Minor League Notes, April 7th, 2012
**New York Mets outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis was promoted to the majors today to replace injured teammate Andres Torres. Comments from Mets manager Terry Collins indicate that Nieuwenhuis will be used as the left-handed part of a platoon with Scott Hairston.
A third-round pick from Azusa Pacific in 2008, K.N. was limited to 53 games for Triple-A Buffalo last year by a shoulder injury and was slowed this spring by a strained oblique, but is reportedly healthy now. He hit .298/.403/.505 in Triple-A last year before getting hurt, with 32 walks and 59 strikeouts in 188 at-bats. The strikeout rate is quite high and he's fanned about once per game throughout his career, plus he has issues against left-handed pitching. On the positive side, he will also draw some walks and should keep his OBP reasonable even if his batting average isn't impressive. Many scouts see him as a "tweener," not running quite well enough to play center field regularly, but lacking the big-time power ideal for a corner. I'm generally optimistic about him, not seeing him as a star, but thinking that he'll last a long time as a productive platoon outfielder who contributes in several ways.
**Texas Rangers southpaw prospect Martin Perez had a good start last night for the Triple-A Round Rock Express, allowing one run in six innings, giving up four hits and one walk, fanning three and picking up a victory against the Iowa Cubs. He struggled in Triple-A last year but scouts continue to project him as a staff anchor type. He turned 21 years old earlier this week. The Rangers have been very aggressive about promoting him, and it will be interesting to see how they handle him this year. He could really use 20 starts in Triple-A to get more consistent with his secondary pitches.
**Keep an eye on New York Yankees pitching prospect Nik Turley, a southpaw pitching for High-A Tampa in the Florida State League. He allowed two runs on four hits and two walks in his first start, but fanned nine in five innings. A 50th round pick back in 2008 from high school in Studio City, California, Turley is a huge 6-6, 230 pound lefty with average velocity but an effective curveball/changeup arsenal. A broken hand ended his '11 season early but he pitched well before getting hurt, with an 82/21 K/BB in 82 innings, 70 hits, and a 2.51 ERA in 15 starts for Low-A Charleston. He's a nice under-the-radar prospect.
**Boston Red Sox third base prospect Will Middlebrooks is 5-for-8 in his first two games for Triple-A Pawtucket, with two doubles, no walks, and one strikeout. He had a great year in Double-A last season (.302/.345/.520 for Portland) but was overmatched after a late promotion to Triple-A (.161/.200/.268 in 16 games, three walks, 18 strikeouts), so a fast start is good to see. Plate discipline is his biggest problem, but his combination of power and defense makes him one of the top third base prospects in the minors. We'll have to see if his aggressive approach excessively hinders his batting average and OBP as the season progresses.