Minor League Notes, April 26, 2011
**Chicago Cubs outfield prospect Brett Jackson is off to a fast start for Double-A Tennessee: .350/.467/.633 in 17 games, with six steals, three homers, and a 13/14 BB/K ratio in 60 at-bats. The center fielders ahead of him at Triple-A Iowa are Fernando Perez and Tony Campana, neither player likely to be a hindrance to Jackson should the Cubs decide he's ready for better competition. I'm impressed with Jackson's combination of across-the-board tools and increasingly polished skills. He doesn't have much left to prove in Double-A, and if I were the Cubs I'd consider promoting him to Iowa by the first of June. I had him as a Grade B+ and ranked as the Number 14 hitting prospect pre-season in the 2011 Baseball Prospect Book.
**The Chicago White Sox promoted right-handed pitching prospect Addison Reed from Low-A Kannapolis to High-A Winston-Salem, where he threw two shutout innings of relief on April 23rd. He now has 10 innings pitched combined at the two levels, giving up four hits, one run, one walk, with 14 strikeouts. Drafted in the third round out of San Diego State last year, Reed closed in 2009 but started last year in college. The Sox seem to think he'll advanced more quickly as a reliever, due to outstanding command of his low-90s fastball, slider, and curve. His arsenal is diverse enough to start, but he throws harder when used in the bullpen. Personally, I'd use him as a starter until he proves he can't handle it, but he could reach the majors within a year as a reliever.
**Detroit Tigers southpaw pitching prospect Charlie Furbush had a brilliant start for Triple-A Toledo on April 22nd, allowing one hit in seven innings against Indianapolis, walking nobody and fanning nine. On the season, he has a 1.62 ERA in 16.2 innings with a 21/4 K/BB. This is particularly notable since Furbush was terrible in Triple-A last year (6.29 ERA, 37/16 K/BB, 59 hits in 49 innings) and there was concern that his stuff wouldn't hold up against better hitters. So far this year that hasn't been a problem. He doesn't have the hottest fastball in the world, but he keeps hitters off-balance effectively and could be a solid fourth starter if all goes well.
**Houston Astros second base prospect Jose Altuve is one of the more unique players in baseball. He's just 5-5, 150 pounds. He's a good athlete and strong for his size, but scouts are understandably cautious about him, despite a strong track record of hitting (including .308/.364/.445 last year in Low-A). He's at High-A Lancaster this year, hitting a stunning .451/.506/.662 in 18 games, with a 9/8 BB/K in 81 PA and 11 steals in 13 attempts. Now, Lancaster is a great place to hit, and indeed he's at .528/.571/.750 in 10 contests there this year, but he's also hitting .371/.436/.571 on the road. He's a good second baseman, is just 21 years old, and should reach Double-A later this year. We'll track him closely.