Minor league baseball weekly cultivation for week ending August 14, 2021
Complex leagues continue to give us impressive minor league baseball debuts for 2021 draftees and international signees. We wait for details on the 2021 Arizona Fall League and watch playoff races across the minors as well while enjoying impressive performances throughout the minor leagues!
Statistical Leaders (stats through August 14)
AVG – Thairo Estrada, AAA (SF), .385
OBP – Skye Bolt, AAA (Oak), .487
SLG – Taylor Motter, AAA (Col), .759
HR – Griffin Conine, A+/AA (Mia), 31
SB – Jayce Easley, A (Tex), 51
IP – Matt Waldron, A+/AA (SD) and Bryce Elder, A+/AA (Atl), 101
ERA – Emilio Marquez, A (KC), 1.53
WHIP – Jayden Murray, A+/AA (TB), 0.69
SV – Miguel Aguilar, AAA (Ari), 15
K – Ryan Murphy, A/A+ (SF), 141
AVG – Jose Marmolejos, Tacoma (Sea), .379
OBP – Jose Marmolejos, Tacoma (Sea), .471
SLG – Taylor Motter, Albuquerque (Col), .759
HR – Taylor Motter, Albuquerque (Col), 24
SB – Andrew Velazquez, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (NYY) and Vidal Brujan, Durham (TB), 26
IP – Mike Wright Jr, Charlotte (ChW), 95 1/3
ERA – Mike Wright Jr, Charlotte (ChW), 3.40
WHIP – Mike Wright Jr, Charlotte (ChW), 1.05
SV – Miguel Aguilar, Reno (Ari), 15
K – Aaron Ashby, Nashville (Mil), 98
AVG – Marty Costes, Corpus Christi (Hou), .332
OBP – Marty Costes, Corpus Christi (Hou), .436
SLG – MJ Melendez, Northwest Arkansas (KC), .628
HR – MJ Melendez, Northwest Arkansas (KC), 28
SB – Dairon Blanco, Northwest Arkansas (KC), 32
IP – Juan Hillman, Akron (Cle), 94 1/3
ERA – Jake Eder, Pensacola (Mia), 1.77
WHIP – Jake Eder, Pensacola (Mia), 0.98
SV – Colton Hock, Pensacola (Mia), 13
K – Tommy Henry, Amarillo (Ari), 108
AVG – Justin Yurchak, Great Lakes (TB), .356
OBP – Justin Yurchak, Great Lakes (TB), .446
SLG – Griffin Conine, Beloit (Mia), .587
HR – Griffin Conine, Beloit (Mia) and Andy Pages, Great Lakes (LAD), 23
SB – Delvin Zinn, South Bend (ChC), 42
IP – Eduardo Salazar, Dayton (Cin), 91
ERA – Quinn Priester, Greensboro (Pit), 2.80
WHIP – Antonio Velez, Beloit (Mia), 0.86
SV – Zack Hess, West Michigan (Det) and Chris Wright, Eugene (SF), 9
K – Anthony Veneziano, Quad Cities (KC), 104
AVG – Euribiel Angeles, Lake Elsinore (SD), .348
OBP – Anthony Volpe, Tampa (NYY), .455
SLG – Anthony Volpe, Tampa (NYY), .623
HR – Orelvis Martinez, Dunedin (Tor) and Juan Carlos Negret, Columbia (KC), 19
SB – Jayce Easley, Down East (Tex), 51
IP – Joey Estes, Augusta (Atl), 87
ERA – Adrian Florencio, Bradenton (Pit), 2.43
WHIP – Joey Estes, Augusta (Atl), 0.97
SV – Cam Robinson, Carolina (Mil), 12
K – Carson Ragsdale, San Jose (SF), 126
AVG – Carlos Amaya, Athletics, .467
OBP – Carlos Mendoza, Tigers, .587
SLG – Jamari Baylor, Phillies, .642
HR – Five with 7
SB – Adrian Pinto, Rockies, 24
IP – Trevor McDonald, Giants and Manuel Mercedes, Giants, 38 1/3
ERA – Patricio Aquino, Brewers; Joel Diaz, Mets; and Jose Ramirez, Red Sox, 0.00
WHIP – Jose Cedeno, Nationals, 0.56
SV – Gabriel Hernandez, Angels and Luis Amoroso, Rockies, 7
K – Chih-Ting Wang, Royals and Cristian Mena, White Sox, 42
Sorting through the weeds:
Jose Marmolejos, 1B/OF – Marmolejos was born in the Dominican, but he attended high school in Florida. He signed with the Nationals after going undrafted in 2011. Marmolejos showed some positive things in spurts in short-season ball with the Washington organization, but he was in his fifth minor league season before he reached full-season ball. After a strong season in the upper minors in 2019, Marmolejos signed with the Mariners organization before the 2020 season, and he was able to make his major league debut for Seattle in 2020. He was up to the majors early in the year and struggled, but he’s been a machine for Tacoma in Triple-A while in the minors this season. Season line: (MLB) .139/.266/.278, 79 AB, 3 HR, 14/32 BB/K; (minors) .379/.471/.724, 214 AB, 20 HR, 38/43 BB/K.
