Results tagged ‘ Toledo Mud Hens ’

Notable Quotables: The next great Cuban outfielder?

By Jake Seiner /

Frederick hitting coach Torre Tyson on Cuban defector and Orioles prospect Dariel Alvarez (Keys’ Alvarez making quick impression):

The things that really impress me are just the hand speed that he possesses and his ability to get the barrel to the ball. He’s had some off-balanced swings, taken some overly aggressive hacks at the ball, but he still finds a way to stick his hands out or pull his hands in and maneuver the barrel and find the ball.

“He has lightning quick hands. Some of our guys were giving me trouble for saying it, but I was comparing him to when I was around [Alfonso] Soriano in the Minors with the Yankees. That’s the kind of hand speed I see with him.

alvarez480 Frederick Keys

“I had heard he has a cannon for an arm. We witnessed that tonight when he handcuffed our catcher with a long hop from 250 feet away. He has some tools there. There’s no doubt about that. Just his ability to get the barrel to the ball is special.

“I’d say he’s definitely one of the top five guys we’ve seen in this league this year as far as hitability with that bat speed goes. He’s in the top tier in this league. I would not, just from first impressions, put him in the polished category. I’d put him in the raw category. He has some pretty special stuff, though. With tools like he has, it’s obviously been a short time, but those tools will play at the next level.

“When you’re talking about the Major League level, there are other nuances of the game that even I haven’t seen, and he hasn’t been in those situations. Talking about base running and throwing to the right bases, the ability to play the game within the game. … We’re talking about a long way away from High-A when making those projections.”

Williamsport pitching coach Les Lancaster on relief prospect Manny Martinez (Rios, Crosscutters score rare no-no):

“Manny’s one of our prospects. We dropped his arm slot a few weeks ago and everything to a sidearm, almost submarine. That’s still a work in progress. He’s adapted to that pretty well. He’s learning to pitch from down there, to mix in a slider, especially to righties. He does a great job with that right now. He’s never lost any of his velocity.

“It’s a little below sidearm. It’s something that’s a work in progress. He topped out at 94 today. … He’s going to Instructional to work on his arm slot and possibly drop it a little lower. What we’ve asked him to for right now — he’s done a real good job.”

Yankees’ 2013 fifth-round Draft pick David Palladino on adjustments he’s made in pro ball (Palladino pitches six hitless innings):

“I started throwing the cutter a week ago. … I used to throw a slider and a curveball, and what happened was my slider looked too much like my curveball. There was maybe only a 2 mph difference.

“There are a lot of things I still have to improve that I’ve been trying to improve from the get-go. Mechanically, I’ve slowed down to get my arm angle up and get a more consistent arm angle with my pitching coach, Carlos Chantres. I’m also working on getting ahead in counts also, not falling behind as I’ve done quote often. I’m also focused on trying to get more movement on my pitches.”

David Palladino #62(Sandy Tambone)

Detroit’s Blaine Hardy on his recent conversion back to starting at Triple-A (Ex-reliever Hardy tosses one-hitter):

It’s been a while since I started. I did it in 2010 with Omaha. The Royals were trying to see if I could be in the rotation because they were hurting for a lefty starter at that point. It didn’t go quite as well as I would’ve liked back then. They put me back in the bullpen, and I think I put up decent numbers in the ‘pen. I think the Tigers saw the same thing the Royals did this year. They put me in the starting role just for a spot start. I’ve been putting up as many quality starts as I can at this point.

“When they told me, I was like, ‘Wait, what? You want me to start?’ I had some doubts in my mind from 2010. At the same time, you know, it’s obviously a different year, a different team and a different organization. I thought, ‘Let’s see what we can do.’ It turned out quite well.

“I was happy to start again. I thought, ‘Why not? Let’s see if we can progress from here.’ Looking back from then to now, I’ve definitely gotten a lot better in my last couple of starts.


“It’s kind of different, more in regards to my breaking stuff. Back then, I was mostly a slider guy — I didn’t really have a curveball. They were kind of working on it with me, but I had no confidence in it for strikes. Most starters usually have a curveball. Not most, but a lot of them actually have both a curve and a slider or a cutter.

