Minor league baseball weekly cultivation for week ending July 3, 2021

Minor league baseball weekly cultivation for week ending July 3, 2021

This week our focus is on players that have been promoted throughout the season. Sadly, the redesign of the Minor League Baseball main site took away the team transaction page, which previously indicated those players who had been moved up or down a level. The top prospects will still be announced on social media and such, but we like to get DEEP in the weeds here on the Farm! While complex leagues did start this past week, we will wait until next week to add in statistical leaders, in order to allow for some statistics to accumulate, though players in complex leagues will be mentioned in the “sorting through the weeds” segment.

Statistical Leaders (stats through July 3)

AAA

AVG – Jamie Ritchie, Reno (Ari), .395
OBP – Jamie Ritchie, Reno (Ari), .531
SLG – Jesus Sanchez, Jacksonville (Mia), .643
HR – Jo Adell, Salt Lake (LAA), 17
SB – Vidal Brujan, Durham (TB), Brian Miller, Jacksonville (Mia), Yonny Hernandez, Round Rock (Tex), 14
IP – Kirk McCarty, Columbus (Cle), 65 2/3
ERA – Mike Wright Jr, Charlotte (ChW), 2.77
WHIP – Mike Wright Jr, Charlotte (ChW), 0.90
SV – Luis Garcia, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (NYY), 11
K – Cory Abbott, Iowa (ChC), 64

AA

AVG – Gabriel Moreno, New Hampshire (Tor), .373
OBP – Rudy Martin, Northwest Arkansas (KC), .450
SLG – Gabriel Moreno, New Hampshire (Tor), .651
HR – Four with 14
SB – Dairon Blanco, Northwest Arkansas (KC), 17
IP – Mario Sanchez, Harrsburg (Was), 62 1/3
ERA – Janson Junk, Somerset (NYY), 1.00
WHIP – Cole Winn, Frisco (Tex), 0.77
SV – Colton Hock, Pensacola (Mia), 12
K – Glenn Otto, Somerset (NYY), 95

High-A

AVG – Justin Yurchak, Great Lakes (TB), .358
OBP – Justin Yurchak, Great Lakes (TB), .455
SLG – Niko Hulsizer, Bowling Green (TB), .640
HR – Griffin Conine, Beloit (Mia), 17
SB – Max Schuemann, Lansing (Oak), 32
IP – Matt Waldron, Fort Wayne (SD), 57 1/3
ERA – Logan Allen, Lake County (Cle), 1.58
WHIP – Jayden Murray, Bowling Green (TB), 0.71
SV – Carter Loewen, Fort Wayne (SD), Joe Jones, Hillsboro (Ari), and Jonah Dipoto, Quad Cities (KC), 6
K – Cade Cavalli, Wilmington (Was), 71

Low-A

AVG – Jordan Walker, Palm Beach (StL), .374
OBP – Edouard Julien, Fort Myers (Min), .490
SLG – Joe Gray Jr, Carolina (Mil), .632
HR – Marco Luciano, San Jose (SF), 14
SB – Jordy Barley, Lake Elsinore (SD), 30
IP – Breiling Eusebio, Fresno (Col), 59 1/3
ERA – Santiago Florez, Bradenton (Pit), 1.32
WHIP – Santiago Florez, Bradenton (Pit), 0.84
SV – Juan Mejia, Fresno (Col), 8
K – Carson Ragsdale, San Jose (SF), 84

Sorting through the weeds:

Jose Miranda, IF – The Minnesota Twins drafted Miranda out of Puerto Rico in 2016, knowing he was raw, but as one of the youngest players in that draft class, knowing that once he figured it out, he could move quickly. Miranda made multiple strides in his first two pro seasons, but once he hit full-season ball in 2018, he struggled with consistent contact, though he flashed impressive raw power, that took another step back in 2019. Miranda worked hard over the missed pandemic year, and that work has paid off as he is making hard contact to all fields with notable improved pitch selection. Miranda works around the infield, and while he probably isn’t a long-term shortstop, he has the arm to be at least passable at third base and the hands to work well at either second or third base. Season line: .356/.413/.625, 216 AB, 16 HR, 4 SB, 18/30 BB/K.

