Prospect Roundup: Games of April 17

By Jake Seiner / MiLB.com

MiLB.com game stories:

Indians OF Clint Frazier makes full-season debut

D-backs RHP Braden Shipley gets first pro win

Marlins LHP Justin Nicolino takes shutout into seventh

Rockies LHP Tyler Matzek tosses six scoreless frames

Giants RHP Clayton Blackburn gets first Double-A win

Mets RHP Matt Bowman strikes out 11

Cubs C Will Remillard drives in five for Cougars

Mets LHP Steven Matz turns in seven scoreless

Other prospect performances of note:

Red Sox 3B Garin Cecchini, Triple-A Pawtucket: 3-for-5, R — Sox prospect has cooled some since his red-hot start. Now slashing .320/.370/.360. (more…)

Lee getting comfortable in PCL

By Josh Jackson / MiLB.com

Highly touted Dodgers pitching prospect Zach Lee has been to two Winter Development Camps — one in Arizona, and one in L.A. He’s been named the team’s Branch Rickey Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He’s spent parts of three Spring Training seasons in the Cactus League. He’s started for the Dodgers in an exhibition in Australia.

But until this month, he’d never pitched in the Pacific Coast League.

Three starts in for the Albuquerque Isotopes, it’s safe to say the 22-year-old has had early success in the Triple-A circuit. Despite feeling his command was unreliable in his latest outing, he put up his best results. Is Lee already comfortable at the new level?

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Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

“I’m feeling pretty good as far as getting out to a good, quick start to the season,” he said. “I’m still getting used to the parks and some of the travel, but I wouldn’t say it’s an uncomfortable adjustment. It’s just an adjustment.” (more…)

Prospect Roundup: Games of April 16

By Jake Seiner / MiLB.com

MiLB.com game stories:

Blue Jays RHP Marcus Stroman strikes out nine

Dodgers LHP Chris Reed flirts with unique no-hitter

Indians RHP Trevor Bauer continues promising start despite cold

Reds RHP Ben Lively fans 10, stays hot for Blaze

Rockies RHP Jon Gray gets low, finds zeros

Dodgers RHP Zach Lee tosses six scoreless frames

Cubs 2B Arismendy Alcantara flirts with cycle

Orioles RHP Hunter Harvey strikes out seven over six

Marlins 1B Viosergy Rosa blasts two homers

Royals RHP Miguel Almonte bounces back for Blue Rocks

Mariners LHP Eddie Campbell stays perfect for Clinton

Bees, TinCaps battle in 18-inning affair

Other top prospect performances:

Astros 1B Jon Singleton, Triple-A Oklahoma City: 3-for-5, HR, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, 2 R, K – Powerful first baseman may be close to a big league call-up. Home run was his fifth this year, and he has a 1.253 OPS through 13 games.

White Sox OF Courtney Hawkins, Class A Advanced Winston-Salem: 3-for-6, 2B, R, BB, K (in doubleheader) — No signs of slowing for Hawkins, who is batting .354 with three homers, a .646 slugging percentage and a 1.042 OPS. (more…)

Prospect Roundup: Games of April 15

By Jake Seiner / MiLB.com

MiLB.com game stories:

Astros OF George Springer hits grand slam amid reports of call-up

Dodgers OF Joc Pederson homers twice, plates five

Marlins LHP Andrew Heaney tosses six scoreless frames

Braves RHP Cody Martin strikes out nine

Giants RHP Kendry Flores whiffs nine on ‘off night’

White Sox RHP Chris Beck tosses shutout

A’s RHP Drew Granier tosses six one-hit innings

Other prospect performances of note:

Braves 3B Edward Salcedo, Triple-A Gwinnett: 4-for-4, HR, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 3 R, BB — The 22-year-old is slashing .275/.326/.525 with 12 strikeouts in 10 games, showcasing power and swing-and-miss, which is par for the course. The Dominican is still young and boasts loud tools, but big strikeout rates have held him back. Salcedo also had a throwing error in the field.

Rays OF Mikie Mahtook, Triple-A Durham: 4-for-5, 2B, 3B, R, K — Mahtook was 5-for-5 on Monday and began with four straight hits Tuesday, at one point collecting a hit in 11 straight at-bats. The 24-year-old is batting .400 with a .974 OPS through 12 games. (more…)

This or That: Early-season edition

Gene J. Puskar/AP

Gene J. Puskar/AP

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com

Before the season began, we all had our questions about what was about to happen. With two weeks of Minor League Baseball almost under our belts, we have some answers, but there are also plenty more questions. Here is a binary attempt to wade through some of these.