“I think that’s where I’ve kind of differed from 2010. The slider is great as a reliever, but the curve is a much better pitch to use to move a hitter’s eyes, and my other two pitches play off it quite well. I think that is the biggest difference. My fastball command is a little better than in 2010, too.”

One man’s Triple-A All-Star ballot: IL edition

By Sam Dykstra

This is always a fun one. The arguments that start around the water cooler usually are, even if they aren’t necessarily on the tip of the tongues of everyone in your office.

Who should start the All-Star Game?

It’s a question that seems objective in nature, but the answer is always subjective. If your ballot isn’t based around your favorite team, it depends on what stats you favor. Time and time again, Player X has a higher batting average, but Player Y has more homers and RBIs. Eventually, you go on down the line on each’s stats page until you believe there’s a clear winner. (Or if you’re a certain writer’s sibling, you just punched whatever name you recognized or sounded the funniest on the physical ballots at the ballpark. Not pointing any fingers, of course.)

Anyways, what I’m saying is everyone’s ballot will look different, everyone has his or her reasons for why the looks a certain way, and that’s where the debate comes in.

So for your consideration, I’ve taken a look at the Triple-A ballot and decided whom I think should be starting at each position in Reno on July 17. Let’s start with the International League.

Catcher, Josh Phegley, Charlotte – Not too difficult of a pick here. The No. 15 White Sox prospect is enjoying a breakout season — his third straight campaign with the Knights — and leads IL catchers in average (.314), homers (12), RBIs (35) and OPS (.980). (Fan vote leader: Phegley) (more…)

Aliotti, Lennerton featured in All-May lineup

By Ashley Marshall

It includes nine batters — eight position players and one DH — assembled into a batting order. Like real-life lineups, mine includes players with high on-base percentages and good speed at the top of the order, the most productive hitters in the heart of the lineup and a mixture of power, discipline and speed in the lower third.

1. Micah Johnson, 2B
2. Anthony Aliotti, 1B
3. Ryan Mount, 3B
4. Matt McBride, RF
5. Josh Phegley, C
6. Jordan Lennerton, DH
7. Corey Dickerson, LF
8. Joe Sclafani, SS
9. Rico Noel, CF

Micah Johnson (Kannapolis Intimidators, White Sox) does everything you want a leadoff hitter to do. He hits for average and draws walks, and when he gets on base he runs. A lot. No Minor Leaguer at any level or any position stole more bases than Johnson in May (27). Part of the reason that he had so many chances to victimize battery mates was a .446 OBP, crafted via a .357 average and 17 walks in 28 games for Kannapolis.

Anthony Aliotti (Midland RockHounds, Athletics) had a huge month for Midland, batting an even .400 in 29 contests. He flashed some power (six homers and 10 doubles), gave the RockHounds some production (24 RBIs) and showed patience at the plate (22 walks). His 72 total bases ranked third in the Minors in May, while his 18 extra-base hits fell two shy of the lead league.aliotti_800

• Arguably the hottest hitter in the Minors last month, Ryan Mount (Rancho Cucamonga, Dodgers) has been crushing the Cal League. He hit a Minors-best .460 in 23 games for Rancho Cucamonga and had a .500 OBP. He had a career-high 15-game hit streak from May 3 to May 19 and he recorded 14 multi-hit games in total, including a 5-for5 outing in Lake Elsinore. With five homers and 16 extra-base hits, only Norfolk first baseman Travis Ishikawa and Rochester outfielder Chris Colabello had a better OPS than Mount’s 1.289.

