Minor league baseball weekly cultivation for week ending June 19, 2021
This week we’re looking at guys with excellent stats throughout the season, despite promotion, which has bumped a few guys out of consideration in the past due to excellent stats at two levels not showing out on the leaderboard for either level.
Statistical Leaders (stats through June 19)
AVG – Jamie Ritchie, Reno (Ari), .410
OBP – Jamie Ritchie, Reno (Ari), .555
SLG – Rangel Ravelo, Oklahoma City (LAD), .758
HR – Jo Adell, Salt Lake (LAA), 16
SB – Vidal Brujan, Durham (TB), 14
IP – Kirk McCarty, Columbus (Cle), 46 2/3
ERA – Mike Wright Jr, Charlotte (ChW), 2.32
WHIP – Mike Wright Jr, Charlotte (ChW), 0.91
SV – Luis Garcia, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (NYY), 11
K – Stephen Gonsalves, Worcester (Bos), 51
AVG – Gabriel Moreno, New Hampshire (Tor), .375
OBP – Marty Costes, Corpus Christi (Hou), .442
SLG – Jack Suwinski, San Antonio (SD), .677
HR – Nine with 11
SB – Jake McCarthy, Amarillo (Ari), 17
IP – Mario Sanchez, Harrsburg (Was), 50 2/3
ERA – Janson Junk, Somerset (NYY), 1.03
WHIP – Shane Baz, Montgomery (TB), 0.73
SV – Jose Adames, Portland (Bos), 10
K – Glenn Otto, Somerset (NYY), 69
AVG – Ruben Cardenas, Bowling Green (TB), .368
OBP – Jacob Hurtubise, Dayton (Cin), .456
SLG – Niko Hulsizer, Bowling Green (TB), .667
HR – Four with 11
SB – Max Schuemann, Lansing (Oak), 28
IP – Zach McCambley, Beloit (Mia), 44
ERA – Hayden Wesneski, Hudson Valley (NYY), 1.49
WHIP – Jayden Murray, Bowling Green (TB), 0.64
SV – Carter Loewen, Fort Wayne (SD), 6
K – Cade Cavalli, Wilmington (Was), 71
AVG – Curtis Mead, Charleston (TB), .343
OBP – Edouard Julien, Fort Myers (Min), .500
SLG – Joe Gray, Jr, Carolina (Mil), .698
HR – Joe Gray, Jr, Carolina (Mil), 10
SB – Braulio Vasquez, Augusta (Atl), 25
IP – Breiling Eusebio, Fresno (Col), 47 1/3
ERA – Santiago Florez, Bradenton (Pit), 1.26
WHIP – Joey Estes, Augusta (Atl), 0.80
SV – Juan Mejia, Fresno (Col), 8
K – Mitchell Parker, Fredericksburg (Was), 64
Sorting through the weeds:
Jamie Ritchie, C/OF – The Diamondbacks signed Ritchie as a minor league free agent after he’d spent six professional seasons in the Houston organization. Ritchie has been working behind the plate and in left field both in 2021 while showing an excellent eye at the plate, something he’d shown at every previous stop along the way in the minor leagues. He could potentially work his way into a backup role if he can continue hitting and showing at least passable work behind the plate. Season line: .410/.555/.554, 83 AB, 2 HR, 24/20 BB/K.
Matt Vierling singles in his first career at-bat. pic.twitter.com/1VPUwBtGHi
— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) June 19, 2021
Matt Vierling, OF – Vierling was selected in the fifth round by the Phillies out of Notre Dame. Vierling has legit raw power and a big arm as a former two-way player for the Irish in college, but he’s got a big swing that can be very streaky, so the early-season work that’s seen Vierling locked in and pushed him all the way to a big-league call-up this weekend is something that should be tempered with his struggles in 2019 in High-A. Vierling’s done nothing but produce in the upper minors in 2021, so he’ll be one to watch for any swing work that shortens his approach to allow him to have more consistent contact. Season line (minors only): .354/.426/.616, 99 AB, 6 HR, 5 SB, 13/21 BB/K.
