Minor League Prospect Notes, June 20, 2012
**Toronto Blue Jays prospect Daniel Norris made his professional debut last night, pitching four hitless/scoreless/walkless innings of relief for the Bluefield Blue Jays in the Appalachian League, fanning five. He came into the game after starter Joe Musgrove (also a strong prospect) went four innings, allowing one run on two hits, also fanning five. A second-round pick in 2011 from high school in Johnson City, Tennessee, Norris is an excellent athlete with a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a good changeup, and a workable and improving slider/curveball arsenal. He would have gone in the early part of the first round last year but scared teams off with his Clemson commitment.
Musgrove, meanwhile, is also a very intriguing talent, a supplemental first-rounder last year from high school in El Cajon, California. Like Norris, he has four pitches including a low-to-mid-90s fastball. Norris is more classically projectable, but there's nothing wrong with Musgrove.
**Tampa Bay Rays catching prospect Oscar Hernandez made his North American debut yesterday for the Princeton Rays in the Appalachian League, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored. An 18-year-old from Venezuela, he posted some ridiculously impressive numbers in the Venezuelan Summer League last year: .402/.503/.732 with 21 homers, 37 walks, and 44 strikeouts in 239 at-bats, while throwing out 42% of runners trying to steal on him. Despite his gaudy numbers, scouting reports were rather vague and somewhat lukewarm, although he gets good reviews for his defense and is quite young. It will be extremely interesting to see how he adapts to North America this summer and we will track Hernandez closely.
**Cincinnati Reds pitching prospect Robert Stephenson made his professional debut yesterday, throwing five innings for the Billings Mustangs in the Pioneer League, allowing one run on three hits and a walk, fanning eight, collecting eight ground ball outs and one fly out along with the whiffs. Drafted 27th overall last June from high school in Martinez, California, Stephenson has an impressive fastball that gets into the mid-90s and his secondary pitches (curveball, changeup) both have promise. I think he can be a number two starter if all goes well.
**A good start from Houston Astros prospect Jarred Cosart yesterday: seven shutout innings for Double-A Corpus Christi against San Antonio, allowing five hits and a walk, fanning eight. Overall he has a 4.00 ERA with a 53/29 K/BB in 63 innings, 67 hits allowed, and a 2.02 GO/AO. Cosart's premium stuff is the best in the system, but he still struggles with command and mechanical consistency at times. At his best he has three plus pitches (94-98 MPH sinker, plus curve, plus changeup) but his mechanical issues hamper his command. He turned 22 last month and although his performance has never quite matched his potential, he is still young enough to harness his talent and yesterday showed what can happen when everything is working.