Minor League Notes for July 2nd, 2010
Minor League Notes, July 2nd, 2010
**As you've likely heard by now, the Rangers traded right-hander Michael Main to the Giants yesterday for Bengie Molina. I think it makes sense for both teams; the Rangers need a catcher, and the Giants had one to spare. Main was 5-3, 3.45 with a 72/21 K/BB in 91 innings for Class A Bakersfield before the trade, with 87 hits allowed (including 14 homers). The Giants have reportedly assigned him to Double-A Richmond. Main was one of Texas' top prospects heading into 2009, but he missed much of the season with a viral infection and didn't look right when he was on the mound, losing much of his velocity and posting a 6.83 ERA with 72 hits in 58 innings last year. He is healthy this year and the numbers have improved to show it, although his K/IP ratio is merely decent rather than strong. Main is a fine overall athlete and throws a plus fastball, but his secondary pitches, particularly his breaking ball, have regressed since high school. I think a change of organization scenery could do him a lot of good, and he's still only 21 years old.
**The Mets have drafted several small college players in recent years, and one of their finds is outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, an NAIA star at Azusa Pacific drafted in the third round in 2008. He's making the Double-A transition this year at Binghamton with mixed results, hitting .275/.317/.468. He's got power (17 doubles, 10 homers, .193 ISO) and speed (11 steals in 14 attempts; scouts back up the numbers with positive reviews of his athleticism and strength. He also has a good throwing arm. His main problem is strike zone judgment, as shown by his low OBP and 16/66 BB/K ratio in 265 at-bats. Reports from Eastern League sources indicate that he handles fastballs well, but still has problems recognizing breaking pitches. At age 22 he still has time to work on this, but if he's rushed too fast he will struggle; he'll likely need a good dose of Triple-A. I gave him a Grade C+ in the book and see no reason to change that at this point, but I'd like to see improvement in that BB/K.
**Age-Relative-To-League is a critical factor in prospect analysis, but it isn't everything. With that in mind, how do we judge a player like Carlos Triunfel? The Mariners prospect seems like he's been around forever, but is still only 20 years old. He's hitting .284/.322/.376 for Double-A West Tennessee....good batting average, but not much power and a low walk rate are major negatives. On the other hand, his strikeout rate is also low...just 35 whiffs in 282 at-bats. Also of note is a strong platoon split: .260/.306/.326 against right-handers, but a more robust .327/.352/.465 against lefties. I'm still not sure what kind of player Triunfel is going to become, but the birthday and the low strikeout rate are positives. If you take his Southern League/West Tennessee stats and convert them to California League equivalents (neutral park), you get a .333/.379/.450 mark; someone hitting like that at age 20 in the Cal League would be getting a lot more attention. If you convert him to Midwest League/neutral park equivalents, you get .343/.391/.466. . .and there are a lot of 20 year olds in the Midwest League. Don't give up on Triunfel just yet.
**Jordan Lyles in the Astros system is only 19, and he's pitching in the Texas League with outstanding results: 2.60 ERA, 85/22 K/BB in 93 innings, 87 hits. I know he doesn't have the 99 MPH fastball that attracts notice, but he throws hard enough in the low-90s, his secondary stuff is advanced for his age, he throws strikes, and his performance has been excellent. He's also a good athlete. I don't know why he doesn't get more attention, but he looks like a helluva prospect to me. At this rate he'll be a Top Ten Pitching Prospect by the end of the year. Depending on what happens with other pitchers and what his year-end numbers and scouting reports look like, he could be a Top Five guy.