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Week 6 Prospect Rundown (5/8 – 5/14)

Minors Notes:

Brendan Rodgers (COL, #1) – 14 for 25, 5 doubles, 2 HR, 1 SB. I must admit; this article explaining Rodgers’ KATOH miss from 2016 had me (unnecessarily) worried about Rodgers coming into 2017. But since coming back from injury that sidelined him until 4/24, all Rodgers has done is mashed; he has a .418/.435/.684 line with 14 XBH through his first 19 games. His potential future numbers at Coors field are something to get excited about.

Triston McKenzie (CLE, #3) – 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 14 K. McKenzie was straight up dominant on Tuesday, throwing 61 of 88 pitches for strikes, including 11 whiffs. McKenzie’s velocity again took a slight dip again in the later innings. Listed at 6’5”, 165 lbs., there are some concerns about how McKenzie’s extremely skinny build will handle a full season’s workload. But for now, McKenzie is doing extremely well in a placement at High-A that was supposed to be challenging.

Leody Taveras (TEX, #1) – 11 for 31, 6 XBH, 1 SB. Taveras now has 12 XBH on the season, including 4 HR after just hitting 1 HR in 300+ AB last season. He’s extremely athletic, has loud tools, and  his pitch recognition is extremely advanced for a teenager. As his power continues to grow, we could be looking at a future 5 tool player in the Rangers outfield.

Erick Fedde (WAS, #2) – 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 7 K. All reports from this game say Fedde looked very polished Thursday, when he out-dueled Yankees prospect Justus Sheffield. Feede was still hitting 95 with his FB in the 6th inning with good sink, he could throw his slider for strikes at will, and he worked in his changeup which had good fade. There seems to be an industry-wide confusion as to why Feede is still at Double-A, so expect a promotion very soon. Fedde has allowed 2 or fewer runs in 5 of 7 starts this season.

Victor Robles (WAS, #1) – 6 for 26, 7 K. Up and down week for Robles, who started off the week 0 for 15, but then finished with 3 straight multi-hit games. Robles is now hitting .272/.352/.481. With a prospect as highly regarded as Robles, it’s sometimes easy to forget that High-A is a tough assignment for a teenager. Robles will see his ups and downs.

Braxton Garrett (MIA, #1) – 2 starts, 9.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R (1 ER), 4 BB, 8 K. The 7th overall pick from the 2016 draft made his professional debut Monday and pitched very well. Garrett’s ceiling as a starter isn’t incredibly high, but he is relatively advanced for a teenager, according to most reports, so the Marlins could elect to move him through the system rather quickly if he’s pitching well.

Dom Smith (NYM, #2) – 11 for 29, 4 doubles, 1 HR. Smith now has a .324/.379/.486 with 15 XBH in his first 148 AB at Triple-A Las Vegas. The PCL has a tendency to inflate offensive stats, but Smith had nearly the same exact slash line in Double-A last season. The Mets rank 11th in WAR at the first base position, so even with the injuries Lucas Duda has faced over the last couple seasons, I don’t expect Smith up until later in the season, if at all.

JP Crawford (PHI, #1) – 3 for 20. We’re now approaching the point in the year in which it’s fair to start becoming worried about certain prospects, and Crawford leads that group. To be fair, Crawford was seemingly always a glove first prospect, but for the second straight year, Crawford has really struggled at Triple-A, still hitting just .150 through 113 AB this season. His walk and strikeout rates are still good, but his OBP still rests well below .300.

Mike Soroka (ATL, #4) – 6.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K. Soroka was hitless through 6 IP, before allowing a hit in the 7th and being pulled after 89 pitches, a season high. Still just a teenager at AA, Soroka is more than holding his own to the tune of a 2.84 ERA and .90 WHIP. It’s anyone’s guess which of the Braves’ farmhands will end up as the best of the bunch, but it very well could be Soroka. My money is still on Allard though.

Jaime Barria (LAA, #10) – 2 starts, 13 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 15 K. Barria has seriously impressed this season. His ERA sits at 2.51, and he has allowed 2 or fewer runs in 7 of his 8 starts. He gave up 6 runs on 4/22; remove that start and his ERA is 1.48. His walks have always remained low, thanks to good command on his 55 FB, but his secondaries have always been behind, though still improving. He has seen a nice uptick in strikeouts early on and has induced an insane amount of weak contact (20.6% pop-ups, almost 5% higher than his LD%). Barria could be someone to keep an eye on in an otherwise barren Angels system

Bo Bichette (TOR, #9) – 8 for 22, 3 doubles, 1 SB. Bichette has an extremely loud swing with a ton of moving parts that scouts have a problem with, seemingly universally. However, the unorthodox mechanics are clearly working for him, because all his done is hit. Bichette is hitting .393/.447/.644 over the past two years in pro ball with a walk rate nearing 10% and a strikeout rate under 20%. Despite his swing, Bichette moved into Baseball America’s updated Top 100 prospects list.