Nolan Gorman, 2B/3B – One of the elite prep bats in the 2018 draft, Gorman fell into the lap of the St. Louis Cardinals at pick #19. He has ascended quickly in the Cardinals system, so much so that the Cardinals have begun to try the natural third baseman at second base with long-term presences Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado locked in at the infield corners for the next four seasons at the big-league level. The transition has had its bumps, but Gorman is making strides at the position. His bat has been solid this season, but interestingly, he was in the midst of a prolonged slump when the Cardinals moved him up to Triple-A. It’s only been a week, but that slump has certainly continued in Triple-A, hitting .125 without an extra-base hit and five strikeouts in his first 16 at-bats at the level. Gorman’s talent is immense, and his timeline is still 2022, rather than 2021, so he has time to adjust to the level. Season line: .275/.340/.477, 193 AB, 11 HR, 4 SB, 19/57 BB/K.

Shane Baz, RHP – The Pirates made a really strong pick with Baz out of high school in 2017 with the 12th overall before including him in the massive package of players that they sent to Tampa Bay for Chris Archer. Baz has a fastball that can run into triple digits along with a cutter/slider hybrid and a hard curve that both work as plus pitches. His change has been inconsistent in the past, and while it’s still more of an average pitch, it’s definitely more consistent in its shape and slot in 2021, leading to significantly better effectiveness. Baz has stepped up notably from a guy who projected as a questionable “five-and-dive” starter to a potential ace with the significant improvements he’s made with the consistency in his delivery and in his arm slot with all four pitches. Incredibly, he’s allowing even LESS runs now that he’s at Triple-A over four starts, which could lead to him knocking on the big league door by the end of the 2021 season rather than making his case for the 2022 rotation. Season line: 51 2/3 IP, 2.09 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 8/77 BB/K.

Reiver Sanmartin, LHP – Most know that Hector Santiago got the first Major League Baseball suspension for “sticky stuff” on his glove, but Sanmartin was suspended June 24 for a substance found on his glove and given a 10-game suspension, so he’s technically the first pro pitcher caught in the new rules. That definitely shouldn’t be the reason that the well-traveled lefty should be most known in 2021, however. On his third organization, Sanmartin comes from a low slot from the left side, and he has been very difficult to square up this season at either Double-A or Triple-A. Hitters at the advanced level have exploited Sanmartin’s lack of a strong third pitch behind his fastball and sweeping slider and been able to have more success putting runs on the board. Sanmartin likely profiles in a relief role from the left side. Season line: 40 2/3 IP, 2.88 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 12/49 BB/K.

Spencer Torkelson, 1B/3B – Most expected the top overall selection in the 2020 draft to move quickly for the Detroit Tigers, but working at third base and the challenges of a more difficult defensive position have led to Torkelson adjusting slowly with the bat at each level, but once he does adjust, Torkelson absolutely dominates. While his patience at the plate and strong contact were present, Torkelson began to explode at High-A before his promotion, turning it on after his 15th game at the level, hitting .424/.507/.864 until he was promoted on June 15. He’s opened his time in Double-A with a lower batting average than one would expect, but don’t be surprised if he again finishes with a similar explosion as he adapts defensively at the new level. Season line: .289/.411/.542, 166 AB, 9 HR, 4 SB, 33/41 BB/K.

Korey Lee, C/3B – A number of draftniks were confused by the selection of Lee when the Astros tabbed him at the end of the first round in 2019. He did nothing in his pro debut at short-season ball to make scouts think the Astros had perhaps nabbed a steal, but he’s taken off in his first full season. Lee hit consistently to all fields in High-A before being promoted, where he’s shown more power while keeping up quality plate discipline. Lee’s bat has been a big asset, even pushing the team to have him play some at first base and third base just to keep his bat in the lineup. He’s not going to be a defense-first catcher, but he can do the work needed behind the plate as a quality pitch-blocker with a good arm that will have requisite skills, especially if/when robot umpires come into play. Season line: .317/.384/.527, 167 AB, 9 HR, 18/31 BB/K.

Brennen Davis, OF – Davis’ best sport in high school was very likely basketball, but the Cubs nabbed the elite athlete in the second round of the 2018 draft. He has shown off his athleticism at the plate and in the field, displaying tremendous raw power in the field along with an array of tools that all rate as above-average to plus. For a guy considered a high-level athlete, Davis has shown good plate discipline, even as he’s struggled with his promotion, which would indicate that growth is on the way for the 21-year-old. Davis is one that Cubs fans should get very excited about for the future. Season line: .256/.360/.427, 117, 4 HR, 4 SB, 17/42 BB/K.

