Daily Archives: June 4, 2015

Reading Fighten’s – Past 10 Games

The team posted a 6-4 record over the last ten games and share the 2nd place slot in the Eastern League Eastern Division with the Trenton Thunder at 29-24.
They continue on the road against Binghamton over the weekend for three games before returning home for a six game stand starting Tuesday, June 9th versus Altoona for three and then Akron for three.

Who’s hot :

Cam Perkins has been one of the hottest bats over the past ten games posting a .350 average with 4 home runs and 11 runs batted in. Perkins had 14 hits in 40 at bats during that stretch including two three hit games.

Brock Stassi continues his excellent season as he posted a .366 average over the last ten games going 15 for 41 with 1 home run and 8 runs batted in. His overall average of .335 and 43 runs batted are both league leaders in the Eastern League. ( tied with Gavin Cecchini of Binghamton for Average)

KC Serna hit .325 over the past ten games and while Art Charles only hit .200 over his last ten games he continued  a season long pattern of  wearing out the Erie Sea Dogs as in  the past three games he  went 5 for 12 and knocked in four runs. Of big Sir Arthur’s 37 hits this season 16 have been against Erie.

Stephen Shackelford recorded six saves in the last ten games and his total of 11 ties him for third in the league.

Aaron Nola’s 7 wins ties for tops in the league and his 1.76 ERA is third best

Transactions :

Catcher Gabriel Lino was promoted to Triple A Lehigh Valley as Logan Moore swapped places with him coming back to Reading from Lehigh.

JP Crawford has played six games for Reading since his promotion from Clearwater and is hitting .261 ( 6 for 23) but also has drawn 7 walks to post a .489 OBP

League Leader : Beside Stassi and Nolan,  Roman Quinn continues to lead the Eastern League in stolen bases with 24 and is in a three way tie for triples with 5.

 

Minor League of Interest – KC Royals

This is the fourth insertion of my series of looking at other teams minor league systems. I am reviewing stats first and then interjecting comments from various sites: Here are the Kansas City Royals affiliates. This review is reflective of data up to but not including June 1, 2015 :

Lexington Legends ( Low A – 21-30, last place in South Atlantic League Southern Division)

Alfredo Escalera Maldonado is a 20-year-old centerfielder.  He was hitting .291 (.347 OBP) with 7 home runs and 22 RBI along with 7 doubles and 2 triples thru 175 at bats.

Royals blog site “Pine Tar Press” said this about him : “As a player Maldonado shows a glimpse of plenty of tools combining speed with some pop while barreling some balls all in a profile that is currently playing centerfield. What he has in pop and speed he lacks in an approach at the plate often times expanding his zone and getting himself out, showing the youth one would expect in a 20-year-old playing against older competition.”

First baseman Ryan O’Hearn has hit 12 home runs and knocked in 27 while posting a .253 average and a .325 OBP thru 182 at bats. He is a 21-year-old 2014 draft pick from Sam Houston State ( 8th round). He led all Royals minor leaguers in batting average in 2014.

Blog site “The Kings of Kaufman” site had this to say about him: “Ryan O’Hearn certainly has a long way to go before he reaches the Royals. There will be other stops along the way, and it will be interesting to see how he fares playing in full season leagues. The next jump, from A to AA, will also be interesting to watch, as AA is traditionally the proving ground for those players who excel at the lower minors. Yet for the sheer power potential, O’Hearn is certainly going to be a fun player to watch as he progresses through the Royals system. He may not be the biggest name among the Royals prospects, but Ryan O’Hearn may well prove to be an impact bat someday. He is certainly too far away to project a major league arc, yet O’Hearn is worth keeping an eye on over the next few years.”

Pitching wise 21-year-old Emilio Ogando has a 2.75 ERA thru 36 innings having recently been converted to a starter with 3 starts in his 10 overall appearances.

