Minor League Notes, July 7, 2011
**Chicago Cubs prospect Austin Kirk threw a nine-inning no-hitter on July 4th for Low-A Peoria in the Midwest League, walking two and fanning 10. On the season, he's 5-5, 2.60 in 93 innings, with an 82/22 K/BB and 63 hits allowed. A third-round pick out of Owasso, Oklahoma, in 2009, Kirk was on my pre-season Sleeper Alert! list and it looks like he's waking up. His best pitch is his curveball. I have conflicting reports on his fastball velocity. One source says 86-89, like last year, another source reports a vague velocity increase but with few details. I am working to get that conflict resolved one way or another. In any event, he's having a great year.
**Los Angeles Dodgers outfield prospect James Baldwin, drafted in the fourth round last year from high school in Southern Pines, North Carolina, is off to a fast start in the Pioneer League, hitting .333/.383/.574 in his first 13 games for Ogden. He's stolen nine bases in 10 attempts. The son of the former major league pitcher with the same name, James Junior is an outstanding athlete with plus speed and a good glove. He has power potential as well, although his numbers at Ogden have some warnings signs attached, namely a 3/15 BB/K ratio in 54 at-bats. He fanned 60 times and drew just nine walks in 179 at-bats last year in the Arizona Rookie League, and contact/plate discipline remains his big concern going forward.
**A bloodline player to watch from the 2011 draft is New York Yankees outfield prospect Justin James, drafted in the 13th round from Sacramento Community College. Justin is the son of former major league outfielder Dion James. He was mainly a basketball player as an amateur, but turned back to baseball a couple of years ago. He's a huge guy at 6-5, 230 pounds, but is a good athlete with above average speed and strong power potential, somewhat raw but promising. He made his pro debut in the Gulf Coast League on July 5th and went 1-for-2 with two walks and a stolen base. He is a long way off, but is definitely worth tracking.
**Keeping with the bloodline theme, Tampa Bay Rays prospect Cameron Seitzer is off to a fine start in the Appalachian League, hitting .360/.467/.540 in 15 games for Princeton, with nine walks and 15 strikeouts. He's stolen three bases in three attempts. Drafted in the 11th round this year from the University of Oklahoma, Cameron is a very polished hitter with a good feel for the strike zone, as you might expect from Kevin Seitzer's son. He's a big guy at 6-5, 225, but he has a short, compact line drive swing. Indeed, scouts weren't sure if he would hit for enough power to play first base in pro ball, which is why he lasted until the 11th round. College guys tearing up the Appy League are not unusual, so it is wait-and-see here, but at least the early returns are positive.