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Minor League Notes, July 30, 2010

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Minor League Notes, July 30, 2010

**The Brewers promoted Jeremy "Cheech" Jeffress to Double-A Huntsville and he got into his first game yesterday, throwing a scoreless inning against Mississippi with one strikeout. Before moving up, he'd thrown 10 innings for Brevard County with eight runs allowed, 14 strikeouts, and seven walks. He'd started the season at Wisconsin where he threw eight scoreless relief innings with a 14/3 K/BB and zero hits allowed. Reports indicate that he had his blistering stuff back just fine, so once again it boils down to control on the mound and self-control off it. I think keeping him relief is a good idea; it (in theory) will force him to focus and be prepared for each game.

**Oakland Athletics lefty prospect Ian Krol has sagged a bit in recent outings for Low-A Kane County in the Midwest League, with a 4.65 ERA in his last six starts. His K/BB is good at 19/4 in 31 innings, but his strikeout rate has been slowly declining as the season is progressing, possibly a sign of some fatigue. His overall numbers remain strong at 2.74 ERA, 71/17 K/BB in 99 innings, 79 hits allowed. Midwest League sources have a favorable impression of his talent, pointing to sharp command of both his curveball and changeup. His fastball ranges between 87 and 92 MPH. Overall he's had a good season as a 19 year old, and still projects as a possible number three or four starter down the line.

**Blue Jays prospect Eric Thames is on another tear at Double-A New Hampshire, hitting .333/.433/.784 in his last 14 games. On the season, he's hitting .285/.368/.531 with 21 homers, 41 walks, and 89 strikeouts in 382 at-bats, with the best news being that he's stayed healthy this year after two years of hip and quadriceps injuries. He has decent plate discipline and has unleashed his power this year, and reports I have about his swing and hitting approach are positive, but there are still some oddities in his numbers. He has a sharp home/road split, at least in terms of batting average; .339/.410/.600 at home, .238/.332/.470 on the road, though the home run totals are split evenly (11 at home, 10 on road). He has serious problems against lefties (.217/.301/.387), but destroys right-handed pitching (.312/.394/.587). He's an adequate defender in left field. All told, I like Thames but see him more likely as a strong future platoon bat than a complete regular.

**Drafted by the Rockies in the first round last year out of Sacramento State, outfielder Tim Wheeler has had a so-so season for Modesto in the California League. His overall line isn't too impressive considering the league context: .253/.350/.390. On the positive side, he has a good walk rate with 49 free passes in 387 at-bats, and he's fairly efficient at stealing bases with 18 in 25 attempts. His defense in center field is solid, but I don't think his overall skills are good enough to play regularly in the majors unless his bat takes a step forward. His overall line is very similar to what he did in short-season ball (.256/.332/.381), not much growth there. The worry with Wheeler in college was that he would end up as a "tweener" type, and so far he hasn't done anything in pro ball to assuage that concern. Since he has good command of the strike zone, a breakout at some point in the next year or two is plausible. But I don't think it is likely, and this just may be the kind of player that he is, which would make him a future reserve.