Good morning and welcome to Baseball Prospect Notes for Wednesday, May 20th, 2015. Here are some items for your consideration and enlightenment on a cool and rainy weekday.
****Washington Nationals rookie outfielder Michael Taylor 0-for-4 with three strikeouts last night against the New York Yankees. In his previous game on May 17th he went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and in the game before that he went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts. This small stretch of contact issues comes on the heels of the grand slam home run he hit against the Diamondbacks on May 13th. Since that game he is 1-for-14 with seven whiffs.
I don't have the time or the resources to do this, but it would be interesting to go back through thousands of box scores and see what happens to rookie hitters in the games immediately subsequent to a grand slam. Do they start pressing? Does it end (or spark) a hot streak? Is there any sort of pattern at all? If anyone is aware of such a study, speak up.
As for Taylor himself, he's currently hitting .238/.289/.417 on the season with a 6.7% walk rate and a 37.6% strikeout rate. These struggles aren't unexpected: he's always fanned a lot and is jumping to the majors this year with hardly any Triple-A experience on his resume, just eight games this year and 12 last year. How patient do you think they should be with him, or is additional minor league polish going to be necessary in this case?
****Speaking of grand slams, Twins prospect Byron Buxton hit one last night for Double-A Chattanooga. His season line now stands at .240/.294/.455 with five homers and 11 steals, 12 walks and 33 strikeouts. His production is a tick above Southern League norms at 108 wRC+, but it looks like he's still working the rust off after missing most of 2014. Teammate and fellow '14 injury victim Miguel Sano is having some contact issues hitting .221/.331/.458 with eight homers, 22 walks, and 43 strikeouts in 37 games, 131 at-bats. Both are being out-hit by 22 year old German outfielder Max Kepler, running up a .337/.379/.506 line. We have been waiting for Kepler to break out for a couple of years and maybe it is finally happening.
****We've been keeping close track of Cleveland Indians prospect and 2013 first round pick Clint Frazier, wondering when his raw power and tremendous bat speed would turn into game power. I tapped an informed source recently about Frazier's lack of home run power and the answer I got back was honest: "I don't know. If you figure it out, tell me."
****Maybe it is due to the Universe's sense of irony. Two years ago, in the run-up to the 2013 draft season, Frazier was locked in competition with fellow Georgia high school outfielder Austin Meadows. At the time, scouts seemed certain that Frazier would be the power hitter but were uncertain about how much over-the-fence sock Meadows would show against advanced pitching. Meadows was praised for his smooth swing but Frazier looked like more of an impact guy. As a result, Frazier went fifth overall to the Tribe while Meadows dropped to ninth overall, selected by the Pirates.
The irony is that Meadows has (to this point) turned out to be the better offensive threat, hitting .324/.393/.441 in High-A this year and .319/.405/.498 in his overall minor league career. He does a better job controlling the zone and the power is developing well.