Victor Sanchez, rhp, Mariners: When the Mariners signed Sanchez two years ago on July 2 out of Venezuela, they knew they weren’t getting your typical 16-year-old pitcher. He had an unusual combination of present stuff and polish for his age—he had been a standout in multiple international tournaments. Some teams even liked him as a position player for his raw power, but with his thicker body type, there wasn’t much physical projection left. That advanced feel for pitching is what has allowed him to move quickly to the low Class A Midwest League as an 18-year-old, where last night he fired a rare nine-inning no-hitter with eight strikeouts.
Henry Owens, lhp, Red Sox: Owens finished his first pro season last year with an ERA just south of 5.00, but he still entered the 2013 season ranked as the No. 91 prospect in baseball with a fastball/changeup combination that misses plenty of bats. He’s taken a step forward this year and threw six no-hit innings in a combined no-hitter for high Class A Salem. Owens needs to put the ball in the strike zone more often—even yesterday he walked four batters and hit another one—but the stuff and arm angle from his 6-foot-6 frame give hitters plenty of uncomfortable at-bats.
Alexander Reyes, rhp, Cardinals: Reyes took an unusual path to pro ball. Born and raised in New Jersey, Reyes pitched and played shortstop in high school but moved to the Dominican Republic before he graduated. He ended up catching the attention of a few teams as a pitcher and his value skyrocketed, which led to him signing with the Cardinals for $950,000 in December. Now an 18-year-old armed with a 90-94 mph fastball and a promising changeup, Reyes yesterday allowed two runs over five innings with eight strikeouts in the Rookie-level Appalachian League, where he has a 3.38 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings.
C.J. Edwards, rhp, Rangers: Edwards has gone from an obscure 48th-round pick two years ago to become one of the best pitching prospects in the Rangers system. With a fastball that sits in the low- to mid-90s and can get even higher, Edwards also has feel for his offspeed stuff to put hitters away. After nine strikeouts in five shutout innings yesterday for low Class A Hickory, Edwards now has a 1.83 ERA in 93 1/3 innings with 122 strikeouts (11.8 SO/9).
Steven Fuentes, ss, Tigers: Few teams can compete with the volume of talent the Tigers have added to their system out of Venezuela. They may have another good one in Fuentes, a $210,000 signing two years ago who is starting to translate his tools into skills in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. The 18-year-old switch-hitter followed up a 3-for-3 day on Tuesday by going 2-for-4 yesterday, bringing him to .333/.467/.389 through 13 games. There are still some rough edges to Fuentes’ game, but with his athleticism, plus speed and plus arm, the tools are there for a breakout.