There’s times where you just need to trust your gut. About 14 months ago I added a UCLA righthander with impressive stats in one “open universe” league I’m in. His name was Griffin Canning, and while there were some mechanical knocks, injury history, and a lack of premium stuff. I saw something in early March of 2017. He mowed down the Michigan lineup going 8 strong, allowing 6 baserunners on 3 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 12. He showed a curveball with depth, a fastball in the low 90’s that he commanded well, a slider, and an off-speed pitch. Despite a very good 2017 season in the PAC-12, Canning dropped down boards due to his size, injury history, and the aforementioned mechanical issues. He dropped all the way to the Angels in the second round, and in what is becoming an increasingly reality based narrative, Billy Eppler stole another one. Coming off consecutive seasons at UCLA where he exceeded 100 innings, the Angels were prudent to delay his professional debut until 2018. The righty was assigned to High-A Upland out of camp, and such begins Canning’s second act. His first two professional starts produced 8.1 scoreless frames, with 14 punchouts, and 7 baserunners. He saw promotion immediately to AA Mobile and while his next few starts were struggles, Canning clicked in his next six allowing a single earned run over 32.1 frames. A few starts later Canning was promoted to AAA Salt Lake where he made his debut this Thursday, going four, allowing five baserunners on 2 hits, and 3 walks. Over his time in the Southern League he made 10 starts, going 1-0 with a 1.97 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, and 3.7 Bb/9.
— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) June 12, 2018
Is Canning a future ace? Not likely, but I’ll spare you mid-rotation cliches. Much like any pitching prospect on the cusp of the majors, he’s an intriguing lotto ticket. There’s risk his command becomes a problem, perhaps his injury woes popup again, or maybe he gets the call and is lights out. There’s certainly an interesting arsenal, a track record of success dating back to college, and a rotation in a good pitcher’s park with some opportunity. While neither lefties or righties have done very much damage, Canning has done an especially good job vs. righthanded batters. His slashline against righties sits at .131/.236/.197 in 140 plate appearances across three levels of action. On the flipside he’s yet to get out of the sixth inning and has not exceeded 88 total pitches in any start. Are the Angels simply being cautious for the hell of it? Of course not, they’re taking it easy because there’s concern of him breaking down. Despite this there’s still much more to like than dislike. His stuff has taken a jump up in proball with his fastball now touching mid-90s, he steals strikes, gets some swings and misses, and has only been hit hard just once. His biggest hurdle is finding a way to get deeper into games without losing any of the nasty that’s made him successful. Worth a stash in a deep league if you have some bench spots to burn… Here’s what else I saw in the MiLB.
- In the never-ending battle between Hunter Greene and MacKenzie Gore to reign supreme as the best pitching prospect from the 2017 Draft rages on. Gore and Greene have both been coming around but their Friday night starts were polar opposite. Greene had the longest start of his professional career going 6.2, allowing two earned on 87 pitches, 62 of which were strikes. He punched out 7, walking no one, while drawing 10 swinging strikes. This is the next adventure in a string of strong starts spanning a month. Over his last 10 starts his ERA sits at 2.93, with 53 Ks to 8 walks, and 3 homers. Gore on the other hand was roughed up on Friday, allowing 4 earned over three innings. He’s dealt with blister issues, and bouts of command waning so far in 2018. It’s not enough to panic, but it might be enough to move him below Greene in my forthcoming Top 100. I wouldn’t trade either player in dynasty at the moment, both are holds for the next couple of years for me. Let Gore work out his kinks, and see if Greene can keep this up.
- Hey yo Astros!!! Call up Kyle Tucker brah! He’s been on some Barry Bonds ish of late, hitting .510/.537/.735 in his last 11 games heading into Saturday. He started off last night’s game with a double, and came around to score. At 21 he’s hitting .312/.379/.507 with 10 homers and 12 steals in his first 67 games at the AAA level. He looks ready to help the Astros this summer.
- R.I.P Nick Senzel’s 2018, as a finger injury, and not the vertigo cut his season short. Kid has had some rough luck, and now he’ll get the injury prone label, right or wrong. He should be back in 2019 ready to help the Reds, not a bad buy for a rebuilding team looking to move some right now players in dynasty.
- The Blue Jays first rounder Texas prep star Jordan Groshans has had nice welcoming to professional ball. He’s gone 7-for-16 with 2 homers, 5 runs, 10 RBI, with 5 Bb-3 K. He’s 18 till November so he’s age appropriate for the level, but a bump up to Bluefield of the Appy League might be in store soon. Just another nice addition to a building Blue Jays future core.
— JKuhn (@h8rproof82) May 18, 2018
- Stop fat shaming Kevin Maitan for a second and look at what the young buck is doing! The 18 year old third baseman is slashing .433/.500/.533 with a homer in 7 games. His numbers are about even from both sides of the plate, remember Maitan is a switch hitter, and Fangraphs has him at a 32% linedrive rate. Small sample, sure, but there’s a ton to like.
— hello (@lakers24328) June 23, 2018
- The White Sox promoted outfielder Luis Robert to High-A Winston-Salem on Thursday. He’s yet to homer across 60 plate appearances, but he has gotten on base, and hit for a high average. The talent is evident, but it’s going to take some time for it to all click. Hell, it could click tomorrow, Tuesday, August 12th, or early next year, but it’s coming.
