Blue Jays prospect Adeiny Hechavarria is one of the best defensive shortstops in the minors. The Cuban defector recently was named the best defensive shortstop in the Eastern League, and his glove is considered good enough to get him to the big leagues if he can be even an average hitter.
But a year and a half since he signed with the Blue Jays for a franchise-record $4 million bonus as part of a $10 million big league deal, Hechavarria's hitting ability is still a question mark. He was hitting .235/.275/.347 in a second try at Double-A New Hampshire before a surprising promotion to Triple-A Las Vegas this month.
Normally a hitter who is struggling in Double-A will be buried by the more advanced pitchers of Triple-A ball, but that hasn't been the case in the early going with Hechavarria, who is hitting .476/.532/.619 since his callup. And while Las Vegas is one of the best parks in the minors for hitters, Hechavarria's success can't be credited to a park where the ball carries—eight of his 10 Triple-A games have come on the road at Nashville and Memphis.
Hechavarria surely will cool off at the plate, but if he can just be adequate, his glove will handle the rest.
"Every day he seems to do something on the defensive side where you just shake your head and think, 'Wow,' " Las Vegas manager Marty Brown told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "I've had a lot of really good middle infielders play for me—Jhonny Peralta, Brandon Phillips, Maicer Izturis—but Hech is one of the most special, as far as being able to do the things he can do with the glove, his arm strength, his overall range and his reads off the bat."
KEEP ON HITTING: Royals first baseman/designated hitter Clint Robinson hit two more home runs this weekend, giving him 21 for the year and improving his overall numbers to .322/.399/.527 for Triple-A Omaha. The 2007 25th-round pick was a $1,000 senior sign who has proven himself by simply hitting everywhere he's played. Robinson won the Triple Crown in the Double-A Texas League last year and has a .310 career minor league batting average.
Unfortunately for him, he also has no clear path to a big league job. The 26-year-old is on the Royals 40-man roster, but he also happens to be blocked by Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler. Considering that Hosmer is considered a cornerstone of the team's lineup (hitting .268/.320/.416 in a solid rookie season) and Butler is the team's best hitter, Robinson may be wise to look at putting down roots in Omaha.
Robinson has played two games in left field this year, but considering his lack of foot speed, he's a first baseman all the way. The Royals exercised their first option on Robinson this year, so unless he is traded away or dropped from the 40-man at some point, he could be a first base insurance policy for the Royals for years to come.
EFFORTLESS RETURN: If it hadn't been for a collision at home plate that snapped his collarbone, Mike Olt would likely be listed among the top third base prospects in the game. Instead Olt missed two and a half months as his broken bone healed. This weekend Olt announced his return to high Class A Myrtle Beach by going 3-for-5 with a double, home run, four RBIs and four walks in two games.
The injury likely erased Olt's chances of getting to Double-A this year, but he is hitting .294/.409/.531 and his 11 home runs lead the Pelicans, even though he missed all that time.
TRADE CHIPS: Jarred Cosart's transition to his new team is going pretty smoothly. The righthander, a key part of the Astros' haul for trading Hunter Pence to the Phillies, threw six scoreless innings on Friday night, holding Double-A Arkansas to a single hit. Cosart allowed seven runs in his second start with Corpus Christi, but he's allowed only one run in his other three starts since the trade.
Cosart isn't the only new Astro to get off to a strong start. Cosart's new teammate Paul Clemens improved to 2-0 with a win on Sunday. Clemens, who came to the Astros when Michael Bourn was sent to the Braves, is now 2-0, 1.05 with the Hooks. Cosart's Clearwater teammate Jonathan Singleton is hitting .313/.346/.566 for high Class A Lancaster since he was traded. Righthander Juan Abreu, another part of the Bourn trade, is 1-0, 1.86 as a reliever with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
SHUTTING DOWN: With only two weeks left in the minor league regular season, an injury now generally means you're done for the year. That's what appears to be the case for Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper and Rockies lefthander Drew Pomeranz.
Harper pulled a hamstring on Thursday night. A subsequent MRI has diagnosed it as a relatively minor hamstring strain, but Nationals manager Davey Johnson told the Washington Post that he expects it will sideline Harper for the rest of the season.
Pomeranz had an appendectomy on Saturday. The Rockies are already calling up fellow trade acquisition Alex White for a start this week and it was thought that Pomeranz could join him in Denver come September. But it's now unlikely that he'll be able to work back into form before the season ends.