Minor League Roundup: Many Happy Returns

In today’s roundup, Gregory Polanco returns to form, Mike Foltynewicz whiffs everybody, Francellis Montas and Carlos Correa return, and David Dahl goes off.

JJ’s GIF Of The Day 

Rangers righthander Jose Leclerc has an exceptionally quick arm, can touch 95-96 mph on a regular basis and works in an occasional quick pitch. But if he’s going to reach his potential, he has to prove that his erratic curveball can be more than a fringy pitch. On Monday at high Class A Winston-Salem, LeClerc found that breaking ball for at least one night. As a result, he threw a dominating inning, striking out all three batters he faced.

Jose LeClerc

Jose LeClerc’s curveball (Source: Milb.tv)

 

Mookie Meter

Betts was 2-for-3 with two runs, an RBI and two walks for Double-A Portland on Monday. He also stole his Eastern League-best 14th base of the season.

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International League (AAA)

Gregory Polanco, rf, Indianapolis (Pirates): After a couple of relatively quiet days, Pittsburgh’s top prospect exploded on Monday night. The powerful outfielder clubbed four hits, including two doubles, drove in a run and scored. He also made a fantastic catch. At this point, Pirates fans are just wondering how many days until June comes and he can be cemented into the mix at PNC Field.

Mike FoltynewiczPacific Coast League (AAA)

Mike Foltynewicz, rhp, Oklahoma City (Astros): Oh, that pesky Melky Mesa. If it weren’t for him, Foltynewicz would have pitched the first six innings of history on Monday. Mesa’s home run was the only hit Omaha notched against Foltynewicz, who struck out a dozen and walked two over six shutout innings. Paul Clemens threw three hitless innings in relief. Foltynewicz’s calling card is his top-shelf heat, and he also offers two inconsistent breaking balls. He’s struck out 31 (and walked 15) in 30 innings.

Eastern League (AA)

Deven Marrero, ss, Portland (Red Sox): Hitting behind Mookie Betts certainly helps you drive in runs.  Marrero, a stellar defender who didn’t make his first error of the season until Monday, went 2-for-4 with his second home run of the season. He scored twice, drove in four runs and walked in Portland’s romp over Reading. He’s hitting .286/.375/.452 this season but, like Betts, is beyond blocked in Boston thanks to the presence of Xander Bogaerts.

Southern League (AA)

Anthony DeSclafani, rhp, Jacksonville (Marlins): DeSclafani, one of the prospects brought back in the 12-player Blue Jays-Marlins blockbuster, was at his best on Monday night. The righthander struck out 10 over six innings of five-hit, two-run ball, with a pair of walks mixed in. He operates with a lively fastball that sits in the lower 90s but can reach 95-96 mph. He’s also got a big curveball that projects as plus in the future, and his success will be predicated on learning to command all parts of the strike zone.

Texas League (AA)

James Ramsey

James Ramsey, cf, Springfield (Cardinals): Not only did Ramsey pop two longballs on Monday, he did it in the first three innings. Yet another piece in the Cardinals’ cadre of talented outfielders, Ramsey finished 3-for-4 with the two homers, three runs scored and four more driven in. He gets plus grades for his makeup (Rhodes scholar status and captaincy at Florida State will do that for you), but scouts grade his tools as average across the board. In a return to the Texas League thanks to the presence of Stephen Piscotty, Oscar Taveras and, in the beginning, Randal Grichuk, at Triple-A Memphis, Ramsey has put forth a .316/.409/.570 line with eight homers over the first month and change.

Carolina League (Hi A)

Francelis Montas, rhp, Winston-Salem (White Sox): After missing a month recovering from a torn meniscus in his knee, Montas made his season debut on Monday night. The righthander, who came over from the Red Sox with Cleuluis Rondon in the Jake Peavy trade last season, worked with primarily a 92-96 mph fastball with a couple of pitches hitting as high as 97. He also offered a mid-80s slider that flashed plus on occasion, and also showed a below-average changeup at the same velocity. With that mix, he was quite effective against the powerful Myrtle Beach club. He made two mistakes, a hanging slider to Jorge Alfaro that turned into a double, and a fastball left over the middle on the next pitch that Joey Gallo slashed for a run-scoring triple. He allowed only one more ball in the air for the rest of his outing, however, and struck out four over five innings.

Florida State League (Hi A)

Jake Cave, cf, Tampa (Yankees): One of the bigger sleepers in the organization, Cave is beginning to open some eyes. He collected three hits in five trips on Monday, a little more than a week after going 5-for-5, and is riding a modest four-game hitting streak. He’s a steady outfielder who one evaluator said lacked the speed to play center field in the long term. Still, he’s hitting .306/.338/.435 in high Class A in what is just his second full season.

California League (Hi A)

Carlos Correa

Carlos Correa, ss, Lancaster (Astros): Guess who’s back? After missing time with a bum shoulder and then easing back in as a DH, Correa was back at shortstop on Monday and was back to his old tricks with the bat. He went 3-for-4 with a triple, an RBI and a run scored, and he now is hitting .309/.369/.464 this season. As most already know, he’s one of the best prospects in the game, a shortstop with the potential to be a well-above-average hitter and the plus-plus makeup to match. He looks more and more like a cornerstone every day.

South Atlantic League (Lo A)

David Dahl, cf, Asheville (Rockies): En fuego. After being overshadowed by Ryan McMahon for the first month of the season, Dahl has begun to carry the torch for the Tourists and reassert himself as Colorado’s top position prospect. Dahl went 2-for-4 with two home runs on Monday night, and drove in three runs. The longballs were his third in as many days, and his seventh and eighth for the year. He’s 6-for-his-last-19, with four hits for extra bases. To boot, he’s also a perfect 9-for-9 in stolen base attempts this year. Looks like everything is clicking after a lost season in 2013.

Midwest League (Lo A)

Alex Reyes, rhp, Peoria (Cardinals): Reyes started his season by walking seven hitters in five innings. In the 18 1/3 innings since then, he’s walked nine. That’s still not great, but it’s a marked improvement over the opener. On Monday, Reyes whiffed eight in six innings of five-hit, one-run ball and walked just two. The talented righthander offers two plus offerings in his hard fastball and devastating curve, and also mixes in a changeup. He’s used that combination to fan 32 in his first 23 1/3 innings, good for a strikeout rate of 12.3 per nine innings.