In today’s roundup, a Cubs prospect bashes two homers, a Diamondbacks farmhand doubles that, Dilson Herrera keeps on keeping on, Julio Urias shuts ’em down in the Cal League and Edwin Diaz finds a groove. Oh, and Mookie Betts makes everybody gasp in horror.
All was well and good in MookieVille (Portland, Me.) on Wednesday, it seemed. He doubled twice, scored twice and drove in a run in the Sea Dogs’ doubleheader with Binghamton. He played center field in both games, however, which is where it got a little sticky. Just check this tweet from Portland Press-Herald beat writer Kevin Thomas.
CF Mookie Betts and RF Shannon Wilkeron collided on a deep fly. Wilkerson caught it. Both stayed down for 10 seconds before jogging off
— Kevin Thomas (@ClearTheBases) May 21, 2014
Listen, Mookie, you’ve got to be more careful. The game needs you. Joey Gallo left yesterday’s game with an apparent injury. Pitchers across the sport are dropping like flies. Heck, Michael Wacha sustained an elbow contusion just sitting in the dugout during his start on Wednesday. I know you’re new to the outfield, and these things happen, but make sure these things don’t happen again. Please? If you won’t listen to me, listen to The Beatnuts.
Matt Davidson, of, Charlotte (White Sox): One of the prizes in the deal that sent closer Addison Reed to Arizona, Davidson has had a slow go of it so far in Triple-A. He’s hitting just .201/.257/.367 with five homers and 14 RBIs, not to mention 24 strikeouts in 76 at-bats. Still, there is plenty to like about Davidson—namely, power. He socked 20, 23 and 20 homers over his past three seasons (three of which came in the majors), but he’s not projected to hit for a high average. His defensive chops need polishing, too. He was 2-for-3 on Wednesday with a homer and two runs scored.
Pacific Coast League
Christian Villanueva, 3b, Iowa (Cubs): Javier Baez is getting most of the hype with the I-Cubs, and deservedly so. To his right, however, is another, often-overlooked prospect. Villanueva and teammate Kyle Hendricks were dealt from Texas to Chicago two Julys ago for Ryan Dempster, and Villanueva is in Triple-A as a 22-year-old. He’s an aggressive hitter with plenty of power potential, and swatted 15 of his 19 homers last season in the second half. He knocked two out of the park on Wednesday as part of a 2-for-4 effort with three RBIs.
Michael Taylor, of, Harrisburg (Nationals): He’s on fire. With a home run on Wednesday, Taylor, who tore up the Puerto Rican league, now sits in the top power spot in the Eastern League. That’s huge, especially for a guy who’s earned comps to Adam Jones and Mike Cameron in the past. If you add power to package that already includes excellent speed and defense, well you’ve really got something there. There are questions about his ability to hit offspeed stuff, but he’s doing a fine job answering critics thus far in his first taste of Double-A, especially this month, when he’s hitting an eye-popping .348/.419/.697.
Jon Griffin, 1b, Mobile (Diamondbacks): For the second time in less than a year, a minor leaguer has clubbed four home runs in a game. Last year, it was Javier Baez, who turned the trick with high Class A Daytona and now has zoomed to Triple-A as a 21-year-old. This year, it’s Griffin, a 25-year-old first baseman with the BayBears. No matter who you are, four bombs in a game is always impressive, but Griffin didn’t even need the first four innings to do it. He homered in the fifth (off of Joel Pineiro), sixth (Austin Kirk), seventh (Lendy Castillo) and ninth (position player Anthony Giansanti) in in his team’s rout of Tennessee.
Sam Selman, lhp, Northwest Arkansas (Royals): He’s got good stuff, including a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a slider that flashes plus and a fringe average curve and changeup, but he’s battled control and command issues for his whole career. Just look at his 4.9 walks per nine innings last year for proof. On Wednesday, however, everything was working. He fanned eight over six innings of three-hit, shutout ball and, most importantly, walked just one. Is this a turning point? Time will tell.
Tim Anderson, ss, Winston-Salem (White Sox): Chicago’s first-rounder from last year dealt with a dinged-up shoulder earlier this season, but has shown on plenty of occasions the electric toolset that made the White Sox bet $2,164,000 on him last June. He was 3-for-4 with two runs in the second game of a doubleheader on Wednesday, but his slash line still sits at .265/.273/.412. He’s drawn just two walks all season against 36 strikeouts, and has been shaky on defense.
Florida State League
Dilson Herrera, 2b, St. Lucie (Mets): Nice little lineup you’ve got there, St. Lucie Mets. Herrera leads off and leads the Florida State League in hits, and is followed by Brandon Nimmo, who paces the circuit in walks. That pair is followed by T.J. Rivera, who trails only Herrera for the hits crown. Herrera came over from Pittsburgh late last season in the trade that turned Marlon Byrd into a Pirate Parrot for the stretch run. He’s a contact-oriented slap hitter who sprays the ball all over the field. He went 3-for-4 yesterday with a double, a homer and two runs scored, and also stole his 11th bag of the year.
Julio Urias, lhp, Rancho Cucamonga (Dodgers): What an up-and-down year it’s been for the 17-year-old in high Class A. His shoulder barked at him in late April, but he didn’t miss time, although he got hit pretty hard in the two previous starts. He’s only gotten to five innings once, which is understandable considering his age and limited workload. That outing came on Wednesday, when he allowed one hit over five innings against Inland Empire. He struck out five and walked nobody, moving his totals for the season to 34 strikeouts and 15 walks, including a 16-to-2 ratio this month. He’s about as advanced a pitcher as you’ll find for his age and has star written all over him in Dodger Blue Sharpie.
South Atlantic League
Edwin Diaz, rhp, Clinton (Mariners): Although he struck out just one on Wednesday, it was easily the best outing of the month (and second-best of the season) for the skinny 20-year-old. He lasted seven innings against Peoria—a season-high—and shut down the opposition on five hits and a walk. Diaz, whom the Mariners signed for $300,000 in 2012, can bring his fastball up to 96 and also brandishes a plus slider and developing changeup.