2014 Baseball America Top 100 Prospects: The 25th Edition
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Baseball America's Daily Dish
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Compiled by Kevin Goldstein, Chris Kline and Matt Meyers
For as many players that come out of the Dominican Republic and make it to the big leagues, none hail from the small town of Sabana de la Mar.
That could change soon. And Phillies lefthander Eude Brito could be the guy.
Growing up, all Brito wanted to be was a singer. But he gave up the microphone after a friend brought him along to the diamond while he was in high school.
"I wanted to sing--that's all I did," Brito said. "And then I started playing baseball and found my new thing. When I was in school, a teacher was asking the class what we wanted to be. I said I wanted to be a baseball player and everyone laughed. The teacher told me I was too small, too skinny. I'm making sure he never forgets who I am now."
Now at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the 5-foot-11, 160-pounder has big-time stuff and a big ERA (6.61) that doesn’t seem to go with it. Moved into the rotation in May, Brito has improved his command as a starter but still had walked 25 and struck out 46 in 54 innings. International League hitters are batting .293 against him.
That’s despite Brito’s lively, sinking fastball in the 93-95 mph range, slurvy slider and an impressive changeup.
"His stuff is as live as you get," Red Barons pitching coach Rod Nichols said. "His fastball command is obviously not where we hope it will be at some point. I mean, it has great movement and he has some command of it--he's going to be special--but right now, he'll miss in the middle of the zone. His slider is a true slider anywhere from 86-89 (mph). It's hard and sharp and lefties don't like it very much. But it's the same with his fastball--he'll leave some up. It's part of the learning process."
The Phillies have used the Dominican lefty primarily as a starter the past two years, mainly to get him to use his fastball more often and establish it early in games. But he profiles best as a big league setup man, with the power fastball/slider mix.
"When he first came to us, he would work with a predominantly slider/changeup mix," Nichols said. "Now he's using the fastball more and using his offspeed stuff when he's behind in the count. It's a work in progress. But if he can get that consistent command, he's going to be a dominant pitcher late in games."
As the Phillies continue to stretch Brito out this season, the results have been mixed. Last night, Brito allowed four earned runs on six hits in five innings of a 6-5 win against Columbus. But his previous start was not only his longest outing--he went six shutout innings--but it was also his best of the season, as he allowed just three hits and struck out seven.
Given that he’s 26, Brito knows he has to make his move sooner than later.
"I just want to do my job no matter where they put me," Brito said. "I don't want to be here--it's my dream to pitch in the big leagues. But I have more work to do to get better, more consistent."
• Tuscon's Conor Jackson was minding his own business yesterday during BP as he talked on his cellphone outside the clubhouse beyond the left-field fence. Unfortunately, he was not paying attention to what was going on in the cage as a home run ball flew over the fence and hit him in the head. The Diamondbacks prospect, who was also named to the Futures Game yesterday, was knocked out briefly and taken to the hospital. Needless to say, the first baseman was not in the lineup last night.
• Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre first baseman Ryan Howard saw his 24-game hit streak evaporate last night after going 0-for-2 in a 6-5 win against Columbus. The streak dates back to May 26 and Howard's average jumped 93 points to .382 during that span.
• Maybe it was all the excitement of being named to the Futures Game, but Triple-A Indianapolis righthander Ian Snell wasn't at all Ian Snell-like last night, getting pounded by Rochester, 6-1. Snell allowed six runs on seven hits--including two homers by Red Wings third baseman Terry Tiffee--and struck out four. In his last two starts, Snell allowed 10 runs on 13 hits in 12 2/3 innings. He is now 9-2, 4.06 in 93 innings.
• Pirates shortstop Javier Guzman went 4-for-7 in his first two games since being promoted to Double-A Altoona. The 21-year-old Dominican batted .324-5-35 in 256 at-bats at high Class A Lynchburg this season and was named to the Carolina League all-star team before being promoted.
• Speaking of promotions, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket and went 1-for-4 with a double in his debut. Pedroia, a second-round pick last year out of Arizona State, batted .324-8-40 in 256 at-bats at Double-A Portland.
• Keeping on the promotions tip, we predicted Indians lefthander Jeremy Sowers was headed to Double-A last week and the Tribe's first-round pick last year out of Vanderbilt made his debut at Akron last night. And he quickly found out that the Eastern League is a completely different animal. Sowers allowed five runs on eight hits over five innings as Reading defeated Akron, 5-3. "You just can't get away with mistakes at this level," Sowers told the Akron Beacon-Journal. "My command was a bit off, and I was forced to pitch from behind. They didn't miss much."
