Minor League Notes, April 8, 2012
**Washington Nationals third base prospect Anthony Rendon left Saturday's game with an ankle injury. X-rays are negative. He was off to a good start, 2-for-4 with a double, a triple, and two walks in his first two games for High-A Potomac. He's had ankle/foot problems before, including torn ligaments in 2009 and a fracture in 2010. Previous injuries were to his right ankle, but it is the left one that went bad this time. I remain extremely confident in both his bat and glove, but he's had significant injury problems for more than three years now (he was hampered by a persistent shoulder injury last spring), and durability problems seem like a trend.
**Seattle Mariners pitching prospect James Paxton had a brilliant start on Friday night, pitching 5.2 innings for Double-A Jackson, allowing two hits, zero walks, zero runs, with 10 strikeouts, throttling Birmingham. This is nothing unusual for him: Paxton started seven games for Jackson late last year, posting a 1.85 ERA in 39 innings with a 51/13 K/BB ratio. He's clearly too good for Double-A at this point and it will be interesting to see how long the Mariners leave him there. Paxton is one of the top left-handed prospects in the minors, and I don't think he receives quite as much attention as he deserves, perhaps a sociological after-effect of the unusual circumstances regarding his drafting and signing.
**Joining Paxton in the "top prospect who doesn't get enough attention" category is Miami Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez. He fanned 10 in six innings for Low-A Greensboro last night, allowing three hits, two walks, and two runs. He was the 14-overall pick in the 2011 draft and as a first-rounder he certainly can't be considered a "sleeper prospect" in the classic sense. However, when top right-handed pitching prospects are discussed, he often seems an afterthought. Fernandez is going to change that quickly if he continues to show sharp command of his mid-90s fastball, curve, slider, and changeup.
**Kansas City Royals prospect Jake Odorizzi had a terrific start on Friday night for Double- A Northwest Arkansas, pitching five shutout innings against Corpus Christi, allowing three hits, zero walks, while fanning eight. A fast start is good to see here given his erratic performance in the second half last season. Inconsistency with fastball location as well as his secondary pitches resulted in a 4.72 ERA with 13 homers allowed in 69 innings in Double-A last year. At 22 he is still quite young, stands out for his athleticism, and projects as a number two or three starter. I prefer him to Mike Montgomery at this point.