As the Durham Bulls took the best little minor league pitching circus this side of Mississippi, literally, on the road. I promised myself I’d check out at least one game during the nearest stop on their International (League) tour. This is a rotation that now features the struggling, but still talented Blake Snell, recently activated off-season acquisition Jose De Leon, top pitching prospect Brent Honeywell, and the strikeout king of AAA Jacob Faria. I’ve discussed Faria a lot of late, because he’s obviously a prospect that fascinates me. On Saturday in Pawtucket he went 4 strong innings before ending his night after completing the 4th. The early exit was more than likely due to the line drive he took off his leg earlier in the inning. It was really too bad, as Faria looked to have his best stuff on the night, outside a two run homer to Bryce Brentz nothing was hit hard at all. The first thing that strikes me when watching Faria is, I love his change up. It has some nice break, and he throws it from a similar arm slot to the fastball. Speaking of the fastball, it too is a solid pitch getting some sink, and making it tougher on the hitters to barrel cleanly. This 1-2 punch gives Faria all the fuel he needs to pile up the strikeouts in bunches, however he has a tendency to nibble and that limits how deep into games he can get. Saturday was one of his more efficient performances, making the injury all the more upsetting. I have to admit I came away impressed by Faria, and think he has solid mid-rotation upside with some nice K potential. I mean look at that gif below and tell me you don’t like what you see. Amirite?!?  Today I venture back to Pawtucket to check out the Rays top prospect Brent Honeywell, who just so happens to check in as the 7th most valuable pitcher on Rudy’s Prospectornator. Don’t worry I promise to give you all the details on Honeywell….Here’s who else is making noise in the MiLB…

  • Scott Kingery with another homer to push his now MiLB leading total to 15. I mentioned a few weeks ago, that his move to a flyball-centric approach couldn’t have had a better lab to cultivate it in than Reading. So far it’s holding true. Kingery is going to hit 30 homers this year, that much I know.
  • Diamondbacks lefthander Cody Reed, not to be confused with the currently less desirable Reds Cody Reed, has been promoted to High A Visalia. Through 8 starts this season his ERA is a cool 1.74 to go along with a 9.4 K/9. His run at the Cal League in 2016 was awful, here’s to hoping that this time around he masters the level.
  • It’s seems like I’m writing about Scott Kingery and the Red Sox Michael Chavis in every minor league update. Well, this one is no different as I’ve already mentioned Kingery, and Chavis went deep yet again to complete the exercise. The 3rd baseman was 2 for 4, with the solo shot. He’s now hitting .365/.440/.716 with 12 homers.
  • We got a Tyler O’Neill homer! The King In The North is making a comeback, as he went deep for the second time in 4 games. He’s getting hot at just the right time, to make his grand arrival in Seattle sometime in July.
  • One of my favorite AA talents, and arguably the top catching prospect in the minors, Francisco Mejia went 4 for 4 on Saturday and stole his first base of the season. He’s now 12/24 since returning from the disabled list last Saturday, with a couple of homers. There’s a lot to like with Mejia, chief among them no split issues.
  • Okay, stop it now, my former flame Nick Williams is en fuego, connecting for a homer in back to back games. It doesn’t stop there though, as he’s now hit 6 homers in his last 10. Is it possible that Nick Williams figured something out in the last few weeks? I just can’t quit you entirely Nick.
  • My favorite converted catcher, second baseman/fictional rapper Shed Long aka Lil’ Sheddie, connected for double dongs on Saturday, driving in 4 in the process. I’ve watched some Daytona games this season and I’ve been more impressed by Long, than teammate Nick Senzel. The second baseman is now hitting .326 on the season.
  • Baltimore Orioles prospect Austin Hays has been on a tear the last few days, hitting three homers on Wednesday, one Friday, and another Saturday. The 2016 3rd rounder has some pop in his bat, and has been able to tap into it so far in 2017, connecting for 10 homers while hitting .316 from the leadoff spot in Fredrick’s lineup.
  • Hays’ teammate Ryan Mountcastle decided to get into the hat trick action, with a three homer game of his own on Friday. The 20 year old now has 11 homers on the season, and is certainly one of the potential breakouts here in the early going.
  • More good news out of Las Vegas regarding the Mets top two minor league talents, Amed Rosario, and Dom Smith. The former, and the focus of my last Minor League Update, extended his hitting streak to 14 games, while Smith connected for his second homer in as many games. Both should occupy spots in the Mets infield for years to come.
  • Rockies Top Prospect Brendan Rodgers continued his assault on the Cal League last night as he went 3 for 5, connecting for a homer and two doubles. This on the heels of a 2 for 5, 2 homer game on Friday. The number 3 overall pick in the 2015 draft is now hitting .378/.396/.685 with 7 homers.

We Discussed the upcoming MLB Draft Class pretty extensively on the most recent prospect podcast. So I figured, in the spirit of continuity I’d post my MLB Draft Top 10.