Wilmington Blue Rocks ( High A – 28-23, 1st place Carolina League Northern Division)

22-year-old 1st baseman/catcher Frank Schwindel is hitting .278 ( .303 OBP) with 3 home runs and 22 RBI’s but also has 17 doubles in 187 at bats. He is a 18th round draft pick from 2013 from St. John’s University that hit 20 home runs at Lexington in 2014. This is what Royals blog “PineTar Press” says about him : “Schwindel shows good pop with but long-term he will likely need to stick behind the dish, improve his receiving skills to have a shot at the major league level.”

22-year-old Pitcher Cody Reed has a sparkling 1.75 ERA thru 49 innings including 7 starts with 51 k’s and only 13 walks

MLB.com believes he has a very high ceiling and says this about him : “Reed works with a 90-94 mph fastball that peaks at 96 and has some sinking and cutting action. His mid-80s slider can get sweepy, but at its best it features tilt and can devastate hitters. He has yet to show much feel for a changeup.
His ability to refine a offspeed pitch and harness his power stuff will determine whether Reed can remain in the rotation or will have to head to the bullpen.”

22-year-old lefty Eric Skoguld has a 2.30 ERA thru 54 innings with 44 k’s and only 8 walks, he was the Royals 3rd round draft pick in 2014. This is what MLB.com says about him : “His long frame prompts comparisons to Chris Sale, though Skoglund is a bit taller and skinnier and much more of a finesse pitcher. He had better body control than most 6-foot-7 pitchers, allowing him to throw three pitches for strikes.
Skoglund’s 88-92 mph fastball with life and his 77-82 mph slider are average offerings, while his fading change up could be in time. He uses his size and high three-quarters delivery to stay on top of his pitches and deliver them with steep downward plane. He has a ceiling of a No. 4 starter, perhaps more if he can add some strength and velocity.”

Double A – Northwest Arkansas Naturals ( 31-17, 1st place in Texas League North Division)

Baseball sites rank 22-year-old shortstop Raul Mondesi as the Royals top prospect and number 36 in overall baseball, he is currently at double A with a .263 average (.276 OBP) in just 14 games as he began the season on the injured list with a right elbow issue.

This is what MLB.com says about him:

“A switch-hitter with a line-drive stroke from both sides of the plate, Mondesi could grow into annual 15-homer power once he matures physically. He’s overly aggressive at the plate, a trait opponents will try to exploit. If he can develop more patience he can be a significant base stealing threat with his well above-average speed.

Mondesi is much more polished defensively at this point. He has classic shortstop actions and the range, hands and arm to make all the plays at the position. If he gets a chance to catch his breath and let his bat develop, he could blossom into Kansas City’s first All-Star shortstop since Kurt Stillwell in 1988.”

23-year-old outfielder Terrance Gore has 20 stolen bases while hitting .296 with a .402 OBP thru 108 at bats. He has been to the show primarily as a pinch runner and helped the Royals last season in that regard. His speed is an unteachable skill, and Gore is possibly the fastest individual playing professionally organized baseball right now even quicker than the Red’s Billy Hamilton. The problem is you can’t steal first base and he has to prove he can hit to make an impact.

22-year-old pitcher Miguel Almonte thru 40 innings, 10 starts posts a 3.83 ERA with 35 k’s but 17 walks. MLB.com ranks him as the Royals fifth best prospect and has this to say about him : “Almonte attacks hitters with two plus pitches with life, a 92-96 mph fastball with some run and a nifty low-80s change-up with sink. As good as those offerings are, his heater straightens out and sits up in the zone when he overthrows it and he tends to fall in love with his change-up. His curveball is more inconsistent and often lacks depth.

Though he doesn’t have an exceptionally strong build, Almonte has a quick arm and little effort in his delivery, so he should have the durability to be a starter. He fills the strike zone but, like most young pitchers, he’s still refining his command. Once he figures that out and further polishes up his curve, he’ll be ready to help Kansas City’s rotation.”

Triple A – Omaha Storm Chasers ( 26-26, 3rd place – Pacific Coast League – American Northern Division)

2014 first round pick 22-year-old Brandon Finnegan is on the Triple A roster working as a starter albeit he has spent time with the big club this year as a left-handed reliever.