• Another Indians lefthander made his debut at a higher level last night, as Tony Sipp made his debut at high Class A Kinston. Sipp allowed two runs on a pair of hits and struck out seven in four innings. Prior to his promotion, Sipp went 4-1, 2.22 with a 71-19 strikeout walk ratio in 69 innings at low Class A Lake County.
• Double-A West Tenn center fielder Felix Pie was placed on the seven-day disabled list with a sprained right ankle. He is expected to be back in the lineup next week and will not miss the Futures Game. Pie is hitting .304/.349/.554 with 11 homers in 240 at-bats.
• Now that he has had a couple of "firsts," we can stop with the daily Ryan Zimmerman updates--unless of course he does something extraordinary. The low Class A Savannah third baseman got his first professional hit and home run last night as he went 2-for-4 to help the Sand Gnats defeat Charleston 3-2.
• Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew continues to be sidelined with a hamstring injury, but the 2004 first-round pick is expected to return to action at high Class A Lancaster at the end of the month following the California League all-star break. "He just tweaked his hamstring a little bit, and we just shut him down just in case," Diamondbacks assistant GM Bob Miller said. "When he played, he did really well." Drew hit .370-2-8 in his first seven games for the Jethawks.
• The latest hot bat at high Class A San Jose is first baseman Travis Ishikawa, the Giants 21st-round pick in 2002 who received a $925,000 bonus, the second highest bonus San Francisco has ever given to a drafted position player. Ishikawa was 2-for-3 in the Giants' 4-2 win over Lancaster last night, as is batting .432-4-15 in his last 10 games with season totals of .313/.404/.559 at 227 at-bats.
• Mariners shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera made his California League debut last night, going 2-for-4 with a double, triple and three RBIs in high Class A Inland Empire's 6-2 win over Stockton. The 19-year-old Venezuelan hit .318/.407/.474 in 192 at-bats for low Class A Wisconsin.
• It's been a frustrating career for Dodgers lefty Hong-Chih Kuo, who received a $1.25 million bonus in 1999 after showing an upper 90s fastball. A pair of Tommy John surgeries has limited Kuo to just 42 innings in five years, but the now 23 year-old Taiwan native is finally healthy and dominating Florida State League batters. Kuo fired three perfect innings of relief last night, striking out five in high Class A Vero Beach's 5-3 win over Brevard County last night. In six straight scoreless appearances, Kuo has allowed just six hits over 16 innings, striking out 29.
• Colby Rasmus isn't missing a beat. After leading Russell County (Ala.) High to a state title and Baseball America’s No. 1 ranking in the spring, Rasmus has stepped right in and starting hitting in the Appy League. The Cardinals outfielder went 2-for-4 while hitting leadoff last night for Rookie-level Johnson City.
• White Sox first base prospect Brandon Allen followed up his strong Opening Day performance with his first home run of the season and three more hits Wednesday in Rookie-level Great Falls' 7-6 win over Billings. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Allen, 19, was 5-for-7 overall.
• Rookie-level Orem first baseman Mark Trumbo doubled twice in the Owlz 7-4 win over Ogden. Lefty Anthony Whittington tossed four innings, allowing a run off three hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Whittington was drafted in the second round by the Angels in 2003 out of Hurricane (W.Va.) High, where he was an All-American. He has filthy stuff but has struggled to streamline his mechanics in two full seasons in the minors.
• Australian righthander Shane Lindsay made the first start of his career last night for short-season Tri-Cities in the Northwest League, and it was impressive. He threw 86 pitches, many of them fastballs in the mid-90s, and struck out 11 in six innings against Salem-Keizer. Lindsay has made strides in refining his mechanics and has touched 98 in relief in the Pioneer League last year and in instructional league. Giants farmhand Mike Mooney, a raw outfielder with offensive potential who got caught in the organization’s outfield glut, homered and went 3-for-4 to help the Volcanoes rally for a 5-2 victory after Lindsay left the game.
• Padres draft-and-follow Kyle Blanks signed just before the draft as a 42nd-round pick out of Yavapai (Ariz.) JC, and his pro debut was pretty solid. He drove in six runs with a homer and a double among his three hits, helping lead the Padres to a 12-6 win against the Mariners in the Rookie-level Arizona League. The Mariners got three perfect innings in a rehab start from righthander Clint Nageotte, who struck out six, but the Padres scored four runs in the fourth as soon as Nageotte was done.
Contributing: John Manuel, Alan Matthews.