Which batter’s hot start is the most impressive?

Gregory Polanco vs. Mookie Betts

Nothing like starting off with a bang. Both Polanco and Betts ran away with the International and Eastern League Offensive Player of the Week awards, and it wasn’t even close. As of Tuesday, Polanco is slashing .465/.511/.744 with two homers, two triples, two doubles and 11 RBIs through his first 11 games with Triple-A Indianapolis. Betts owns a .450/.500/.725 line with six doubles, a triple, a homer, five RBIs and four steals with Double-A Portland.

To split hairs here and call one “more impressive” almost seems unfair, but we don’t call this “This AND That” after all. There needs to be a tie-breaker, and as it turns out, batting against same-side pitching appears to be the perfect one.

Polanco, a left-handed batter, is 10-for-19 (.526) against southpaws compared to 10-for-24 (.417) in the early going against right-handers. (This isn’t a new phenomenon; the Pirates prospect batted .281 against left-handers in half a season at Double-A Altoona compared to .253 against right-handers.) The splits for Betts, a right-hander, are more predictable. He’s owned lefties, going 7-for-12 (.583) with four walks, while handling right-handers quite well with a 11-for-28 (.393) showing thus far.

Betts’s numbers are obviously nice and desirable, but Polanco has stripped away the same-side advantage pitchers usually own over their hitting counterparts. That earns him the check mark here. Decision: Polanco

(more…)

Prospect Roundup: Games of April 14

By Jake Seiner / MiLB.com

MiLB.com game stories:

Rays OF Mikie Mahtook rides leg kick to five hits

Yankees RHP Bryan Mitchell strikes out 12

Marlins C Rob Brantly has five hits, five RBIs

Brewers farm team turns triple play

Rangers prospects Jorge Alfaro, Joey Gallo go deep

Twins OF Travis Harrison breaks out with Fort Myers

(more…)

Prospect Stock Watch: Polanco, Marte start hot

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By Jake Seiner / MiLB.com

Once a week this season, we’re going to break down the prospects who have done the most to move the needle on their prospect stock, mostly highlighting players on the rise, but also pointing out a few who are struggling against expectations.

Trending Up:

Pirates OF Gregory Polanco: Polanco performed well in Major League Spring Training this year, so it isn’t much of a shock that the athletic outfielder would hit well returning to Triple-A Indianapolis. But what he’s doing is fairly absurd, regardless of his talents/skills. Polanco is hitting .465 with a 1.255 OPS. The left-handed hitter has struck out just four times in 47 plate appearances (8.5 percent) and, as Tyler Maun noted, he’s put together a nice hitting streak to begin the year, too.

“There are certain situations that I’m looking for, some key situations that he needs to be in,” Indianapolis hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo told Maun. “He needs to face guys that throw 97, which he did last night, and turned the ball around and pulled it for a double down the line. It’s things like that when you’re looking for potential matchups that are going to be in the Major Leagues and how he handles them.

“Whether he succeeds or not, it’s how he adjusts to them that’s key. Those situations will happen. They’ll come about, and depending on who we’re facing, the better the competition is, the better it is for him.” (more…)

MiLB Game Scores from Week 1

By Ashley Marshall / MiLB.com

The first week of the Minor League season (the first 11 days, really, if you consolidate opening weekend) is over, so let’s look at some of the top starting pitcher performances.

Stat guru Bill James devised a metric called “game score,” a number arrived at by adding or subtracting points based on in-game performance. It does not take into account prospect status or level, making it easy to compare outings across different leagues, affiliations and classes.

Here’s how to calculate a pitcher’s game score:

  • Start with 50 points
  • Add one point for each out recorded
  • Add two points for each inning completed after the fourth
  • Add one point for each strikeout
  • Subtract two points for each hit allowed
  • Subtract four points for each earned run allowed
  • Subtract two points for each unearned run allowed
  • Subtract one point for each walk.

Here’s a look at the top five pitching performances from April 3-13.

Name Team IP H R ER BB SO Game Score
Christian Binford Wilmington 7 2 0 0 0 10 83
Jonathan Martinez Great Lakes 6 2 0 0 0 11 79
Henry Owens Portland 6 0 0 0 2 9 79
Tyler Cloyd Columbus 8 4 1 0 0 7 79
Daisuke Matsuzaka Las Vegas 7 2 0 0 2 8 79

Christian Binford, 83

Binford piled up 10 strikeouts without issuing a walk and allowed two hits over seven innings as Class A Advanced Wilmington blanked visiting Winston-Salem, 4-0, on April 12.

