MINORS: News and Notes

This week we take another tour around the minors to see who's hot, who's not, who's hurt, and who's in the midst of a breakout.  While the 2012 season is still in its infancy and sample sizes are small, we are getting to the point where we can start drawing some conclusions.  Certainly the recent promotions of Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, and Will Middlebrooks indicates that teams have seen enough to start making promotions and roster changes.  While the Super Two arbitration cutoff will continue to act as a drag on further promotions to the majors, we should start to see some more promotions in the lower minors.

Triple-A Update:

The San Diego Padres' Yasmani Grandal (C) is back in action after starting the season on the DL with a bad hamstring.  Since returning to action, Grandal is 10-for-32 with 2 home runs.  He needs some more seasoning at Triple-A, but is the organization's catcher of the future.

The Arizona Diamondbacks' Adam Eaton (OF) continues his torrid start, hitting .404 over his last 10 games.  For the year Eaton is now hitting .343/.434/.457 with 11 BB/18 K and 10 SB in 105 AB between Double-A and Triple-A.

After a very slow start, the Toronto Blue Jays' Travis d’Arnaud (C) is starting to come around at the plate.  The 23-year-old backstop is hitting .381 in his last 10 games, bringing his season line to .283/.351/.424.  He should be in Toronto later this summer and remains one of the elite catching prospects in baseball.

The Blue Jays' Travis Snider (OF) is back on the DL with a wrist injury.  before hitting the DL, the 24-year-old was hitting .400/.477/.693 with 10 doubles, 4 home runs, and 11 BB/11 K in 75 AB.  Once he does return to action, it remains to be seen how he fits into the Blue Jays long-term plans.

The San Francisco Giants' Heath Hembree (RHP) continues to steamroll hitters in the PCL and is one of the better relief prospects in the minors.  In 76 career minor league appearances, Hembree is now 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA, 28 BB/110 K, and 48 saves in 75 IP.

The Pittsburgh Pirates' Rudy Owens (LHP) doesn't have overpowering stuff, but he throws tons of strikes and has a good understanding of how to pitch.  The 6'3" lefty features a 90-92 mph fastball, an above-average change, and an average looping curveball.  Owens struggled in his first stint at Triple-A in '11 and was shut down with shoulder fatigue after just 112.1 IP.  This year has been much better and after 5 starts he is 1-0 with a 2.12 ERA, 2 BB/26 K, and a .205 BAA in 34 IP.  He has given up 6 home runs, but this has not been a problem in the past and should normalize as the season progresses.  Owens isn't going to dominate, but it worth keeping an eye on in deep NL-only formats.

Double-A Update:

The St. Louis Cardinals' Oscar Taveras (OF) looks to be adding power to his already impressive toolbox.  Last year Taveras paced the MWL with a .386 average, but clubbed only 8 home runs.  Through 22 games this year, he is hitting .327 with 9 doubles and 7 home runs.  If Taveras can improve his walk rate, he has the potential to become one of the best CF prospects in baseball.

The Philadelphia Phillies' Trevor May (RHP) is making a smooth transition to Double-A.  After 5 starts, the 22-year-old righty is 5-0 with a 2.40 ERA, 33 K/8 BB in 30 IP.

The Giants' Gary Brown (OF) has yet to get things on track after a breakout season in ’11.  The speedy Brown is hitting just .230 with 4 extra-base-hits in 100 AB for Double-A Richmond.  It will be interesting to see how much of his breakout was fueled by a full season in the hitter-friendly CAL.  It is way too early to hit the panic button, but we have seen other CAL league wonders in the past.

The Padres' Robbie Erlin (LHP) hasn’t been as dominant as was a year ago, but he has still been plenty effective.  The 21-year-old lefty struck out 10 in his most recent start and on the year has a 2.66 ERA with 30 K/5 BB in 23.2 IP.  With teammate Joe Wieland (RHP) holding his own in San Diego, Erlin with have to wait for the next opening, but he should be ready when called upon.