MLB.com comments were as follows : “Though he’s just 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, Finnegan has demonstrated the ability to sit at 93-95 and reach 98 mph with his fastball. His low-80s slider is a solid pitch, and his change-up is an effective third offering. While he does have some effort in his delivery that affected his command at times in college, he had no trouble filling the strike zone in his pro work.
It’s unclear what Finnegan’s long-term role will be. He has a deep enough repertoire and throws enough strikes to make it as a starter, though some scouts point to his size and mechanics and think he fits better as a late-inning reliever.”

24-year-old pitcher John Lamb has six wins and a 2.74 ERA thru 46 innings and 10 starts, at one point he was considered the top prospect in the Royals system but fell to an arm injury in 2011 and required Tommy John surgery. He has built his arm speed back up to average around 93 mph on his fastball and even has spent time on the big league roster this season.

The Royals system has been touched by the injury bug as second ranked left-handed 23-year-old pitcher Sean Manea has been shut down all season with abdominal and groin strain issues. Likewise third rated prospect 23-year-old pitcher Kyle Zimmer has been limited from bicep issues, he is currently on the Lexington roster but has only appeared in two games.

The Royals system certainly isn’t what it used to be but that is somewhat expected with most of their “prime time” players now on the big league club and performing very successfully.

Minor Leagues of Interest – Chicago Cubs

I will continue my series of looking at other teams minor league systems and their potential trade chips attempting to incorporate some of the feedback you have given me from the first two posts regarding the Astros and Red Sox. Just to clarify I am reviewing stats first as my premise. Here are the Chicago Cubs affiliates. This review is reflective of data up to but not including June 1, 2015:

Low Single A : South Bend Cubs ( 23-28, 7th place Midwest League Eastern Division)

18 year old shortstop Gleybar Torres is hitting .320 ( .397 OBP) thru 172 at bats. He has 9 doubles and 2 triples and has knocked in 30 runs. Chris Crawford from Baseball Prospectus had this to say about Torres : “I think that kid (has) got star potential as much as any prospect in the system sans the big three (Soler,Bryant,Russell) … He’s really good … I personally don’t understand why he hasn’t gotten as much hype as some of the other guys. What he’s done as an 18-year-old at the professional level … His approach is excellent and he has above average to plus tools pretty much everywhere but power and that might come too … and he’s going to play shortstop.”

23-year-old catcher Cael Brockmeyer is hitting .294 ( .383 OBP) thru 160 at bats

The Cub Junction site had this to say about the young catcher : “Cael Brockmeyer is one of the most underrated players in the Cubs organization. Quality bat, some burgeoning power, quiet leader, and great skills at either first or behind the plate. The problem is becoming that he is now playing a position (Catcher) that has a logjam at High A and AA. I almost gave Cael an A- grade, but a B+ will have to do. If he continues on his current path with his bat, he will be at an A by the end of the year.”

20-year-old center fielder Charcer Burks is hitting .283 ( .343 OBP) with 13 stolen bases thru 184 at bats

Burks was a 2013 9th round draft pick who has excellent speed and is also a highly rated defensive player.

Pitcher Ryan Williams is 4-1 with a 1.17 ERA thru 53 innings mostly as a starter ( 8 of 9 appearances). He is a contact pitcher with 37 k’s and only 2 walks

Williams was the Cubs Pitcher of the month for May.

21-year-old Jeremy Null is 5-1 with a 1.78 ERA thru 9 starts and 50 innings, he has 40 k’s and only 3 walks which is impressive for the big 6’7″ young fella.

Null recently was moved into the top 30 prospects list for the Cubs by Baseball America, the big league comparison for him is Doug Fister, Null averages between 88 to 91 on his fastball and tops out at 93.

High A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans (31-16, 1st place in Carolina League Southern Division)

22-year-old second baseman Chesney Young began the season at South Bend where he hit .315 thru 108 at bats earning a promotion, he is hitting .371 thru 62 at bats with a .459 OBP at Myrtle Beach.

