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Minor League Notes, May 29th, 2011

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**Detroit Tigers prospect Brayan Villarreal began the season in the major league bullpen, but was demoted to Triple-A Toledo a few days ago. He posted a 6.46 ERA in 15.1 innings for the Tigers, allowing 19 hits and 11 runs, with a 14/7 K/BB. He made his first appearance for Toledo on May 24th, throwing three hitless, scoreless innings of relief, fanning three.
    Signed out of Venezuela in 2005, he moved through the system steadily and successfully using a 90-95 MPH fastball and a promising slider and changeup. He's a smaller guy at 6-0, 170, and it seems likely that the Tigers will continue developing him as a reliever even if he starts games for Toledo.     
    Personally, I wouldn't be afraid to use him as a starter if he makes sufficient progress with the changeup, but he already has Tommy John on his resume and the Tigers may be concerned about his small frame. Hat-tip to reader Jeff Brown for asking me about him.

 **Washington Nationals prospect Brad Meyers is showing exceptional control this year. He started off with a 38/0 K/BB in 36.1 innings for Double-A Harrisburg (2.48 ERA). Promoted to Triple-A Syracuse, he's made four starts there, pitching 23.1 innings, with a 19/1 K/BB, giving him a 57/1 K/BB in 59.2 innings this year. He's allowed 58 hits and has a composite ERA of 2.72. A fifth-round pick out of Loyola Marymount in 2007, Meyers has four average pitches (88-92 heater, slider, curve, changeup), but his command is impeccable. A foot injury cost him most of 2010, so he's sneaking up on people this year and we should see him in Washington, perhaps soon.

**Seattle Mariners prospect Kyle Seager is hitting .285/.362/.442 in 43 games for Double-A Jackson this year. His .345/.419/.503 performance in the Cal League last year was boosted by league/park context, but the gap power and line-drive hitting skills he's shown this year are the legitimate tools scouts expected him to show coming out of North Carolina (third round, 2009). Primarily a second baseman, he's seen some action at shortstop as well to increase his defensive versatility, and he can also play third base. His range is limited at short, but some experience there will make him a more attractive bench option.

**Pirates prospect Zack Von Rosenberg had a decent start on Friday May 27th for Low-A West Virginia, going six innings, allowing five hits and two runs, fanning three with zero walks. This was his best outing since his first start on April 12th: all of his other starts have been mediocre or worse, resulting in an 0-4 record, 7.54 ERA, and 54 hits allowed in 43 innings. He's shown good control and has a 37/10 K/BB, but his strikeout rate is disappointing, he's given up nine homers, and is an extreme fly ball pitcher at this point.
    There doesn't seem to be anything physically wrong with ZVR; the Pirates think it is more a problem of approach and aggressiveness than lack of stuff. Perhaps this recent positive outing will help turn things around. ZVR is a sophomore at LSU in an alternate universe, so there's still plenty of time for him to live up to his potential.