Henry Ramos, OF – Originally drafted by the Red Sox in the 5th round in 2010 out of high school in Puerto Rico, Ramos is the middle of a trio of athletic brothers. His older brother Hector is an elite soccer player while his younger brother Heliot Ramos is a top prospect in the Giants organization. Ramos signed with the Diamondbacks in May as a late roster addition, his fourth organization in his career. Ramos is an athletic outfielder, though he doesn’t bring big power or lightning speed to the table in his game, more of an average-or-below skillset. He’s had an impressive display with his contact ability this season that has driven his line for Reno. Season line: .362/.430/.556, 207 AB, 10 HR, 4 SB, 23/38 BB/K.
A.J. Alexy, RHP – The Dodgers drafted Alexy out of high school in Pennsylvania in the 11th round of the 2016 draft based on projection in his 6’4″ frame. He barely had a chance to start to fill into that projection before the Dodgers traded him the following summer as part of the Yu Darvish deal. Alexy has progressed slowly up the Rangers system ever since. His delivery has always been of concern, but he’s made some changes that have allowed him to be much more consistent to the plate, though he’s still had a few moments of command/control issues. His fastball can touch upper 90s at its best and sits 94-97 with some excellent late action. The change has come forward plenty this year with the mechanical change, and his plus curve has remained. The Rangers have been managing his innings carefully, so that will be the next step for Alexy as a future starter, though his effectiveness with the change as a reliever could give him a future as an elite bullpen option. Season line: 60 IP, 1.80 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 26/73 BB/K.
Ben Leeper, RHP – The Cubs signed Leeper as an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State last summer. The Cubs trusted Leeper to open his pro career at Double-A, and he succeeded, earning his way to Triple-A in early June and not slowing down a bit, putting himself on the map to potentially find his way to Chicago in his first pro season. Leeper sits in the upper-90s in the bullpen with his fastball, crossing over the triple-digit line a few times, per scout reports. He pairs that blistering heat with a plus slider that runs up to 90 and has absolutely buckled knees in my views. While it’s a pretty basic reliever profile, the velocity and bite on the slider give Leeper the chance to succeed at the back of a big-league bullpen. Season line: 35 IP, 1.29 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 3 SV, 13/53 BB/K.
Luken Baker, 1B – Baker had a big freshman season for Texas Christian before a collision at first base injured his arm. The next season, he fractured his leg and tore a ligament in his ankle when he slid awkwardly into second base. The Cardinals still drafted him in the competitive balance round B that season and he was able to begin his pro career. He’s struggled to tap back into his power since, but he’s changed his swing plane this year and seen a significant change in his results, with notably added loft in his swing. However, the added loft has seen a higher strikeout rate and a lower contact rate due to a change to his swing, so Baker is selling out for the increase in his power. Baker is a large human and not tremendously athletic, so he’s really going to be best served by the National League adding the designated hitter in CBA talks this offseason. Season line: .241/.320/.533, 291 AB, 23 HR, 34/89 BB/K.
Brendon Davis, IF – Davis was originally drafted by the Dodgers out of high school in 2015 before being part of the Yu Darvish trade in 2017. The Angels claimed Davis off waivers in December, and after struggling to tap into his raw tools along the way in his development, he’s found something this season that has allowed him to find success. Davis has played around the infield this year and even put in a handful of games in the outfield, and he’s adept enough to handle each position, though not elite at any position defensively, making him an ideal utility candidate. He’s shown notably better plate discipline and has had a lower strikeout rate this season, which has been a big driver to his offensive breakout. He could be a late-blooming utility player that would suit the Angels system well. Season line: .279/.350/.559, 333 AB, 22 HR, 11 SB, 34/100 BB/K.
