Archive for Daily Prospect Notes

Eric Longenhagen Chat 7/17/19

12:08

Eric A Longenhagen: Hey, sorry you guys had to wait. Wrapped a call about the international stuff just now, let’ get to it…

12:09

Eric A Longenhagen: Only big thing to point to is that we put spin rate for most of the 2019 draft picks on The Board: https://www.fangraphs.com/prospects/the-board/2019-in-season-prospect-…

12:09

CJ: Michael Baumann has been really good in Double A, including a no hitter last night. What is his ceiling?

12:11

Eric A Longenhagen: He’s working really heavily with his fastball and a harder cutter (new pitch this year) while other pitches take a back seat. There may be a repertoire depth issue that makes it hard for him to be a traditional starter, but he looks like a good big league arm of some kind now. He’s broken out, certainly, I just wouldn’t expect him to be a star rotation piece.

12:11

CJ: Any DSL guys that you are excited about that may not be well known?

12:13

Eric A Longenhagen: There’s relatively no lag on when we know about someone and stick them on The Board, so almost everyone we have info on is on there. I have two more Blue Jays DSL names I need to ask around on (Montero and D’Ozoria). I guess Alvin Guzman is one we have stuffed really good

Read the rest of this entry »


Daily Prospect Notes: 5/2/19 & 5/6/19

These are notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

I turned last Thursday’s edition in too late for publication (I lost track of time at an Extended game) but certainly won’t deprive you of the notes I have from that day. Here they are:

Xavier Edwards, SS, San Diego Padres
Level: Low-A   Age: 19   Org Rank: tbd   FV: 45+
Line: 5-for-5, 2B

Notes
After 21 Low-A games, X is hitting .390/.450/.455 and has walked more than he has struck out. He has just one extra-base hit and has been caught stealing a bunch, but even for one of the more advanced high school bats from last year’s class, this is a strong start. Gabriel Arias was just put on the IL at Hi-A Lake Elsinore and Edwards has out-performed Justin Lopez and Tucupita Marcano, so he might be in line for a quick move up depending on the severity of Arias’ injury.

Yordan Alvarez, LF/1B, Houston Astros
Level: Triple-A   Age: 21   Org Rank: 7   FV: 50
Line: 6-for-8, 2 2B, HR, BB (double header)

Notes
The use of the major league baseball at Triple-A combined with the PCL hitting environment has had, um, some impact on offensive performance. It’s important to keep this in mind when considering what Alvarez has done so far, though his line through 23 games — .386/.474/.916(!) with 12 homers — is remarkable. Notably, several of those homers have come against breaking balls, which Alvarez is particularly adept at identifying and adjusting to mid-flight. He does not have a sellout, max-effort swing — this power comes easy and it plays to all fields, as seven of Alvarez’s homers this season have been opposite field shots. He was toward the back of our 50 FV group pre-season because of concerns about his body and defensive limitations, but he’s hitting like someone who belongs toward the front of that tier, up near Pete Alonso. Read the rest of this entry »


Daily Prospect Notes: 5/1/19

These are notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Yohan Ramirez, RHP, Houston Astros
Level: Hi-A   Age: 23   Org Rank: NR   FV: 35
Line: 4.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 R, 8 K

Notes
Ramirez has been up to 97 and is sitting 92-95 while making heavy use of an above-average curveball. Spinwise, he averages about 2300 rpm on his heater, and 2500 on the curve, which is relatively tame for Houston prospects. His changeup is a distant, tertiary offering. He’s K’d 30 in 20 innings so far, but looks like a two-pitch relief candidate at most.

Zach Plesac, RHP, Cleveland Indians
Level: Double-A   Age: 24   Org Rank: HM   FV: 35
Line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 1 R, 9 K

Notes
Plesac’s velocity is up. He sat 90-94 in college and was back in that range following Tommy John, but this season his fastball is averaging about 94 and bumping 97. His changeup is plus, and he is throwing a lot of strikes, something that he didn’t do as an amateur. There’s still not a great breaking ball here and that might limit Plesac’s role, but he’s starting to look like a near-ready bullpen option, at least. Cleveland continues to do quite well developing college changeup artists.

