Feature Photo: Daniel Mengden, RHP, Athletics
(Photo by Mark Wagner)
Melissa Lockard, Dave DeFreitas and Nick J. Faleris are back this week, taking a look at three Pacific Coast League prospects who should be getting called up to the major leagues sometime this year (one as soon as this week). Also, profiles of Health Fillmyer and Domingo Leyba from the High A California League, and notable news for the week ending May 8th.
Pacific Coast League Prospect Profile
Daniel Mengden, RHP, Athletics (Triple-A Nashville)
Ht/Wt: 6’2’’/190 | B/T: R/R | Age (as of April 1, 2016): 23 yrs, 2m
Less than two years removed from his selection as a fourth-round pick of the Houston Astros in the 2014 MLB Draft, Mengden is just a step away from the major leagues. Mengden earned a promotion from the Double-A Midland RockHounds to the Triple-A Nashville Sounds this week after allowing just two runs in 23 innings for Midland. He picked up right where he left off with the Sounds, tossing 13 shutout innings over his first two PCL starts. He struck out 12 and recorded 17 outs on the grounders in those two outings.
Mengden was one of two players acquired by the A’s in the deal that sent Scott Kazmir to the Houston Astros last summer. While the other prospect in the deal (2080 Preseason Top 125 prospect Jacob Nottingham) received more press, Mengden is quickly making his own mark as a rising prospect. The feeling around the A’s organization is that Mengden has a strong chance of making his major league debut this season. In fact, he could be an option for the A’s as soon as this week, as Oakland just sent down right-hander Jesse Hahn on Sunday, and the team will need to recall another starter by mid-week. Hahn’s spot will likely be filled by either Mengden or Eric Surkamp.
Mengden is hard to miss on the field with his handlebar mustache and old-fashioned stirrups. He employs an over-the-head windup that includes a hesitation at the top, reminiscent of many pitchers who began their careers in Japan. The delivery creates deception, but Mengden is far from a “hide the ball and fool them” pitcher. His fastball regularly 91-to-93 mph and touches 95, and he locates it well to both sides of the plate. Mengden’s best secondary offering is a cutter, and it plays a big part in his better than 50% groundball rate. Mengden’s changeup and curveball have also been effective pitches for him this season. He could stand to whittle down the walks (he has walked 14 in 36 IP), but he is otherwise a fairly finished product despite being in only his second full year of professional baseball. – Melissa Lockard
Prospect Spotlights – Pacific Coast League
Orlando Arcia, SS, Brewers (Triple-A Colorado Springs)
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/ 165 | B/T: R/R | Age (as of April 1, 2016): 21y, 8m
Over his team’s last four series, totaling 12 games and 51 plate appearances, Arcia has put together a slash line of .320/.333/.500, continuing a solid start to the 2016 season for one of the game’s top shortstop prospects. The Venezuelan native shows good bat-to-ball skills, utilizing a contact-friendly swing that keeps the barrel on plane, and allows for hard contact across the entire field. Arcia shows comfort turning on velocity and offering up line drives to the opposite field. He isn’t a big home run threat, but there’s enough leverage in his swing to drive the ball out of the park when he finds his pitch up and over the plate, and the plus runner should have no trouble racking up extra bases via doubles and triples as he finds the gaps and the lines.
Arcia continues to receive high marks for his actions on the field, showing soft hands and an easy arm from the six-spot to go with above-average range. Not only does he do a good job covering ground, but his body control and natural feel for the position allow him to make the difficult plays at the margins with regularity. Arcia is ready to help out the Brewers and profiles as an impressive up-the-middle glove with a high-contact stick that could fit somewhere at the top of the order. –Nick J. Faleris
A.J. Reed, 1B, Astros (Triple-A Fresno)
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/275 | B/T: L/L | Age (as of April 1, 2016): 22y, 11m
One of the better power prospects in the game, Reed is working through adjustments at present with Fresno, as the former Kentucky Wildcat is showing some susceptibility to same-side arms in his first taste of Triple-A ball. Reed brings to the plate an advanced approach, but has struggled to command the zone when behind in the count, in particular falling prey to quality spin down and away. The big-bodied slugger can drive the ball with the best of them, but needs to do a better job of extending at bats against lefty arms to find his pitch to drive, or attack earlier in the count to keep from working behind.
