As the Rev thumps the tub over last night's magnificent beatdowns by the Travs and the Owlz, the full pen of minor league herd action has been unleashed, and there are countless items of which to take note. Arizona League and Pioneer League action began Monday, and the Dominican Summer League has actually been steaming along for the last few weeks.
It may surprise some to hear that, of 33 Dominican teams, the DSL Angels lead the pack with a 16-5 record. That team probably deserves a complete post of its own –– there are some really intriguing pitchers and middle infielders worth looking at –– but it's hard to get thorough reports out of the Dominican leagues, so I'll just snap the highlights among other quick takes below.
At the risk of seeming Whickeresque, with a shit list of miscellany in place of analysis, I'm going pointillistic. I'll try to make it a weekly gig: random quick picks from the farm based on the previous week's crops. Emphasis on the "other" kids that may not always make the top tens. Nothing systematic, just little stuff that may go unnoticed as our dim stars in the Bigs numb it out.
If you can't get it right, then at least get it down, no? (Or as Elton sang it: I feel like a bullet in the gun of Robert Ford).
Here's a first rain of bullets to accompany Tuesday night's terror from our flyover-country-kiddies' gangbuster bats.
I'll start with where the action has been, in AA and the DSL (Salt Lake, Inland Empire, and Cedar Rapids are really slim pickings at the moment), and then wait a week for a larger sample size to document the Pioneer and Arizona League combat.
Arkansas Travelers (36-31, First Half division winner)
- Nine (count 'em) Travs were chosen for the 2011 Texas League All-Star game. Granted, there are only eight teams in the league, but that's a full 36% of the roster, including four starting pitchers (Arenas, Richards, Reckling, Shoemaker) and Ryan Brasier, their closer. This link is worth clicking on just to see the awesome Trout-first Travs photo collage of the picks, which looks like it could be a lost 70s-era Chicago album or something.
- David Carpenter, closer at Inland Empire, was promoted to the Travs yesterday and pitched a scoreless eighth, sitting Springfield down in order. He now sports a 0.90 ERA over 26 appearances, SO/9 at 10.8 over the same span. Yet another goodie from Bane's 2009 harvest.
- Matt Shoemaker won Texas League pitcher of the week honors last week after a two-hit complete game shutout of the Tulsa Drillers in the lead game of a doubleheader. Currently Arkansas' best pitcher, he's an unlikely success –– undrafted free agent quietly picked up in 2008. Hard to know if he's for real, but with a 2.59 ERA in AA and a SO/BB of 5.45 over nine starts, he looks good at this level.
- The organization is starting to experiment with Chris Scholl as a starter. A short-statured righty reliever who has been shaping up to be this year's Michael Kohn (with better control), he sports a 3.01 ERA across four levels, a SO/9 of 9.5 and a SO/BB ratio of 3.09 over the same span. Very good numbers, and given the graveyard of pitching at Salt Lake, probably a good hedge. He was stretched out to four innings in last night's game, and the results were mixed. He struck out four, walked none, and gave up no HRs, but surrendered three earned runs against Springfield in the third inning of the game.
- Luis Jimenez is definitely heating up. With 2 HRs in last night's game, he boasts a 1.050 OPS in June, and a season line of .298/.338/.508, with 9 HRs, 24 doubles, 52 RBIs. I'd pay attention to the doubles, because Dickey Stephens park only yields ~80% as many longballs as the average MiLB park. I still have problems with Lucho's plate discipline, but he doesn't have the obscene strikeout tendencies of other 'aggressive' bats in the organization, and he's the only 3B prospect of note between Kaleb Cowart and the big club. Let's keep watch.
- Sleeper alert: Darwin Perez. At age 21, this switch-hitting shortstop is the second-youngest position player on the Travelers after Trout. He shares the team lead in walks (35) with Troutboy, and has been hitting second in the lineup. He's shown excellent defense this season, making only his second error in 62 games last week, and sports a nifty slash-line of .312/.405/.404. The new Maicer? Could be. Jean Segura is suffering from hammy problems, so this kid is on the depth chart now. He's one I check on everyday over morning coffee.
- Bummer alert: Ryan Mount, a left-handed 2B with decent power, was finally having the breakout season many in the organization were expecting of him (.329/.401/.509). Unfortunately, he ruptured a tendon, had season-ending surgery on his foot, and already a bit long in the tooth at age 24 in AA, may be seeing his window closing. Rough digs.
Dominican Summer League (16-5, first in the division)
- On an impressive pitching staff that is in the top five (of 33 teams) in almost every category (strikeouts, ERA, WHIP), there are two names in particular to take note of: Jean Santiago and Eswarlin Jimenez. Both are lefties (age 20 and 19 respectively), and both are in their third season in the DSL. It's hard to know why neither player has made the leap to the States yet, as they've been markedly consistent. Click on the player names to hop over to BR and see just how good these guys have pitched on the island. Santiago's K-rates, WHIP and control are terrific, and Jimenez is a close second, but adds insane groundball tendencies to boot (GO/AO of 6.0 in his first five appearances). Anyone who has any more information of these two, please drop it in the thread.
- You can't walk your way off the island, but Erick Salcedo is trying. With 17 BBs (vs 6 Ks), the switch-hitting shortstop has a .479 OBP over his first 19 games, and turns 18 next week.
- In fact, the shortstops are where it's at on this club. Pedro Toribio (age 20; .308/.370/.492) has 15 steals and 4 triples and has not been caught yet. Jose Rondon (age 17; .311/.407/.444) is barely old enough to drive, but is already smoking the ball.
- Bummer alert?: Luis Jolly was the most notable sign in the system in the past year, coming from Cuba with reasonable fanfare (a press release!), but thusfar the "raw and toolsy" (sic) centerfielder has been bust-a-rific. Hitting .130 with 26 Ks in 46 ABs. Sample size and all that, but, wow.