Trey Cabbage, OF/1B – The Twins selected Cabbage in the fourth round in 2015 out of high school in Tennessee. Cabbage has always hinted at power due to his build, but he was very raw coming out of high school and has taken time to figure out his defensive home after being a third baseman coming out of high school. Cabbage has struggled to tap into his power, and even as he’s achieved finally using that natural strength this season, it’s come along with a 37% strikeout rate. While the raw power is impressive, and his ability to handle a corner outfield spot as well as first base could give him a shot to be a power bat option, Cabbage is potentially in the wrong organization for his skillset as the Twins have a number of corner outfield/first base types with notable power throughout the farm system and just coming up to the major leagues. Season line: .255/.332/.541, 294 AB, 21 HR, 5 SB, 33/122 BB/K.
Carlos Luna, RHP – Luna was originally signed out of Panama in 2013. He had Tommy John surgery that cost him the 2016 and 2017 seasons and really didn’t come back with the velocity that he had before his surgery. Luna works from 87-91 with his fastball, but he has a kitchen sink approach on the mound, using both a distinct four-seam and two-seam fastball that sit in the same velocity band while mixing in a cutter, slider, curveball, and a change. Luna’s best attribute on the mound is his ability to repeat a low-3/4 delivery that allows him to control very well. He’s performed adequately as a starter, but he’s really shined in the bullpen with his wide array of offerings, and in middle relief, that could be a benefit to him if he can command well as a change of pace for a manager to use in the middle innings. Season line: 61 2/3 IP, 2.48 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 9/66 BB/K.
Drew Parrish, LHP – The Royals drafted Parrish out of Florida State in the 8th round in the 2019 draft. He’d been a three-year starter for the Seminoles in college, so he stepped right into the role in pro ball. Parrish’s offerings are led by a plus change as his fastball sits around 90 along with an average breaking pitch as well. Guys with his type of stuff can be successful in the majors with pinpoint control, but thus far, Parrish has shown to be more fringe-average with his control and command, so he will need to improve in order to have a chance to succeed going forward. Season line: 63 2/3 IP, 3.11 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 20/82 BB/K.
Freddy Tarnok, RHP – The Braves drafted Tarnok out of high school in Florida in 2017 after he popped up with explosive raw stuff as a senior prospect. That raw stuff hasn’t ever been able to consistently be utilized as a pro as Tarnok struggled with command and control as well as injury issues along the way. Once he got on the mound in 2021, he’s showed dominating stuff, though he’s also had lapses in his control this season as well. Tarnok has seen his velocity tick up this season, sitting 95-97 and touching 98-99 and snapping off a consistent plus curve and above-average slider when he locates all three well. The uptick in stuff gives Tarnok an impressive future in the bullpen if he can’t get his control together enough to work as a starter. Season line: 50 IP, 3.60 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 21/84 BB/K.
Everson Pereira, OF – Pereira was part of a big 2017 Yankees international signing class, signing for $1.5 million. He has long been a guy that many scouts viewed with an above-average grade on all five of his tools. He really doesn’t have any one tool that jumps out as plus, but many flash plus for sure. Injuries and the pandemic year have limited the time on the field for Pereira thus far, but he’s making up for lost time with his production this year. How he will develop and where he fits in the outfield best will be interesting to follow as he moves up the Yankees system. Season line: .333/.433/.667, 120 AB, 10 HR, 7 SB, 19/37 BB/K.
Jacob Hurtubise, OF – Hurtobise finished his career at Army adding strength to his frame and giving his incredibly speedy profile an opportunity to project as a pro. He was signed by the Reds as an undrafted free agent last July and opened the season with High-A Dayton. The assignment has not overwhelmed him all season long. He’s a guy with impressive abilities on the defensive side of the ball with an average to above-average arm, but the ability to position himself well behind himself his throws to play up his raw arm strength. Hurtubise’s power is below-average, and that could be what holds him back from being a starter as a big leaguer, but if he can keep up the defense, speed, and eye as he advances, he will have a spot in the majors. Season line: .282/.408/.347, 262 AB, 31 SB, 43/61 BB/K.