Bryce Elder, RHP – The Atlanta Braves went heavy on college arms in the short 2020 draft, using three of their four selections on collegiate hurlers, and they’ve been willing to push each of them. Elder is the second of the bunch to reach the upper minors. He’s also probably the least surprising one of the trio to move quickly. Elder has a very high floor profile, with no real plus offering, but four pitches that are at least average, with a pair of breaking pitches that are consistently above-average. His profile may be more of a backend starter that can handle a lot of innings, but he should reach that quickly, and his promotion reflects that. Season line: 49 IP, 3.12 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 21/60 BB/K.

Thomas Ponticelli, RHP – The Indians have had a lot of success with guys like Ponticelli. They plucked him from the University of San Francisco in 2018 in the 12th round with four pitches and above-average control. The organization has done well developing guys with middling velocity and a good feel for secondaries, developing velocity along the way. Ponticelli hasn’t developed quite the velocity that perhaps Cleveland would hope in their typical development, but he does consistently work in the low-90s and has excellent command/control. His ability to work deep into games could portend a future role in the mold of someone like Josh Tomlin, eating innings in the bullpen, but if he can find another tick in his velocity, he could have a future as a backend starter. Season line: 47 1/3 IP, 3.04 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 18/43 BB/K.

Blaine Knight, RHP – Blaine has had to adjust from a college star that led his Arkansas team to a run in Omaha before being drafted by the Orioles in the third round to adjusting his work to a pro pitcher. He’s done a solid job of learning how to pitch within his stuff, leaning on putting his stuff in the zone and forcing hitters to hit it rather than trying to pitch around hitters. The result has been significantly better walk rates and much better results for Knight on the season. Knight has a better ERA thus far along with similar peripherals in Double-A in more innings than his excellent start at High-A. Knight profiles as the type that could toss a lot of quality innings from the back of the rotation, and in today’s game, that’s a valuable asset. Season line: 44 1/3 IP, 2.23 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 8/41 BB/K.

AJ Gill, 1B/OF – The White Sox signed Gill out of Division III Aurora University in Illinois as an undrafted free agent last summer. He made his professional debut at Low-A Kannapolis, and he showed an excellent eye, posting a .407 OBP, though not a ton else. Gill has struggled to keep up his excellent on-base ability with his advance, though he has flashed a bit more power with Winston-Salem. A guy coming from D-III to full-season pro ball will be going through a pretty drastic change in the level of competition, so Gill has truly held up fairly well thus far. It will be interesting to see if he can tap into more power in his swing as the swing does show a bit of potential loft in it as he gets more comfortable in his surroundings. Season line: .237/.366/.323, 93 AB, 2 HR, 13/46 BB/K.

Jorge Barrosa, OF – A small, speedy Venezuelan outfielder, Barrosa finds himself suddenly able to make a name for himself as two of the elite trio of Diamondbacks outfield prospects won’t be showing much in 2021. He’s taken advantage of that opportunity thus far. While his 5’9″, 160-170 pound frame is indicative of the power to expect from Barrosa, though he can turn on an inside pitch from the left side and pull for power, as indicated by 12 of his 14 extra-base hits coming from the left side on the season for the switch-hitter. Barrosa has used his speed to his advantage thus far with his contact ability, though he’s adjusted in his short time in High-A to working counts more notably, something that will definitely need to be part of his game, given his skill set. Season line: .320/.383/.436, 181 AB, 3 HR, 14 SB, 10/41 BB/K.

D.J. Stewart, 1B/3B – Most mistake the Phillies prospect for the Orioles outfielder, but they are two different players. This Stewart was a 39th round selection from high school by the Phillies in 2017 that signed with the club rather than going to college, and he’s been on a slow development path since, with 2021 his first full-season assignment. Stewart came out strong at Low-A this season, but he’s slowed down notably since his promotion, with nearly identical time at each spot. Stewart has some definite raw power in his swing, but there’s a lot of length to the swing and a lot of refinement left in his game along the way as he works up the system. He could be a slow burn sort of prospect, but a 39th round selection potentially making good is always worth tracking. Season line: .309/.358/.471, 136 AB, 5 HR, 6 SB, 8/32 BB/K.

Justin Lasko, RHP – Originally drafted in the 30th round in 2019 out of Amherst College, Lasko pitched primarily out of the bullpen in his draft season, but after the pandemic year, he’s spent the majority of his time this season in the rotation, and he’s been excellent in the role. Lako keeps hitters off-base with his fast pace on the mound. Lasko works heavily with a sinker/slider mix along with an average change that plays off his sinking fastball. He pounds the zone well and induces plenty of groundball contact with his heavy pitches. Whether that sinker/slider combo will play as he climbs into the upper minors remains to be seen, but he could definitely find success as a middle reliever. Season line: 57 2/3 IP, 2.65 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 10/55 BB/K.