Matt McBride (Colorado Springs, Rockies) tied for the Minors lead with 11 homers in May and he ranked first with 31 RBIs in 25 games. He saw time as a right fielder, a catcher and a DH, but his versatility was matched only by his output. He went deep in three straight games against Iowa and Omaha, and he had a pair of two-homer games — one a six-RBI game, the other a five-RBI game. Making his tally even more impressive is that he struck out just nine times over that span.mcbride_800

Josh Phegley (Charlotte, White Sox) hit .356 with seven homers, 10 doubles and 19 RBIs in just 22 games in May. No full-time catcher had more total bases (65) than Phegley, who raised his average 62 point from April and more than doubled the number of extra-base hits (18) from the previous month (eight).phegley_800

Jordan Lennerton (Toledo, Tigers) was one of the few players who had a slugging percentage over .600 and an OPS over 1.100 for the month of May. The secret to those numbers? He hit .387, smacked seven homers and drew 21 walks. His average ranked eighth in the Minors in May, while his 43 hits were two short of the lead across all levels.

• While Cameron Flynn led the Minors with a .551 on-base percentage in May, Corey Dickerson (Colorado Springs, Rockies) led the Minors with 82 total bases. He hit for power (five homers, eight doubles) and he showcased elite speed (seven triples). Add a .375 batting average, 18 RBIs and the ability to swipe the occasional base, and you can see why he’s a perfect choice for that No. 7 spot. Only his discipline (seven walks in 127 plate appearances) stop him being a leadoff-type hitter, but his power and production stop him from slipping any lower.dickerson_800

Joe Sclafani (Lancaster, Astros) put together a nice month that saw him bat .357 with a .488 OBP. He’s not a guy that will hit for power (just eight extra-base hits in 26 games), but at this spot in the lineup it’s more about reaching base and setting the table for the guys at the top. He walked more than he struck out (23:15), he stole eight bases in 10 tries and he scored 24 runs. His on-base percentage ranked 10th in the Minors this month.

Rico Noel (San Antonio, Padres) would serve as a great secondary leadoff hitter because of his speed. He hit .326 and drew 16 free passes, giving him a terrific .436 on-base percentage. Once on base, he stole 17 bags in 22 attempts in 28 games for San Antonio. With guys like Mount and McBride providing the power in this fantasy All-MiLB team, having the balance of a fleet-footed center fielder like Noel in the No. 9 spot is a blessing most teams would love to have.noel_800

Draft Retrospective: Harper, Machado, Olt in 2010

By Ashley Marshall

With the 2013 MLB Draft starting Thursday, we thought we’d take the next few days to run down how some of the more intriguing picks out of the top rounds from the last few Drafts have fared. On Monday, we looked at 2009.

Today, we turn our attention to 2010.

The 2010 Draft had a little bit of everything, both at the time of the event and — retrospectively — in the three years that have passed.

While Bryce Harper, a highly touted outfielder from a junior college in Southern Nevada, made the most news, the Draft stands out for several other reasons.

Two right-handers taken inside the first 15 picks chose to attend college rather than sign with a Major league team. One — Karston Whitson — missed the entire 2013 college season with a shoulder injury while the other — Dylan Convey — may never have a pro career after he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

The Draft also saw a toolsy young shortstop called Manny Machado draw comparisons with Alex Rodriguez and baseball’s current No. 5 prospect Taijuan Walker selected 43rd overall as the Mariners only pick as compensation for the loss of Adrian Beltre.2010draft

Eight first-rounders from this Draft class have already made it to the Majors, while four others are ranked inside’s Top 100.

