Minor League Notes, May 10, 2011
**Arizona Diamondbacks outfield prospect A.J. Pollock missed all of 2010 with a fractured growth plate in his right elbow, but he's making up for lost time with a hot start for Double-A Mobile, hitting .311/.353/.426 in his first 29 games. He's stolen seven bases in 10 attempts, and is showing no ill effects from the missed development time. A first-rounder out of Notre Dame in 2009, Pollock has slightly above average tools across the board, though some scouts have seen him as a tweener. He runs well enough to play center field right now, though if he loses speed as he ages that won't be true, and his bat won't play quite as well at a corner. For now, Arizona should be happy with his progress from the injury.
**Another outfield prospect who missed all of 2010 is White Sox '09 first-rounder Jared Mitchell. Unlike Pollock, Mitchell is seriously struggling this year, hitting just .205/.250/.385 in 117 at-bats for High-A Winston-Salem, with a horrible 6/46 BB/K. He was always raw for a college guy and while he always struck out a lot, he also drew walks at LSU and in Low-A. That has completely left him this year. He's also stolen just three bases in six attempts, and while the word is he hasn't lost the speed he had before his horrible ankle injury last spring, it sure isn't showing up in the numbers. He's in a very deep slump currently, 6-for-40 (.150) in his last 10 games, with 20 strikeouts.
**Another slumping tools player is Minnesota Twins prospect Aaron Hicks, hitting .167 in his last 10 games, although he's at least drawn nine walks in that stretch. He's hitting .206/.322/.309 in 26 games for High-A Fort Myers. Hicks is playing great defensively and draws walks, but he simply hasn't shown the power that the Twins have felt was in his bat, and with two-plus seasons of A-ball under his belt, he needs to start showing more offense. If he'd attended college instead of signing in '08, he would NOT be a first-round candidate in the deep 2011 draft. It's too soon to conclude he won't improve and the tools are still here, but there is a lot of work to do.
**New York Mets outfield prospect Cesar Puello hit .292/.375/.359 last year with 45 stolen bases for Low-A Savannah at age 19, which was enough for him to rank third on the Baseball America Mets prospect list. I was a lot less enthusiastic, ranking him 12th on my Mets list, and giving him just a Grade C+. In my Mets prospect review last October, I wrote "others may rank him higher due to speed and tools. Very young, fast, lack of power is a concern, many similar players have failed and something is making me cautious here." So far, my concerns look warranted: he's hitting .250/.295/.317 for High-A St. Lucie, with a poor 4/26 BB/K in 120 at-bats and just four steals in eight attempts.
While my worries about Puello look justified right now, in fairness I should point out that I've liked Mitchell and Hicks a lot, and they are playing poorly, too.