Circling The Bases: 10 Low A Noteables

While less than 10 percent of the minor league season has been played out, there’s already plenty of information floating around to grasp onto. Prioritizing players from our Top 100, here are ten noteworthy items from low Class A:

1. Dodgers’ lhp Clayton Kershaw isn’t invincible
With Chad Billingsley being sent straight from Rookie-level Ogden to high Class A three years ago, some people expected Kershaw to skip over low Class A as well, but it appears that last year’s seventh overall pick has some work to do before he’s ready to move up. After walking only five batters in 37 innings last summer, Kershaw opened the 2007 season by walking nine batters in his first 7 1/3 innings. He also struck out nine and allowed just three hits, so he’s likely just experiencing growing pains–in Kershaw’s defense it’s been around 40 degrees with 20 mph winds in both of his starts. Kept off the mound by back-to-back rainouts, Kershaw is scheduled to start at home tonight.

2. Bill Rowell, 3b, Orioles . . . has still not made his 2007 debut
He’s not officially a low A player right now, but he was supposed to open the season with Delmarva. Rowell is still in extended spring training recovering from a strained oblique.

3. Blue Jays of Travis Snider picking up where he left off
Snider showed up to camp about 25 pounds lighter than last year–down to 220–but didn’t get many spring training reps due to a tight lat muscle. Turning in three multi-hit performances in his first ten games, Snider’s picking up right where he left off last season. He currently is tied for second in the Midwest League in extra-base hits with five–including two triples.

4. Dayton and of Drew Stubbs don’t know what it’s like to lose
The Reds sent three college players who they drafted early in 2006 to get started in low Class A–Stubbs (1st round), Chris Valaika SS (third round) and Justin Turner 2B (seventh round). So long as they have this trio hitting atop their lineup, the Dragons are going to be tough to beat (9-0 so far). Stubbs has hit safely in his first nine games (14-for-39 overall), Valaika has a .981 OPS, and Turner has eight hits in his last 15 at-bats. Proof that he still needs polish, Stubbs has three walks vs. nine strikeouts and he’s been caught stealing twice in four attempts.

5. Twins of Chris Parmelee has yet to get going
A Southern California kid who isn’t accustomed to playing in cold weather, Parmelee has gotten off to a slow start with all the cold weather Midwest players have had to complete in. The lefty has had three oh-fers and five one-hit performances in the Snappers’ eight games. But Parmelee has loads of power potential.

“He’™s got size and big raw power from that left side,” Twins farm director Jim Rantz said. “He’™s going to be an offense first guy. He hit eight home runs in the (Rookie-level) Gulf Coast League. The last guy that hit 10 homers in that league was Justin Morneau, so yeah, he’™s got power–the kind of power that’™s tough to come by.”

6. Orioles rhp Pedro Beato is off to a solid start
Through three starts and 16 innings, Beato has given up five runs on 13 hits, but most of that damage came from his poor start against Hickory last week (5.0 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 BB). He has struck out 13 batters and put up a strong 1.29 GO/AO ratio.

7. Phillies rhp Kyle Drabek is back on track
Drabek came on for an inning of relief in his first appearance and struck out the side. He followed that up with a strong six-inning performance (5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K). The 6-foot-1 righty last pitched on April 10th and is due for another start soon. In the mean time, here’s a post I made about Drabek’s first start and how he’s handling himself this season.

8. Long-ball pressure finally lifted for Nats’ of Chris Marrero
I spoke with Marrero after he went hitless in a game versus Greensboro last weekend, and he really impressed me with his maturity and confidence in his talent. He admitted that he has had a little trouble adjusting to hitting with a wood bat, but said he knew he’d come around. Marrero had gone 119 pro at-bats without a home run when I spoke with him. He went deep 14 at-bats later (now 14-for-52 with 4 XBH overall).

9. Hank Conger C (LAA) will steal if you let him
Conger’s putting the ball in play, but he only has eight hits through his first 33 at-bats. Two of those hits were home runs–no other extra-base hits–and he has walked three times versus four strikeouts. Surprisingly, Conger has also stolen four bases in four attempts. He stole home last night as part of a delayed double steal.

10. Cubs send lefthander Mark Pawelek back to extended
The 20th overall pick in 2006, Pawelek, who signed for $1.75 million, pitched in the Rookie-level Arizona League and short-season in 2005, short-season in 2006, and now after starting 2007 in low Class A, is back in extended spring training and may be ticketed for another assignment in short-season. His potential is still there, but it sounds like the Cubs want him to alter his approach.