Ultimately, Reed may not hit for much average at the major league level due to merely solid bat speed and emerging platoon splits. However, the big power and overall feel for the strike zone should help him produce and a solid clip for Houston, with plenty of power and a solid on-base skill set driven by walks. He should see time at the major league level at some point in 2016. –Nick J. Faleris
Prospect Spotlights – California League
Heath Fillmyer, RHP, Athletics (High A Stockton)
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/180 | B/T: R/R | Age (as of April 1, 2016): 21 yrs, 11m
Fillmyer had not been quite as sharp in the two starts he made since matching up against Jonathan Gray in early April, but he really got shelled last week at San Jose , giving up up nine earned runs in 3.2 IP against the San Jose Giants. He bounced back in a big way this week in two starts versus Modesto, allowing just one total run in 12 IP, striking out 11, walking three and allowing just four hits. The big change here? He located down in the strike zone, and 14 of his outs came via the ground ball vs. only eight fly balls. When I saw him versus Modesto in early April, he showed me stuff that plays well when down, but he missed some spots and got away with some mistakes over the middle of the plate. This appears to be Fillmyer’s game; pound down in the strike zone and lean on the infield defense. These last two starts showed a bit of an adjustment, and it will be interesting to see how he does next week. -Dave DeFreitas
Ranked as the sixth-overall prospect in the Diamondbacks organization in 2015, Leyba is looking like he may be the highlight of the package Arizona received from Detroit in the Didi Gregorius (SS, Yankees) trade. Leyba, hailing from the Dominican Republic, has been best known for his bat, and so far in 2016 he has not disappointed. Sporting a .306 BA with .387 and .832 OBP and OPS, respectively, going into this week, there is a good chance Leyba makes the jump to Double-A at some point this summer. Leyba is not an overly big guy, but has some strength in his smaller frame, and he should be considered an above-average athlete. A switch hitter, he looks most comfortable and does most of his damage from the left side of the plate where he is hitting at a .315 clip with a .906 OPS. He shows a solid approach, especially for his age, with a 15:20 BB/K ratio, and with all 15 of those walks coming as a left-handed hitter. His level stroke produces solid carry on his line drives and while he doesn’t project to have a ton of HR pop, he should hit his share of doubles. With the way he moves and his athletic gait, it is easy to see him as being just above average as a runner, even though I didn’t get any good run times in my looks. He has enough arm strength for the SS position, but he did not show very good instincts, and seemed like he lost concentration on routine plays during Visalia’s mid-April series against Rancho Cucamonga. That said, I think he ultimately ends up at second base, or in a super utility role ala Jose Ramirez (INF/OF, Indians) at the major league level given his athleticism and arm strength. Leyba has turned in three multi-hit games over his last six, including four hits on Friday against the Lancaster JetHawks. – Dave DeFreitas
News and Notes
- The struggles of the starting rotation have led to a dismal start for the Inland Empire 66ers, writes Kyle Glaser of the Orange County Register.
- Stockton Ports’ shortstop Mikey White believes any dream is possible after seeing his father become a NAVY Seal, a Hollywood actor and more, writes Kevin Niendorf of the Stockton Record.
- Relocation rumors continue to swirl around the High Desert Mavericks, writes Jacob Sundstrom of the Victorville Daily Press.
Pacific Coast League
- Hunter Renfroe continues to rise in the eyes of the San Diego Padres’ organization, writes John Conniff of FoxSports San Diego.
- Adam Nuse was named the general manager of the Nashville Sounds, replacing longtime minor league baseball executive Garry Arthur, who retired on April 15, writes Mike Organ of the Tennessean.
- Rehabbing Texas Rangers’ ace Yu Darvish looked strong in his 50-pitch outing for the Round Rock Express on May 6, writes Stefan Stephenson of the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram.
This Week at 2080 Baseball…
- Several prospects are covered in this week’s episode of The Scale, hosted by Mauricio Rubio and C.J. Wittmann, including Julio Urias (LHP, Dodgers)
- Two members of the Nashville Sounds and one member of the Visalia Rawhide made their major league debuts, covered in Lisa Winston’s latest Les Debutantes weekly column.