Yesterday summer came to New England, after months of teetering between 12 degrees, and 47 and rainy, the sun finally showed and warmed our frozen souls with it’s powerful rays. Perfect timing for me to, as Wednesday’s are by far the busiest days of my week. I have a work related meeting every “Hump Day” at 7 AM in downtown Boston, and that’s no joy to wake up and get to. So my day starts at 5 AM. I perform my usual “triple S”, make my coffee, finish the latest episode of Halp and Grey in the (insert time slot here) on the ride in, while I think about how badly I mis-ranked Alex Wood in my weekly pitching rankings. I mean there’s always one, right? So my day chugs along like a shiny steam engine from morning meeting, to morning workout, to morning meeting, to lunch, to afternoon meeting, to afternoon meeting. By 5 o’clock I’m toast, but there’s no rest for The Prospector, becuase it’s time to pickup my oldest from after-school care. Yesterday was a special one, as my son greeted me with his newest homemade “SpongeBob Squarepants” book, let’s just say he needs to work on his spelling. With all this to do, a man needs some time to his self, just him and his Schrock. I learned as a young man making time for one’s Schrock can make all the difference when it comes to your daily outlook, and just general disposition. Enough about my day, let’s discuss my Schrock. Now my Schrock is a well maintained smooth Schrock, what it lacks in size, it makes up for with heart, technique, and advanced approach. My Schrock might look undersized, but it packs surprising power. In fact this spring my Schrock, let’s call him Max, made quite the impression in the Arizona sun. If by this point you haven’t figured out that I’m talking about Oakland A’s 2nd base prospect Max Schrock, then you my friend have a dirty mind. So who is this little SOB? Well if you’ve been paying attention then you’d know that Schrock’s been discussed in this space before, as well as on the prospect podcast. For my podcast co-host Michael C. Halpern of Imaginarybrickwall.com loves Schrock! Loves him! So far in 2017 Schrock has struggled a bit to pick up where he left off in spring training. Yesterday, however, Schrock finally broke out his boom stick, and put the wood to two Yohander Mendez pitches. Going double dong on his way to a 3 for 4 day with two solo jobs. Schrock can always get it done by his lonesome, even if the Rockhounds lost to the Roughriders 7-4. Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up. As for Schrock’s 2017 he’s currently slashing .277/.315/.433 with 5 homers and 3 steals.
The diminutive second baseman is an old school contact hitter, rarely striking out (11.4% K%), but also preferring to put the ball in play over working a count. Throughout his 888 professional at bats he’s maintained a batting average of .316, while flashing developing power, and a little speed. The 2015 13th round pick of the Nationals, was a three year starter at South Carolina, and slashed .302/.392/.460 for the Gamecocks (yes, seriously I can’t make this stuff up), while stealing 27 bases, and hitting 16 homers across 209 games. He’s made some adjustments over the last year to his approach, embracing the flyball revolution, while abandoning his pull happy ways for an all-fields approach. So far the changes have worked, as Schrock cut his groundball rate year over year by 18%, while raising his flyballs by a nearly identical margin. While Schrock may never be a star, he’s on the fringes of Top-100-dom, and could carve out a role as a very nice middle infielder for fantasy. Good trade by Billy Beane, I mean, anytime you can trade Marc Rzepczynski, for a player who’s name you can not only pronounce but also spell without triple-checking you do it….. Here’s who else is making noise the last few days in the MiLB.
- Speaking of diminutive second baseman bringing the boom, the Phillies Scott Kingery is breaking out. The 2015 2nd rounder blasted his 9th homer of the season for Reading yesterday afternoon. He looks like another disciple of the flyball/launch angle revolution (as Halp put it in his Minor League write up last week), as he’s bumped both his LD% (18.4%) and FB% (54.4%), while dropping his once 40%+ GB% under 30%. If there’s one place where a flyball change could yield immediate results it’s Reading. The former Arizona stand out is now slugging .609, and it wouldn’t shock me if he catapults up the rankings in mid-season Top 100 lists.
