Minor League Notes, April 19, 2011
***Double-A Akron lefty Scott Barnes is off to a good start, allowing two runs in his first 11 innings (1.64 ERA) over two starts, with a 17/2 K/BB and just five hits allowed. His second start on April 14th was particularly strong: 10 strikeouts and just two hits with zero runs in seven innings. The Cleveland Indians prospect posted a 5.22 ERA with a 127/58 K/BB in 138 innings for Akron last year, but his ERA was deceptive and he pitched well in the Arizona Fall League. He has a 90 MPH fastball, and his curve, slider, and changeup are all pretty solid. A deceptive delivery adds to the package and he's been durable so far as a pro. An eighth round pick in '08 out of St. John's by the Giants, he was traded to the Indians in 2009 for Ryan Garko. Keep an eye on him.
**Cincinnati Reds prospect Todd Frazier is off to a slow start for Triple-A Louisville, at least in the batting average department, hitting .200/.333/.425 through 12 games. On the positive side, he's hit two homers, and his 7/9 BB/K in 48 plate appearances is pretty good. He's also drawing some walks and his Isolated Power is actually better than his career norms, so as long as he keeps the strike zone under control, the batting average and OBP should rebound. He's playing third base this year after spending much of 2010 in the outfield and is fielding well so far. Frazier is now 25 and really needs a good year in Triple-A. He's probably trade bait but if the hitting picks up and he remains effective at third base, someone will be interested.
**San Francisco Giants catching prospect Tommy Joseph is off to a good start for High-A San Jose, hitting .314/.345/.529 so far with two homers and 14 RBI in 12 games. His strike zone judgment isn't too good yet with a 3/13 BB/K in 55 plate appearances, but the fast start is still good to see. He hit .236/.290/.401 with 16 homers but poor discipline (26/116/473 BB/K/PA) for Low-A Augusta in 2010. Joseph has considerable power but is still feeling his way around the strike zone. He has a good throwing arm and has caught 34% of runners in his career so far, but is prone to errors and passed balls at this point. Some scouts project that he'll have to move to first base, but the Giants will give him every opportunity to improve his defense given the difficulty teams have finding catchers who can hit. He's still just 19 and with Buster Posey around there is no need to rush Joseph.
**Atlanta Braves shortstop prospect Matt Lipka is off to a fair start for Low-A Rome. Drafted in the supplemental first round last year, he's hitting .260/.327/.260 in 12 games. He's shown zero power so far, but he's made contact, drawn a few walks (5/6 BB/K in 55 PA), and has stolen five bases. He's made just one error in 11 games at shortstop. The Braves seem to think he has the range for shortstop, but outside observers (as well as his very poor range factors to this point) seem to think he'll fit better at second base or the outfield in the long run. Either way, his offense revolves around getting on base and annoying the pitcher once there.
**So far, not so good, for Florida Marlins catching prospect Kyle Skipworth. Assigned to Double-A Jacksonville, he's hitting .194/.219/.387, 6-for-31 in eight games. Three of his hits are for extra bases (a double, a triple, a homer), but he's hampered by a poor 1/10 BB/K.. Although he's just 21 and it's obviously too soon to give up on him, the problems with breaking balls that have kept him from living up to the potential he showed in high school are still there. On defense, he's already coughed up two passed balls and an error in seven games behind the plate, though he's also nailed six of nine runners trying to steal on him. That also dovetails well with the scouting reports: good arm, but otherwise still rough behind the plate.