  1. Bryce Harper, Washington (2013: MLB Nationals)
  2. Jameson Taillon, Pirates (2013: Double-A Altoona)
  3. Manny Machado, Orioles (2013: Baltimore) — A two-time Futures Game selection, Machado has played almost one-third of his total professional games in the Majors. The shortstop — the first one drafted by the O’s in the first round since 1974 — appeared in 51 regular-season games with the Orioles in 2012 and he’s currently hitting .327 with 30 RBIs in 57 contests this year. He’s the only high schooler from the 2010 first round to make the Majors so far.
  4. Christian Colon, Royals (2013: Triple-A Omaha)
  5. Drew Pomeranz, Indians (2013: Triple-A Colorado Springs) – Acquired by the Rockies as part of the Ubaldo Jimenez deal in 2011, Pomeranz is one of only two left-handers from the first round of this Draft class to reach the Majors. He is 4-10 with a 5.01 ERA in 26 big league starts over two seasons, numbers that are part of why he’s back at Triple-A Colorado Springs again this year. In 11 2013 PCL games, he is 6-1 with a 4.26 mark.
  6. Barret Loux, D-backs (2013: Triple-A Iowa) — The D-backs opted not to sign Loux due to injury concerns, but he signed as a free agent by the Texas Rangers on Nov. 18, 2010. Last November, he was dealt to the Cubs for former teammate Jake Brigham.
  7. Matt Harvey, Mets (2013: MLB Mets) — Few rookies have ever made the impact that Harvey has this year. In 12 starts with the Mets, the right-hander is 5-0 with a 2.17 ERA. The North Carolina product — who went 20-10 in the Minors — showed glimpses of this potential in 10 starts in 2012, but nobody expected the level of production he’s given the big club in the first two months of the season.
  8. Delino DeShields, Astros (2013: Class A Advanced Lancaster)
  9. Karsten Whitson, Padres (2013: none; Draft eligible) — Whitson turned down a $2.1 million signing bonus to attend the University of Florida. He went a combined 12-1 in 33 games between 2011 and 2012, but he missed the entire 2013 collegiate season with a shoulder impingement. He may draw interest from teams in this year’s Draft, but he is not ranked in’s Top 100 Draft prospects.
  10. Michael Choice, Athletics (2013: Triple-A Sacramento)
  11. Deck McGuire, Blue Jays (2013: Double-A New Hampshire)
  12. Yasmani Grandal, Reds (2013: MLB Padres)
  13. Chris Sale, White Sox (2013: MLB White Sox) – Of all 50 first-rounders from 2010, none have posted a greater WAR than Sale (12.2). He posted a 1.93 ERA in 21 games in 2010, and he saved eight games the following year. Converted to a full-time starter last season, Sale went 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA in 30 games, striking out 192 batters in as many innings en route to finishing sixth in AL Cy Young voting. This season, he’s 5-2 with a 2.53 ERA in nine starts.
  14. Dylan Covey, Brewers (2013: none; Draft eligible) — Convey chose to attend the University of San Diego rather than going pro after being diagnosed with diabetes days before the signing deadline. In his sophomore year at college in 2012, he went 6-3 with a 3.32 ERA while holding opponents to a .247 batting average over 81 1/3 innings. He had just a 5.05 ERA in 16 appearances this spring for the Toreros.
  15. Jake Skole, Rangers (2013: Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach)
  16. Hayden Simpson, Cubs (2013: released) – Released at end of spring training, Simpson hasn’t pitched this year. For his career, he sports a 6.42 ERA over 30 starts and 26 relief appearances with Chicago’s Minor League system. He did not pitch professionally the year he was selected after suffering from mononucleosis, and he never lived to the promise of the Cubs only first-round pick that year.
  17. Josh Sale, Rays (2013: suspended) – Sale has not endeared himself to Tampa Bay. In August he was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for methamphetamine and an amphetamine. He came off the restricted list and was added to the roster of the Charlotte Stone Crabs, but before he had a chance to make his season debut he was suspended indefinitely for throwing two quarters at a dancer in a strip club and then posting about it on Facebook.
  18. Kaleb Cowart, Angels (2013: Double-A Arkansas)
  19. Michael Foltynewicz, Astros (2013: Double-A Corpus Christi)
  20. Kolbrin Vitek, Red Sox (2013: Double-A Portland)
  21. Alex Wimmers, Twins (2013: Double-A New Britain; injured) — Wimmers missed most of 2012 with a right elbow injury, and he has not pitched in 2013. A two-time Big Ten Pitcher of the Year at Ohio State, he has pitched in just 19 games in his professional career.
  22. Kellin Deglan, Rangers (2013: Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach)
  23. Christian Yelich, Marlins (2013: Double-A Jacksonville)
  24. Gary Brown, Giants (2013: Triple-A Fresno)
  25. Zack Cox, Cardinals (2013: Double-A Jacksonville) — Acquired by the Marlins from the Cardinals in July, Cox originally improved his Draft stock by 20 rounds after going to the University of Arkansas instead of signing with the Dodgers in 2008. He saw time at Triple-A Memphis last summer before being dealt to the Marlins for Edward Mujica last July. He’s been with Double-A Jacksonville since the trade.
  26. Kyle Parker, Rockies (2013: Double-A Tulsa)
  27. Jesse Biddle, Phillies (2013: Double-A Reading)
  28. Zach Lee, Dodgers (2013: Double-A Chattanooga)
  29. Cam Bedrosian, Angels (2013: Class A Burlington)
