D.J. Davis, of, Blue Jays: The Blue Jays used the 17th overall pick in last year’s draft on Davis, one of the youngest players in the draft class (he turns 19 on Thursday). Davis’ speed immediately grabs scouts’ attention, grading at the top of the 20-80 scale and giving him plenty of range in center field and making him a constant threat on the basepaths. Davis isn’t a polished hitter, but he’s more than just a one-dimensional legs guy. In Rookie-level Bluefield, Davis is is hitting .301/.390/.544—a slugging mark that’s boosted by six triples, his latest coming yesterday—and showing signs that the tools are starting to translate to performance. The strikeouts are still something he’s going to have to cut back on, but things are moving in the right direction for Davis.
Christian Bethancourt, c, Braves: Bethancourt’s arm is an outstanding tool, but his performance at the plate hasn’t caught up to his defense. Bethancourt is a free-swinger, and his tendency to chase pitches outside the zone is an OBP killer because he’s not going to hit for a high average. He does have good raw power for a catcher, and it’s something he’s started to get to more this year than he had in the past. Bethancourt connected for two home runs on Friday—giving him eight on the year—and he added two more hits on Saturday to bring his line with Double-A Mississippi up to 268/.295/.438 in 58 games.
Jesse Winker, of, Reds: With the game tied 6-6 in the bottom of the ninth, Winker hit a walk-off homer to give low Class A Dayton a 7-6 victory over Wisconsin yesterday. The homer was Winker’s 13th of the season, which is impressive for a 19-year-old in the Midwest League, but Winker stands out more for his advanced approach and a fundamentally sound lefty swing than his pure power. As a left fielder who doesn’t bring a lot to the table defensively, he’s going to have to hit a lot to project as an everyday player, but Winker has the hitting instincts and the power to make it happen.
Kyle Zimmer, rhp, Royals: After struggling to keep runs off the board through the first two months of the season, Zimmer has been one of the most dominant arms in the minor leagues over his last six starts. Making his Double-A debut yesterday, Zimmer fired six shutout innings with seven strikeouts and one walk. The 21-year-old is just the latest example that, if the stuff is still there and the peripheral indicators are intact, there’s no need to panic if the ERA isn’t great for a couple of months.
Matt Barnes, rhp, Red Sox: After a strong pro debut last year, the 2013 season has been more of a challenge for Barnes. With a power fastball and a curveball that flashes above-average, Barnes is averaging 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings for Double-A Portland, but he’s also allowed at least four runs in five of his starts this year, including two outings in which he wasn’t able to make it out of the third inning. Barnes need only look to Zimmer for perspective that his season can turn around because the stuff is still there, and with a gem Saturday—seven shutout innings with 10 strikeouts—a second-half turnaround could be coming.
Adam Brett Walker, of, Twins: While Walker stood out during his college days at Jacksonville for his power, the knock on him from scouts was his propensity to chase pitches out of the strike zone and rack up strikeouts, a concern that carried over to the pro scouts who saw him last year in the Rookie-level Appalachian League. He hasn’t become Tony Gwynn overnight, but he has shown real improvement this year with his contact rate. The power is still there too, as he hit two home runs on Friday and added another one yesterday, giving him 21 on the season for low Class A Cedar Rapids.