Good afternoon prospect watchers. The rain held off last night and the game between the Cedar Rapids Kernels and the Quad Cities River Bandits went off without trouble. The forecast is less optimistic tonight with an 80% chance of thunderstorms and heavy rain. However, it was supposed to rain last night too and it didn't until after the game, so perhaps the weather deities will bless us again this evening.
I will have a full report on what I saw after the trip is done, but here are a few preview tidbits.
***Everything you've heard about Byron Buxton's tools is true. He actually didn't have a great game last night as a hitter, but I'll have the details about that in my full report. However, the tools are simply amazing. I knew he was at least a 70 runner but if anything his speed is underplayed. There are reports that he's been clocked at 3.70 down the line this year and I'd believe it. I didn't get a stopwatch on him, but in the first inning he made my jaw drop by hitting a routine ground ball to the third baseman, who made a normal play and got off a normal throw. . .which Buxton beat easily for a single. That's not far from Billy Hamilton fast. Buxton is a true blazer.
***Niko Goodrum showed off a very impressive throwing arm during infield drills. Unfortunately he was the DH in the game so I didn't get a read on him in live competition, but the arm is definitely shortstop quality.
***Quad Cities outfield prospect Ariel Ovando cannot handle breaking balls, or at least he couldn't yesterday.
***Yesterday's Minor League Ball Gameday thread.
***Another tools beast outfielder, Jorge Soler of the Chicago Cubs, had an impressive game for High-A Daytona, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and a homer. He's now at .289/.379/.556 with 12 walks and 16 strikeouts in 90 at-bats. I note a sharp platoon split, with a 1.236 OPS against lefties and .825 against right-handers. Not a big deal yet given the sample sizes involved, but worth keeping track of, especially when he moves up to Double-A.
***Toronto Blue Jays prospect and former second round pick Daniel Norris gave up seven hits and eight runs in 1.1 innings for Low-A Lansing. He now has a 10.07 ERA with a 16/13 K/BB in 22 innings with 34 hits allowed. There doesn't seem to be a physical problem, but reports indicate that his mechanics are a mess and he just can't cope with runners on base. In an alternate universe somewhere, he didn't sign with the Blue Jays and went to college at Clemson. If he's getting clobbered in college in that alternate universe, his draft status heading into 2014 would be really up in the air at this point. Maybe he would go to the Mirror Universe Cape Cod League and turn things around this summer.
***If the game gets played tonight, it will be Hudson Boyd for Cedar Rapids against Vincent Velasquez for Quad Cities, which would be a highly intriguing matchup. I wish I could stay for the Friday game, but alas family matters have to come first.
***Today's slate of minor league games.
***Five of the BEST SCOUTING REPORTS EVER WRITTEN.