  30. Chevy Clarke, Angels (2013: Class A Burlington) – Los Angeles took outfielder Clarke one pick after they selected pitcher Bedrosian, who grew up just 50 miles from Clarke in Georgia. Both 21 years old, they have been teammates in the Arizona and Midwest Leagues together and they both started 2013 a bit behind schedule in Burlington.
  31. Justin O’Conner, Tampa Bay (2013: Class A Bowling Green)
  32. Cito Culver, Yankees (2013: Class A Charleston)
  33. Mike Kvasnicka, Houston (2013: Disabled list in Twins Org) – Drafted by the Astros as a catcher, Kvasnicka struggled in his first two years of pro ball when the organization tried him at third base and as a corner outfielder. The 24-year-old was traded to the Twins — the team that tried to sign him in the 31st round of the 2007 Draft out of high school — in March, but surgery to repair a broken hamate bone has seen him sidelined this season.
  34. Aaron Sanchez, Toronto (2013: Class A Advanced Dunedin)
  35. Matt Lipka, Atlanta (2013: Class A Advanced Lynchburg) – A shortstop at McKinney High School in Texas, Lipka has transitioned to the outfield. He tore his hamstring last summer, and that limited him to 199 at-bats in 2012. Back with the Hillcats for a second year, he’s looking to get back on track. He’s already hit for the cycle this season.
  36. Byrce Brentz, Boston (2013: Triple-A Pawtucket) – Overlooking the fact that Brentz hit .198 in his rookie year in Lowell, he batted .298 with 47 homers and 170 RBIs across four levels over the past two years. A hitter through and through, Brentz — who moved from left field to right without any issues — is already on pace to better his 2012 power numbers from Double-A Portland this year in Pawtucket.
  37. Taylor Lindsey, LA Angels (2013: Double-A Arkansas)
  38. Noah Syndergaard, Toronto (2013: Class A Advanced St. Lucie) – Acquired by the Mets in the deal that sent R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays in December, the 6-foot-6 prep right-hander is looking to build on his 2012 successes with Lansing. Syndergaard has the stuff to record a strikeout per inning in the Florida State League (59 in 57 2/3 IP), and there’s every chance he can post a sub-3.00 ERA (currently at 2.81).
  39. Anthony Ranaudo, Boston (2013: Double-A Portland) – LSU has seen one of its players drafted in the first round each year since 2009. Ranaudo went 1-3 with a 6.69 ERA in the Eastern League last year, but he’s 6-1 with a 1.48 mark this year at the same level.
  40. Ryan Bolden, LA Angels (2013: Unassigned in Angels Org) – Drafted as an 18-year-old out of Madison Central High School, Bolden has spent each of the past three years in the Arizona League. The right fielder hit .187 in his rookie year but saw his average drop in each of the following two seasons. He has not played yet in 2013.
  41. Asher Wojciechowski, Toronto (2013: Triple-A Oklahoma City) – Acquired by the Astros in part of a 10-player deal with the Blue Jays last July, Wojciechowski is looking to build on a 2012 season that saw him go 9-5 with a 3.09 ERA between two organizations. After six superb Texas League appearances to start 2013, he was promoted to the RedHawks of the PCL.
  42. Drew Vettleson, Tampa Bay (2013: Class A Advanced Charlotte) – He spun three no-hitters as an ambidextrous pitcher in high school, and he turned down a commitment to play for Oregon State University to play with the Rays. Now a right fielder, Vettleson set a Bowling Green franchise record with 139 hits in 2012.
  43. Taijuan Walker, Seattle (2013: Double-A Jackson) –’s No. 5 prospect was a Southern League midseason All-Star and a Futures Game selection last year. Still just 20 years old, he’s repeating the league after going 7-10 with a 4.69 ERA there in 2012, and early signs are that he’ll make his way up to Triple-A by the end of the year.
  44. Nick Castellanos, Detroit (2013: Triple-A Toledo) – A third baseman in high school, the Tigers felt Castellanos was more suited to the outfield in order to help the big club in the near future.’s No. 20 prospect finished third among all Minor League players in 2012 with 172 hits and he’s on pace to set new career highs in homers and RBIs in the International League this year.
  45. Luke Jackson, Texas (2013: Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach) – Jackson did not start pitching until ninth grade, but that did not stop the Rangers from drafting him 45th overall out of Florida’s Calvary Christian High School. The right-hander is repeating the Carolina League where he’s 4-4 with a 2.74 ERA with 50 strikeouts and 23 walks in 46 innings.
  46. Seth Blair, St. Louis (2013: Double-A Springfield)
  47. Peter Tago, Colorado (2013: Unassigned in Rockies Org) — Ranked 17th in the Rockies Top 20 prospects, Tago has not pitched in 2013. He walked more batters than he struck out in each of his first two years in pro ball, and his poor debut in Asheville in 2011 saw him reassigned to the Northwest League in 2012
  48. Chance Ruffin, Detroit (2013: Double-A Jackson)
  49. Mike Olt, Texas (2013: Triple-A Round Rock) – Of the eight first-rounders from the 2010 class to reach the Majors so far, none were drafted later than Olt, a supplemental pick for the loss of free agent Marlon Byrd. His big 2012 season — including 28 Double-A homers — saw him promoted to Texas, but he’s struggled in his time in the PCL, batting .139 with five extra-base hits in 20 games. He recently missed a month with vision problems, which may now be resolved.
  50. Tyrell Jenkins, Cardinals (2013: Class A Peoria)

