey trade. Oakland shifted him back across the diamond with Stockton this season, and while the early power output has been encouraging, he'll need to narrow the gap between his walks (three) and strikeouts (21) and prove himself a capable third baseman.
The power stroke isn't entirely new, however. Head smacked 15 homers in a half-season with low Class A Greenville last year to crack the South Atlantic League Top 20 prospects list, but he cooled considerably after a second-half promotion.
Double-A Tulsa lefthander Edwar Cabrera doesn't have a big fastball. Nor does his breaking ball catch the attention of scouts. What the 24-year-old Rockies prospect does have, however, is perhaps the best changeup in the Texas League.
While Cabrera muscled his way onto the prospect map in 2011 when he fanned a minor league-best 217 batters, he has kept the attention of prospect watchers this season by running his strikeout-to-walk ratio to 29-to-3 and dampening his ERA to 1.64 through his first five career starts at Double-A.
He delivered seven shutout innings against Springfield on Saturday, striking out seven, walking none and allowing a mere two hits. Cabrera cut through the Cardinals lineup despite the fact that, in the words of Drillers manager Duane Espy, the southpaw didn't have access to his best stuff.
Cabrera sells his low-80s changeup with good arm speed, while he cuts his 89-91 mph fastball in on righthanded batters. They collectively have hit just .110 versus Cabrera this year (minor league splits), while faring little better last season, when Cabrera faced 566 righty batters and held them to a batting line of .231/.281/.382 (though with 17 homers allowed).
Pittsburgh minor league outfielder Josh Bell had surgery on the meniscus in his left knee today, the Pirates announced. The surgery was performed by Dr. Patrick DeMeo in Pittsburgh.
Bell was injured while running the bases in a game on April 24. He was removed from the game due to discomfort in his left knee.
Bell will be returning to Bradenton to begin his rehab and he is expected to return to action later this season.
The long-awaited big league debut of Bryce Harper will happen on Saturday in Dodgers Stadium.
The Nationals announced on Friday afternoon that they are placing Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-day disabled list and bringing up Harper to replace him on the active roster. Harper had struggled in his 20-game stint with Triple-A Syracuse, but with the big league club getting almost no production from left field, the Nationals decided it was time to bring up their No. 1 prospect. Nationals left fielders are hitting .097/.207/.125 with two extra-base hits (two doubles) this year so whether Harper plays right, left or center, he can at least be expected to produce significantly more power than the players he'll be replacing. [...] Continue Reading »
The commissioner's office announced a pair of 50-game suspensions, both tied to performance-enhancing substance use, handed out to minor league pitchers. Both players tested positive for metabolites of Stanozolol.
White Sox minor league righthander Andre Rienzo notched a Carolina League-leading 31 strikeouts through his first 25 innings with high Class A Winston-Salem. Now the 23-year-old Brazilian will miss the next two months. Rienzo, who also spent last season with the Dash, went 3-0, 1.08 through four starts this season, allowing just 17 hits and zero home runs.
Indians minor league lefthander Harold Guerrero finished last season with low Class A Lake County but had not yet debuted this season. The 21-year-old spent the majority of 2011 with short-season Mahoning Valley, where he ran up a 6.14 ERA in 16 appearances, seven of them starts. He struck out 36 and walked 25 in 48 1/3 innings.
Here we present official minor league transactions, conveyed to us by Major League Baseball, for the period April 17-23.
Released: RHP Juan Falcon
Recalled: RHP Jonathan Albaladejo
Added to 40-man roster: SS Cody Ransom, OF A.J. Pollock
Optioned to Triple-A: 3B Josh Bell
Placed on 7-day DL: RHP Bryan Henry
The Diamondbacks acquired Josh Bell from the Orioles, sending a player to be named to Baltimore. The 25-year-old third baseman began the season in a 3-for-32 funk with Triple-A Norfolk prior to the trade. (See the Orioles entry for more on Bell.)
Released: C Ryan Delgado, SS Ozzie Chavez, OF Brahiam Maldonado, OF Elieser Salmeron
Placed on 7-day DL: LHP Luis Avilan, OF Chase Larsson, OF David Rohm
Reinstated from DL: SS Ozzie Chavez, OF Todd Cunningham, OF Will Skinner, OF Keenan Wiley [...] Continue Reading »
While righthander Domingo Tapia has been a revelation for the Mets with his 20-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio through three starts for low Class A Savannah, he’s not the only young hurler who appears to be taking a step forward this season. Here we present one Class A pitcher from the other nine Eastern Division organizations who might be on to something.
