Daily notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.
Thomas Szapucki, LHP, New York NL (Profile)
Level: Low-A Age: 21 Org Rank: 7 Top 100: NR
Line: 6 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 0 R, 10 K
Szapucki missed all of April and May with a shoulder injury. Sunday was his fourth start of the year and he worked more efficiently and missed more bats than he had in his previous three appearances. Szapucki already boasts a plus fastball/curveball combination and he’s a potential No. 3 starter if he can develop a changeup and/or plus command of his breaking ball. Should he fail to, then there’s some concern that Szapucki’s low-3/4 arm slot might be an issue against upper-level right-handed hitters and limit his effectiveness and role. He’s had a back and shoulder issue during his pro career and made many starts on extended rest. Sunday’s came with a full week between starts.
Walker Buehler, RHP, Los Angeles NL (Profile)
Level: Double-A Age: 22 Org Rank: 5 Top 100: 74
Line: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 R, 10 K
Buehler threw 75 pitches, a season high. If you follow this series, you know Buehler sits 95-97, frequently touches 99, and already has a plus curveball and hard cutter/slider. A scout with whom I spoke said Buehler has begun to learn how to run his fastball off the hip of left-handed hitters and into the strike zone. Buehler has the stuff to help the Dodgers this year but, after throwing just five innings in affiliated ball last year, an innings cap might limit when and how much he’s able to.
Brett Kennedy, RHP, San Antonio (Profile)
Level: Double-A Age: 22 Org Rank: NR Top 100: NR
Line: 7 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 0 R, 7 K
Though short in stature, Kennedy throws pretty hard, sitting 91-93 with his fastball and occasionally touching 95. His secondaries are fringey, but when Kennedy is locating his mid-80s cutter/slider he’s effective. He might max out as a fifth starter.
Resly Linares, LHP, Tampa Bay (Profile)
Level: Short Season Age: 19 Org Rank: 20 Top 100: NR
Line: 4.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 1 R, 6 K
An intriguing, projectable, teenage lefty with feel for spinning a curveball, Linares lacks premium arm strength but his ability to throw strikes and a consistent, effective breaking ball should allow him to succeed this summer at Hudson Valley. Linares’ lack of velocity might catch up to him in the upper levels of the minors, but many scouts think he’ll grow into more heat as he makes his way there.
Notes from the Field
The AZL is here. Athletics 2017 first-round pick Austin Beck and 2016 July 2 signee Lazaro Armenteros are going to be in the same outfield at times this summer. Armenteros began to put the bat on the ball more often toward the end of extended spring training and often to the opposite field. He went 3-for-3 last night. Beck’s physical gifts are obvious (his bat speed and arm strength were the best on the field), but the pro game looked too fast for him on opening night and he made mental mistakes on both sides of the ball. That’s not unexpected or worrisome. Cubs SS prospect Delvin Zinn ran 4.18 down the line (that’s plus), hosed a runner from deep in the hole, and hit several balls hard to all fields, racing for extra bases multiple times. He’s 20 but relegated to the Flaming Hell Hole that is the AZL because polished teenage shortsotp prospect Aramis Ademan went to Short-Season Eugene.
Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.