Minor League Prospect Notes, April 13, 2011
**Los Angeles Angels prospect Mike Trout had a terrific game for Double-A Arkansas yesterday, going 3-for-4 with two homers and five RBI. This makes his season line .318/.423/.727 (7-for-22) through six games, with one stolen base, four walks and three strikeouts. This is the kind of start the Angels were hoping for, and in line with what he did last year in A-ball. Yes, obviously the sample is tiny and the season embryonic, but a fast start is always better than a slow one, and I like the fact that he's maintaining a strong BB/K/AB ratio. So far, so good, for one of the best prospects in the game.
**In the slow start category we have Kansas City Royals prospect Mike Moustakas, 5-for-29 (.172) with a homer, one walk, and seven strikeouts for the Triple-A Omaha Stormchasers. He's in a 1-for-10 stretch right now. Given his past performance I'm not worried about this, and am watching the BB/K/AB more closely than anything else at this point. If I had to guess, I'd say he'll stay somewhat cold for April, then pick up the hitting in May and June. There's no immediate need to force him into the major league lineup.
**Another cold starter is Baltimore Orioles infield prospect Mychal Givens, just 3-for-23 (.130) with four strikeouts in his first six games for Delmarva in the Low-A South Atlantic League. Givens missed most of 2010 with a torn thumb ligament, though he did hit a pleasant .286/.402/.452 in 23 games split between four levels. A second-round pick in 2009 out of high school in Tampa, Givens is toolsy and is someone I felt could break through this year once he worked the injury rust off. So far it hasn't happened. A natural shortstop, he moved over to second base this year to accommodate Manny Machado. So far he's played very well with the glove at second. Machado, meanwhile, is 7-for-20 (.350) with two doubles and a triple so far, along with seven walks in six games.
**After some speculation that he might start the year at the High-A level, Houston Astros 2010 first-round pick Mike Foltynewicz found himself assigned to Low-A Lexington instead, which was always the more logical assignment. He made his first start on April 7th, going five innings, allowing six hits and five runs with two strikeouts. He picked up a ton of grounders in the game, however, with a 5.50 GO/AO. Yes, just the first start, but we'll keep a close eye on his groundball tendency as the season progresses.
**One of my favorite sleepers is Milwaukee Brewers pitching prospect Michael Fiers, a 22nd round pick in 2009. He posted a 130/32 K/BB in 125 innings in High-A and Double-A last year, with 106 hits allowed. He's being used in the bullpen for Double-A Huntsville this season, picking up a save in two games so far, with two scoreless innings and two strikeouts to his credit. He started last year, but in the majors he projects as a reliever, so using him in the relief role in the high minors makes sense. Fiers doesn't have blazing stuff, but he changes speeds brilliantly, throws strikes, and posts outstanding K/BB and K/IP ratios. Many scouts see him as a Quadruple-A guy due to his lack of plus heat, but optimists think he can be a good utility pitcher in the majors, (long relief, fifth starter) due to his savvy. I'm among the optimists, or at least among those who think his performance merits an opportunity.