The only thing worse than over-reacting to early season MLB games is… over-reacting to early season MiLB games. Let’s do it!
April 4 marked the minor league opening day. Eight MLB top 100 prospects appeared in minor league games. Let’s recap some of the happenings.
Casey Mize (A+) – DET
Mize was doing Mize things, just what he should be doing as a ~22 (on May 1) year old arm in A+ ball. 5 IP, 1 H, 8 K. No big deal. It shouldn’t be long before we are seeing him at AA, especially if things continue to go this way. He was flat dominant.
#Tigers RHP Casey Mize: 5 IP, 0R 1 H, 0 BB, 8 K.
FB 92-94 t96; SPL 84-87 nasty hard bite, showed sick fade at 84; SL 86-88 tight rot late break; CT 90-91 plays well off arsenal.
Got ahead early and often; didn’t F around.
Not a bad way to begin the season. pic.twitter.com/Bg9QaD3xmx
— James Chipman (@_jchipman) April 5, 2019
Ian Anderson (AA) – ATL
Atlanta continues to have a stable of arms to look at for major league opportunities. Wright didn’t do anything to help his cause with last nights performance. In 4 innings of work we saw 3 hits, but also 3 free passes. The 7 K’s mitigated most of the damage, but the control has to improve.
Adrian Morejon (AA) – SD
San Diego is a team that, quietly, has an extremely impressive lineup of prospect arms. It’s interesting how a poor major league club can give a perception things will never turn around. Morejon was ok in his 2019 debut. 4 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, including a 2 run shot to the opposing teams 9 hitter.
Dustin May (AA) – LAD
There were a few big days for top 100 arms, and May had one of them. 21 in AA and eyeing a spot in the big league rotation (as early as this year) May did not disappoint. 5 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, and 9 K. May has not had gaudy k-rates the last few seasons, but it could be the final piece to the puzzle as he already posses a stellar BB rate and it’s too hittable.
Nate Pearson (A+) – TOR
I loved Pearson last season. Then pitcher things (:cough: injury :cough:) happened. I’m still a big Pearson fan, and last night he showed why he was so highly touted before. 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. Not a “dominant” line by most measures, and he’s not exactly young for A+ ball, but still a very encouraging line for a guy who threw 1.2 innings in the minors last season. Oh, and hitting 100 MPH isn’t bad, either.
— Jason Woodell (@JasonAtTheGame) April 4, 2019
Hans Crouse (A) – TEX
Hans threw the fewest innings of anyone on this list (2.2). Crouse gave up only 1 H and earned 2 punchouts. I’m excited to see what the big righty can do as he starts to pitch deeper into games, and see if he can’t keep that walk rate down but keep the K’s pumped up.
Justin Dunn (AA) – SEA
I was really surprised to see the 23 year old Dunn and Jarred Kelenic shipped to Seattle, and I’m still not fully recovered. I think Dunn has some really nice upside potential in a major league rotation, and his first showing this season did nothing but solidify that believe. 5 innings of 1 run ball, 5 hits, and 1 free pass issued to go against 7 strikeouts. Can’t wait to see what he does as the season progresses, and I do think we see him in the major league rotation this year.
Ryan Weathers (A) – SD
One of my favorite low-key pitching prospects, Weathers did everything he could to un-low-key (wow, that’s a lot of hyphens) himself. Five innings, 6 hits, no free passes, and 9 K’s. Not bad for a 19 year old in full-season A ball. Weathers was a disappointment in 2018 in his first taste of professional ball, but he looks ready to right the ship.
— James E. Clark (@EVT_JClark) April 5, 2019
Non top-100 guys with some big days.
Kohl Stewart (AAA) – MIN
Raise your hand if you remember the days of thinking Kohl Stewart could be something big after being a top 5 pick, dominating in rookie ball the year he was drafted, and ending up firmly in the top 40 of most prospect lists. Yeah, me too. Well, the wait may finally be over! Stewart is still only 24, and he’s started out well in 2019. 5 innings of 3 hit bal, 1 ER, 2 BB, and 8 K’s. This may be the year Stewart finally puts it all together. I haven’t read anything other than his line from last night, so I’m curious to see how his stuff looked.
Erik Swanson (AAA) – SEA
Anyone pitching well in the PCL is worth monitoring. Swanson is 25 years old and was sent to Seattle from NYY this past offseason, and it looks like Seattle may have landed a real gem. Swanson stands in at 6’3 and 235 pounds, quite an imposing figure on the mound, and possesses a fastball that gets into the mid 90’s. His #’s in 2018 were nice (121 IP, 10.3 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 2.81 ERA, 1.003 WHIP), and his start last night was even nicer. Swanson finished the night with 5 innings, 6 hits, and 8 strikeouts. Watch to see if the K-rate and BB-rates stick (ok, the BB/9 will probably go up from 0, but hey, you never know…).
James Marvel (AA) – PIT
Marvel is not young by prospect standards, and he’s old by AA standards, but that shouldn’t take away from what he did on the mound last night. 6 innings, 1 baserunner allowed (one hit), and 9 strikeouts was an impressive start to the season. The BB/9 has always been strong, but the K’s were never there. Marvel only recently became a top-50 Pirates prospect, and appears to be a sinkerball-pitcher. He was hitting the low-mid 90’s with his fastball pretty consistently at one point. If the velocity can get an uptick (or he can develop a strikout pitch) we may see him blossom into something special. Or this may just be a Marvel-ous opening day start and the last time we hear of him.
Tom Hatch (AA) – CHC
The most average sounding name on the list. We’ve talked about so many good stat lines that the 24 year old Hatch’s line may not seem like a big deal, but he deserves a shout out anyway. 5 innings of 2 hit ball to go with 7 K’s is good enough to make the list for the Cubs 2016 third round pick. This story seems to repeat itself, as he’s another guy without an exceptionally strong past who put up a great opening line. Whether something has happened in his devleopment or this is a one-off game, it’s too early to say. He had the hammer dropped on him in spring training, so proceed with caution.
Jose Hernandez-Urquidy (AA) – HOU
Urquidy is a 23 year old right handed arm for the Houston Astros minor league Corpus Christi Hooks club. H-U is not someone who I was aware even existed on this planet before last night, but 5 no-hit innings on MiLB’s opening day will at least catch some attention. He issued only 1 walk and get 7 batters via the strikeout. Urquidy missed all of 2017 (Tommy John surgery), but his 2016/2018 numbers were pretty darn good. Houston is known for finding little gems, and this may be the latest. He’s old for his level (24 in May), but given some solid recent performances, and being a year further removed from TJ, he’s a guy to watch. (Full disclosure – he did get absolutely shelled in his spring training apperances this spring).
This is an exciting time of the year. I love over-reacting to early season performances because they usually end in let downs. However, they don’t always. If you can add guys with little to no cost and speculate on those big early season performances being due to something measurable, and not just luck, you may hit the prospect lottery.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday March 31st, 2019 from 8pm-9:30pm EST for episode #148 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. We will discuss spot starters for the coming week, plus a weekend update, and look ahead to next week.
Our guest this week is Brandon Ziman. Brandon is the newest baseball writer to join the crew in 2019. His articles publish every Thursday and covers the minor leaguers.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Cole Freel, and Kyle Amore live on Thursday April 4th, 2019 from 7:30-9pm EST for episode #149 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. Cole and Kyle will discuss the latest happenings in the world of MLB and fantasy. They will take a look back on the previous few days and a preview of the coming weekend. Including spot starts, bullpens, offense, and minor league players.