Rico Garcia, RHP, Colorado Rockies
Level: Double-A   Age: 25   Org Rank: tbd   FV: 35
Line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 11 K

Notes
Garcia will sit 93-96 and touch 97 early in outings but lose command and zip later in starts. There are a variety of opinions about Garcia’s delivery, as one source thinks his deliberately paced mechanics are easy for hitters to time, while another thinks Garcia hides the ball really well. He’ll flash an above-average changeup and slider, and shows an ability to manipulate the fastball to sink and cut at various times. He’s more of a middle relief candidate than potential rotation piece, but it appears Colorado has found a big league piece in the 30th round.


Daily Prospect Notes: 4/30/19

These are notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

I’m going to eschew minor league lines from last night to talk about the players I saw in the Northeast over the last week. My trip prioritized draft coverage but included some pro stuff due to rain.

Let’s start with Navy righty Noah Song who, like former Air Force righty Griffin Jax before him, has a military commitment that complicates his draft stock. In May of 2017, the Department of Defense changed a policy which had only been in effect for about a year, that allowed athletes at the academies to defer their service commitment in order to pursue professional sports.

Jax has been able to continue pitching after he was accepted into the World Class Athlete Program, which enables military athletes who fit certain criteria to train for the Olympics full-time. This only recently became an option for baseball players, as baseball will once again be an Olympic sport in 2020. The exemption grants a two-year window for training prior to the Games. Considering that it took Jax several months to apply and be accepted into the program, this avenue is probably too narrow for Song. Read the rest of this entry »


Daily Prospect Notes: 4/25/19

These are notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
Level: Triple-A   Age: 20   Org Rank: 1   FV: 70
Line: 2-for-5, HR

Notes
The Blue Jays have an off day Thursday, so Guerrero will make his debut Friday at home against Oakland rather than play a road series at Lehigh Valley where I was hoping to see him this weekend, though this serves the greater, baseball-watching good. I don’t have too much to add to what we wrote for the Jays list aside from some ephemeral nuggets.

Guerrero came to camp heavy, and was visibly bigger than he was last fall. He had a strained patellar tendon last year, and an oblique strain this spring. Let’s hope these issues aren’t chronic and don’t cause him to prematurely slide down the defensive spectrum, though he’ll hit enough to render it moot even if it occurs.

After rehabbing in Dunedin to start the year, Guerrero joined Triple-A Buffalo on April 11 and took just one home plate appearance for the Bison before his promotion as they have mostly been on the road while he was with them, and had a home series against Scranton decimated by rain. The 38 games Vlad played for Buffalo were the fewest he spent at any affiliate. Pour one out for Bob Rich, Jr., I suppose — just wait until it thaws.

Pavin Smith, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks
Level: Double-A   Age: 23   Org Rank: tbd   FV: 40
Line: 3-for-5, HR, SB

Notes
Like his college teammate Matt Thaiss, Smith had strong peripheral stats as an amateur but desperately needed a swing change in pro ball to hit for enough power to profile at first base. After slugging under .400 as a college hitter in the Cal League last year and looking overmatched in the Fall League, there’s been some movement in his batted ball profile early this season. After posting ground ball rates of 48.8% each of the last two seasons, Smith is lifting the ball more and his grounder rate is just 33% early on. It’s a tad too early to trust batted ball samples, but that’s a fairly striking difference. It’s still going to be a tough profile and we’re not huge Smith fans here at FanGraphs, but this might be a sign things are getting better.

Oscar De La Cruz, RHP, Chicago Cubs
Level: Hi-A   Age: 24   Org Rank: 15   FV: 40
Line: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 2 R, 8 K

Notes
This was De La Cruz’s second rehab start after returning from a PED suspension that dates back to last July. I saw one of his final spring training tune-ups, during which he was 92-94 with unusually precise command of a plus-flashing slider, and he’s only walked one batter over the two starts. His velocity has been all over the place throughout his injury-riddled career — 93-97 at his best, 88-91 at his worst — but 92-94 with command is fine. He seems like a reasonable candidate to contribute to the Cubs at some point this year, perhaps out of the bullpen if De La Cruz, who has never thrown more than 77 innings in a single season, is on some kind of innings limit.

Cody Bolton, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Level: Hi-A   Age: 24   Org Rank: 31   FV: 35+
Line: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 1 R, 6 K

Notes
Bolton came into some new velo last year, had a strong first half, and then was shut down with a shoulder injury and missed the rest of the year. His early-season results indicate his stuff is back, and he’s only 20 and already at Hi-A. Sinker/slider types like this sometimes don’t hold their strikeout rates as they climb, but even if Bolton becomes a No. 4/5 starter (which is how his stuff grades out on paper) that’s a steal for a sixth rounder.

