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Minor League Notes, June 22nd, 2011

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Tyler Pastornicky, baseball rat (Photo by Mike Ehrmann, Getty Images)
Tyler Pastornicky, baseball rat (Photo by Mike Ehrmann, Getty Images)

Minor League Notes, June 22, 2011

**Atlanta Braves shortstop prospect Tyler Pastornicky is having a solid offensive season for Double-A Mississippi, hitting .301/.346/.417 so far with 14 steals, 17 walks, and 28 strikeouts in 66 games, 259 at-bats. Acquired in last summer's Yunel Escobar trade with Toronto, he was originally drafted by the Blue Jays in the fifth round in 2008 from high school in Bradenton, Florida.

The son of scout Cliff Pastornicky, Tyler is (like many kids from baseball families) fundamentally sound and a "baseball rat" type who hustles, is adept at "little ball" (he's a great bunter), and plays above his tools. His best tool is above average speed. He doesn't have a huge amount of power, though he should be good for some doubles and triples. He makes contact and his strikeout rate is low, which is often a marker for players who can exceed expectations. He's generally projected as a solid utility infielder, but is young enough at 21 to have a chance to be a regular if his bat continues to develop.

Pastornicky draws good reviews from scouts for his defense, including his range. Interestingly, his range factors at shortstop are consistently below average the last two years. That's not a perfect stat by any means, but even in the minors range factor usually coincides with what the scouting reports say, and in this case it doesn't. I don't know what to think about that, other than it bears watching.

**Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Stetson Allie made his pro debut on Monday night for State College in the New York-Penn League, with unimpressive results: 2.1 innings, three hits, three walks, three runs allowed, with three strikeouts. He seems to like threes. Allie threw 95-99 MPH last spring on his way to being a second round pick in the draft. The Ohio high schooler would have been a first-rounder if not for his bonus demands, and it took $2.25 million to sign him away from college ball at North Carolina.

He didn't show that kind of velocity in Monday's outing, working at 90-93 for the most part, but it was just his first outing and he admitted himself he was nervous. There's no big secret for Allie: he needs to throw strikes and sharpen his command. Some scouts project him as a closer, but I think it makes sense for the Pirates to use him as a starter as long as possible, to help him refine his command and polish his slider and changeup. 

**Minnesota Twins prospect Liam Hendriks had a nice start for Double-A New Britain last night, allowing two runs in seven innings on eight hits, fanning six. On the year, he's 7-2, 2.81 with a 70/16 K/BB in 77 innings with 74 hits allowed. An Australian signed in 2007, the 22-year-old Hendriks is a typical Twins pitching prospect with sharp command of an 88-93 MPH fastball, mixing in an effective slider, curveball, and changeup. He projects as a number three or four starter and could see the majors late this year, though Kyle Gibson would likely be ahead of him on the promotion list. Hendriks is a bit under-the-radar and could make a nice medium-term fantasy investment.

**I first noticed Chicago White Sox shortstop prospect Tyler Saladino when he was playing for Oral Roberts. A seventh-round pick in the '10 draft, he hit .309/.397/.442 in 47 games for Low-A Kannapolis last year after signing, but is hitting just .229/.313/.412 this year in 34 contests for High-A Winston-Salem. He was a terrific hitter in college (.381/.464/.678 last year), so this is the first time he's struggled substantially and it will be interesting to see if he can adapt. Even when he was hitting well in college and the low minors, scouts worried that his swing might be too long. The White Sox should be patient: his glove has been excellent so far this year, with only two errors committed and an above-average range factor at short. Scouts praise his throwing arm, and good defensive shortstops with a chance to hit get plenty of slack.