Today's notes from around the world of baseball prospects and the minor leagues:
****As Nick Melotte noted in today's Minor League Ball Gameday thread, New York Mets prospect Noah Syndergaard had quite a night Thursday, hitting a single, a double, and a 400-foot home run, falling just a triple short of hitting for the cycle. And he pitched well, too, throwing eight innings for Triple-A Las Vegas, giving up five hits, two runs, zero walks, while fanning eight.
Everyone knows about Syndergaard's pitching talent and that has been well in evidence this year: through five starts he has a 1.82 ERA with a 34/8 K/BB in 30 innings. And remember, that's Las Vegas, a hitter's park in a hitter's league. He certainly looks ready for a big league trial at this point.
As for the bat, Syndergaard's Thursday wasn't a total fluke: he's actually hit extremely well for a pitcher: in 37 career minor league at-bats, he's hitting .270/.357/.405 with five walks. Tiny sample of course but damn impressive for any pitcher these days. He's a left-handed hitter to boot, and the announcer here makes note of the fact that Syndergaard was a prospect as a hitter back in his high school days.
***Philadelphia Phillies pitching prospect Ben Lively doesn't have Syndergaard's stature as a prospect but is quite interesting in his own right. Through four starts with Double-A Reading he has a 2.16 ERA with a 24/7 K/BB in 25 innings. Lively also has a good early track record as a professional hitter (which is why I'm putting him in this article with Syndergaard), hitting .300/.333/.500 with a homer in 20 at-bats. Again, miniscule sample but it stands out given that most pitchers have trouble hitting .150. Lively was a good off-season pick-up in trade with the Cincinnati Reds for Marlon Byrd and could be a solid mid-rotation starter.
***Erstwhile Boston Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley is hitting the snot out of the ball in Triple-A, .347/.398/.474. Will it be enough for him to earn another shot with the Red Sox? Will he end up as trade bait? Marc Normandin at Over The Monster takes a look, noting that Bradley has hit well in Triple-A before (although not this well) and that his problems are:
"against big-league hurlers who bust him inside, who catch him swinging at breaking stuff off the plate, and who tie him up with change-ups. It'll take more than a month of knocking Triple-A pitchers around to get that justified post-hype love going."
***We looked at Houston Astros rookie Preston Tucker here yesterday and CRPerry13 over at Crawfish Boxes expands on that with more thoughts, noting particularly Tucker's reputation (not fully deserved) for problematic defense and blah tools. Perry mentions my comment yesterday about Tucker's defense being "competent."
I want to expand on that a bit. Tucker is not going to win a gold glove but he’s far from a butcher from what I’ve seen of him. Minor league defensive statistics are problematic but Tucker’s are consistently "not bad": low error rate, ok range factors, adequate assist totals. Physically his arm strength is fringy and range is just average but he catches what he gets to and seems to have good fundamentals. If he hits, the glove won’t hold him back.
***Batted ball data is all the rage these days though we are still rather early in the shaking-out process of how to use this information. If you need a primer on how this works (I sure do), you should check out Tony Blengino's recent article at Fangraphs, the first in his series about how to understand and explore this new frontier of information.