It’s not all bad news for Phillies fans. The major league squad looks pretty lousy, and when Aaron Harang is your best arm the fans probably won’t be dancing down Broad Street. But there’s hope on the farm, and this week’s Minor Accomplishments leads off with some Phillies prospects who are off to hot starts. Maikel Franco had a cold April in 2014, but this year he’s hitting .371/.436/.686 with a homer and six doubles at AAA Lehigh Valley. With only Ryan Howard and Cody Asche standing in his way, expect Franco to be a fixture in this year’s Prospect Power Rankings. Drop down a level to find Roman Quinn, who has stolen seven bases through seven games and leads the Eastern League in that category. He’s not all wheels, as he’s also hitting a cool .471 with a home run. At Single-A Lakewood, Carlos Tocci is also off to a good start. The 19-year-old is hitting .361/.439/.528 with a homer, three doubles, and four steals through his first nine games. Here are some of the other notable performances from the start of the minor league season…
Fantasy players stashing Heaney for a call-up got a bummer of a start this week. After a seven-inning gem in his Triple-A debut, Heaney failed to make it through the first inning on Wednesday – giving up six hits, a walk, and seven runs (four earned) in two thirds of an inning pitched. The PCL ain’t exactly a pitcher’s paradise, so let’s chalk this one up as a speed bump and carry on.
Arguably one of the Twins best minor league arms along with Kohl Stewart and Jose Berrios, Meyer has really struggled with his control out of the gate. In his first 8.2 innings pitched, the big righty has allowed 11 walks. Of course it’s early, but Meyer also posted a poor 4.4 BB/9 last year, so it’s something to keep an eye on moving forward.
Mazara is still just 19 years old, making him one of the youngest players in Double-A to start 2015 after finishing 2014 there. You wouldn’t know it from his line so far. The outfielder is hitting .367/.412/.400 with a double in his first eight games. Mazara has the talent to handle the aggressive promotion and should be jumping up prospect lists this season.
Olson swatted 37 homers last year, but there were questions as to how much of that was a result of the hitter-friendly California League. Olson has already started quieting some of those doubts with three homers in his first eight games at Double-A Midland. The 21-year-old is a strong OBP play and has already racked up eight walks this year as well.
Appel is already off to a much better start this season. He’s 2-0 and has allowed just one earned run in his first 10 innings pitched while striking out eight. With continued success, we could see Appel in Houston by the end of the summer.
Ho-hum, Urias is just 18 years old and is already pitching in Double-A where he has yet to give up a run. The Dodger phenom struck out 10 batters in 5.2 innings on Thursday. If he keeps this up, he could be in the Dodger rotation next year, which is kind of hard to wrap your head around when you consider he’ll be 19 on Opening Day.
Some evaluators might be concerned about his funky batting stance, but all Tapia does is hit. The California League should be very kind to Tapia and his Modesto teammates this summer, and the 21-year-old has gotten off to a great start with six doubles in his first eight games – hitting .368.
Conforto was just drafted last year, but he makes for a nice fantasy prospect thanks to his left-handed power and relatively short ETA. The 22-year-old already has three homers in his first ten games for St. Lucie, including a grand slam. The Florida State League skews towards pitchers, so a good year there will earn Conforto some bonus points.
Bradley Zimmer, OF | Indians
Like Conforto, Zimmer was a 2014 draft pick who is now getting his first full pro season underway. The five-tool outfielder leads the Carolina League with four homers in the early going.
We like shortstops who can hit, but Jones seems to have flown under the radar. He’s doing his best to change that with three homers, three doubles, and two steals through his first nine games. He’s on the older side for High-A, but that could be nitpicking if he’s going to rake in the FSL.
Through his first 11 innings pitched, Snell has allowed just four hits, no runs, and has struck out 18 batters. He’s also shown great control with only two walks allowed. When I wrote him up in the offseason I wrote, “His ceiling is more of a mid-rotation starter, but in deep leagues he’s a prospect worth checking in on just in case he figures out his control and takes another step forward.” So far so good.
Alexander Reyes, RHP | Cardinals
Reyes can be straight up nasty with his double-plus heater, and in his first two games he’s shown it can be just as effective in High-A as it was in Single-A Peoria. The 20-year-old righty has struck out ten batters in each of his starts. The part of his game that we’ll want to watch this year is his control, as he posted a 5.0 BB/9 last season and has walked six in his first 10.1 innings of 2015.
Another 2014 draftee, Fisher is getting his first taste of the Midwest League and has responded well so far. The 21-year-old is hitting .324/.410/.647 with three homers, two doubles, and a pair of steals in his first nine games.
The Rays took Honeywell in the second round of the 2014 draft, and he was a trendy pick in dynasty drafts this offseason. Armed with a screwball, Honeywell has pitched well so far for Bowling Green with 15 strikeouts in his first ten innings pitched. Both he and Snell could be poised for big years in the Rays organization.