Minor League Notes: Cedar Rapids Kernels (Low-A, Minnesota Twins)
Here are my final notes for remaining players I saw on my scouting trip to see the Cedar Rapids Kernels and the Quad Cities River Bandits last week. Other articles in the series:
Prospect Report: Byron Buxton
Prospect Notes: Travis Harrison and Adam Brett Walker
Prospect Notes: Niko Goodrum and Jorge Polanco
Prospect Notes: Quad Cities River Bandits
Dalton "D.J" Hicks, 1B: Currently batting .284/.363/.475 with 17 walks and 30 strikeouts in 141 at-bats. A huge 6-5, 228 pound left-handed hitter, he was drafted in the 17th round in 2012 from Central Florida. In person he looks exactly like you think he would look given the statistical profile: he's big, slow, strong. He is a pull hitter and crushed a high fastball over the right field fence for a home run. I'm not convinced he'll handle off-speed stuff at higher levels, but he's performed well enough that he should be tracked, although he's old for the level at age 23.
David Hurlbut, LHP: Big 6-3, 220 pound lefty, age 23, has a 4.70 ERA with a 16/5 K/BB in 23 innings, 25 hits, 1.80 GO/AO. 28th round pick out of Cal State Fullerton in 2011. Three-pitch mix: 89 MPH fastball, 84 MPH slider, 77 MPH changeup. He throws strikes aggressively but has a thin margin for error. At this point he rates as a valuable organization pitcher due to his control, with a slight chance to reach the majors eventually as a utility arm.
Romy Jimenez, OF: Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2009, turned 22 this week. Listed at 6-2, 205, but looks more like 6-4, 210 in person. Right-handed hitter, hit very well in rookie ball last year (.347/.439/.669 in 35 games for Elizabethton). He looked just fine in batting practice, but once the actual game got started he looked terrible, with an awkward swing and serious problems with breaking stuff. I wasn't surprised to see that he's hitting just .095/.150/.122 in 21 games and he didn't look anything at all like a guy who could put up the numbers he did in the Appalachian League. He was sent back to extended spring training a couple of days ago.
Brett Lee, LHP: 6-4, 205 pound 22-year-old lefty drafted in the 11th round in 2011 from St. Petersburg Junior College. He's performed very well so far this season, with a 2.27 ERA and a 23/7 K/BB in 32 innings. He works very quickly (much appreciated) and mixes his pitches quite well, featuring a fastball at 90-92 MPH, a slider at 83-84, change about 80, and a curveball at 74-76. He worked high in the strike zone early but went down the ladder later in the game and is usually a ground ball pitcher, with a 3.56 GO/AO this year so far. He has good fastball command and the curve looked good, but I felt his slider went flat occasionally. I liked him and he's got a shot at being a back-end starter if he maintains his command.
Alex Muren, RHP: 12th-round pick in 2012 out of Cal State Northridge. 6-3, 200 pound right-hander, age 21, this was his first game since being activated from extended spring training. He showed two pitches: a 90-91 MPH fastball and a solid mid-80s slider. Typical middle relief profile; both pitches moved well but I think he'll need some polish with his command.
Candido Pimentel, 2B: 22-year-old switch-hitter signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2009. Not a big guy at 5-11, 160, but he looks athletic and showed very good running speed. Although he knocked a triple into the left-center gap, this was the only extra-base hit he's put up all season in 96 at-bats. His defense looked really bad at second base: his footwork was sloppy and he had trouble making simple routine throws. Like Romy Jimenez, Pimentel had a good year in the Appy League in 2012 (.330/.405/.419) but hasn't done much this year and looked extremely raw in this game.