Feature Photo: Brendon Little, LHP, Cubs
Minor League Roulette
Last week, we saw Mets prospect and first baseman Dominic Smith already getting his shot with New York, and we checked in on the progress of Tigers prospect and right-hander Beau Burrows, who is finding his identity in Double-A. We also saw Padres prospect Pedro Avila mow down a career-high 17 batters for Class A Fort Wayne, and Royce Lewis (SS, Twins), the first-overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, made a statement in his first game for Class A Cedar Rapids. All this, and more, in our latest edition of Minor League Roulette.
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Players Who Stood Out for Emily
Beau Burrows, RHP, Tigers (Double-A Erie, Eastern League)
Ht/Wt: 6’2” / 200 lbs. B/T: R/R Age (as of April 1st, 2017): 20y, 6m
Season Stats: 61 IP, 61 H, 30 ER, 27 BB, 64 SO, 4.38 ERA
After spending his first year of full-season play with Class A West Michigan in 2016, Burrows began this season with High-A Lakeland in the Florida State League. The Tigers’ 2015 first-round pick (#22 overall) threw 58 2/3 innings for the Flying Tigers, generating 9.6 SO/9 along with a 0.94 WHIP. On June 5, he was promoted to Double-A Erie. Burrows’ four-pitch mix includes an above-average curveball, an average slider and changeup, and the 20-year-old right-hander leans the most heavily on his plus fastball, which shows effective late life down in the ‘zone. Since arriving at Erie, Burrows has seen a significant improvement with the command of his heater, locating it successfully on both sides of the plate, and he’s still sitting players down to the tune of 9.4 SO/9 at the level. Posting his first career six-inning shutout on Saturday, Burrows found the greatest success with both his slider and fastball, allowing him to consistently work from ahead in the count, and with plus command. The overall control profile remains a work-in-progress, as he is averaging 3.9 BB/9 with Erie. As long as his command continues to improve, however, Burrows should still be on pace to advance another level, perhaps reaching Toledo as early as the start of next season.
Enyel De Los Santos, RHP, Padres (Double-A San Antonio, Texas League)
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 170 lbs. B/T: R/R Age (as of April 1st, 2017): 21y, 3m
Season Stats: 131 IP, 109 H, 56 ER, 40 BB, 121 SO, 3.85 ERA
Originally signed as an international free agent for just $15,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2014 by the Mariners, De Los Santos was traded to the Padres, along with second baseman Nelson Ward, in 2015 in the exchange that sent reliever Joaquin Benoit (RHP, Pirates)to Seattle t the time. Boasting a plus fastball that runs as high as 97 mph with late life, De Los Santos also works an average curveball and changeup, both of which have shown signs of improvement since the start of the season. With the downhill plane created by his 6’3” frame, De Los Santos generates plenty of swings and misses, and he’s increased his SO/9 from 6.5 in 2016 to 8.3 this season with the Missions. Over his last two appearances, De Los Santos has allowed one earned run over 15 innings, walking three and striking out 15. With the encouraging improvement of his arsenal from last season to this, De Los Santos should see time at the Triple-A level to begin 2018, if not a quick cup of coffee there before the end of this year.
Greifer Andrade, OF, Mariners (Short-Season A Everett, Northwest League)
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 170 lbs. B/T: R/R Age (as of April 1st, 2017): 20y, 2m
Season Stats: .316/.326/.478 43 H, 10 2B, 4 HRs, 29 RBIs
The Mariners signed Andrade as a 16-year-old International free agent in 2013 for more than $1,000,000 out of his native Venezuela. The 20-year-old has jumped around the field since his introduction to stateside baseball, originally signing as a shortstop and then spending time at third base from 2014 through 2016. Beginning the 2017 season with the AquaSox, Andrade is now getting reps solely in the outfield, primarily in left field. With average speed and build, Andrade doesn’t profile as a strong outfield option, but the Mariners have shown they are willing to test his development out there for 35 games this year to see if there is added utility in the profile beyond his natural up-the-middle-infield skillset. At the plate, Andrade is a pure hitter with an ability to drive the ball into both gaps. Andrade’s advanced bat-to-ball skills and strong hand/eye coordination have led to a career-high four home runs and 29 RBIs with the AquaSox. His 23.4 K% is a sign that he needs to continue to improve his pitch recognition, but a five-game hitting streak, including his first four-hit game of the season, has the right-hander on pace to continue climbing the ladder.
Here’s a Player to Watch
Royce Lewis, SS, Twins (Class A Cedar Rapids, Florida State League)
Ht/Wt: 6’2” / 188 lbs B/T: L/L Age (as of April 1st, 2017): 17 y, 9m
Season Stats: .271/.390/.414 36 H, 6 2B, 3 HRs, 17 RBIs (Promoted to Class A on August 12)
Riding the standout success of his high school career at J. Serra High School, Lewis signed with the Twins for a record $6,725 million as the number one overall pick in this year’s draft. 2080’s Nick J. Faleris and Burke Granger noted the skillset of the 18-year-old in their 2017 MLB Draft profile, highlighting Lewis’ “double-plus speed, quick-twitch actions, and a solid throwing arm”, adding his overall makeup profiles the teenager as a “high-value defender.” Beginning his 2017 campaign with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Twins, Lewis slashed .271/.390/.414 with six doubles, three home runs and 17 RBIs, good for a .143 ISO. In 36 games at shortstop, Lewis has made four errors. After going a quiet 0-for-7 at the plate in two games of his GCL campaign, Lewis was promoted to Class A Cedar Rapids, and he made his Midwest League debut on Saturday, and it didn’t go unnoticed as he had his first career four-hit game. With plenty of physical projection left for the 18-year-old, Lewis’ makeup and 80-grade speed should move the infielder at a steady pace when 2018 rolls around.