Single-A Update:

The Colorado Rockies' Trevor Story (SS) is a player to keep an eye on.  The 45th overall pick in the 2011 draft is holding his own against older competition in the SAL where he is hitting .273/.387/.545 with 5 HR and 14 BB/20 K in 88 AB.  Story isn’t going to replace Troy Tulowitzki any time soon, but he could fill a long-standing need at 2B.

The Los Angeles Dodgers' Chris Reed (LHP) is making a nice transition for collegiate closer to starting pitcher.  Reed features a 90-95 mph fastball and a decent slider.  If he can maintain his velocity deep into games and develop even a decent change-up, he has the potential to become an impact lefty.  So far the results have been encouraging and after 4 starts in the CAL he is 1-3 with a 3.41 ERA and 11 BB/32 K in 29 IP.

The Cincinnati Reds' Billy Hamilton (SS) has stolen 17 bases in his last 10 games and for the year is hitting .382/.458/.559.  He’s also already made 8 errors at SS.  A move to CF could be in the works down the road and he remains one of the most exciting players in the minors.

The Boston Red Sox' Matt Barnes (RHP) was finally scored upon as a professional, but it didn’t happen until his 5th start of the year.  The 19th overall pick in the 2012 draft is now 2-0 with a 0.34 ERA with 4 BB/42 K in 26.2 IP.  An improved change-up partially explains his early success and this week's promotion to High-A.

The Pittsburgh Pirates' Gerrit Cole (RHP) had his best start as a pro this past week.  The 1st overall pick in the 2011 draft tossed six innings of one-hit ball, striking out 6 while walking one.  On the year, Cole is 1-1 with a 3.52 ERA and 7 BB/29 K in 23 IP.

The Los Angeles Angels' Cam Bedrosian (RHP), a first-round pick in 2010, made his first start since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2010.  The 21-year-old righty tossed 4.1 shutout innings for Low-A Cedar Rapids.  before the injury, Bedroisian featured a 92-95 mph fastball, but needed to develop his secondary offerings.  He will likely spend all of 2012 at Low-A, but still has some nice upside.

The New York Mets' Cory Vaughn (OF) is showing solid power in his repeat of the FSL.  Vaughn, the son of former major leaguer Greg Vaughn, is hitting .293/.381/.587 with 6 doubles and 7 home runs in 92 AB.  Vaughn needs to make more consistent contact, but he does have above-average power.

The Mets' Wilmer Flores (3B) has been moved from SS to 3B for 2012 and so far the change seems to be working.  The 21-year-old Flores is in his third stint in the FSL, but finally seems to be figuring things out at the plate.  After 26 games Flores is hitting .316/.343/.495.  He is no longer considered an elite prospect, but there is still time for him to develop into a solid big league regular.

The Detroit Tigers' Nick Castellanos (3B) is off to a red-hot start in the FSL.  After 24 games the 20-year-old 3B is hitting .426/.459/.594 in 101 AB.  Castellanos has yet to show much plate discipline or power but his career minor league totals now read .329/.382/.458 over parts of three seasons.  With Miguel Cabrera holding moving to 3B in Detroit, Castellanos could be moved to the OF, but would likely be limited to LF.

The Reds' Tony Cingrani (LHP) doesn’t get a lot of buzz, but that should change soon.  The 22-year-old lefty out of Rice had an impressive debut in ’11, going 3-2 with a 1.75 ERA, 6 BB/80 K, and a .190 BAA in the PIO.  This year Cingrani is 3-1 with a miniscule 0.32 ERA and 6 BB/37 K in 28 IP in the CAL.  Cingrani should continue to move up quickly and a bump to Double-A could be less than a month away. Cingrani is covered in this week's Minor League Minute on the BaseballHQ Radio podcast.

The Diamondbacks' Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley got all of the attention when scouts and analysts evaluated the organizations 2011 draft, but they weren’t the only impact arms the team acquired.  The Diamondbacks also selected lefty Andrew Chafin with the 43rd overall pick.  So far, Chafin has arguably been the most effective of the three, and on the year is 2-0 with a 2.28 ERA and 6 BB/45 K in 27.2 IP.  Long-term he doesn’t have the same upside as Bauer.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.