Feature Photo: Jonah Arenado, 3B/1B, Giants
Minor League Roulette
With the final weeks of the minor league regular season and 40-man roster expansions looming near, more players are moving through their respective systems and being challenged in new leagues. This week, Emily and Jared move across several levels of the minor leagues, but there are a few names in Triple-A especially worth keeping an eye on. Also included in this update is a bizarre ending to a minor-league record hitting streak, a new book on Emily’s shelf, and the work of a minor league photographer who is using techniques from another era to capture his subjects.
Players Who Stood Out for Emily
Bryan Garcia, RHP, Tigers (Triple-A Toledo, International League)
Ht/Wt: 6’1” / 203 lbs. B/T: R/R Age (as of April 1st, 2017): 21y, 11m
Season Stats: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO, 0.00 ERA (Promoted to Triple-A on August 3)
Making his way through a series of promotions already in 2017, the Tigers 2016 sixth-round pick Garcia has handled the introduction into Triple-A Toledo with ease, as he has with his previous two promotions up the ladder already this season. Garcia favors a 60-grade fastball as his go-to offering, running it up to the middle 90s, and he mixes in an average slider that can occasionally flash plus. Garcia’s third offering is a below-average change up that’s proven to be serviceable, but is still a work in progress. Prior to his jump to Triple-A, Garcia threw 18 ⅔ innings for the Double-A SeaWolves, allowing a just pair of earned runs and walking eight. He finished his Double-A tenure with four scoreless appearances for Erie, and with his proven ability to adapt to his surroundings this year, he could be in line for consideration as a viable call-up when rosters expand.
Jonah Arenado, 3B/1B, Giants (High A San Jose, California League)
Ht/Wt: 6’4” / 230 lbs. B/T: R/R Age (as of April 1st, 2017): 22 y, 1m
Season Stats: .262/.302/.413 101 H, 25 2B, 9 HRs, 58 RBIs
Flashing multiple similarities to his All-Star brother and Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, the younger Arenado, a 16th-round pick of the Giants in 2013, shares a swing not far off from that of his sibling. He has enough raw power to produce a career-high 36 doubles and 17 home runs in his first go-around with the High A Giants in 2016. Arenado’s pitch recognition hasn’t taken a hit as he’s moved up the ladder, strikeout percentage in the 19 to 20% in pro ball. Arenado returned to San Jose this year, and the stocky 22-year-old has put on a power display over his last four games, knocking a combined 11 hits, including three doubles in Sunday’s contest. Arenado’s defense hasn’t quite matched the pace of his production at the plate, as he has 18 errors on the year, with 15 of them coming at the hot corner, where he has played roughly 2/3 of his games this year, a sign that there’s more work to be done. As Arenado works out the wrinkles at the hot corner, his bat should carry him up the system, knowing that the power profile is a nice fit at first base as well.
Marcus Greene Jr., C, Padres (Class A Fort Wayne, Midwest League)
Ht/Wt: 5’11” / 195 lbs B/T: R/R Age (as of April 1st, 2017): 22 y, 7m
Season Stats: .278/.367/.477 74 H, 20 2B, 11 HR, 44 RBI
Since first being selected as the Rangers 16th-round pick in the 2013 draft, Greene has had to maneuver through a position change from the outfield to catching, followed by Tommy John surgery in 2015 and being traded to the Padres two months later. Greene staggered a bit in 2016, hitting just .143 starting the year with the High A Storm over 18 games and 71 plate appearances, before being sent back to Fort Wayne after a one-month DL stint, where he struggled to a .217 average over 120 PAs to finish the season. Greene was sent to the Australian League last offseason, and the change of scenery seemingly worked in his favor. Over 38 games with the Adelaide Bite, Greene hit .307 with three doubles, six home runs and 26 RBIs. Returning to Class A Fort Wayne in 2017, Greene has flashed his raw power to the tune of a career-high 11 home runs and 44 RBIs for the TinCaps. His strikeout percentage has dropped from 25.2% in 2016 with Fort Wayne to 18.5% this season. While Greene has a good eye for reading breaking pitches, his swing gets a bit trigger happy, causing inconsistency at the plate. Following a stretch of 10 hits over seven games, Greene’s 0-for-7 stretch over his most recent two game stretch shows some polish and consistency in his approach is still needed, but the development of the 22-year-old is trending in a promising direction. He should land in High A to begin the 2018 season.
Here’s a Player to Watch
Steven Sensley, 1B, Yankees (Class A Charleston, South Atlantic League)
Ht/Wt: 6’1” / 220 lbs. B/T: L/L Age (as of April 1st, 2017): 21y, 6m
Season Stats: .323/.323/.452 10 H, 4 2B, 7 RBIs (Promoted to Class A on July 31)
Beginning his pro career last month as the Yankees 2017 12th-round pick, Sensley is moving quickly, already on his third affiliate this season. This wasn’t the first time Sensley went through the draft process, after being previously selected in 2013 out of high school by the Twins and again in 2015 by the Rays, a selection Sensley decided to bypass in order to attend the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. Prior to his selection by the Yankees, the lefty hit .314 as a junior with 11 home runs. Now just seven games deep into his third assignment on the year, Sensley has flashed a promising hit tool. Over seven games with Class A Charleston, the lefty has had three multi-hit games and hit safely in six of those seven games, though he has also has struck out nine times over his 27 trips to the plate. Throughout a combined 36 games at all three levels, the outfielder has spent time at both corner spots and has yet to commit an error this season, and shows the instincts you want to see from a new draftee on the defensive side of the ball. If Sensley’s pitch recognition and patience at the plate continue to develop as they have, he could land himself at High-A Tampa to start next season.