MLB Draft Top 10

1. Brendan McKay, 1B/LHP Louisville – This pick is totally contingent upon McKay turning pro as a hitter. If he decides to go the pitching route he drops to 10th or so. You’re looking at a power hitting first baseman, meaning he’s not the rarest of commodities, but I value a safe college bat more than upside arms.

2. Hunter Greene, RHP Notre Dame High School (CA) – Easy 100 MPH from his athletic delivery. Plus makeup and athleticism, doesn’t seem to be overwhelmed by the lofty expectations. He’s a consistent strike thrower, with lots of polish for prep arm. Even though he’s a high school pick, he could move fast and be an elite pitching prospect from the jump. There’s going to be owners in your league with a serious crush on Greene, so his value on the open market will be high out of the gate. Best fastball in the draft, can spin a curve, and has feel for a change as well.
3. Kyle Wright, RHP Vanderbilt – Another in a long line of first round Vandy starters, he started slow early in 2017, but has since gotten it going, looking every bit the ace of the Commodores staff. Has flashed 4 plus pitches in his fastball, slider, curveball, change, with the heater and the slide piece being the highest rated. McKay has prototypical size at 6’4 220 LBS, he has added 40 pounds on his frame since his freshman year. The fastball sits mid-90’s, occasionally touching 97, he uses his hard curve effectivley against lefties, leaning on the slider he vs right hand batters. His change is probably the weakest link in his arsenal but that’s not to say it doesn’t have it’s days.

4. Royce Lewis, SS/OF JSerra HS (CA) – A hit tool over power guy as of now, but he looks like he has a much higher power ceiling to tap into. The two best tools are the contact ability and elite speed. Lewis can seriously run. Might not stick at short, but has lots of tools and tons of upside. He’s an upside pick, but I wouldn’t blame you, if he was the first hitter you took.
5. Jordan Adell, OF Ballard HS (Kentucky) – Over the course of last summer there were some questions regarding his hit tool, but he’s silenced those with an excellent senior season. Big power hit 24 homers in just 92 at bats, while only striking out 9 times. Has some, risk but mixes possibly the best set of tools, with projection, plus plus speed and raw power. Adell has lightening quick bat speed, with the hope he can feast on fastballs, while he figures out how to hit the breaking stuff. Has a big league body already, tremendously athletic, comes from a family of football players.

6. Pavin Smith, 1B Virgina – Lefty advanced college bat lauded for his strikeout adverse approach. Hits for power, but doesn’t sell out for it. In fact he has more homers than strikeouts this season, leading many to label him the best pure hitter in the class.
7. Adam Haseley, OF Virgina – Huge breakout season with the power, and overall numbers. In the pros should tap into some more pull side power, while bringing some steals to the table. One of the top risers.
8. MacKenzie Gore, LHP Whiteville HS (NC) – The second best prep prospect behind Greene. He has 4 pitches that rate as plus, getting a plus grade on his control as well. Whether or not Greene is the better prospect is reportedly a legitimate question for some teams. Has had massive success throughout his amateur career, in fact his ERA in his junior year was 0.08. He has a big leg kick which gives his delivery a little deception, helping all of his stuff play up. Good athleticism, leading to reputability in his delivery. His best breaking pitch is his curveball which almost universally gets a 60 grade. He also mixes in above average offerings with his hard slider and tumbling changeup.
9. Austin Beck, OF North Davidson HS (NC) – Beck possesses it all hit tool, power, speed, making him one of the higher upside prospects in the draft. Missed the showcases over the summer due to a ton meniscus in his left knee, but he came back this spring and has really hit. There’s easy to see plus bat speed, as well as plus rub, and a plus arm. Has 20/20 upside but there’s some question about his swing, and ability to hit with wood. Legit concerns with almost all prep hitters.
10. Shane Baz, RHP, Concordia Lutheran (TX) – Interesting player. Just 17 with an arsenal of pitches. Employs a Sinking fastball that tops out at 98, but sits mid-90’s. Has a cutter that he can manipulate to more of a slider, that’s 84-88. Has a curveball with distinctly different break from his slider/cutter. Throws a change. Clean mechanics, throws strikes.

The Next Five

11. Evan White, 1B Kentucky – Another hit tool over power guy, but he’s got a poor mans Cody Bellinger element to him, as he’s athletic enough to play the outfield.
12. Keston Hiura, UC Irvine – Good hit tool has some average power and speed. Major injury concerns, as he could need Tommy John, yeah he’s a hitter…
13. Griffin Canning, UCLA – 4 pitches above average or better. Good control should move quickly.
14. Jake Burger, 3B Missouri State – Looks just like his name, and he hits like it too. Meat and potatoes power.
15. JB Bukauskas, UNC RHP – His slider is the best pitch in the draft, long term I still think he’s a reliever. The stuff is still undeniable.

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