Adam Hall, SS, Baltimore Orioles
Level: Low-A   Age: 19   Org Rank: 11   FV: 40+
Line: 5-for-6, 2B, SB

Notes
Hall has been scorching since late last year. He slashed .378/.441/.500 in August and is at .365/.467/.429 so far this season. He’s continued to steal bases like he did late last summer, too. Of his 22 steals last year, 15 came in August. Hall has seven bags in 16 games so far in 2019. He’s a slash and dash type of hitter and that style of play works best against bad, lower-level defenses, which is part of why he’s got a .523 BABIP right now. That’s got to come down, but this is a strong start.


Daily Prospect Notes: 4/22/19

These are notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Yordan Alvarez, 1B, Houston Astros
Level: Triple-A   Age: 21   Org Rank: 7   FV: 50
Line: 2-for-4, HR, 2B

Notes
It’s important that we look at Triple-A statistical performances (especially in the PCL) in a different light given what is transpiring with the baseball itself, but we can still appreciate Alvarez’s blistering start with that in mind. After a little over two weeks, he’s slugging .870; nine of his 17 hits have been home runs, and he has one more walk than strikeout thus far. He’s played eight games in left field, five at DH, two at first base, and one in right field. Most all of Houston’s big league hitters are mashing right now (Tyler White is hitting lefties, at least), so there’s not an obvious short-term path to big league playing time here. If anyone goes down though, perhaps Alvarez will get the call instead of a struggling Kyle Tucker. Read the rest of this entry »


Daily Prospect Notes: 4/18/2019

These are notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Lewis Thorpe, LHP, Minnesota Twins
Level: Triple-A   Age: 23   Org Rank: 12   FV: 40
Line: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 2 R, 12 K

Notes
After two middling starts to kick off his season, Thorpe was dominant yesterday and K’d 12 of the 22 hitters he faced, all on either a fastball at the letters or with a curveball beneath the strike zone. He has quite the injury history (including a two-year stretch where he didn’t pitch at all) and it has impact on how the industry perceives him, which is why he’ll be ranked a bit beneath where he would otherwise be based on his stuff and proximity to the majors. But Thorpe has been consistently healthy since May of 2017, which may begin to allay concerns.

Cody Thomas, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Level: Double-A   Age: 24   Org Rank: tbd   FV: 40
Line: 4-for-4, 3 HR

Notes
The Dodgers have done well drafting and developing college power/speed hitters who are athletically stiff, have some swing and miss issues, or both. Thomas, who will be an interesting Rule 5 case this offseason, is one of these. He’s striking out a lot as a 24-year-old at Double-A, but some teams may view the context of his performance differently because Thomas was a two-sport college athlete who hasn’t focused on baseball for as long as other prospects his age. The Dodgers will need to add several other players from Thomas’ draft class to the 40-man (Will Smith, Mitch White, Jordan Sheffield, Tony Gonsolin), so Thomas would seem to be a candidate for trade if a team loves the tools, ability to lift the baseball, and has some 40-man space/time to spare to let him develop further.

Oscar Mercado, CF, Cleveland Indians
Level: Triple-A   Age: 24   Org Rank: 12   FV: 45
Line: 3-for-4, 2B, BB, 4 SB

Notes
Cleveland outfielders, aside from Leonys Martin, are struggling right now. Mercado has begun to heat up at Triple-A with hits in five consecutive games. If he starts seeing more time in a corner, it may be an indication a call-up is imminent, because he’s not supplanting Martin in Cleveland’s center field. He’s only started 23 games in either left or right field during his career, and it might behoove Cleveland to get him more acclimated.

Ty France, 1B/3B, San Diego Padres
Level: Triple-A   Age: 24   Org Rank: tbd   FV: 40
Line: 2-for-5, 2 HR

Notes
The Hosmer and Machado deals almost certainly make France a burgeoning trade chip. He’s exactly the kind of hitter to whom the PCL is extra nice, but he’s hit at every level since college and, save for one season, has also hit for power, and his current SLG% is more caricature than mirage. France also had a great spring with the big league club and is on the 40-man, so he’s likely to debut this year if one of the big league corner bats gets hurt, though San Diego might view that as a way to clear their outfield logjam by playing Wil Myers in the infield again.

