Minor League Notes, April 11, 2012
**Toronto Blue Jays catching prospect Travis D'Arnaud is off to a slow start for Triple-A Las Vegas, at least in terms of slash lines: he's 3-for-19 so far with a double, resulting in a .158/.273/.211 line. The good news is that he has a solid BB/K ratio, with three walks against just two strikeouts. Given that plate discipline has been an issue for him in the past, that's (hopefully) progress. He's also had a few issues with the glove in the early going, giving up a stolen base, a passed ball and an error in his first five games, without catching any runners. Given the microscopic sample sizes at this point of the season, none of this means anything in particular yet, but plate discipline and defense are the two things I'm watching most closely for him this year.
**Texas Rangers catching prospect Jorge Alfaro is one of the most fascinating players to track this year. Signed out of Colombia in 2010 for $1,300,000, he hit .300/.345/.481 in the Northwest League last season at age 17, hitting for power and average despite horrific strike zone judgment (four walks, 54 strikeouts in 160 at-bats). He was also butcheriffic on defense, with 12 passed balls and 10 errors in 36 games behind the plate, catching just 22% of runners. However, he was very young for the competition, and his tools excite scouts.
He is 6-for-20 (.300) in his first five games for Low-A Hickory, with a double, a walk, and seven strikeouts. He's also given up a passed ball and an error in his first two games behind the plate, although he did catch the only runner who tried to steal on him. Again, the sample is too small to mean much, but it is in line with what he did last year.
He's getting by on raw talent at this point, and it is an open question on whether he'll develop the skills necessary for those tools to work at higher levels. I personally don't understand the point of pushing him so quickly. I prefer Tampa Bay's more cautious methods of handling prospects to what the Rangers are doing, but that's me. I prefer John Jellicoe to David Beatty, George Thomas to John Bell Hood, Ray Spruance to Bill Halsey.
**San Diego Padres catching prospect Austin Hedges is off to a fast start for Low-A Fort Wayne in the Midwest League: 6-for-14 (.429) with two doubles, a homer, three walks, and three strikeouts. Drafted in the second round last spring out of high school in San Juan Capistrano, California, Hedges entered pro ball with an excellent defensive reputation but a questionable bat.
He's played just 13 professional games thus far, but the results are actually the opposite of expectation: he's a career .300/.451/.525 hitter, but has committed three errors, two passed balls, and has allowed 15 steals with just six caught. Small sample caveat obviously applies here. I expect the defensive stats will catch up with his reputation as he gains experience, but will he keep hitting? Purely instinctual, but I don't think this is all small sample illusion and I am increasingly optimistic about the bat.
**Miami Marlins catching prospect J.T. Realmuto looks good so far at High-A Jupiter: 5-for-14 with a homer, five walks, and just one strikeout. He's caught two of six runners trying to steal on him. Realmuto played well last season in Low-A (.287/.347/.454 in 96 games) so a promotion to Double-A will be possible later in the year if he keeps playing well, which I think he will. Drafted in the third round in 2010 from high school in Midwest City, Oklahoma, he projects as a big-league regular on both offense and defense and deserves more attention than he's received on a national basis.