Tuesday Prospect Notebook: Berrios Coming Back Strong

Stetson Allie, 1b, Pirates. Allie’s surge continues. After his blistering hot start for low Class A West Virginia, he hit a bit of dip in the middle of the month, going 7-for-32 (.219) with no homers from April 17-27. He’s bounced back with consecutive multi-hit games the last two days and broke out of his homer drought by going deep twice last night. Those two homers conquered the minors’ most extreme pitchers’ park (Savannah) and moved him into a tie for second in the minors with eight, trailing only Miguel Sano’s nine. On the flip side, Allie also reminds us how raw he still is at the dish, as he finished last night with a Courtney Hawkins-esque line of 2-for-5 with two homers and three strikeouts. He’s whiffed 33 times in 97 at-bats for the year.

J.O. Berrios

J.O. Berrios (Photo by Mike Janes)

J.O. Berrios, rhp, Twins. Berrios worked out of the bullpen for the Puerto Rican team in the World Baseball Classic, so the Twins decided not to burden him with a starter’s workload immediately and held him back in extended spring training. He made his 2013 debut with low Class A Cedar Rapids on April 22, allowing two runs in five innings, and he made his second start last night against Lansing. The Twins will look for more consistency out of Berrios’ slider, but his fastball is already good enough for him to dominate inexperienced hitters. He struck out eight over 6 2/3 innings on Monday, allowing only one run on four hits with no walks.

Grant Green, 2b, Athletics. The questions about Green have always surrounded his iffy defensive tools. There’s little doubt he can hit, and now he may have finally found a defensive home at second base. Meanwhile, his offense hasn’t slowed at all in his second year in Triple-A, and his slugging has even kicked up a notch during his .337/.409/.525 start. Green went 4-for-6 with a triple and a homer last night in Fresno, giving him hits in 11 of his last 12 games. Road trips to Las Vegas and Reno have helped, but nonetheless Green’s .525 slugging percentage is far better than his best showing in any month last year, when his peak was a .487 mark in June.

Dan Vogelbach, 1b, Cubs. The low Class A Midwest League is a tough circuit for power hitters, particularly in the cold weather of April, and Vogelbach had just two homers in 19 games coming into yesterday’s doubleheader. He’s an advanced hitter for a 20-year-old, though, and he hadn’t lost his approach despite his power struggles, maintaining a .289 average a striking out just 12 times. Vogelbach’s power is what made him a second-round pick in 2011, and he broke through yesterday by homering in both games of Kane County’s double dip with Lake County, doubling his season total to four.

Bryan Brickhouse, rhp, Royals. Brickhouse was high school teammates with Jameson Taillon and has a power arm of his own, though not the secondary stuff. Brickhouse’s control (or lack thereof) was supposed to be his biggest obstacle, but he’s been pounding the zone so far for low Class A Lexington. A third-round pick in 2011, Brickhouse has just five walks in 27 innings and dominated Monday against Augusta. He struck out five and allowed just two runs on two hits over seven innings. He didn’t figure in the decision last night and sports an 0-3 record, but Brickhouse has allowed two runs or fewer in four of his five starts.

Tom Murphy, c, Rockies. Combine Murphy’s power with the hitter-friendliness of low Class A Asheville’s McCormick Field, and you get a .408/.500/.898 line through 49 at-bats. He has homered five times in eight home games (he also missed a week on the disabled list), which includes homers in both ends of yesterday’s doubleheader at home against Lakewood. He went 4-for-7 on the day and added a triple in the first game as well. The Rockies may wait for Murphy’s defense to step forward (he’s caught just two of 13 basestealers), but the 2012 second-round pick’s advanced bat could put him on track for an in-season promotion to high Class A.