“I don’t light up the radar gun. I live by keeping the ball down, and I did that a lot in a way that set up good pitches later in at-bats,” the 21-year-old right-hander told MiLB.com’s Josh Jackson after notching his first Carolina League win.

The 10 strikeouts represent the second-highest total during Binford’s three-year pro career. He fanned 12 for Class A Lexington last July 28. (more…)

Notable quotes from the season’s first week

With the first week of the season gone, there are plenty of prospects who had more to say than we could fit into a story. Here I present just some of those interesting remarks.

Aaron Sanchez allowed a hit and struck out five in his Double-A debut on April 3. The Blue Jays’ top prospect had plenty to say about his outing and what 2014 is going to be about for him.

On going five innings in his first start of the year:

“My last couple of outings in Spring Training I pitched one or two innings, now it’s back to getting stretched out. It got a little rainy and wet, so it messed up not just me but both teams. I felt like physically I could have gone one or two more innings if I needed.”

Aaron Sanchez

On what he wants to accomplish in 2014:

“Obviously the big thing for me is being consistent, keeping the walks down, and keeping the hits down. Just continue what I’ve done the last six months from the [Arizona] Fall League to Spring Training. I just need to continue to work on everything that needs to be worked on.” (more…)

Prospect Roundup: Games of April 13, 2014

By Jake Seiner/MiLB.com

MiLB.com News:

Cubs SS Javier Baez to DL with ankle sprain

MiLB.com game stories:

Mets RHP Rafael Montero takes no-hitter into sixth

Pirates IF Erich Weiss hits inside-the-park grand slam for first pro homer

Astros OF Domingo Santana ties, then wins game

White Sox OF Trayce Thompson goes yard, extends hit streak

Marlins RHP Austin Brice puts 2013 behind him with scoreless streak

Brewers C Clint Coulter homers twice, drives in four

Mets RHP Domingo Tapia untouchable over five frames

Other prospect performances of note:

Tigers C James McCann, Triple-A Toledo: 4-for-6, 3 2B, 4 RBI, 2 R — Toledo piled up 20 runs in its win over Louisville, with McCann collecting his first extra-base hits of the season.

Astros 1B Jon Singleton, Triple-A Oklahoma City: 3-for-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, R, BB — The 22-year-old has gone deep in three of his past four games and driven in 15 runs through 10 contests.

Mariners SS Chris Taylor, Triple-A Tacoma: 4-for-5, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, 2 R, SB — Mariners are loaded with potential MLB shortstops. Taylor has hit at every level up until Triple-A, and he certainly hasn’t been overmatched in his first couple weeks, hitting .297 with an .855 OPS.

Yankees OF Mason WIlliams, Double-A Trenton: 2-for-5, HR, RBI, R — First homer of the season for Williams, who boasts a .476 slugging percentage through 10 games after managing a .428 OPS in 17 Double-A games last season. Currently striking out in just 8.7 percent of his at-bats.

Brewers OF Mitch Haniger, Double-A Huntsville: 1-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, R, K — The 23-year-old has homered in three straight games for the Stars.

Nationals OF Michael Taylor, Double-A Harrisburg: 2-for-3, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, BB, K, SB — Little bit of everything from the 22-year-old, including his first extra-base hit of the season.

Astros OF Delino DeShields, Double-A Corpus Christi: 3-for-4, HR, 2B, 2 R, RBI — The 21-year-old is slashing .308/.438/.513 through 10 games with a pair of homers and five stolen bases. DeShields homered just five times in hitter-friendly Lancaster in 2013.

Rays LHP Grayson Garvin, Double-A Montgomery: 3 IP, BB, 4 K — Tampa Bay is taking it slow with Garvin as he continues to come back from Tommy John surgery, but he’s been sharp in two Double-A starts thus far with a 1.50 ERA and a 7-to-2 K/BB ratio over six innings.

Padres RHP Joe Ross, Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore: 5 IP, 4 H, BB, 6 K — The 20-year-old is playing with fire a bit with a 0.67 GO/AO in the California League, but it’s working so far. Ross boasts a 2.25 ERA and has yet to allow a homer.

Astros RHP Josh Hader, Class A Advanced Lancaster: 5 IP, 3 H, R, BB, 6 K — 20-to-1 K/BB, 2.03 ERA for Hader through three appearances (13 innings).

Mariners RHP Jochi Ogando, Class A Advanced High Desert: 4 IP, H, BB, 8 K — Impressive outing from the hard-throwing 20-year-old. Boasts an impressive 13-to-1 K/BB ratio through eight innings this season.

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