Tyler Ivey, RHP, Houston Astros
Level: Double-A   Age: 22   Org Rank: 14   FV: 40+
Line: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 8 K

Notes
A quintessential Houston four-seam/curveball pitching prospect, Ivey at least projects as a good multi-inning reliever and his four-pitch mix gives him a great chance to start. He was ejected two innings into his last start for having a foreign substance on his glove. He’s a sleeper 2020 Top 100 candidate.

More on Keoni Cavaco
There’s background on Cavaco in yesterday’s Notes. I saw him again yesterday against Torrey Pines High School and he had a tough day at the plate, swinging over multiple changeups from TPH’s funky lefty starter. There are going to be questions about his hit tool because of both the swing (inconsistent, arguably ineffectual stride length, odd hand path) and his lack of track record against elite high school pitching, and maybe about what his ultimate defensive position will be, but he’ll be somebody’s toolsy sandwich round pick.

Also of note from the game was Torrey Pines CF Mac Bingham, a 2019 committed to USC. He’s a strong, compact 5-foot-10, 185, and was the football team’s running back in the fall. He made strong contact with two hittable pitches, and ran a 55 time from home to first while legging out a double. The frame makes the power projection less exciting and one area scout told me the general consensus is that Bingham will go to school, but he’s at least an interesting, tools-based follow for 2022 if he does.


Daily Prospect Notes: 4/17/19

These are notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Nicky Lopez, SS, Kansas City Royals
Level: Triple-A   Age: 24   Org Rank: 7   FV: 45
Line: 3-for-5, 2 HR, 2B, BB

Notes
In our recently-published Royals list, we openly wondered if we should be heavier on Lopez largely because A) he plays shortstop and B) his peripherals are excellent. Shortly after publication, an executive reached out to us and they agreed we should be more enthused about Lopez, who we currently have evaluated as a second-division regular. He’s struck out just once so far this year. We don’t expect Lopez to hit for much power (he’s little and hits the ball on the ground a lot), but he may do enough to be part of Kansas City’s rebuilding efforts.

Brusdar Graterol, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Level: Double-A   Age: 20   Org Rank: 3   FV: 50
Line: 7 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 R, 8 K

Notes
After two semi-wild starts during which his stuff was still too good for opposing hitters to do anything with, Graterol was slightly more efficient and utterly dominant last night. He’s holding upper-90s heat late into games, and while his slider is more horizontally oriented than is ideal (vertical breaking balls are typically better at missing bats), Graterol’s has enough length to be a real problem for hitters anyway. He’s only 20 and carving up Double-A. If there’s a scenario in which Graterol sees the big leagues this year, it almost certainly involves a tight AL Central race and a start like the one he’s off to.

Jarred Kelenic, CF, Seattle Mariners
Level: Low-A   Age: 19   Org Rank: 3   FV: 50
Line: 4-for-4, 2 2B, SB, BB

Notes
After a rough first week, Kelenic has heated up and is hitting like one would hope the most advanced high school bat would hit during their first full pro season. Both he and Nolan Gorman are performing and seem on the fast track. Kelenic has also looked comfortable in center field. Big and muscular aleady at 19, there’s some thought Kelenic may eventually move to a corner, but if he races through the minors, he’ll get to the bigs before he slows down.

Oscar Gonzalez, OF, Cleveland Indians
Level: Hi-A   Age: 21   Org Rank: HM   FV: 35
Line: 2-for-5, HR, 2B

Notes
Perhaps the epitome of the high-risk hitting prospect, Gonzalez continues to hit for power despite employing one of the most swing-happy approaches in pro ball. He still hasn’t walked this year and has just three free passes dating back to last June. The realistic ceiling for a player like this is a Hunter Renfroe-y sort of player.

Dispatch from Chula Vista

I’m in Southern California to see Eastlake High School infielder Keoni Cavaco, perhaps the most signifiant pop-up prospect in this year’s draft. Though his swing is a little unorthodox and handsy, Cavaco has big raw power and speed (he homered to dead center yesterday, turned what would typically be a gap single into a double, stole a base) and maybe the best body in the draft. He mishandled a ball at third base (where he moved, from second, late in the game) and saw little defensive action beside that.