Tylor Megill, RHP – Towering 6’7″ Megill was drafted by the Mets in 2018 out of the University of Arizona as an underslot signee. The Mets saw his size and raw stuff as potential, and Megill has been fulfilling that potential since, posting big strikeout numbers at every minor league stop. His mid-90s fastball and sharp mid-80s fastball play well off each other, and he has an easy, repeatable delivery from his height, something not typically seen. The ball jumps quickly on hitters, but Megill is likely best suited as a future bullpen piece, but with his raw stuff, it would work for multiple innings out of the ‘pen. Season line: 40 1/3 IP, 3.35 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 12/59 BB/K.
Domingo Acevedo, RHP – At 6’7″ and projectable, the Yankees spent many years dreaming on Acevedo’s raw stuff before converting him to the bullpen in 2019. He was signed by the Athletics as a minor league free agent this offseason, and he’s been dominant as closer for Las Vegas. Working as a full-time reliever, Acevedo’s heater now routinely works in the upper-90s and bumps triple digits with a slider that works in the mid- to upper-80s and an 87-91 MPH change that gives him a unique three-pitch repertoire from the back of the bullpen. Acevedo could find himself quickly in the majors in his new role, and pitching this well in a hitter’s league could portend future success as he hits the big leagues. Season line: 16 1/3 IP, 2.76 ERA, 5 SV, 0.80, 3/27 BB/K.
Jack Suwinski, OF – The Padres paid an overslot bonus of $550K to Suwinski in the 15th round in 2016 to draft him out of high school in Chicago. He was originally drafted as a project that likely would fit as a future left fielder due to an average arm, and he’s shown raw power and athleticism in A-ball, but he also showed a propensity to strike out as well. This season, Suwinski is making more consistent contact, and that contact is loud, with 75% of his hits in the air between fly balls and line drives, and a much better use of opposite field than he’s shown in his past two full seasons. Suwinski could be a breakout power option for the Padres to track going forward. Season line: .290/.390/.677, 147 AB, 11 HR, 20/41 BB/K.
Devlin Granberg, 1B/OF – Granberg generated tremendous production in his draft season to a sixth-round selection by the Red Sox in 2018. He’s defensively limited due to a below-average arm and average range in the outfield, though he has worked in the outfield multiple times this season. While his raw power has been present, he’s struggled to have that power show up in-game until this season, when he’s jumped up to Double-A after starting strong in High-A. Granberg’s future will be driven by his bat, but if he can keep up the success of his season thus far, he can potentially work his way to Boston in the future. Season line: .320/.405/.612, 103 AB, 7 HR, 12/18 BB/K.
Samad Taylor, 2B – The Blue Jays acquired Taylor when the Indians picked up veteran reliever Joe Smith for their 2017 playoff run. Toronto has watched Taylor develop from an undersized California prep prospect into a consistent performer on the field and at the plate. Taylor’s likely a future second baseman due to an average arm, but he has been playing around the field this season, putting in time at 2B/3B/LF/CF for New Hampshire. His flexibility and excellent athleticism could allow him to project as a future utility man for the Jays. Season line: .324/.394/.627, 142 AB, 11 HR, 16 SB, 14/49 BB/K.
Jason Bilous, RHP – The Delaware native was plucked out of Coastal Carolina in the 13th round by the White Sox. Inconsistency plagued Bilous in college, and missing a year of development in 2020 did him no favors in building up that consistency in his delivery and his feel for his secondary pitches. At his best, Bilous works with a fastball that sits 93-95, touching 96-97 with incredible late movement. He mixes in a sharp low-80s slider, a mid-80s change with late sink, and just a bit of timing funk in his delivery that makes it hard to pick up the ball out of his hand. The White Sox will have work to do with Bilous to keep his mechanics in line going forward, but if they do, they could have a mid-rotation arm on their hands. Season line: 34 1/3 IP, 3.93 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 7/51 BB/K.
J.P. France, RHP – The Astros typically find a guy with a working fastball and a breaking pitch with potential and develop him. France is really the opposite. He was drafted with a low-90s fastball and a curveball that was graded at least plus, if not double-plus by scouts. France has a bulldog mentality on the mound, which allows him to use his fringe-average change effectively in sequencing on the mound as he challenges hitters aggressively. He compares on the mound to Atlanta’s Bryce Wilson, but similar to Wilson, his best MLB future may be as a multi-inning reliever. Season line: 33 2/3 IP, 4.28 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 14/50 BB/K.