Biggest pitching surprises in the Minors (so far)

By Sam Dykstra

Last week, we took a look at the surprising batters of the start of the 2013 season in the Minor Leagues. Now, it’s time to look at the hurlers they’ve faced.

International League: Jose Alvarez, LHP, Toledo — Alvarez has shown promising command in the past — he led the Southern League by allowing just 1.66 walks per nine innings last season — but that hasn’t necessary led to the best results. He went 6-9 with a 4.22 ERA for Double-A Jacksonville a season ago. So when the Tigers signed him as a free agent in the offseason and put him at Toledo for his Triple-A debut, they probably weren’t hoping for more than rotation depth for the Mud Hens. Instead, Alvarez has a case for best IL starter at this early juncture. He ranks in the league’s top three in ERA (1.98, second), WHIP (1.01, third) and strikeouts (55, third). The command hasn’t gone anywhere either. His 1.48 BB/9 also ranks third.

Pacific Coast League: Chris Dwyer, LHP, Omaha — Being that he’s the Royals’ No. 16 prospect, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Dwyer has found success this year with the Storm Chasers. But at the same time, it kind of is. Due to command issues, the 25-year-old left-hander never really got it together at the Double-A level — 5.60 ERA in 27 starts in 2011, 5.25 ERA in 17 appearances last season — and the ERA was only worse (6.97) in a nine-game stint with Omaha last year. But he didn’t allow more than two runs in his first six starts of 2013 and tossed eight innings of one-run ball on Thursday to give him a 2.83 ERA through nine outings. If he can return to his early form and continue to refine his command, Dwyer has a chance to meet the potential the organization first saw in him.dwyer_576x323

Eastern League: Warwick Saupold, RHP, Erie — After signing out of Australia last year, Saupold worked mostly out of the bullpen for Class A West Michigan and Class A Advanced Lakeland with ERAs of 2.79 and 3.77 respectively at each stop. But as the saying goes, the biggest jump in Minor League Baseball is making that move from Class A Advanced to Double-A ball, and that jump became more treacherous for the 23-year-old as he would begin his first full year as a starter on American shores. Still, he’s held his own in the Eastern League, going 3-1 with a 2.67 ERA — fifth-best in the circuit — with a 1.20 WHIP in his first nine starts for the SeaWolves.