Victor Caratini (CHC, #12) – 11 for 22, 4 XBH. The catching prospect is now hitting .347/.394/.521 on the season with 8 doubles, 3 HR, and a career best 0.174 ISO. With the Cubs seemingly set of Wilson Contreras as their future behind home and Montero currently adding good depth, Caratini could make for an interesting trade piece at the deadline.

Jon Duplantier (ARI, #8) – 2 starts, 11 IP, 6 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 15 K. Duplantier lowered his ERA to 0.74 this week. Duplantier is a bit old for A ball, which is one of the reason for his dominance. The major reason, however, is that he has now been healthy for some time after struggling with injuries since his time at Rice, which kept him from being a first round pick. Duplantier should see a promotion to High-A very soon and should he succeed and keep healthy, don’t be surprised to see Duplantier crack some top 100 prospect lists as soon as mid-season; the stuff is definitely there.

LaMonte Wade (MIN, #13) – 11 for 26, 1 HR, 3 SB. Wade is now hitting .333 with 4 HR and 5 SB on the season at Double-A to go along with a bonkers 20.3% BB%. He now has a 129:99 BB:K over his pro career. Wade has always had good bat to ball skills and plus plate approach since his time at Maryland, but Wade’s developing power/speed may be enough to make a him a future everyday OF.

Alex Wells (BAL, #17) – 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 2 K. The Orioles international signings have been pretty lackluster over the years, but they may have hit the nail on the head with the Australian lefty. Wells is anything but overpowering, but his command is fantastic with all 3 of his pitches. He’s been dominant at Class-A Delmarva with a 1.19 ERA and just a 3.3% walk rate. He now has a 1.84 ERA in 93 professional inning dating back to last season.

Chris Shaw (SF, #5) – 7 for 23, 3 doubles. Shaw now has a .296/.403/.491 line on the year with 18:19 BB:K. The Giants’ 1st round pick in 2015, Shaw has hit 64% of his balls in the air, which should be great for maintained power. Shaw currently is a first base only prospect, however, and is a very below average defender there, so his future is extremely uncertain.

Oscar De La Cruz (CHC, #5) – 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. Pitched a CGSO Sunday, in a game in which most people just wanted to see top prospect Eloy Jimenez. De La Cruz is off to a good start to the year with a 2.97 ERA and while his gaudy strikeout numbers haven’t carried over from last year, his walk rate has lowered ever so slightly.

Clay Holmes (PIT, #22) – 2 starts, 12.2 IP, 14 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 15 K. Drafted out of HS in the 9th round, Holmes needed TJ in March 2014 after pitching 119 innings in A-ball. He has slowly worked his way back and has had a very nice start in Triple-A this season (3.38 ERA). Although his walk rate has remained high, he’s becoming increasingly comfortable with a sinker-cutter combo, and has seen an amazing spike in his strikeout rate (26% v 17.5% career). Holmes’ GB% is also above 60% for his career. Drew Hutchison or Steven Brault were thought to be first in line should the Pirates need pitching help, but Holmes could get a shot too if he keeps pitching well. #9 prospect Steven Brault has a 3.19 ERA through 36.2 IP at AAA.

Blake Rutherford (NYY, #3) – 9 for 19, 2 doubles, 2 triples, 1 HR, 1 SB. A little bit of everything this week for Rutherford. After starting the year hitting .239 with 6 XBH in the first 19 games, Rutherford has now hit .370 with 8 XBH in his last 13.

Lucas Sims (ATL, #18) – Drafted in the 1st round out of HS in 2012, Sims is often forgotten in a sea of great pitching prospects the Braves have stockpiled over the years, and for good reason. After 3 straight seasons with an ERA higher than 4.00, Sims has a 2.16 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, and a 1.9 BB/9, which is the most promising sign of them all after having walk rates of 5.2 BB/9 and 5.9 BB/9 the past two seasons. Sims has been attacking hitters more this season and says he feels great about his improved control/command. He’ll need a longer stint at Triple-A Gwinnett, but with Colon really struggling, Sims could be in line for a call up in the coming months.

Dylan Cozens (PHI, #9) – 11 for 28, 4 HR, 1 SB. Cozens is finally starting to heat up. After hitting .139 with 40 strikeouts in the 23 games to start the year, Cozens is now hitting .370 with 5 HR in his last 13 games to raise his BA to .220. The strikeouts have regressed from astronomical to really high. Though he has power, it isn’t Gallo-like power, so he’ll still need to solve those swing-and-miss problems.

Zac Gallen (STL, #24) – 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K. The Cardinals 3rd round pick lowered his ERA to 1.80 this week. He pitched very well in his final two seasons at UNC and that has carried over very well so far in pro ball. Gallen has struck out 45 hitters in 35 innings while walking just 6. His swinging strike rate sits at an extremely good 12%.

Rhys Hoskins (PHI, #13) – 12 for 30, 2 doubles, 2 HR. Hoskins just keeps raking, but Tommy Joseph is suddenly making it very hard to justify calling up Hoskins before the Super Two deadline (which they probably weren’t going to anyway); Joseph is hitting .400/.512/.886 with 4 HR in May.