We have Cavaco at the back of the 45-FV tier in this year’s class. There can only be so much confidence in his bat because he wasn’t part of last summer’s big showcases, where he would have faced better pitching than he’s seeing now. On tools, and based on what teams had extra heat in to see him (Seattle, Cleveland, Arizona), we’ll likely slide him up a few spots on The Board. I may head back to see more of him today.


Daily Prospect Notes: 4/15/19

These are notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Patrick Sandoval, LHP, Los Angeles Angels
Level: Double-A   Age: 22   Org Rank: 16   FV: 40
Line: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 0 R, 9 K

Notes
Acquired from Houston in exchange for Martin Maldonado last summer, Sandoval now has 45 strikeouts in 28.2 career innings at Double-A. He continues to work with middling fastball velocity but some mechanical elements help it to play better than 90-94. Houston got Sandoval to open his front side a little more, tilt his spine, and release the ball with a more vertical arm slot than he was using in high school. It’s a weirder look for hitters and creates more backspin and, therefore, more “rise” on his fastball. Sandoval also works heavily off his two secondary pitches, and his changeup may be better than we currently have it projected to be on The Board. The strike-throwing is still inconsistent start to start, but Sandoval is officially having upper-level success for a franchise that keeps having injury issues on the big league roster, so perhaps he should be included in the Canning/Suarez/Barria group of young hurlers who may help the Angels sooner than later.

Nate Pearson, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
Level: Hi-A   Age: 22   Org Rank: 4   FV: 50
Line: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 9 K

Notes
Pearson was removed from his previous start after just 27 pitches, so it was a relief to see him back and dominant five days later. Pearson’s future as a strike-thrower is hard to anticipate. He was wild last fall but he hadn’t pitched all year due to a fractured ulna, so that wildness could have just been due to rust. He threw 43 of 59 pitches for strikes yesterday, a sign he may actually be able to harness his alien stuff and find a way to start long-term. He may be on an innings limit this year, so unless the Jays expertly manicure his workload with a big league goal in mind (perhaps that two-inning outing last start is an indication of how they’ll handle Pearson throughout the year) it’s unlikely we see him in the big leagues until next year at least. It’s still too early to reposition Pearson in our rankings due to increased confidence that he’ll start, but yesterday’s outing, during which he sat 94-98 and touched 102, could soon be part of a body of evidence indicating we should.

Anderson Tejeda, SS, Texas Rangers
Level: Hi-A   Age: 20   Org Rank: 4   FV: 45+
Line: 2-for-5, 2 HR

Notes
These were Tejeda’s first two homers of the year. He’s back at Hi-A despite having success there last year, presumably so the Rangers can let Michael De Leon (who peaked as a teenager) get regular at-bats at Frisco for the third consecutive year. Tejeda is off to a strong start, and may force a promotion to Double-A (and into our Top 100) if he keeps it up for another few weeks.

Ljay Newsome, RHP, Seattle Mariners
Level: Hi-A   Age: 22   Org Rank: NR   FV: 35
Line: 6.2, 4 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 10 K

Notes
We touch base on players like Newsome when we write the org lists. He threw a lot of innings last year and he barely walked anyone, so we checked on the stuff to see if it cleared the bar to stick someone on the list at all. With Newsome, that had not been true. Despite all the strikes, his fastball has been in the mid-to-upper 80s basically since high school, and those guys typically max out as spot starters. Now, Newsome is different. He took part in an offseason velo program and now resides in the 91-94 mph range. He’s clearing his front side a little more, his two-seamer has more tail, he’s working up in the zone with his four-seamer more often, and is setting up his changeup better. Take the performance of a 22-year-old repeating Hi-A with a grain of salt, but know Newsome has grown and changed, and is off to a strong start.

A Weird Box Score
Tulsa pitchers combined to no-hit Arkansas into extra-innings last night, but still lost due to a slew of walks in the 10th inning. The Arkansas staff allowed five hits, but fewer total baserunners than Tulsa did, so in my opinion, justice was done.

Weekend Notes
I saw mostly amateur stuff over the weekend, as both Adley Rutchsmann and Andrew Vaughn (the top two prospects on our Draft Board) were in the state of Arizona. Neither did anything to merit a move in our rankings. The only surprising moment of my weekend was seeing a person in a Detroit Tigers polo operating an Edgertronic camera. To this point, I had only seen Houston employees training cameras like that on hitters.

