Minor League Notes, June 24th, 2011
**Cleveland Indians third base prospect Lonnie Chisenhall returned from a ten-day absence healing from a concussion to go 4-for-6 with a homer and six RBI on June 22nd , then went 0-for-3 with two RBI last night for Triple-A Columbus. On the year, he's hitting a somewhat disappointing .257/.347/.415. The batting average and OBP are in line with previous norms, but his power production has tailed off compared to what he did last year in the Eastern League.
A sharp platoon split seems to be the biggest issue; he's hitting .288/.381/.441 against right-handers but a mere .183/.263/.352 against lefties. He also has problems at home, hitting .225/.295/.324 at Columbus but .285/.387/.492 on the road at other International League parks. He is showing steady improvement on defense, consistently lowering his error rate and maintaining a good range factor as he moves up. Overall my opinion about Chisenhall hasn't changed: I think he can be a solid regular, but I don't think he's going to be a star.
**Colorado Rockies third base prospect Nolan Arenado is hitting .287/.333/.425 for High-A Modesto in the California League. Although he's been hot lately (.359/.419/.487 in his last 10 games), these are not great overall numbers for context, as his overall OPS is slightly below league average. Despite this, he was just named to the XM Futures Game roster. Scouts remained intrigued with his offensive potential, and he's killing lefties this year (.354/.396/.646) but is showing lack of pop against right-handers (.272/.319/.374).
Obviously that sort of platoon split is unacceptable if Arenado is to develop into the lineup force the Rockies expect. He's shown defensive improvement in terms of cutting down errors and I think he can stay at third base at least until he begins to age. Arenado is still just 20 years old and has plenty of time to make needed adjustments. I wish he drew more walks, but at least he avoids excessive strikeouts.
**The San Diego Padres drafted third baseman Jedd Gyorko in the second round last year from West Virginia. In contrast to Arenado, he's annihilating the Cal League at Lake Elsinore, hitting .383/.445/.653 so far with 15 homers, 11 steals in 12 attempts, 33 walks and 55 strikeouts in 300 at-bats. He's killing lefties (1.178 OPS), righties (1.073 OPS), hitting at home (1.024 OPS) and on the road (1.162 OPS). It is apparent that he is too good for High-A and a move up to Double-A seems appropriate, to put it mildly.
Gyorko isn't the best athlete in the world and is short and stocky at 5-10, 200, but the bat is real and scouts praise his bat speed and feel for the strike zone. He's split his time between third base and DH this year and will likely never be more than average defensively, although he does have a good range factor this year. The bat looks outstanding, but it will be interesting to see how it translates into the much more difficult hitting environment at Double-A San Antonio.
**The Oakland Athletics drafted third baseman Chad Lewis in the fourth round last year out of high school in Huntington Beach, California. He was considered somewhat raw but in possession of a bat with excellent power potential, and it cost $300,000 to keep him away from San Diego State. He's 8-for-23 (.348) in his first six games for short-season Vermont in the New York-Penn League, with three walks but no extra base hits. The sample means nothing at this point, but he is a player we will track closely this summer, as he has the physical tools to be an impressive hitter and at least an average defender.