Righthander Dave Filak flunked out of the South Atlantic League last year after running up a 7.54 ERA and 1.96 WHIP in 11 starts, but the 2010 fourth-rounder got off to a much better start with low Class A Rome this season. Better location of low-90s heat and a power curveball allowed Filak to compile a 27-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio through his first 21 innings.
The Orioles enticed last year’s 26th-rounder Zach Davies to forgo an Arizona State commitment by offering a $575,000 bonus, and he’s off to a good start with low Class A Delmarva this season. The 19-year-old commands four pitches at an early age—fastball, curve, slider, changeup—and because of that repertoire and the fact that he’s a 6-foot righty, Davies has drawn Mike Leake comparisons. [...] Continue Reading »
After Nick Castellanos, it's a pretty open debate about who the next best position prospect is in the Tigers' farm system.
For now, that title belongs to Double-A catcher Rob Brantly, who is off to a great start for Erie, but Avisail Garcia is at least presenting a strong case for himself. Garcia, 20, went 2-for-4 with his second home run of the season yesterday and is now batting .369/.414/.477 in 70 plate appearances for high Class A Lakeland. He has at least one hit in 14 of his 16 games and has nine multi-hit games.
Garcia runs well for a man who's 6-foot-4, 240 pounds and is a clean 5-for-5 stealing bases. Plate discipline and the ability to hit breaking pitches are still questions for Garcia, who has two walks and 15 strikeouts on the year, but if he can make strides in those departments, he has the potential for five average or better tools.
Trevor May is Philadelphia's best prospect, and so far, he's pitched like it for Double-A Reading.
May, 22, allowed only one hit in six shutout innings today, leaving the game with two walks and seven strikeouts. With a lively 90-95 mph fastball and two secondary pitches that can be swing-and-miss offerings, May has held down a 2.35 ERA with 26 strikeouts and eight walks in 23 innings through his first four starts.
Given some of May's control issues in the past, he probably isn't going to be rushed to the major league club any time soon, but if he continues to tighten his command, he could be in line for a job in Philadelphia's starting rotation by 2013.
At this time three years ago, Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras was just getting ready to make his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League.
Now, a couple months shy of his 20th birthday, Taveras is already one of the best hitters in the Double-A Texas League, which he showed more evidence of today by going 2-for-5 with his fourth home run of the season. Taveras is hitting .312/.321/.610 in 18 games for Springfield thanks to a knack for barreling up the ball with a bat that stays in the hitting zone a long time when he's going right.
Taveras is getting some time in center field, but he really doesn't have the range or the instincts to play there, so at some point he will end up sliding back to one of the corner outfield spots. Taveras probably will never be a high walks guy–he's drawn just one free pass in 78 plate appearances–but remember that he's skipping the high Class A Florida State League and had just 78 games of full-season experience coming into the year, which makes his quick start of hitting for batting average and power even more impressive.
Gerardo Concepcion's pro debut got ugly fast.
Concepcion, a 20-year-old Cuban lefthander who signed this year with the Cubs, gave up five runs in the first inning against low Class A Lake County (Indians), though he stayed in the game and pitched around trouble the rest of the way, finishing with five runs allowed in five innings, with eight hits, one walk and two strikeouts.
Concepcion received a reported five-year, $6 million major league deal, a surprising amount to many scouts given Concepcion's stuff, and reports from extended spring training in Arizona were consistent with those pre-signing reports.
By the end of the year, could Mason Williams be the Yankees' No. 1 prospect? Given his combination of tools and track record (albeit a relatively brief one), it's certainly possible.
Playing for low Class A Charleston, Williams had his best game of the year today, going 4-for-4 with a double, a walk and his first home run of the season, raising his batting line to .347/.375/.507. Williams, a 20-year-old center fielder, has shown a promising package of athleticism, well-above-average speed and hitting instincts. He's swiped eight bases in nine tries, struck out just four times in 80 trips to the plate and has the tools to be an above-average defender in center field.