He is a 14th round 2014 draft pick who is considered a “baseball player” in that he has the right instincts and knows what to do on the field, he is a contact hitter with average speed.

20-year-old Billy McKinney was having a great season at Myrtle Beach thru 103 at bats hitting .340 with a .432 OBP and 11 extra base hits, he has continued the hot hitting at Double A where thru 59 at bats he is hitting .305 ( .364 OBP) with 7 extra base hits.

McKinney came to the Cubs in the Jeff Samardzija trade last year with the Athletics, he was the A’s number 1 pick in the 2013 draft.

MLB.com reporter Johnathan Mayo via sbnation.com had this breakdown about McKinney:

“There were few, if any, high school bats better than McKinney’s. With a balanced approach and a smooth swing from the left side, he projects to be a plus hitter with above-average power.”

The offense sounds like it’s there but while scouts rave about those aspects of his game – the same isn’t said about his glove. Baseball Prospectus rates his defensive tools has about average to below average.

What helps him is his hustle and all-out effort on every play.

22-year-old outfielder Mark Zagunis is having a solid season at .301 ( .439 OBP) thru 156 at bats with 13 extra base hits.

Zagunis was drafted as a catcher out of Virginia Tech and still sees time behind the plate but the depth at the position in the Cubs organization and his athleticism has made him more viable in the outfield to move up the chain.

20-year-old pitcher Duane Underwood Jr stands out on the hill as he has posted a sparkling 1.60 ERA thru 9 starts (45 innings) with a 5-1 record.

Underwood was the Cubs 2nd round pick in the 2012 draft, MLB.com had this to say about him : Underwood has more upside than any Cubs starting pitching prospect. He operates at 92-95 mph with his fastball and could work in the mid-90s once he adds more strength. Both of his secondary pitches elicit swings and misses too, with his hard curveball more reliable than his change-up.
His control and command got better last season as well, giving Underwood all the ingredients necessary to become a frontline starter. If he can build on the progress he made in the second half, he could begin to advance quickly through the Minors.

Double A – Tennessee Smokies ( 28-23, 2nd place in Southern League North Division)

22 year old catcher Kyle Schwarber is hitting .322 (.450 OBP) with 12 home runs.

He is the 2nd highest ranked player in the Cubs system and was their first round pick in the 2014 draft. ( #4 overall). MLB.com says this about him : “If he can stay at catcher, Schwarber’s bat could make him a superstar. He moves well for his size and has some arm strength, but his throwing and receiving need a lot of work, and most scouts outside the organization don’t think he can make it as a backstop. If he has to move to left field, where he played some in Indiana and in his pro debut, he still should make an offensive impact.”

23-year-old catcher Wilson Contreras is also having a year at Tennessee hitting .321 ( .388 OBP) with 18 extra base hits (14 doubles)

Baseball Prospectus said this about him :

“Contreras is a converted 3B, so the position does not come naturally to WIllson. The tradeoff, though, is that he’s got better speed than a normal catcher does. He won’t get a chance to use it defensively (though he has a plus hose on him, so he has the skillet to be a defensive asset once he has experience), it will help him as far as base running and legging out extra bases. His bat profiles as a bottom-of-the-order type; that’s not a knock on him, just a reality of a catcher that isn’t offensively incredible.
Contreras has been praised for his ability to hit a good fastball, which is important, but it’s an open question what he’ll do against better breaking pitches.”

22-year-old first baseman Dan Vogelbach is currently on the disabled list but has posted a .320 average ( .436 OBP) thru 147 at bats with 17 extra base hits (14 doubles)

He is a 2011 2nd round draft pick, MLB.com says this about him : “Vogelbach is more than just a one-dimensional masher. He controls the strike zone, makes consistent contact and uses the entire field, so he should hit for a solid average while providing plus power. He has yet to fully tap into his pop, though he’s also still just 22.
There are two obstacles to him becoming a regular for the Cubs: All-Star Anthony Rizzo and persistent questions about whether Vogelbach has enough athleticism to be more than a DH. He has gotten himself in much better shape than the days in high school when he carried 280 pounds on his 6-foot frame, but he’s a base-clogger with limited range at first base.”

