Minor League Notes, May 31st, 2011
**All systems are go for Texas Rangers third base prospect Mike Olt, hitting .355/.500/.710 in his last 10 games for High-A Myrtle Beach, giving him an overall line of .296/.414/.531 with 33 walks and 43 strikeouts in 162 at-bats. The combination of patience and solid power production is exactly what the Rangers expected when they drafted him in the supplemental first round last year out of the University of Connecticut. He's playing well with the glove and is an above-average defender in all respects. A promotion to Double-A for the second half of the season would seem likely on Olt's own merits, but the third baseman at Double-A Frisco, Tommy Mendonca, is having a good year himself, hitting .294/.337/.539, though his much weaker strike zone judgment makes him less of a prospect than Olt.
**Don't look now, but White Sox outfield prospect Jared Mitchell might be figuring something out at High-A Winston-Salem. He's hitting .355/.432/.581 in his last 10 games, with two homers. More importantly, he has four walks and just five strikeouts in that span. His overall line is now .224/.277/.408, which isn't exactly good but represents considerable improvement over where he was two weeks ago. His overall BB/K still stinks at 11/61, but the reduction in strikeouts and increase in walks over the last stretch is impressive. We need to see if this continues and the sample is tiny, but it is worth watching. The tools have always been here. White Sox officials have spoken recently about Mitchell making adjustments to his swing as he works the rust off from missing all of 2010. Perhaps that is having an impact.
**Houston Astros prospect Jose Altuve is putting up insane numbers for Lancaster in the California League: .404/.448/.587 in 51 games, with 19 walks and 26 strikeouts, plus 18 steals, in 208 at-bats. Yes, it is the Cal League, and Lancaster is a bandbox where he's hitting .464, but even on the road he's hitting a robust .333/.396/.490. He's also made just five errors this year and has an above-average range factor, and he's only 21 years old. If you're familiar with Altuve, you know what comes next: he's just 5-5, 148 pounds, though scouts say he's a good athlete and actually has solid tools to go with his obvious skills. But still; he's 5-5, and it is hard for scouts to overlook that. Altuve is not being tested in the Cal League, and we won't get any further read on his abilities until he moves up to Double-A. I tend towards optimism.
**Aaron Altherr is one of many super-toolsy outfielders gathered by the Philadelphia Phillies in recent years, in his case drafted in the ninth round in 2009 out of high school in Avondale, Arizona. Scouts love his wiry-strong 6-5, 190 pound frame. He played well in the Gulf Coast and New York-Penn Leagues in 2010, but hasn't been able to bring that forward to Low-A, hitting just .189/.259/.250 with 11 walks and 45 strikeouts in 132 at-bats for Lakewood in the Sally League. Poor plate discipline and pitch recognition is the culprit so far. On the positive side, he's stolen 11 bases in 11 attempts, he gets good reviews for his range in center field, and he's just 20 years old. He's worth tracking long-term.