Brett Wisely, IF – This season, a few players will achieve a 20/20 season. Wisely could reach 20/30 by the end of the week! The Rays selected him in the 15th round in 2019 out of Gulf Coast Community College, hoping his bat would carry him as he didn’t really have a set defensive future home. He’s primarily played second base this year, but he’s also put in time at both corner infield spots. He’s got the hands and arm to work at second or third, but with that sort of defensive flexibility and the offensive production he’s already shown himself capable of, Wisely will fit very well in the Tampa Bay system, likely playing in the high minors in 2022. Season line: .298/.364/.502, 295 AB, 15 HR, 28 SB, 31/73 BB/K.
Antonio Velez, LHP – The Marlins signed Velez out of Florida State as an undrafted free agent in 2019. The lefty doesn’t blow anyone away with velocity, but he has really seen significant growth in his execution and location of his secondary offerings this year. Without another tick or two on his fastball, he’s likely looking at a long-relief role from the left side, but the stuff is good enough to carve out a role. Season line: 77 IP, 3.16 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 8/73 BB/K.
Nick Fraze, RHP – The Blue Jays drafted Fraze out of Texas State in the 22nd round in 2019. He made his AA debut this week, so he’ll work as my High-A representative for this week for the Jays. Fraze works with a pair of fastballs that are distinct and sit in the low-90s in velocity. His slider is his best pitch, a definite plus pitch, and he throws it plenty. His change is fringe-average, but he does sequence and locates it well. Fraze profiles as a quality middle reliever, but if he can continue to locate well with the fastball and change to set up the slider, he could succeed as a backend starter. Season line: 46 2/3 IP, 2.51 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 12/47 BB/K.
Brandon Walter, LHP – Walter was the Red Sox 24th round pick in 2019 out of Delaware who had a good delivery and fit the “college lefty” mold with low-90s velocity and average-ish secondaries. He worked hard over the pandemic year, and it paid off with a significant improvement in his velocity. He now sits 92-95, touching up to 96-97 with a heavy two-seamer that he leans on heavily. He works in a mid-80s change that matches with his sinker to keep hitters either swinging over his offerings or pounding them into the ground. His slider has taken a step forward to an average level, giving him an opportunity to start as a backend starter, though he still probably projects best as a middle reliever. Season line: 65 IP, 2.77 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 14/100 BB/K.
Warming Bernabel, 3B – One of the better names in the game, Bernabel was signed by the Rockies in 2018 out of the Dominican for $900,000. Bernabel was known at his signing for a mature approach at the plate, and he’s kept up that approach and added power production as he’s added muscle to his frame. His arm and hands at third base are certainly going to work long-term, with enough hands and arm to handle shorts in a pinch but not quite the range to do it long-term. He could quickly be one of the top young Rockie bats in short order. Season line: .373/.407/.636, 118 AB, 7 HR, 7 SB, 7/19 BB/K.
Jairo Pomares, OF – The Giants originally signed Pomeras in 2018 out of Cuba as part of a brilliant signing class that also landed Marco Luciano and Luis Matos. Pomares was always known for his stick over everything, with an average defensive profile that is likely destined for left field in the big leagues along with average to above-average speed that he doesn’t use extremely well on the basepaths. His raw power is certainly plus at least, though he has a habit of altering his swing to attempt to “plane” the ball for more loft, and that can lead to more strikeouts. Pomares is definitely a contact-first hitter, with not a ton of patience at the plate, but the bat profile is strong enough to believe he’ll continue to find success and potentially work up to Eugene before year’s end. Season line: .371/.429/.696, 194 AB, 14 HR, 15/52 BB/K.
Jose Ramos, OF – Signed for a meager $30,000 out of Panama in July of 2018 by the Dodgers, Ramos immediately showed out in his first instructional league and has impressed ever since. His first season in the DSL showed an ability to take a walk and his impressive speed offensively. This year, he’s gone about displaying his incredible bat speed and raw power as well. Ramos is an impressive blend of tools across the board who probably could handle center, but his plus arm and rangy strides will play best in right field. It seems the Dodgers have a warehouse of talented prospects that they continually churn out, and Ramos could very well be in line to be the next one to come up the system. Season line: .352/.429/.599, 142 AB, 6 HR, 2 SB, 16/36 BB/K.
Jared Jones, RHP – Jones doesn’t have the typical flamethrower build, but he’s known for bumping triple digits with his fastball back to his high school days before the Pirates drafted him in the second round of the 2020 draft. Jones has been toning down his delivery this season under the Pirates tutelage, and he’s shown notable improvement in his change as he’s worked in some of those adjustments. The big fastball and a slider that flashes plus will give Jones a relief fallback if he can’t calm down his delivery in order to stick in the rotation. Season line: 49 IP, 3.12 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 21/76 BB/K.