Triple A – Iowa Cubs ( 26-24, 2nd place Pacific Coast League American North Division)

22-year-old shortstop/second baseman and now third baseman Javier Baez is hitting .304 (.389 OBP) thru 115 at bats with 11 extra base hits. His recall up to the Cubs seems imminent as they contemplate moving Kris Bryant to LF to work Baez into the lineup some.

With many of the previous year’s prospects now on the major league Cubs roster Carl Edwards Jr, a 21-year-old pitcher sits atop most rankings, he is at triple A Iowa now after beginning the season at double A, his numbers don’t stand out just yet there but this is what MLB.com says about him :

” Edwards usually operates in the low 90s with his fastball and has reached 97 mph, but the velocity doesn’t matter as much as its natural cutting life. Hitters rarely make hard contact against his heater and have tagged him for just two homers in 237 innings through three pro seasons. His secondary pitches continue to improve, with his curveball now sitting in the upper 70s with good depth and his change-up featuring some splitter action.
Edwards’ offerings have so much life that they’re not always easy to control. He’s a good athlete, however, and should develop at least average command. The only real concern with him becoming a frontline starter is an extremely skinny frame that may not be suited to taking the ball every fifth day.”

21-year-old Albert Almora is also highly regarded, some see him as the Cubs third best prospect, he is struggling a bit at double A with a .247 average thru 150 at bats. This is what MLB.com says about him ” Though he barrels balls easily and delivers line drives all over the field, Almora is extremely aggressive at the plate and more advanced pitchers have used that against him. He’s a career .294 hitter through three pro seasons, but he rarely walks (.322 on-base percentage) and hasn’t been able to tap into his average raw power (.424 slugging). If he can develop a more patient approach, he could become a .280 hitter with 15 homers per year at the big league level.
That could be enough to make Almora a star because he looks like a future Gold Glover in center field. Despite just average speed, he gets tremendous jumps and takes precise routes that allow him to track down balls from gap to gap. His strong, accurate arm is another asset.”

Lehigh Valley Weekly Report

The ‘Pigs continue their six game home stand after dropping both games of their doubleheader last night against Rochester.  Lehigh Valley opens a four game weekend series against Indianapolis tonight before heading to Durham for three early next week.    At 20-34, Lehigh Valley is in 5th place of the Northern Division of the International League , 10 games behind division leading Rochester. The ‘Pigs have lost three straight and are an abysmal 2-8 over their last 10 games.

News and Notes: INF Cord Phelps has a modest 7 game hitting streak and has hit in 14 of his last 17 games (19-52, .365)

–Brian Bogusevic has hit safely in 41 of his 45 starts this season.  Very impressive.

–Lehigh Valley continues to lead the league in walks allowed (216), having allowed 10% more than the next closest team. Continue reading Lehigh Valley Weekly Report

Box Score Recap – 6/3/2015

Lehigh Valley (20-34) dropped both games of their double header with the Rochester Red Wings.  Joely Rodriguez gave up 6 runs in 4.2 innings on 9 hits and 2 walks on the way to a 7-4 loss in game one.  Dom Brown went 2-4 with an RBI and Gabriel Lino went 1-3 with an RBI in his IronPigs’ debut.  The ‘Pigs came back to tie the game in the fourth, but Rodriguez failed to produce a shutdown inning and absorbed his fifth loss.  Phillippe Aumont went 6.0 innings in the second game, giving up 3 runs on 8 hits and 3 walks.  He had a lead but a 2-run home run in the fourth inning proved to be too much for the IronPigs to overcome.  Brown went 1-4 with an RBI.  Lino DNP.  Adam Morgan (0-5, 5.33) pitches tomorrow. Continue reading Box Score Recap – 6/3/2015