The man was mercurial tonight. 💫
— Rocket City Trash Pandas (@trashpandas) June 17, 2021
Cooper Criswell, RHP – Criswell has the size (6’6″, 200 pounds) and pedigree (Angels 13th round pick in 2018 from UNC-Chapel Hill) that would portend a fast-moving pitcher. He’s done that in his pro career, going straight to High-A in his first full-season assignment. He works with a low-90s fastball, slider, curve, and change that are all average pitches, and after struggling in the Cal League in 2019, Criswell has pounded the strike zone this season, using the ability to locate his pitches to force hitters into weak contact and plenty of swing and miss. Season line: 38 IP, 4.03 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 4/52 BB/K.
J.D. Mundy, 1B – An undrafted free agent out of Radford University in Virginia, a school with 35 total pro players, only four of which have reached the major leagues. Mundy is limited to first base, and he’s not a projection guy at 6′ and 210-220 pounds, but he has plenty of raw power that can generate easy carry from a strong left-handed swing. Mundy has shown an excellent eye at the plate early on as well. He will likely face a big test when he hits the upper minors, but he’s been incredibly successful thus far. Season line: .316/.435/.667, 114 AB, 10 HR, 23/28 BB/K.
Niko Hulsizer, OF – An 18th-round pick out of Morehead State by the Dodgers in 2018, the Rays picked up Hulsizer in a deadline deal for lefty Adam Kolarek. Hulsizer has been a fan favorite since, with his oft-colorful dreadlocks and his entertaining brand of play. Hulsizer developed a big international following in the 2019-2020 offseason as he was among the league leaders in the Australian winter league. He’s an impressive raw athlete with plus raw power and above-average speed, but he has struggled with consistent quality at-bats along the way. If he can begin to show that more, he could move to the upper minors this season and potentially factor into the Rays 2022 plans. Season line: .278/.409/.667, 90 AB, 9 HR, 5 SB, 19/44 BB/K.
— Bally Sports Sun: Rays (@BallyRays) June 20, 2021
Troy Johnston, 1B/OF – The Marlins plucked Johnston out of Gonzaga with a 17th round pick in 2019. A very adept hitter, Johnston only had one college season to show his stuff, and at 6′ and 210 pounds, he isn’t a projection bat for a guy limited to first base long-term. He’s played some corner outfield this season, but none since being promoted to High-A, though his bat has actually improved since the promotion. He will be one to watch as he’s more of a line-drive hitter than a true raw power guy, with more of a doubles swing, but he could provide a solid depth bat in the minors or be a quality LH platoon option as he works his way up the system. Season line: .345/.430/.561, 148 AB, 6 HR, 20/30 BB/K.
Jack Ralston, RHP – At 6’6″ with a true, over-top delivery, Ralston offers a tough look for hitters. The UCLA product is likely undersold in High-A in the Cardinals system, but in his first full-season assignment, he could move around midseason to the upper minors as he’s been dominating hitters thus far. His tough angle allows his low-90s fastball and overhand curve to play up. He gets good depth on his change, and that’s been able to work for him in spurts this season, though location has been sporadic at times. Ralston could be a fun one to track as he moves up in the farm. Season line: 34 IP, 3.44 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 18/53 BB/K.
Graham Ashcraft, RHP – An Alabama prep that went to UAB for college, Ashcraft was plucked by the Reds in the 6th round of the 2019 draft. Ashcraft has worked through multiple injuries since being a premium prospect out of high school, and his stuff has been inconsistent since. When he has been on, it’s been overwhelming to hitters in the box. Ashcraft works in the mid-90s consistently, and he offers a plus curve along with the heat as well as a slider and change. His struggles with his delivery coming off hip issues in his past lead to command/control inconsistency, and that will be what determines how fast the Reds push him up the system. Season line: 38 2/3 IP, 2.33 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 13/55 BB/K.
Nick Bush, LHP – Bush wasn’t able to show a ton at LSU after coming back from Tommy John surgery, but the Rockies took the chance on him in the 8th round in 2018. He doesn’t intimidate anyone at 6′ and less than 200 pounds on the mound, but the lefty has a definite starter mix with a low-90s fastball, an average curve, and a change that’s played up this year. In two starts viewed this year, Bush has manipulated the shape of his curve to keep hitters off-balance, and he’s locating very well. His stuff will get a challenge as he climbs the ladder, but if he continues working with potential plus command, he could have success as a #4 type, especially from the left side. Season line: 42 1/3 IP, 2.13 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 7/50 BB/K.
