One week sample sizes mean everything! Just kidding. For some top prospects experiencing a new level for the first time, or a quick start for someone on the verge of promotion can be big for how fast they move through the system.
This feature will be appearing monthly as a brief check in to the minor league system. In the future it will feature how players played over the course of a full month (time between articles) rather than one week.
Here are some of spring training and past weeks notable performances in the minor leagues.
Josh Hader – AA Biloxi (Brewers)
- Spring: 7 innings, 1.29 ERA, 9 K, 3 BB
- AA: 4 innings, 0.00 ERA, 5 K, 3 BB
One of the big risers from the past Arizona Fall League. Hader, now 22, thoroughly dominated the fall league only allowing a run over 16 innings while striking out 19. He has struck out more than a batter per inning the past two seasons, and got off to a nice start hurling four shutout innings in his first appearance of 2016. Toss that onto of his strong spring where he threw seven innings with a 1.29 ERA and 9 strikeouts. Hader should be a big part of the Brewers rebuilding movement if he keeps it up. I usually don’t get so excited about one big performance in the fall league, but as time goes on I get more and more excited about Hader. He could be a big impact midseason call up this year that no one is talking about.
Ozhaino Albies – AA Mississippi (Braves)
- Spring: .371 avg, 1 HR, 2 SB, 3 BB, 7 K
- AA: .389 avg, 0 HR, 0 SB, 0 BB, 2 K
There is a lot of talk about the decline in stolen bases around baseball, but Albies could help fix that. He hasn’t stolen a base yet this season (only four games), but he is 7-for-18 with the bat so far. He could turn into a Dee Gordon type with maybe closer to 40 steals than 60, but hey who doesn’t want a 40 steals player that can hit .300. Even though Dansby Swanson is around and could beat him to the majors, there is definitely a spot on a major league roster for Albies whether that is at short, second, or in the outfield.
Yoan Moncada – A Salem (Red Sox)
- Spring: .200 avg, 0 HR, 0 SB, 1 BB, 2 K
- High-A: .308 avg, 0 HR, 4 SB, 4 BB, 1 K
Off to a hot start on the bases with four steals in five attempts, he is well on his way to a huge stolen base total. Coming into the season it looked like there wasn’t a chance for him to be on the Red Sox major league roster for some time. Things have changed as Boston has benched Pablo Sandoval for Travis Shaw showing they are willing to lookout at production more than money. With David Ortiz retiring third base could be an open spot for the Red Sox in 2017. It will be interesting to see if Moncada gets much action at third in the minors this season, similar to what they did with Xander Bogaerts, starting him off his natural position in the majors before switching to second base when Dustin Pedroia’s contract expires.
Travis Demeritte – A High Desert (Rangers)
- High-A: .600 avg, 4 HR, 1 SB, 2 BB, 4 K
His power didn’t show up at all last season after hitting 25 homers in 118 games in 2014, he only hit five in 53 games last season repeating the same level — he did serve a suspension for PEDs last season. So far in high A this season he has four home runs and is 9-for-15. He isn’t a big time prospect like some of the others on this list, but if he can put up another 25 home run type season and be a middle infield eligible player (he has primarily played second base, but has also played short and third) ,he could become interesting. The strikeout rate is beyond frightening though with 300 in 871 plate appearances coming into this season.
Spring Training standouts
These guys either haven’t played in actual minor league games this season or haven’t done anything special in the brief one week period.
Cody Bellinger – AA Tulsa (Dodgers)
- Spring: .393 avg, 2 HR, 9 BB, 2 K
He did really well – and was given a pretty nice look in spring training – for a guy no one expects to play in the majors this season. In all likelihood he will not be making a major league impact anytime soon for the Dodgers with Adrian Gonzalez signed through the 2018 season for more than $21 million per season. His best bet for playing time before the 2019 season is for a trade out of Los Angeles, or a steep decline in Gonzalez’s production a la Carl Crawford. There is some nice future power potential with Bellinger, but like most prospects it comes with a concerning strikeout rate.
Cody Reed – AAA Louisville (Reds)
- Spring: 16 innings, 2.87 ERA, 16 K, 6 BB
There is some really nice potential here with Reed. In 2015 he had to deal with being traded (one of the pieces from the Johnny Cueto deal), and he saw his ERA take a little jump after joining the Reds. Over his 145 2/3 innings he averaged a strikeout per inning with a 2.41 ERA. One of my favorite things about Reed is the adjustments he made last season to lower his walk rate from previous years. If he can keep his walk rate down and his strikeout rate around 1 per inning he could be a really useful fantasy pitcher. I don’t see the upside of a true stud, but he should have a fair amount of years in that large tier of pitchers after the elites.
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