We’ve begun experimenting with high speed video and while some of its applications (beyond just looking cool) are obvious, especially as it relates to pitching (who is spin efficient, who is not, ah, there’s also a two-seamer, etc), we’re curious if there are applications on the hitting side beyond just breaking down mechanics.


Daily Prospect Notes: 4/11/19

These are notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Cole Tucker, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates
Level: Triple-A   Age: 22   Org Rank: 5   FV: 50
Line: 3-for-5, HR, 2 SB

Notes
Readers are often looking for a prospect outside the top 50 who might break out and move near the top of our overall list. My answer to that question is typically some big, projectable teenager who I expect to experience sizable physical growth. Tucker is rare in that he’s also a viable answer to this question even though he turns 23 this summer. Having answered once-relevant, shoulder-related questions about his arm strength, Tucker is now seen as a plus-gloved shortstop who has good feel for contact. But because he still has this big, seemingly unfinished frame on him, we think it’s possible that he comes into power a little late, and he might take a sizable leap. A source indicated to me that Tucker looks noticeably bigger and stronger this year. He hit for power during the first week of the season, and his batted ball data should be monitored for a possible indicator that he’s made a mechanical adjustment, too.

Tarik Skubal, LHP, Detroit Tigers
Level: Hi-A   Age: 22   Org Rank: HM   FV: 35
Line: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 R, 6 K

Notes
Kiley saw Skubal last night and had him up to 97, with an average breaking ball. A possible second or third rounder as a college underclassman, Skubal’s amateur career was derailed by an elbow injury that required Tommy John. He missed his junior year, instead throwing side sessions in front of scouts close to the draft. Nobody was confident enough to pull the trigger on drafting him, and he went back to school and couldn’t throw strikes. The Tigers signed him after his redshirt junior year for $350k and he threw almost all fastballs during his first pro summer. Things seemed to have clicked a bit.

Michael Baumann, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
Level: Hi-A   Age: 23   Org Rank: 28   FV: 35+
Line: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 10 K

Notes
Orioles pitching prospects should be considered potential movers this year as the new front office applies the player dev philosophy that seems to be working in Houston. Baumann already has some components Houston might have otherwise tried to install; he has a vertical release point that looks like it creates backspin, he throws hard, and he works up in the zone. Maybe that just means he has less to fix and is likely to improve more quickly than others in the system. He was up to 96 last night.

Brendan McKay, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Level: Double-A   Age: 23   Org Rank: 2   FV: 60
Line: 4.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 3 R, 11 K

Notes
McKay’s stuff is not especially nasty — he was 91-95 last night — but his fastball plays up because of good extension. All of his pitches look the same coming out of his hand, and he has shockingly good feel for pitching even though his attention has been split between the mound and the plate for much of his career. If he keeps dominating Double-A hitters like this, it’s fair to start considering him as a potential big league option sometime this year.

Shed Long, 2B/3B/LF, Seattle Mariners
Level: Triple-A   Age: 23   Org Rank: 6   FV: 50
Line: 4-for-5, BB, walk-off HR

Notes
Shed’s defensive assignments mimic what we saw during spring training. He remains a 40 glove at second base who survives through a combination of athleticism and will, but he’s going to mash enough that you want him in your lineup every day. I tend to think of multi-positional players as individuals who excel defensively at various spots, but maybe it’s time to consider if players who can really hit can be barely playable at several positions and just spend each game at a different spot in the field, wherever they’re the least likely to touch the ball that day. Willians Astudillo would seem to be another candidate for a role like this, and perhaps it could be taken to a batter-by-batter extreme. Hiding your worst defensive player is old hat in other sports; maybe there’s a better way to do it in ours.

A Quick Rehabber Update
I saw Angels lefty Jose Suarez rehab in Tempe yesterday. He looked good, sitting 91-93, with command and an above-average curveball (it’s slow but has good bite, and he commands it), and some plus changeups. He didn’t break camp due to a sore shoulder, which is kind of scary, but the stuff looks fine. The Angels rotation has struggled with injuries, so Suarez might see the big leagues this year. He’s in our top 100.

On Pedro Avila
Padres righty Pedro Avila makes his big league debut tonight against Arizona. Expect him to sit 90-94 and touch 96, have scattered fastball command, and try to work heavily off secondary stuff — a change and curveball — that is consistently plus. His long term role may ultimately be in the bullpen, especially since three-pitch relievers may become more necessary due to forthcoming rule changes.