Players Who Stood Out to Jared
Blake Rutherford, OF, White Sox (Class A Kannapolis, South Atlantic League)
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 195 lbs. B/T: L/R Age (as of April 1st, 2017): 19y, 11m
Season Stats: .280/.344/.380, 93 H, 23 2B, 2 HRs, 34 RBIs
Since moving to the White Sox’ farm system in the trade that sent Todd Frazier (3B, Yankees) to the Yankees, Rutherford has reached base at a steady pace for Class A Kannapolis. Last Tuesday, he reached five times in an 11-6 win over Delmarva with three base hits and two walks. Last September, 2080’s Dave DeFreitas noted that Rutherford’s natural bat speed and line-drive oriented path through the zone makes for a lot of quality contact now, and as he matures physically, there is room for his power to develop into over-the-fence pop. As a part of a now-loaded White Sox farm system, Rutherford might be easier to overlook than he was with New York, where he was ranked as the third-best player in their system in March. Read more about Rutherford in the Yankees organization review.
Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Twins (Triple-A Rochester, International League)
Ht/Wt: 6’5” / 213 lbs. B/T: L/L Age (as of April 1st, 2017): 22y, 9m
Season Stats: 87 1/3 IP, 67 H, 26 ER, 23 BB, 96 SO
Gonsalves made his last start for Double-A Chattanooga on Friday, where has spent the entirety of his 2017 campaign. He was promoted to the International League over the weekend and it will be his first look at the last rung on the minor league ladder before he is eventually called upon to pitch for the Twins. Gonsalves has an above-average four-pitch mix that features an effective fastball/changeup combo, as noted by 2080’s C.J. Wittman last May. In 2080’s 2017 Twins organization review, Dave DeFreitas and Nick Faleris described Gonsalves’ potential to become a mid- to back-end rotation starter, but there lingers the possibility that once there, major league hitters will have an easier time squaring up his fastball. He has been effective in limiting baserunners and striking out batters in Chattanooga this summer, so it will be worth keeping tabs on how he finishes the season with Rochester.
Jose Taveras, RHP, Phillies (Triple-A Lehigh Valley, International League)
Ht/Wt: 6’4” / 210 lbs. B/T: R/R Age (as of April 1st, 2017): 23y, 5m
Season Stats: 11 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 9 BB, 11 SO, 0.00 ERA (promoted from Double-A Reading on August 1)
Taveras is intriguing because of how quickly he is moving through the Philadelphia system, especially of late. After posting a 2.38 ERA in 102 innings across 16 starts for High A Clearwater in the Florida State League, Taveras moved up to Double-A Reading in the Eastern League on July 20. After just two starts with Reading, Taveras was on the move again, this time to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. In his two starts with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Taveras has struck out 11 batters in 11 innings and given up only five hits. His nine walks in that span are an obvious point of concern, but it’s also small sample size, and Taveras did not show the same high walk rate in either Clearwater (2.0 BB/9 over 102 innings) or in his short stint in Reading. In fact, his command has previously been identified as a strength, as noted by Matt Winkelman in his ranking of the Phillies system earlier this year.
Here’s a Player to Watch
Luis Asuncion, OF, Padres (Short-Season A Tri Cities, Northwest League)
Ht/Wt: 6’4” / 205 lbs. B/T: R/R Age (as of April 1st, 2017): 20y, 2m
Season Stats: .281/.335/.427, 48 H, 12 2B, 3 HRs, 21 RBIs
Asuncion spent two seasons in the Dominican Summer League in 2014 and 2015, and then last season he got his first look at Short-Season ball with Tri-Cities, where he hit .241 but impressed with 12 doubles and a home run in 227 plate appearances. This year, back with Tri-Cities, Asuncion has built on this success significantly, so far hitting 20 points better than last season, and in 34 fewer plate appearances, he has matched the number of doubles he hit in all of 2016. And to go with that, Asuncion has hit three home runs and a pair of triples, a nice sign that his projectable power is manifesting in-game. He has four multi-hit games over the past two weeks, and he has hit three doubles since last weekend.
Key Minor League Transactions
- Tigers’ top pitching prospect and right-hander Matt Manning received a promotion to Class A West Michigan on Friday, and he is slated to make his debut with the Whitecaps on August 8. Over nine starts with Short-Season Connecticut, Manning allowed seven earned runs and 14 walks over 33 ⅓ innings, striking out 36. 2080’s Ted Lekas will have a report on Manning’s last start info the Connecticut Tigers posted to our Spotlight Library tomorrow.
- On Sunday, outfield prospect Boog Powell returned to his original organization when the Oakland A’s acquired Powell from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for first baseman Yonder Alonso. Powell, who was the A’s 20th-round pick in 2012, spent time in the Rays’ and Mariners’ organizations before coming full-circle with the A’s. He didn’t have to travel far to join his new team: the A’s Triple-A affiliate – the Nashville Sounds – were visiting Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate, the Tacoma Rainiers, on Monday.
Notes of Interest
- The historic hit-streak for Reds’ prospect and outfielder Jose Siri came to an end Friday night, when he finished 0-for-3 for the Class A Dayton Dragons in a controversial night against the Great Lakes Loons. Siri’s 39-game hitting streak set a new Midwest League record.
What We’re Reading
- New York Times best selling author Charles Leerhsen captures a unique view of the life of legendary Tigers icon Ty Cobb in “Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty.”
- John Otis of the New York Times highlights the work of photographer Fred R. Conrad, who drew inspiration from photographers of the previous decade in his work with minor leaguers of today.