Southern League: Spencer Arroyo, LHP, Birmingham – Since being selected by the Phillies in the 31st round of the 2008 Draft, Arroyo is already in his second organization and has yet to find big-time success at the full-season level — until now. After putting up a 4.59 ERA and .280 opponents batting average with the Barons last season, the 25-year-old has brought both numbers down to 2.10 and .208 through nine starts this year. In fact, he’s only gotten better as the season has progressed. In four May starts, the southpaw is 2-1 with a 1.13 ERA.arroyo

Texas League: Jake Buchanan, RHP, Corpus Christi — There was a chance Buchanan would be good for the Hooks this season — he was a Cal League All-star in 2011, and we even named him an Organization All-Star the same year — but no one thought he’d be this good. The 24-year-old has flourished in the Astros’ piggybacking system, hasn’t allowed an earned run since April 26 (six appearances, 27 2/3 innings) and leads all Minor Leaguers in ERA (0.84) and WHIP (0.73). He hasn’t pitched more than five innings in an outing yet this season, so he’s been spared from facing Texas League lineups a third time through. But you still have to like the results as they stand on paper.buchanan

California League: Daniel Winkler, RHP, Modesto — Since being taken by the Rockies in the 20th round of the 2011 Draft, Winkler has had a penchant for the strikeout — his 136 punchouts ranked second in the Sally League last season — but it hadn’t necessarily translated into results (4.46 ERA, 1.37 WHIP). The 23-year-old seems to be coming into his own for the Nuts this season, however. His 2.61 ERA ranks third in the circuit while his 0.89 WHIP is right up there at the top. And yes, his 58 strikeouts (in 51 2/3 innings) rank second.

Carolina League: Taylor Hill, RHP, Potomac — There was ample reason for excitement when the P-Nats started the year with Robbie Ray and Taylor Jordan — Washington’s No. 10 and 17 prospects respectively — in their rotation. But Hill, who owned a 4.91 ERA between Class A Hagerstown and Potomac last season, has been right there with them and has often been better. He ranks first in walk rate (1.18 BB/9), tied for first in WHIP (0.99), second in ERA (2.31) — behind only Jordan (1.24), who is now with Double-A Harrisburg — and third in wins (4). He’s also thrown the only solo shutout of the Carolina League season. That’s the kind of stuff that commands attention at any level.hill

Florida State League: D.J. Baxendale, RHP, Fort Myers — Make what you will of the wins stat for pitchers, but nobody has done a better job than Baxendale of compiling them as a full-time starter in the Minor Leagues this year. He’s a perfect 7-0 for the Miracle through nine starts, but none of those wins have been of the vulture variety. He hasn’t allowed more than two runs in any start en route to an FSL-best 0.94 ERA, and that comes from  being nearly untouchable (0.78 WHIP, .166 opponents’ average). Coming out of the University of Arkansas, Baxendale was a breakout candidate after sliding to 10th round last June, but this is at a different level.baxendale

Midwest League: Brandon Sinnery, RHP, South Bend — Sinnery has been one of the feel-good stories of the early 2013 season. I recommend reading my colleague Jake Seiner’s story on his journey to affiliated ball, but here’s a quick Sparknotes version. Undrafted out of the University of Michigan, the right-hander moved onto two separate independent league teams before catching the eye of the D-backs, who signed him and sent him to the Midwest League this season. He’s thrived ever since, putting up a 2.25 ERA and 1.07 ERA over eight appearances (six starts).

