Thursday Prospect Notebook: Max Fried Extends Scoreless Streak

Notable performances from prospects around the minors on Wednesday.

Max Fried, lhp, Padres. The first high school pitcher drafted in 2012, Fried peeled off his second consecutive scoreless appearance for low Class A Fort Wayne on Wednesday. This time he went six innings in a day game versus Bowling Green, allowing four hits and striking out four. Fried permitted nary a hit or a run over 5 2/3 in his previous start, and thanks to 11 2/3 straight scoreless frames his ERA stands at 2.35 after six Midwest League starts.

Blake Snell, lhp, Rays. Opposing Fried yesterday was Snell, a supplemental first-rounder from the 2011 draft who can run hot and cold, according to Bowling Green manager Jared Sandberg. That much is clear from Snell’s 38-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 31 innings. He took the loss yesterday after allowing three runs on six hits over 5 2/3 innings, but the bigger letdown was the 4-3 SO-BB mark after going 10-0 the time before. He’ll be consistently dangerous once he finds better fastball command, and he’s in the right organization to find it.

Christian Yelich, lf, Marlins. Double-A Jacksonville roughed up Mobile 10-4, with Suns leadoff man Yelich playing a prominent role. He led off the game with a home run and connected for a two-run shot when he came back up in the third inning. Yelich doubled in the eighth to go 3-for-6 with three RBIs and a pair of runs scored. The 21-year-old leads the Southern League with a .659 slugging percentage, but don’t expect him to stick around long enough to claim his second straight league slugging title.

Julio Morban, rf, Mariners. “The Mariners are convinced that he’ll hit for average, as one club official extolled him for his practically unparalleled hand-eye coordination and pitch recognition,” we wrote of Morban in 2008 after he had signed for $1.1 million out of the Dominican that summer. After four injury-wracked seasons—and his addition to the 40-man roster last offseason—he has hit the ground running at Double-A Jackson this season, batting .377/.415/.610 through 21 games. Morban has hit in 12 straight games after going 4-for-4 with two doubles and a triple yesterday against Tennessee. Think Carlos Peguero, but then think exactly the opposite, and that will give you a good mental image of Morban’s skill set.

Drew Vettleson, rf, Rays. The Florida State League wasn’t supposed to be quite this challenging. Vettleson put up a .496 OPS for high Class A Charlotte in April but has started putting distance between himself and that cold start. He went 3-for-6 with a triple yesterday to raise his May batting line to .388/.436/.653 with eight extra-base hits in 12 games.

Joey Gallo, 3b, Rangers. Only Astros Double-A outfielder George Springer has hit more than Gallo’s 11 home runs this season. The 19-year-old Gallo went 2-for-4 with a double and a longball yesterday, though he also struck out twice, thus extending his whiff streak to 15 games. (At the pace he’s going, he would strike out 215 times over the course of 140 games.) Few in the minors can exceed Gallo’s level of raw power, but through 157 plate appearances for low Class A Hickory he’s hitting just .216 with an extreme three true outcomes approach—he has recorded either a home run, walk or strikeout in 55 percent of his trips to the plate.

Mallex Smith, cf, Padres. The speedy fifth-rounder from Santa Fe (Fla.) JC last year went 2-for-4 for low Class A Fort Wayne yesterday and continues to establish his credentials as a leadoff man. Through 22 games he’s batting .281/.366/.360 with 10 walks and nine steals in 12 tries. A name for fantasy players to file away as a potential source of cheap speed if he continues hitting as he moves up the ladder.

Bubba Starling, cf, Royals. If nothing else, the system’s top position prospect has a great sense of ironic timing. Starling complained that he couldn’t see the ball well at night and appears headed for Lasik eye surgery. This at a point when the low Class A Lexington center fielder is making more contact than he ever has as a pro (nine strikeouts in 11 May games; 32 in 23 in April). His pre-surgery line: .213/.286/.354 with four homers in 34 games.

Carlos Correa, ss, Astros. Correa has roared back into action after spending time at the beginning of May on the disabled list with a sore hand resulting from a hit-by-pitch. Since his May 10 return he’s gone 10-for-31 (.385) with a double and four walks in seven games for low Class A Quad Cities.