The 2017 season has seen some hot starts from some big-name prospects. Here are a few that have caught some attention.
Merandy Gonzalez, RHP, New York Mets
(video courtesy of 20-80 Baseball)
While Tim Tebow may be the main attraction bringing fans by the boatload out to see the Columbia Fireflies, Gonzalez has made himself top billing every time he takes the mound.
The 21-year old right-hander pitched another solid performance on Friday. Most impressively, he has gone at least seven innings in his last two starts and hasn’t thrown more than 91 pitches. That’s rare to go that distance this early in the season.
He has now made three starts spanning 20.2 innings. I’ll let you decide what’s more impressive: that he hasn’t allowed a run, that he has landed 75 percent of his pitches for strikes or that he has allowed just one walk to 18 strikeouts on the season.
Age 21, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2013; posted 2.87 ERA in 69 innings in NY-P with 71/27 K/BB, 62 hits; fastball 92-95 with peaks at 97; curveball fickle but a plus pitch at its best; change-up needs more work but has shown signs of becoming average; command varies between shaky and strong but his stuff was good enough for him to thrive in the NY-P despite inconsistency; the Mets have a good track record helping similar pitchers develop. ETA late 2019.
If Gonzalez has taken the leap, he could be a fast riser.
Francisco Mejia, C, Cleveland Indians
A hit streak? For Mejia? Get out of here.
Of course, we remember Mejia made headlines last year with the fourth longest hitting streak in minor league history. 50 straight games. That’s simply amazing.
Mejia is at it again. He’s hit in all 11 games at Akron thus far. If you throw in the last eight regular season games of 2016, Mejia is on a 19-game hitting streak.
All this guy does is hit. He’s slashing .375/.426/.550 on the young season, proving his .342/.382/.514 slash line from last year was no fluke.
Lewis Brinson, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
(video courtesy of minorleaguebaseball | YouTube)
Brinson, too, is on a hot streak to start 2017. The Brewers traded (well, tried to at least) Jonathan Lucroy twice last season. Once included Mejia and the second time included Brinson. They must have an eye for hit streaks.
This is Brinson’s third stint in Triple-A. The first time was with the Rangers Round Rock Express and then last year with the Colorado Sky Sox. Both instances were huge successes, but small samples sizes. It was fair to question whether Brinson was enjoying some of the thinner airs of the PCL.
Three times, no matter the sample size has to make you a believer. He has hit in all nine games he has played this season. He is slashing .410/.452/.744 and nearly half of his hits are for extra bases.
That being said, 10 of his 23 outs have come via strikeout, something that has always been a problem for the speedy centerfielder. He could be one of the closest prospects to the big leagues, so his start is worth paying attention to.