Prospect notes for discussion and consideration this fine Thursday afternoon:
***The Marlins sent rookie pitcher Jose Urena back to Triple-A this past Tuesday after he gave up three runs in two innings of relief work on April 18th against the Mets. This all makes sense for a rookie pitcher with a grand total of one Triple-A start under his career belt.
The 23 year old Urena is an interesting pitcher and we will likely see him again this year once he racks up a few more innings for New Orleans. He had a good 2014 season in Double-A, posting a 3.33 ERA in 162 innings with a 121/29 K/BB.
He has been extremely durable, averaging more than 140 innings per season over the last three minor league campaigns. His fastball (up to 95 this year, hitting 97 in past seasons) and change-up are considered solid but his slider has been critiqued in the past and many scouts see him as a reliever in the long run. However, given his proven durability and ability to throw strikes, there is still a chance he could slot as a starter.
***Everybody's favorite switch-pitcher, Pat Venditte of the Oakland Athletics, is off to a good start with his new organization, throwing 10 shutout innings of relief work so far for Triple-A Nashville, allowing just three hits. He's fanned nine but his control has been wobblier than normal for him, giving up six free passes. So far that hasn't hurt him and he already proved he could handle Triple-A during his tenure in the Yankees system. If he continues to pitch well, will Oakland be more open-minded?
***Although Minnesota Twins prospect Miguel Sano gets most of the headlines at Double-A Chattanooga, he is actually being out-produced this year by teammates Adam Brett Walker and Travis Harrison, both intriguing prospects in their own right. Walker has already hit four homers in 11 games, albeit with just one walk and 18 strikeouts, an ugly ratio. A third round pick in 2012 out of Jacksonville University, Walker has excellent raw power but a very aggressive approach.
Harrison has power too and more balanced hitting skills, batting .310/.408/.500 through 42 at-bats. A supplemental first round pick from a California high school back in 2011, Harrison is a right-handed hitter like Sano and Walker. He hit just three homers last year in the Florida State League but banged 15 in the Midwest League in 2013. He is back to tapping that power this year and at age 22 is still quite young. A former third baseman, Harrison inhabits the outfield now and he'll have to keep hitting to get a chance in a corner, but he was a high-profile prospect in high school against good competition. He's somewhat overlooked amidst all the hype about Sano and Byron Buxton, but Harrison could still be very productive.
For his part, Sano looks like he's still shaking off injury rust after missing all of 2014 with Tommy John surgery. He owns a .175/.340/350 line so far, hitting two homers and striking out 14 times in 12 games. He's also drawn nine walks however and it is just a matter of time before he gets in synch and heats up.