Eduardo Rodriguez, lhp, Orioles: The Eastern League’s two youngest pitchers faced each other last night in Binghamton, with Rodriguez opposing the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard. A breakout prospect for the Orioles in 2012, Rodriguez kept the momentum going this spring with high Class A Frederick, going 6-4, 2.85 in 14 starts to earn a promotion to Double-A Bowie in early July. Having just turned 20 in April, Rodriguez is the youngest pitcher to work in the EL this season, and it showed in the early going. He took his lumps initially, running up a 7.01 ERA through his first seven EL starts.
The light seems to have gone on over the last two weeks, beginning when Rodriguez threw five shutout innings on Aug. 15. Over his last three starts, he’s allowed only one run on 11 hits in 19 innings, culminating with Monday’s sterling effort against Binghamton when Rodriguez tossed eight two-hit, shutout frames. He recorded just five strikeouts but didn’t walk a batter, enabling him to get through eight innings on just 95 pitches (66 strikes). On the other side, Syndergaard saw his 20-inning shutout streak snapped emphatically. Bowie scored four runs in the first inning and touched him up for 11 runs (nine earned) over three innings before he was pulled.
Domingo Tapia, rhp, Mets: While Syndergaard struggled and Matt Harvey publicized the torn UCL in his elbow, there was at least some good pitching news for the Mets on Monday. The 21-year-old Tapia turned in one of his best starts of the season for high Class A St. Lucie, allowing just three hits and two runs (both unearned) over seven innings against Charlotte, matching his longest outing of the season (his only other seven-inning start coming back on April 20). The control issues that have plagued Tapia were still present in the form of five walks and two wild pitches, but he was able to overcome them by inducing 14 groundouts. Tapia lowered his ERA back below 5.00 to 4.86 through 96 innings.
Seth Mejias-Brean, 3b, Reds: Mejias-Brean went on a power binge in July when he hit six homers in an 11-day stretch, but that’s not really his game. He has just four homers the rest of the season, including one on Monday that gave him 10 for the year at low Class A Dayton. The 22-year-old doesn’t really have a tool that’s going to carry him to the majors, but he’s a smart, polished hitter who should be able to reach the upper minors and see what he can prove there. His .310 average ranks fifth in the Midwest League, and he’s hitting .353/.434/.539 in the second half. True to form, he was productive in all four of his plate appearances on Monday, beyond just the home run. He also added in a double, a walk and a sac fly, for his fifth multi-hit game in his current six-game hitting streak.
Trevor May, rhp, Twins: May’s ERA shot up by 50 points from 4.02 to 4.52 after a disastrous Aug. 4 outing for Double-A New Britain in which he gave up eight runs in 2 2/3 innings. His next couple outings didn’t go much better (9 ER in 11 1/3 IP), but he’s bounced back with a pair of quality starts, his latest being six shutout innings Monday against Trenton, allowing just two hits and whiffing nine. May improved to 9-9, 4.48 in in 144 2/3 innings for New Britain and moved into second place in the Eastern League strikeout race with 149.
May’s strikeout and walks rates have both improved in his second full year at Double-A, but his 4.11 BB/9 is still higher than you’d like to see, and he sports 4.68 ERA in 54 Double-A starts over the last two years. Scouts still like his pitcher’s frame and aggressive style, but he’ll need more consistency out of his curveball to be able to succeed against upper level hitters on a regular basis.
Javier Baez, ss, Cubs: What Prospect Notebook would be complete without a Baez update? On Monday, the 20-year-old Cubs phenom hit his 18th homer in 48 games since joining Double-A Tennessee in late June, and his 35th on the season overall. Baez closed to within two of minor league leader George Springer’s 37, and he went 2-for-3 in the game to elevate his Double-A slash line to .309/.360/.656 in 195 at-bats.