A promotion in the minor leagues can help reveal things about prospects. Although these are limited sample sizes, some of these prospects have shown they were ready for the promotion.
Jose Berrios – P
Berrios is not still in the minors because he needs more experience, or at least he shouldn’t be.
Berrios has been great this season with only a 3.09 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. He has allowed 11 homers on the year and that should only decrease if he pitches half of his games in the pitcher friendly Target Field.
His promotion to AAA has been fantastic with a 3.12 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 9.5 K/9 and only walking 1.9 batters per nine innings.
Berrios has the ability to strike batters out regularly with a fastball that can consistently get into the mid-90s. His ability to control his pitches at age 21 is a very promising sign for the right-hander.
He doesn’t have one overly dominant pitch in his arsenal, but he has three plus pitches in his fastball, curveball and changeup.
At this point, it seems as though only people within the Twins’ organization think Berrios should stay in AAA.
After Trea Turner got the call over the weekend, it left Berrios as the best prospect (that should be) on the verge of getting the call.
Robert Stephenson – P
Stephenson has a great fastball and curveball combination that should always keep his strikeout rate up.
He started the season in AA throwing 78 1/3 innings with a 3.68 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. He also continued his great strikeout rate from previous seasons with a K/9 of 10.2. Stephenson has had a K/9 of at least 10 in each of his seasons in the minors.
His promotion to AAA was no different as he has exactly 42 strikeouts over his 42 innings and he has manage to lower his ERA while keeping his WHIP relatively steady – it has gone up .03 to 1.26.
While his strikeout rate has always been great, the biggest worry with Stephenson is his walk rate. At the AA level he walked 5.1 batters per nine and upon his promotion he did not improve much on that number as he is still walking 4.5 batters per nine innings.
Stephenson could get a promotion to the majors in September and one of the biggest things to watch for down the stretch will be his walk rate. Control issues tend to hurt pitchers more and more as they climb the ladder and face better hitters.
Blake Snell – P
Snell isn’t like anyone else on the list. Snell started the year in high A and has been promoted twice and is now in AAA Durham. Not only that but he came, relatively, out of nowhere.
Snell was great in his limited time at his first stop in Charlotte. That is where he started his scoreless inning streak; he didn’t allow a run in his 21 innings there while striking out 27.
His promotion to AA was great again. He did actually allow some runs at the level and he saw his ERA “skyrocket” to 1.57. The success at AA was great to see from Snell. At the time his walk rate in AA was lower than it was at any level, other than his year in rookie ball. What he did at the AA level helped justify his numbers at the lower levels in the minors.
His second promotion of the season to AAA is going well again. In the really small sample size at AAA, he has decreased his walk rate yet again and is keeping all of his other numbers in check.
I would like to see Snell get an appearance or two for the Rays in September, but I highly doubt that happens.
Snell is 22 so it would not be shocking to see him make the roster out of Spring Training next season, although I would expect a mid-season call to be more likely.
Snell has been really dominant this season, but he still has some areas that he could improve on, mainly adding weight as he stands at 6’4” and only 180 pounds.
The Rays tend to be patient with their pitching prospects so Snell’s rise all the way to AAA in one season is something worth noting considering the organization.
Brett Phillips – OF
I have written on the next two guys before. Phillips showed good power early in the season that opened my eyes to his future potential.
In high-A Lancaster he hit 15 home runs in 291 at bats. He was playing in the really hitter friendly California League and there was worry that the league was helping his power. His power numbers at the AA level may have added a little more to that fear.
Phillips has played at two different AA affiliates, he was part of the trade that got the Astros Carlos Gomez. For the sake of the stats I am going to combine his two stops in AA together to get a stat line.
As I said, his power numbers have been a little disappointing, only one homer through 210 at bats compared to 15 in high-A in 291 at bats.
He is still keeping a solid contact rate, although with the power falling off at AA it makes me a little less thrilled about the 22 percent K rate. He is walking at a nine percent rate so far in AA.
At AA Phillips is showing that he might be more of a doubles hitter that can provide some decent home run numbers in the majors. A common thought or occurrence is that players who hit a lot of doubles will eventually turn a good amount of them into home runs. An example of that would be Manny Machado this season; now I am not saying Phillips will be Machado, it is just an example of the doubles turn into home runs idea.
A.J. Reed – 1B
Reed is one of my favorite – if not my overall favorite – breakout prospects of the season.
Reed and Phillips were teammates in Lancaster so there were also worries of his numbers taking a fall when he got the promotion to AA. Well, Reed hasn’t stopped hitting.
He didn’t keep up his 40 home run pace that he had going, but he is still mashing in AA with a slash line of .331/.407/.547.
His walk and strikeout rates have moved slightly in the wrong direction, but in 172 plate appearances it isn’t something to worry about. He has seen about a three percent drop in his walk rate and a three percent rise in his strikeout rate.
Reed has the potential to be a future 30 plus home run hitter in the majors and that is definitely something worth investing in.
Next week I will profile some prospects that didn’t adjust to their promotion as I had hoped.
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