Anthony Volpe, SS – Considered advanced and likely to move quickly coming out of high school in New Jersey, the Yankees drafted Volpe in the first round in 2019, but Volpe didn’t get the chance to show how quickly he could adapt to full-season ball in 2020. He’s definitely not shown any issues from the missed year of development in his work with Tampa this season, likely earning a promotion soon. Volpe works at short, though he doesn’t possess elite defensive tools, because he is steady and works hard at his positioning. Volpe may not be a guy with a single plus tool, but he has above-average tools across the board, and his on-field presence allows those tools to play up very well. Season line: .307/.426/.607, 150 AB, 8 HR, 16 SB, 31/29 BB/K.
Felix Valerio, IF – The Mets signed Valerio out of the Dominican Republic in 2018 and acquired by the Brewers as part of the deal to acquire Keon Broxton before the 2019 season. Valerio is short in stature at 5’7″, and his leg kick timing brings much more doubles power than home run power, but he has excellent hands and footwork around the bag at second base, though he’s played the most at third this season, showing his arm strength. Range at short could be the one hold up to a long-term future at short, but his glovework and plus speed could push him forward as a future utility infielder at the least and more if he continues developing his power further. Season line: .333/.434/.518, 141 AB, 3 HR, 14 SB, 20/23 BB/K.
Ricardo Genoves, C – Genoves looks up in a system with a future Hall of Famer in Buster Posey and two former first-round picks in Joey Bart and Patrick Bailey at his position. To say that the Venezuelan needs to make a big impression to stay part of the Giants plans would be putting things lightly. He’s done just that, however, as he’s shown plate discipline at every level. Hitting for power this season is a development that could really push him forward not just in the Giants system, but also in the national scene. Genoves has had to work hard to keep his frame fit for the catcher position, and if he can keep up the big bat, where he fields will be less an issue, but he has the arm behind the plate to be part of a catching tandem in the future. Season line: .328/.418/.541, 122 AB, 6 HR, 16/27 BB/K.
Joey Estes picks up his second strikeout of the game pic.twitter.com/ogtVznIrKb
— Gaurav (@gvedak) June 16, 2021
Joey Estes, RHP – One of the youngest members of the 2019 draft class, Estes is showing himself as much more than the typical 16th round draft pick, where the Braves snagged him in 2019. Estes was signed for above slot and has impressed at every turn in 2021, using a fastball that’s worked into the mid-90s with fair consistency along with a slider and evolving changeup that he’s rarely had to use this year. Estes has pounded the strike zone, but he’s also shown the ability to shape his pitches and set up hitters well. He certainly should work his way to High-A by the end of the year and could surge into top 100 lists by the end of the season. Season line: 32 2/3 IP, 1.93 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 8/44 BB/K.
Taylor Dollard, RHP – A relief ace for two seasons with Cal Poly and in the Cape Cod League in 2019, Dollard moved into the rotation in 2020 and was drafted by Seattle in the 5th round. His athleticism leads many to believe he could tap into more velocity. Dollard has developed multiple pitches over his college career, keying his grouping off a low-90s fastball that he can sink and cut with ease. He mixes a slider, change, and curve, and he’s been known to show multiple shape on each of the pitches, giving hitters various looks over the course of a game. While he’s likely going to work his way up to High-A in 2021, success in the upper minors will most likely require additional velocity or a return to a bullpen. Season line: 37 2/3 IP, 3.35 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 10/59 BB/K.
Hyun-il Choi, RHP – The Dodgers signed Choi from South Korea in 2018 with a potential mid-rotation tag on his future. Choi was set to make his full-season debut in 2020 before the season was lost. He’s showing no ill effects of the extended time away. His command this season has been impeccable, earning plenty of strikeouts, though he doesn’t have elite raw stuff. Choi’s fastball works around 90 with multiple angles, sinking, cutting, and even a split look as well. He mixes in a curve that he can loop or add a tick to and use with sharper, shorter break along with a change. Choi is very mature on the mound, and his plus control/command is going to allow his raw stuff to play up to his mid-rotation projection. Season line: 32 2/3 IP, 3.31 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 3/40 BB/K.