Will Ethridge, RHP – The Rockies plucked the big righty Ethridge from Ole Miss in the 5th round of the 2019 draft. He didn’t have a lot of growth in his frame when drafted, coming into his pro career with a high floor and likely quick-moving profile. Ethridge doesn’t have anything that is even consistently above-average, let alone plus, in his arsenal. He’s already found that combination quite hittable moving to High-A, but working to potentially add a tick of velocity or add another pitch during the offseason could give Ethridge a more definite future role as a big-league starter, but his ability to put ability to command three average pitches with a consistent delivery, he’ll move quickly and get plenty of shots at the rotation, but without that extra gear or extra pitch, he’s likely going to fall into the profile of an up-and-down sort of guy or bullpen filler. Season line: 44 2/3 IP, 4.84 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 5/49 BB/K.

David Leal, LHP – The Oakland Athletics drafted Leal in the 38th round in 2019 out of Louisiana Tech, and after he was primarily used out of the bullpen in his draft year, he’s been primarily a starter in his first full pro season after the pandemic year. Leal was dominant before his promotion and has had a few rough starts that have significantly skewed his stats thus far at High-A, though he’s really had very similar underlying stats after the promotion. Leal is very physically large at 6’5″ and 225-230 pounds on the mound, but he’s athletic and repeats his delivery well, allowing for excellent control. He’s trimmed roughly 20-30 pounds from his frame since entering pro ball, allowing him to repeat his mechanics significantly better. Leal is not a guy who has big velocity, but his low-90s fastball, average curve, and average change with above-average control could profile at least as a middle relief arm from the left side as he moves up the system, which is an excellent return from the 38th round. Season line: 40 1/3 IP, 5.13 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 5/47 BB/K.

Diego Cartaya, C – The prize of the Dodgers’ 2018 international class, Cartaya is another of a long recent line of excellent Dodger catching prospects. He may be the best of the bench when considering the combination of both his offensive and defensive abilities, however. Cartaya has flashed significant power in his first full-season assignment, leading all of Low-A in slugging percentage as recently as last week. Cartaya has an impressive arm behind the plate and has excellent lateral movement, with frequent comparisons to guys like Salvador Perez and Miguel Olivo behind the plate in his defensive ability. He very well could find his way to High-A by the end of the season as a teenager. Season line: .279/.388/.581, 86 AB, 7 HR, 13/31 BB/K.

Maikol Escotto, 2B/SS – Escotto was a targeted part of the return the Pirates got from the Yankees when they traded away Jameson Taillon. He had put up an impressive stat line in the DSL in 2019, but he really was tough to evaluate as he was a muscular 5’11” shortstop, so where he fit on the field and how much he would develop further physically was in the air. Escotto has certainly continued physically developing, potentially adding a bit more height, but certainly shifting his frame some, cutting out some “baby fat” and becoming more cut physically. He’s the type of guy whose physical work has improved an average run tool to more of an above-average/fringe-plus tool that can certainly work in the middle infield now rather then being forced to third base or a corner outfield spot. The raw power is definitely there, but he’s been showing more in hard contact throughout the field and with excellent patience at the plate this season more than in hacking at the ball. He’s got plenty to like, and the Pirates have no reason to rush him, but a personal hunch is that he could have some evaluators pushing him over Oneil Cruz by the end of this season. Season line: .287/.425/.418, 122 AB, 3 HR, 6 SB, 28/47 BB/K.

Robert Hassell III, OF – In a 2020 draft with a group of very impressive prep outfielders competing to be the first prep bat off the board, Hassell won that race by one selection when the Padres drafted him eighth overall. The Tennessee prep had a strong arm that had him tagged to pitch and hit in college, but he’s focused on playing outfield as a pro, with the biggest question mark in his pro game what level of power his bat will bring. To this point, his above-average speed has shown up, as has his plate discipline, but he’s also shown that when he tries too hard to “create” that power rather than let it come naturally, he opens himself up to be exploited by pitchers. Still a teen for the majority of this season, the Padres can be patient with Hassell, and his high game IQ should allow him to make adjustments as the season goes along, likely leading to him being the type that explodes up the system once everything “clicks” for him. Season line: .289/.374/.457, 197 AB, 4 HR, 19 SB, 27/44 BB/K.