So while Williams could end up as the Yankees' top prospect by the end of the year, it's still a debate among scouts about whether he's even the best prospect on his own team. Charleston catcher Gary Sanchez is hitting .365/.420/.476 in 16 games and righthander Vicente Campos is showing command of a mid-90s fastball to pick apart South Atlantic League hitters, so Williams certainly has competition for the top spot in the organization.
Royals right fielder Wil Myers put up numbers on par with Mike Trout in 2010, but a knee injury slowed him in 2011. Myers showed the ability to control the strike zone last year, but his swings just didn't look the same, and he finished hitting .254/.353/.393 with Double-A Northwest Arkansas with eight homers in 99 games.
Back in Double-A this year, Myers has nearly matched his entire 2011 home run output in just 17 games. Myers, 21, went 2-for-4 with a home run, a double, a walk and a steal today, giving him five home runs and a .319/.382/.623 slash line in 77 plate appearances.
Myers has shown he can crush a fastball, but the power is coming at the expense of some swing and miss, as Myers has struck out 23 times. At some point though, Myers will figure out how to balance his skills, making him a potential high OBP, power-hitting right fielder who could be holding down a starting job in Kansas City by 2013.
There was nothing to complain about Jonathan Singleton's first two weeks of the season. He was hitting .316/.409/.474 for Double-A Corpus Christi, but if you wanted to be picky, you could point out Singleton's lack of power.
He's fixed that problem. Singleton's working on a six-game hitting streak that peaked last night with a 4-for-4 night with a triple and two home runs. Over the past six games he has six extra base hits and has raised his averages to .377/.457/.689.
Scouts project Singleton to have plus-plus power potential as he matures, but up to now his career high in home runs is 14, set in low Class A Lakewood in 2010. Singleton hasn't slugged over .500 in a season either. His power sometimes suffers because of his excellent patience at the plate–scouts and coaches say he draws walks sometimes by letting pitches he could drive go by.
A more legitimate long-term concern for Singleton is his significant platoon splits. He did not homer against a lefty last year, and he is hitting only .231 against lefties this year. He does make up for that by absolutely crushing righthanded pitching. Currently Singleton is hitting .486/.561/.886 against righthanders in Double-A.
Right according to plan, the Orioles allowed Dylan Bundy to go four innings for the first time this season. Bundy responded by once again not allowing any baserunners.
Pitching for low Class A Delmarva, Bundy threw four perfect innings in the Shorebirds 4-2 win over the Greenville Drive on Tuesday night. It was the third time in four starts that he's not allowed a baserunner. The only hitter to reach on Bundy this year is Hagerstown's Billy Burns who walked in the final inning of Bundy's previous start. Bundy has struck out 21 of the 40 batters he's faced.
Not surprisingly, Bundy is the only minor leaguer with 10 or more innings pitched who has not allowed a hit this year. The Orioles' plan is to gradually lengthen Bundy out with the intention of getting him two more starts where he is limited to four innings, followed by several starts where he is then limited to five innings. According to Orioles' pitching coordinator Rick Peterson, the plan is to have him stretched out in the later half of the year where he can throw a normal workload–where he's given roughly 100 pitches to go as deep in a game as he can.
Bundy's mound opponent, Red Sox 2011 first-round pick Matt Barnes, was almost as impressive. Barnes struck out nine in five scoreless innings of work. Unlike Bundy, Barnes did allow five baserunners, but his ERA remains a perfect 0.00 after 21 innings of work.
When the Cubs drafted Hayden Simpson in the first round in 2010, they left many teams shocked, as Simpson was generally though to be a third to fifth-round talent heading into the draft. Two years later, the Cubs' decision to buck the industry consensus isn't paying off.
Simpson gave up eight hits, seven walks and six runs, five of which were earned, in 4 1/3 innings in a 13-5 loss to Lakeland Tuesday night. It was the third straight rough outing for Simpson. Simpson has now allowed 38 baserunners in 17 innings for high Class A Daytona, which explains his 7.94 ERA.
But probably just as troubling, Simpson's mid-90s fastball continues to be missing. Last year, Simpson's fastball dipped to the mid-80s. At the time the Cubs blamed it on a bad case of mononucleosis, and then there was a stress reaction in his elbow. But a year later, there are some legitimate concerns that Simpson's velocity may never get back to what it was back in 2010.
At this point, Simpson is having to try to survive without a pitch that misses bats. It's a nearly impossible task as he's struck out four of the 88 batters he's faced this year.
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