South Atlantic League: Jake Cose, RHP, Kannapolis — The 2011 27th-rounder was OK (4.38 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) in his first pro season as a starter in the Appalachian League a year ago, but he seems to have taken things to a new level in 2013. He’s maintained a 1.61 ERA — second-best in the Sally League — thanks to an ongoing run of four straight starts, spanning 24 2/3 innings, without having allowed an earned run. The 6-foot-5 right-hander has also struck out 46 batters and walked just 16 in 44 2/3 total frames while holding batters to a .211 average.cose

Interview Outtakes: Tigers Prospect, Could-be-closer Bruce Rondon Answers Eight Extra Questions will publish our Q&A with Tigers could-be-closer Bruce Rondon in the next week or so. In the interim, the’s No. 92 prospect (bio, stats here) shared eight thoughts (below) that didn’t make it into the story. Thanks to Detroit official Aileen Villarreal for translating Rondon’s Spanish. Enjoy.

(Charlie Neibergall/AP)

(Charlie Neibergall/AP)

  1. On his favorite 2012 season highlight: “Saving 29 games. It was amazing because my goal was to save 20 and I saved 29. I couldn’t believe it. It was a real blessing.”

    (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

    (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

  2. On how he spent his offseason aside from playing in the Venezuelan Winter League: “I spent a lot of time with my family. I took them shopping, we went to the beach a lot. My workouts were early during the day, so I had the whole rest of the day to spend with them so it was great. Baseball isn’t easy because sometimes your family needs your support and love even when you’re far away. I always miss them a lot and it isn’t easy, but like I used to tell my mom, this is what I wanted and I was going to accomplish it.”
  3. On his first big league Spring Training: “It has been the best thing in my life so far, being next to all these big leaguers that I had never even dreamed of being next to. They talk to you like you’re the same as them,and I tell myself, ‘Wow, I haven’t even pitched a game in the Majors yet.’ They talk to you like you’re their equal, and it is really special and I give them many thanks for that.”
  4. On what he has learned from veteran Tigers pitchers during camp: “You know pitching in the big leagues isn’t just about pitching. Sometimes it’s about your character, sometimes about talking to the media, when things are going bad, when they’re good. In the clubhouse with the rules, that you have to respect to be respected. All those things, how to go dressed to the stadium, being prompt to practice, et cetera. Those are some of the things they’ve helped me with, and I’d like to thank them because sometimes you get to a team and nobody helps you with anything — you kind of have to learn on your own. This team is united. It is like a family, and that is a great thing.”
  5. On his scouting report of teammate/friend/fellow prospect/countryman Avisail Garcia“Him and I have played a lot together. He’s always been with me and helped me with different things. I’d like to thank him for that because he’s been a great friend to me and to a lot of other guys on the team. I have nothing bad to say about him because he has been a great guy.”

    (Paul Nelson/Toledo Mud Hens)

    (Paul Nelson/Toledo Mud Hens)

  6. On his best friend in the Tigers organization: “Since I came to the United States, actually since I was in Venezuela, Jose Ortega. We’ve come up together from the bottom. We’ve both been working very hard for our families, and now we’re both here trying to accomplish what we’ve been working hard for.”
  7. On the best hitter he’s faced in the Minors: “Like I say, there aren’t small or big enemies because everyone is batting against you. All of them to me are difficult. If I get too comfortable with one, he can hit a homer off me. That’s why I come out and see all of them as the best hitter and come out to pitch the way I come out to pitch because you can’t get too comfortable in the ninth inning. That’s when the errors come. You have to come out aggressive like always and not get too comfortable or overconfident whether he’s small or big, strong or skinny, it doesn’t matter who it is, I see them all the same.”
  8. On his goals for the 2013 season: “My goal is to work hard, to keep working hard, and not stop working hard. If you ease up and take thing for granted, that’s when the problems come. I don’t want to stop working. I know things right now aren’t as I would want them, but I know I’ll get through it.”

Prospect Uniformed: Tigers Outfielder Nick Castellanos in Every Minor League Jersey He’s Worn

Thanks to his .405 batting average in half a season last year at Class A Advanced Lakeland,’s No. 10 overall prospect Nick Castellanos made his Double-A debut at age 20. To smooth his path to the Majors, the Tigers switched him from third base to the outfield. Given that effort to keep his bat moving up the system — and Detroit’s historic aggressiveness for pushing prospects — it’s expected that Castellanos will play at Triple-A Toledo in 2013. The Mud Hens would be his fifth pro team. Here are the previous four, in a gallery.

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