Prelander Berroa, RHP – In what could turn out to be one of the bigger bonehead trades in recent Twins history, they sent three players, including Berroa, to acquire Sam Dyson in 2019, only to have Dyson face domestic violence suspension and eventually not return to baseball. Berroa was definitely the farthest away and the highest-risk prospect of the three players the Giants acquired in the deal, but he’s also got the chance to pay off the biggest. He packs a lot of punch in a small package, standing under 6′ tall, but touching triple digits with his fastball and pairing it with a hard curve in the low- to mid-80s. Berroa’s change has taken a big step forward in its pairing to his fastball, but he’s still working on consistency in command with all three pitches, and once he can get there with that, he could really take off! Season line: 34 2/3 IP, 3.38 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 23/51 BB/K.

Eury Perez, RHP – Those in the know with Miami’s system have been waiting to see this kid since he was signed in 2019. Perez towers at 6’8″-6’9″ (depending on whose listing you trust), but he’s extremely lean at less than 200 pounds at that towering height. Though most guys of his height struggle mightily to repeat mechanics, that’s not Perez’s issue, as he athletically repeats his delivery, firing low-90s fastballs that have worked with even more velocity in some starts. He can top out in the 97 MPH range when he really reaches back for a one-timer, but in-game has typically topped out at 95. The rest of his repertoire is a mix of average to fringe-plus secondaries, but he also has a feel for those and the ability to control them, which is abnormal for a man of his height. Watch him closely as he could absolutely skyrocket up lists if he were to add another tick of velocity and/or continue developing at least one of those secondaries into a consistent plus pitch as the angles he creates will give him a definite future. Season line: 27 IP, 2.33 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 11/37 BB/K.

Sem Robberse, RHP – A 2019 Blue Jays signee out of the Netherlands, Robberse is getting his first full-season work in 2021 in Low-A, and he’s showing to be a guy with some definite projection. Robberse has built up his velocity nearly 10 MPH since first signing, regularly sitting in the low-90s now and touching mid-90s with plenty of ease and repeatability in his delivery. Though he’s not particularly tall at 6’1″, he creates good angle on his curve and makes it tough on hitter with impressive tunneling of the two pitches. He’s done well in working in his change as well, though his slider is still a definite fourth pitch. There is a lot of development to do in Robberse before he’ll be a projected major league starter, but the early returns and progress that he’s already made are very impressive. Season line: 33 2/3 IP, 4.54 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 13/44 BB/K.

Jasson Dominguez, OF – It’s hard to remember a prospect, domestic or international, who had this much hype before making his professional debut, and Jasson has been sitting on this hype now for more than a year due to the pandemic. Dominguez is an incredible package of tools, with all of his tools grading out above-average or better from those scouts who have seen him, and he has had multiple showcase opportunities for scouts to drool over his potential already. He is growing quickly, and just how big he will be by the time he gets to the major leagues, and how that could change his physical abilities remains to be seen, but to say that he’s the most-hyped player in complex league is a drastic understatement. Season line: .000/.545/.000, 5 AB, 5/3 BB/K.

Erick Pena, OF – If there’s anyone who has received as much hype as Dominguez over the last year from scouts, it’s Pena. Anyone who has seen him has absolutely drooled over his raw ability. Pena is more set up for a right field profile, with a strong hit/power combination offensively and a corner outfield defensive profile. Like any young hitter, he’s going to have to learn which pitches to lay off and which ones to attack, but the Royals have a good one here. Season line: .250/.294/.313, 16 AB, 1/4 BB/K.

Dylan Maclean, LHP – If 2020 would have been a full season, scouts would have seen a lot more of Dylan Maclean, as he was paired with top draft prospect Mick Abel, but he missed out on those extra looks, and many were surprised that he signed after the Rangers drafted him in the fourth round rather than going to college and building up his draft stock. Maclean has the frame to project for more velocity than the upper-80s that he throws right now, pairing his fastball with a looping curve primarily. The Rangers knew they drafted a project lefty in Maclean, but scouts that talk about Maclean have raved about his future projection, so they could have snagged a future jewel here. Season line: 2/3 IP, 0.00 ERA, 4.50 WHIP, 2/0 BB/K.

Andry Lara, RHP – Lara was signed by the Nationals out of Venezuela in 2019, and he’s already taken multiple steps forward as a pitcher while in the organization, showing mid-90s velocity in the fall and bumping the upper-90s in spring with his fastball. Lara is fairly filled out already at 18, but he has a plus slider and average change right now that he could further develop along the way to become significant pitches. The floor here is very high for an international pitcher, and there’s still plenty of ceiling, making him one Nationals fans will want to watch closely. Season line: 5 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 3/8 BB/K.

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