Prospect Notes, March 18, 2012
**Detroit Tigers prospect Drew Smyly had an impressive outing Saturday, throwing four shutout innings against the St. Louis Cardinals, fanning four. He's given up one run in eight innings over three appearances, with a 7/3 K/BB and four hits allowed. A second-round pick in 2010 from the University of Arkansas, southpaw Smyly has an average fastball at 87-92, but features a wide arsenal of secondary pitches, including a cutter, curveball, slider, and splitterish changeup. He pitched excellently last year, especially after moving up to Double-A (1.18 in seven starts for Erie, 53/15 K/BB in 46 innings). Smyly hasn't received as much attention as he deserves, but we should expect that to change in 2012.
**Pittsburgh Pirates outfield prospect Starling Marte is destroying spring training pitching, 13-for-25 (.520) so far with three homers, zero walks and six strikeouts. He's just been sent to the minors anyway and will begin the year at Triple-A Indianapolis, but the move is logical given his lack of Triple-A experience. His impatient approach could still be an issue against major league pitching, but he's come a long way from the raw kid who hit .220 in the Dominican Summer League five years ago.
**Toronto Blue Jays tools hound Anthony Gose (who we paired with Marte in a Prospect Smackdown a few weeks ago) is also having a solid spring, 7-for-22 (.318) thus far with a double and triple, but zero walks and five strikeouts. The outfielder is a non-roster invitee and doesn't have to be protected on the 40-man roster until this fall. Gose will be heading to Triple-A Las Vegas and could put up superficially excellent numbers due to the hitting environment. In his case, following scouting reports about his hitting approach and watching his BB/K/PA ratio is going to be more important than his raw slash numbers.
**San Diego Padres outfield prospect Jaff Decker had some troubles in Double-A last year, hitting just .236 for San Antonio while fanning 145 times in 496 at-bats. On the other hand, he demonstrated a potent power/patience combination with 19 homers and 103 walks, and he's looked good so far in spring training, 10-for-29 (.345) with four walks, two homers, five doubles, and three strikeouts. Decker was supposedly headed back to Double-A to begin 2012, but an assignment to Triple-A seems more likely now. Carlos Quentin's knee injury should be covered by some combination of Kyle Blanks, Jesus Guzman, Mark Kotsay and Will Venable, but if Quentin is out for an extended period and the veterans don't step up, Decker could get a shot at some point.