Players Who Stood Out to Jared
Clark Beeker, RHP, Twins (Class A Cedar Rapids, Midwest League)
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 205 lbs. B/T: R/R Age (as of April 1st, 2017): 24y, 4m
Season Stats: 128 2/3 IP, 102 H, 29 ER, 17 BB, 84 SO, 2.03 ERA
After his start on Friday, Beeker, a 2016 33rd-round pick of the Twins, has thrown 32 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings spanning his last four appearances dating back to July 23. This includes a complete game shutout against the Class A Clinton LumberKings on July 29 in which he struck out 7 and walked none. Beeker walked three batters against Quad Cities on Friday, his first walks issued in almost a month, so this scoreless stretch also included 23 2/3 innings pitched without allowing a single base on balls. Beeker was a very late draftee out of Davidson last season, but he is making a name for himself in 2017. The starter has a four-pitch mix of fastball, slider, changeup, and 12-to-6 curveball, and he succeeds largely because of his solid command of the fastball, which is a plus offering.
Brendon Little, LHP, Cubs (Short-Season A Eugene, Northwest League)
Ht/Wt: 6’1” / 195 lbs. B/T: L/L Age (as of April 1st, 2017): 20y, 9m
Season Stats: 8 2/3 IP, 13 H, 9 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO, 9.35 ERA (Assigned to Short-Season A Eugene on July 20)
Little, the Cubs’ first-round draft pick (#27 overall) this June, struggled through his first two appearances in the Northwest League, but he showed some signs of promise on Friday. Pitching against Spokane, Little threw four scoreless innings while giving up only three hits, walking just one, and striking out three. The left-hander has a dazzling fastball that touches 97 with regularity, and he supports the fastball with decent secondaries in a changeup and curveball. Little’s issues right now are with his mechanics, as he needs to work on repeating his delivery with consistency, particularly when he is throwing his off-speed pitches. Little will be one to keep an eye out for in the Midwest League next summer.
Robbie Tenerowicz, 2B, Rays (Class A Bowling Green, Midwest League)
Ht/Wt: 6’1” / 185 lbs. B/T: R/R Age (as of April 1st, 2017): 22y, 4m
Season Stats: .313/.386/.524, 90 H, 22 2B, 11 HRs, 33 RBIs
Although Tenerowicz had to sit out for a few days last week due to a stomach bug, he returned to the Class A Bowling Green lineup on Saturday and went 2-for-3 against the Fort Wayne TinCaps. The Rays selected Tenerowicz in the 27th round out of the University of California in last year’s draft, but he has played more like an early-round talent, slashing .291/.353/.463 in the Appalachian League last season, and continuing to flash his prowess at the plate in 2017. Tenerowicz would hardly have merited a look in the draft after his first two seasons in college, hitting .168 and .182 respectively, but thanks to a shift in his mental approach, the second baseman has been a different player on the field ever since. Tenerowicz hit .299 as a junior and then leapt at the chance to go pro when the Rays called his name last June. With a sturdy bat that’s produced 11 home runs so far this season, the Rays are still figuring out what they’ve got in Tenerowicz – in addition to showing a strong arm at his natural second base position, he’s also played 25 games at first, and the arm is being tested at third base and in the outfield as well. Tenerowicz is a safe bet to keep out-playing his draft position.
Here’s a Player to Watch
Ryan Atkinson, RHP, Diamondbacks (Double-A Jackson, Southern League)
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 218 lbs B/T: R/R Age (as of April 1st, 2017): 23 y, 11m
Season Stats: 11 1/3 IP, 10 H, 9 ER, 13 BB, 11 SO, 7.15 ERA (promoted to Jackson on July 28)
Atkinson’s first few outings in the Southern League have been a little bumpy, but his ERA for the year between Class A and Double-A is a solid 3.70 over 116 2/3 combined innings. The reliever was signed by the Diamondbacks out of the independent Frontier League last July, where he had pitched after going undrafted out of the University of Cincinnati in 2015. Atkinson is currently tied with Michael Kopech (RHP, White Sox) with 145 strikeouts this season, good enough for sixth-best in all of the minor leagues. Atkinson spent a full year away from baseball after college, but he has legitimately intriguing stuff. He has a fastball that hits the low 90s with above-average movement. The pitch runs and sinks nicely to the arm side, and his cut fastball moves almost like a slider, with some dart to the glove side. Atkinson also has a respectable, upper-70s curveball and a changeup, making for a solid four-pitch mix that can project him into a possible back of the rotation starter ceiling for the D-backs.
Key Minor League Transactions
- The Mets finally promoted Dominic Smith to the majors on August 11, after he had crushed the Pacific Coast League to the tune of a .330/.386/.519 slashline. Smith was profiled on 2080 in late July by Spencer Hansen in our Prospect Spotlight Library, and in our Prospect Video Library as well
- The Houston Astros promoted two of their top pitching prospects to Double-A Corpus Christi. Both right-hander Forrest Whitley and left-hander Cionel Perez were pitching for High A Buies Creek prior to their move to the Texas League on Saturday.
Notes of Interest
- The Padres’ 20-year-old starter Pedro Avila broke a 24-year Fort Wayne TinCaps’ franchise record with a career-high 17 strikeouts – and no walks allowed – on August 8 in a 4-1 win over Great Lakes. He retired the final 19 batters he faced over his eight innings of work.
- The West Michigan Whitecaps, Class A affiliate of the Tigers, broke a Midwest League record by logging their 24th shutout of the season on Friday night. This bested the mark previously held by the 1974 Quad Cities squad.
What We’re Reading
- Ted Berg of USA Today writes about the strange story of independent league infielder Brad Gomez, who was falsely accused of taking part in an attack on a deli clerk in the Bronx.