- I’m getting a lot of question about the Rockies Roberto Ramos, who hit four homers in his first 2 Eastern League contests. He’s 23 years old coming off a .304/.411/.640 performance for Lancaster, and a Homer Run Derby crown in last week’s All-Star soiree. Should probably be said that it was his third taste of the Cal League, though the 89 plate appearances in 2016 hardly count for any real time. So he has a lot to prove in Hartford, I promise to get some live looks sooner rather than later. What I did see thanks to the good folks at Baseball Census, was a hitter with bat speed, a long powerful stroke, but one susceptible to velocity inside, and chasing breaking stuff off the plate. That’s not to say his pitch recognition is poor, because it’s actually above average, he just simply has some holes in his swing. Any Rockies hitting prospect with power is always an add so I won’t stop you, but it’s not like the Rockies actually play rookies. Let alone rookie first baseman with power.
¡4 Jonrones en 2 días! ????
El sonorense; Roberto Ramos conectó par de jonrones en su debut en Doble-A y en su 2do juego de este viernes, pegó otros 2 jonrones! ?#TeamMéxico?? pic.twitter.com/iXKPyefVdV
— Team México Baseball ?? (@TeamMexicoBeis) June 23, 2018
- One of my long time deep sleepers, the Marlins Jordan Yamamato, reemerged this week, going 7 scoreless for High-A Jupiter, and striking out 13 Florida players in the effort. BTW, three of those came against Cristian Pache! He was acquired via the Christian Yelich trade, and has bulked up since I first wrote about him in 2016. He mixes an average fastball that sits low 90’s, with an above average curveball, and an average changeup. The numbers were good last year at High-A Carolina when he was still a member of the Brewers organization, and they remain strong through 27.2 innings in 2018. There will always be some pen risk as a small righty, but to me he’s a starter. Worth an add in leagues 18 teams or deeper.
- Eli Morgan the Cleveland Indians 2017 8th round pick out of Gonzaga has been one of the best pitchers in A ball this season. Between Low-A Lake County and High-A Lynchburg he’s gone 5-2 with a 2.17 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 6.86 K/BB, 31.8% K%, and a .184 BAA. He has a plus changeup, an above average slider, and a high-80’s-low 90’s fastball he lands for strikes. He’s small, listed at 5’10 190 lbs, so he’s an unusual profile, but he has a plus pitch, good command, and pitchability, which might be enough to get him to the bigs. Here’s a look at that nasty changeup.
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) May 27, 2018
- I wrote about Alex Kirilloff on Thursday, we talked about Alex Kirilloff on Saturday’s podcast, and Alex Kirilloff goes 8-for-15 in his first three games. He homered on Friday night, going 4-for-6 with 5 RBI. He followed that up last night going 3-for-3 with a double. Did I mention I dedicated a post to him? He’s 20 all season and might see AA before all is said and done.
- Before the Mets can destroy him let’s all relish in Jarred Kelenic. He went 3-for-4 in his pro debut with a triple and a pair of runs. He was the 6th overall pick, and will be ranked within the top 5 of my upcoming First Year Player Draft ranks. Here’s the triple.
- Another long time favorite of mine is back on the mound with the Marlins. It’s Jorge Guzman of course! He’s been solid, but really noisy this year in finding his success. Control has been an issue, and the hitters don’t necessarily respect his secondaries enough to have trouble with his fastball. Jason Woodell got some good looks at him, and Jason has me pumping the brakes a little on my pre-season love. He’s still sitting 97-100 with the heat, a slider with projection, and a changeup. Here’s some tape from Jason.
Jorge Guzman slo motion mechanics. Stays closed and throws downhill. Short arm delivery, not much extension. Struggles to command his SL due to the lack of extension. If this kid learned a splitter he could have a deadly go to weapon. Arm is fast. #Marlins pic.twitter.com/kMsbpRkiKT
— Jason Woodell (@JasonAtTheGame) June 23, 2018
- The Nationals promoted shortstop Carter Kieboom to AA Harrisburg, from there he handled the rest. So far he’s 6-for-15 with a homer, and looks to be ready for the level at just 20 after slashing .298/.386/.494 for Potomac. Hoping to catch Kieboom against New Hampshire in July.
- The Padres Esteury Ruiz was a hot topic on The Baseball Show postgame periscope Wednesday, check that out here. The wiry strong, righthanded hitting second baseman is slashing .279/.311/.535 with 2 homers, 3 doubles, a triple, and 4 steals over his last 10 games. He has great instincts on the bases, plus hit, and developing power. His biggest knocks come in the field at second.
— Patrick Brennan (@paintingcorner) June 20, 2018
- Did you realize that Peter Alonso is good? After doing everything but hit homers through his first six AAA games, in lucky number 7 he went hogwild. He went 3-for-5 with 3 homers, including a grand slam, and 7 RBI. That’s the kind of power we expect from Alonso and it really was only a matter of time. No idea when he’ll be up in Flushing, but any opening at first should see a swift promotion.
— Las Vegas 51s (@LasVegas51s) June 24, 2018
- Here’s a quick look at under the radar stud talent Kristian Robinson of the Diamondbacks organization. A seventeen year old five tool skills, Robinson is raw, but impressive both physically and athletically.
My guy @Dbacks OF prospect Kristian Robinson (@krobbie_242 ) with a killer pro debut. 3-5 with a SB. The speed caught me off guard. Reminded me of Estevan Florial ?, Approach at the plate is ?. Here are those hits #ProspectOne pic.twitter.com/76sagntzHm
— The Welsh (@IsItTheWelsh) June 19, 2018