August 18, 2017
Minor League Update
Games of August 17
Hitter of the Day:
Franklin Barreto, MI, Oakland Athletics (Triple-A Nashville): 4-5, 3 R, 3B, HR, 4 RBI, K
After a few inconsistent months in the middle of the season, Barreto has finally settled into a decent groove over the past few weeks. Amid the struggles at both Triple A and in his brief big-league introduction it’s worth a friendly reminder that he is still 21 years old, and enthusiasm for his long-term offensive projection should in no way have dampened this summer.
Pitcher of the Day:
Forrest Whitley, RHP, Houston Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi): 6 IP, 2 H, 11 K
Now that’s how you make an entrance. Whtley’s Double-A debut went, well, much like the overwhelming majority of his A-ball starts before. Yesterday’s exclamation point pushes his whiff rate near 40 percent for the year across three levels in his first full season of professional ball. Also, he is 19. Methinks someone’s primed for a hop, skip, several jumps, and one giant leap up the ladder on this winter’s 101.
Other Prospects of Note:
Ryan Yarbrough, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays (Triple-A Durham): 6.1 IP, 5 H, 8 K
A piece of Tampa’s Drew Smyly return pie, Yarbrough has come a long way from the still-filling-out-command-lefty profile I saw in Bakersfield a couple years ago. The Rays have helped him find a tighter breaking pitch this year, adding some unforeseen punchout potential to compliment his already-stellar command of a workable fastball and borderline-plus change. He’s one of those guys where the minor-league numbers have been so good, for so long, that it’ll be an interesting test for the scouting consensus against big-league hitters.
Ronald Acuna, CF, Atlanta Braves (Triple-A Gwinnett): 1-4, R, HR, RBI, 2 K
I briefly considered awarding a collective “Pitcher of the Day” distinction to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre pitching staff for successfully retiring Acuna in three out of his four plate appearances.
Mitch Keller, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Double-A Altoona): 6 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 8 K
The 17th-best prospect in baseball hasn’t exactly struggled to adapt to life at Double-A, with three straight quality starts that’ve featured 21 whiffs and five walks across his first 18 Eastern League innings.
Joey Lucchesi, LHP, San Diego Padres (Double-A San Antonio): 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 9 K
An older, under-slot fourth-rounder out of Southeast Missouri State in last year’s draft, Lucchesi’s been quite the scouting success story for San Diego since turning pro. His funky delivery draws inevitable suspicions about his probability to remain a starter, but it works really, really well for him.
Kyle Wright, RHP, Atlanta Braves (High-A Florida): 2 IP, 2 H, K
Atlanta is keeping the gloves on its top draft pick, capping him with two-inning bursts in each of his seven professional starts to date after he topped a hundred frames for Vanderbilt in the spring. There’s a bit of stiffness in his delivery that can hamper his command at times, but the arsenal’s deep, the pedigree’s as good as they get, and he’s as good a bet as any recent draftee to move quickly along on Atlanta’s aggressive promotion schedule.
Keibert Ruiz, C, Los Angeles Dodgers (High-A Rancho Cucamonga): 3-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, K
My friends, I’m here to tell you that Ruiz is realer than Real Deal Holyfield.
Garrett Hampson, 2B/SS, Colorado Rockies (High-A Lancaster): 3-5, R, K, SB
Hampson has positively worn out Cal League pitching this year, including a .388/.423/.612 run in August. Yes, there’s some Lancaster Effect involved, but the bat-to-ball is legitimately good, the speed (and the utility thereof) is legitimately excellent, and he projects to create additional value at the keystone. He’s on the short list of players most overdue for a promotion at this point.
Heath Quinn, RF, San Francisco Giants (High-A San Jose): 2-3, R, HR, 2 RBI
Quinn hasn’t looked right for much of the season while under the thumb of a nagging shoulder injury; to wit, yesterday’s big fly was his first in over two months. In the Cal League. It’d been even longer since his last run of multiple hits in back-to-back games, too. So maybe, possibly, hopefully we’ve got ourselves a sign here that the wing’s healing up enough for him to finish strong. There’s some thunder in his stick that shouldn’t be forgotten in the face of his injury-riddled struggles this season.
Antonio Santillan, RHP, Cincinnati Reds (Low-A Dayton): 5 IP, ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 9 K
If he ever figures out how to streamline his mechanics, the fastball-slider combination can and will devastate.
Fernando Tatis, Jr., SS, San Diego Padres (Low-A Fort Wayne): 3-5, R, 3 2B, RBI, K
Nobody move, maybe he won’t be able to see us. At least South Bend pitchers kept him in the yard?
Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Oakland Athletics (Short-Season Vermont): 4 IP, H, 5 K
Early reports suggest that Luzardo’s stuff appears to have returned more or less intact post-Tommy John, and Oakland’s centerpiece return for half of their bullpen continues to produce dominant results in short bursts in the NYPL.
Michael Baumann, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (Rookie Aberdeen): 5 IP, 2 H, BB, 7 K
Baumann’s fastball has the goods, but he struggles to spin the ball consistently, and there’s enough length in the mechanics that repetition (and subsequent command) can elude him from time to time. Still, the Birds’ third-rounder this summer has been infrequently touchable since signing and his frame is something out of a John Lackey spinoff series.
Wander Javier, SS, Minnesota Twins (Rookie Elizabethton): 2-4, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI
Are you sick of me writing about him yet? Too bad! He hit a grand slam yesterday, which is another excuse for me to gush about his impact potential on both sides of the ball.
Mark Vientos, 3B, New York Mets (Rookie GCL Mets): 4-5, 2 R, HR, RBI
After a sluggish debut after signing, the still-17-years-old-somehow Vientos has been heating up at the dish lately. You could make it home from the Kuiper Belt before this kid evolves into anything resembling a big-leaguer, but there are a bunch of interesting building blocks here that Vientos already demonstrates an advanced ability to utilize in game settings.
Wilson Karaman is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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