Jack O’Loughlin, LHP – The Tigers signed O’Loughlin out of Australia in 2016 and waited until 2018 until the 6’5″ lefty came stateside to make his pro debut. After two seasons in short-season ball, O’Loughlin is showing very well in his full-season debut after spending his 2020 recovering from Tommy John surgery. O’Loughlin has a low-90s fastball with a mix of multiple average secondaries that he mixes well to allow them to play up. As he recovers, there could be some added velocity to be found in his frame, but his control at this point in his recovery is a very impressive sign for what he could do going forward, with a potential backend starter profile or better from the left side. Season line: 41 IP, 2.20 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 12/43 BB/K.
Noah Denoyer, RHP – The Orioles signed Denoyer as an undrafted free agent in 2019 out of San Joaquin Delta College. He was a good gamble for a JuCo guy, with a good frame at 6’5″ and 220ish pounds to go with a fastball that worked in the low-90s when the O’s signed him. That fastball sits comfortably up to 95 now and has been reported up to 97 this year with plenty of weight. However, Denoyer’s ability to work his vertical curveball and his cutter/slider hybrid has allowed him to have tremendous success this season and gives him the look of a potential future middle reliever. Season line: 59 2/3 IP, 2.87 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 25/71 BB/K.
Fabian Machado, OF – While not one of the premium signees in the 2019 Mets international class, Machado is certainly a guy who catches your eye when he steps off the team bus. Machado’s 6’2″, 180-190 pound frame has already shifted and trimmed since he signed, and he’s got a good frame to add muscle as he continues to mature. Machado has a right field profile, with an above-average arm and power tool. He’s shown good contact in his pro debut in the DSL this year, which is surprising with his long swing. If he can show the plate coverage and plate discipline he’s flashed in the DSL as he advances, the Mets may have found a special one. Season line: .362/.457/.534, 58 AB, 1 HR, 1 SB, 7/16 BB/K.
Junior Sanquintin, 1B/3B – Cleveland dished out $1.25 million to Sanquintin from the Dominican in 2018. Sanquintin has filled out into his 6′ frame, offering power from both sides of the plate. He can be overly aggressive at times, but the power he generates is legit. Cleveland moved Sanquintin to first base, and he’s definitely a corner infield guy going forward, but there’s still a chance that his above-average arm and instincts will allow him to stick at third. Season line: .276/.339/.505, 105 AB, 6 HR, 11/33 BB/K.
Victor Acosta, SS – Acosta was the headliner of the Padres 2020-2021 international class, signing for $1.8 million. Acosta has a plus arm and double-plus speed. He has a legit chance to stick at shortstop defensively. Acosta shows excellent strike zone recognition thus far from both sides of the plate. His power will need to develop as he advances, but he showed excellent raw power before signing if he can fill into his frame with a potential upside offensive profile of someone like Brian Roberts or Jimmy Rollins. Season line: .282/.424/.408, 71 AB, 1 HR, 15 SB, 13/18 BB/K.
Jose Cedeno, RHP – Signed in the 2018 Nationals international signing class from Panama, Cedeno had a solid debut in 2019. Cedeno has been averaging five innings per start and has been tremendous with control this season. He doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, but his breaking ball shows promise, and his 6’3″, 175-pound frame gives hope that he could add to his current velocity as he develops, likely coming stateside in 2022. Season line: 25 IP, 0.72 ERA, 0.56 WHIP, 2/34 BB/K.
Jean Cabrera, RHP – After being signed by the Phillies out of Venezuela in 2019, Cabrera was unable to make his pro debut last season due to COVID. He’s doing so this year in the Dominican. His breaker is very inconsistent, but it flashes plus, and he has a low-90s fastball that he commands well, allowing him to have positive results thus far. Season line: 23 IP, 1.17 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 5/29 BB/K.
Roger Rodriguez, RHP – The A’s signed Rodriguez out of Venezuela in July of 2018, and he’s on his second season in the DSL. Rodriguez pounds the zone with a sinking fastball and a changeup, but he really doesn’t have a good feel for his breaker at this point, from the report I got. His frame is super-lean at 6’1″ and 150 pounds or even lighter, and while he’s narrowly built, there is some room to grow and long arms and legs on the frame to potentially add to his mid-80s velocity at this point. Season line: 10 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1/15 BB/K.