Jacob Faria (TB, #9) – 4.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 13 K. Faria got 14 outs in this game, and 13 of them were strikeouts. Faria has nasty swing and miss stuff; he had 18 whiffs on Tuesday and upped his swinging strike rate to 17% on the season (Scherzer led MLB last season with 15.3%). His control and command, however, has remained shaky and continue to limit him. The walk rate is down from last season, but still is nearing 10%.

Travis Demeritte (ATL, #9) – 11 for 28, 4 HR. Demeritte found his power stroke this week, and we could be watching a massive breakout year for the 22 year old. Demeritte has always been a plus-plus defensive second baseman, but scouts were worried he would never be able to get to his power in game due to swing and miss issues. Well through 132 AB, Demeritte has .273 average while striking out just 23% of the time (compared to 33% career) and maintaining a high walk rate and great power.

Brady Aiken (CLE, #5) – 4.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R (3 ER), 4 BB, 5 K. Aiken Hasn’t looked the same since TJ; his walks this season are out of control (25 in 29 IP) and his FB velocity still has not moved out of the low 90s. With a journey as long as Aiken’s it’s sometime hard to forget that he is still only 20 years old. However, it’s been a while since the surgery, so if the velocity was ever going to return, it would have already. Aiken’s strikeout rate is just 14%.

Brent Honeywell (TB, #2) – 6 IP, 8 H, 3 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 10 K. Honeywell seems to have settled in at Triple-A Durham. After a rocky start, Honeywell has a 18:2 K:BB over his last 11.1 IP, lowering his ERA from 5.87 to 4.05.

Josh Hader (MIL, #3) and Michael Kopech (CHW, #3) – Both had two starts. 10 IP and 12:5 K:BB for Hader and 11.1 IP and 15:5 K:BB for Kopech. Both BB% are north of 14%.

Patrick Mazeika (NYM, #27) and Danny Jansen (TOR, #22) – Two lesser known catching prospects each with 8 hits this week. Both have great plate approach histories (BB% above 10% and K% below 13% for both of them). But what is noteworthy is the power; both have 5 HR this season and have seen huge upticks in ISO. At a position in which hitting is at a premium, catching prospects on the rise always catch my eye.

Adonis Medina (PHI, #16) and JoJo Romero (PHI, #26) – Two 20-year-old Philly prospects off to a good start at Class-A Lakewood with 2.03 and 2.20 ERAs, respectively. Medina is easily the more enticing prospect of the two, but Romero’s start should not get overlooked.

Brett Cumberland (ATL, #30) – 1 for 7, 7 BB. Cumberland now has a .191 batting average, but a .433 OBP on the season, which made me laugh.


Promotion Notes:

Ian Happ (CHC, #2) – Called up Saturday for a spot start. Happ hit 2nd and played RF. He was hitting .298 with 9 HR in AAA before the promotion.

Ronald Acuna (ATL, #7) – Promoted to AA Mississippi on Tuesday from High-A Rome. Acuna didn’t waste any time, hitting a HR in his first AB. He also hit another one the next day. He’s 6 games in at AA as just the 4th teen at that level and he’s hitting .560 with 4 XBH and 4 SB. He’s special.

Luiz Gohara (ATL, #10) – Also promoted to AA Mississippi on Thursday, just days after Acuna. Gohara had a 1.98 ERA and a 39:10 K:BB in High-A Rome to start the year.

Patrick Weigel (ATL, #15) – Promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett on Wednesday. Weigel had a 2.89 ERA and a 38:11 K:BB at AA Mississippi. He pitched 7 innings, let up 3 runs and struck out 5 in his first Triple-A start on Saturday.


Injury Notes:

Eloy Jimenez (CHC, #1) – Returned from a shoulder bruise injury that has sidelined him all season. Placed has High-A Myrtle Beach. Went 3 for 7 with 3:1 BB:K Saturday and Sunday.

Carter Kieboom (WAS, #4) – Suffered a hamstring injury Friday running through first base. He had to be helped off and it didn’t look good. Kieboom was placed on the DL.

Kevin Newman (PIT, #4) – Newman was hit in the head with a 94 fastball on Wednesday. After going down on one knee, Newman walked back to the dugout by himself. Newman has a forehead contusion, but no concussion. Scary though, considering Newman was hit in the head last season as well, resulting in a broken orbital bone.

Fransisco Mejia (CLE, #2) – Put on 7-day DL with groin soreness

Mitch Keller (PIT, #3) – Keller was removed after 4.2 dominant innings Wednesday, one batter after a trainer visited the mound. Keller then walked off the mound holding his forearm, which is never good news. Turns out, Keller was just stung by a bee. He should be fine for his next start.


Photo: David Zalubowski/AP

Connor Kurcon
Boston, MA. Lifelong Sox fan. Twitter: @ckurcon

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