- Speaking of Reading breakouts, last year’s home run duo for the Fighting Phils, Dylan Cozens and Rhys Hoskins, have led the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs of the AAA International League to 12 straight wins. Hoskins, discussed in this space two weeks ago, has been hot all year. While his partner in swat, Cozens, is a different story. After starting the season with a putrid .161/.245/.323 slashline through the first 27 contests, the 2016 MiLB home run leader is slashing .313/.365/.729 with 6 homers, 11 runs, and 13 RBIs over the win-streak. He’s still striking out at a 30% clip, but strikeouts will always be part of the package with Cozens. Now that he’s showing the power outside of Reading I’m warming up a bit to the imposing slugger. That said, this is a player with significant flaws, not unlike recently promoted Bradley Zimmer. Cozens can hit for power, run, and get on base, but the batting average will always sit below .250 without some real luck on balls in play.
- The performances during this winning streak for Bacon U.S.A have been nothing short of tremendous. As the trio of J.P. Crawford, the aforementioned Hoskins, and Roman Quinn went a combined 11 for 20 last night with 3 homers, 8 RBIs, and 8 runs. Hopefully this is the beginning of a wake up for Crawford, who’s been awful this season. Quinn, much like Cozens, has had his wake up over the 12 game run. Slashing a robust .405/.457/.571. If and when he gets the call to Philly, he should be a nice source of steals, and runs, while giving you enough pop to not be a negative in that category.
- **Update** Looks like it might be 13 straight for the Iron Pigs. As Dylan Cozens connected for a homer which was followed by a Rhys Hoskins grand slam as the Bacon boys dropped a 7 spot on Rochester in the 2nd inning. No need to fear, the Crab Army got it on tape, as my favorite scout in #Razz30, (yes we have scouts, crab scouts) is in Rochester for today’s game, and he says a strong wind, and bad starting pitching might have helped.
- Another good start from one of the most exciting arms in the minors yesterday, as Dodgers righty Walker Buehler struck out 9 over 3 2/3rds innings, walking one, and allowing 3 hits, and no runs. They’ve been using the kids gloves with Buehler, keeping his pitch counts low as he returns from TJ. The former Vanderbilt ace, could find himself in the Dodgers pen sometime this summer, but then again a full season in the minors wouldn’t shock me, knowing how the Doyers operate.
- Reds 2016 draft pick Taylor Trammell jacked his 3rd homer of the season yesterday, and 2nd in a week. He’s not having a great season so far, but he’s holding his own for a 19 year old in his first go at full-season ball. The athleticism is shining through, as he’s stolen 12 bases in 15 attempts, and has flashed some developing power.
- Speaking of Reds prospects, their top player Nick Senzel has started to turn on the power the last week plus, slugging .600 over the last 9 games, with a couple of homers over that period. He’s been outhit by teammate, and underrated prospect, Shed Long. The converted catcher, now playing second, is slashing .317/.374/.490 with 5 homers, 2 steals, and 21 RBIs. He’s not a flyball hitter per se, but he hits the ball hard, and is adept at going the other way. This coupled with an advanced approach, and above average wheels, should equate to a higher average as he moves up the ladder. Long is definitely one to watch.
- To far less fanfare than teammates Cal Quantrill, and Joey Lucchesi, Halp favorite, and 2016 first rounder, Eric Lauer has been phenomenal. He’s slated to start tonight vs the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, and is a worthy take. In 2017 his numbers speak for themselves, through 6 starts he’s 0-2 with a 1.89 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 11.07 K/9, 3.2 Bb/9, and a nearly 30% IFFB%. In dynasty leagues where pitching rules, Lauer is a must add.
- Braves lefty Sean Newcomb is enjoying one of the best stretches of his professional career at the moment, having not allowed more than 2 earned runs in 5 consecutive starts. The southpaw went 5 1/3rd on Wednesday, allowing 1 run, on 3 hits, 2 walks, while striking out 6. The walks are still an issue (4.43 Bb/9), but the K’s are up (10.97 K/9), and his ERA of 2.74 is supported by a 3.01 FIP.
- Both the Yankees upper minors affiliates, Trenton and Scranton-Wilkes Barre, had early afternoon games today. And both of their top prospects connected for homers, as Gleyber Torres hit his 4th for Trenton, and Clint Frazier slugged his 6th for the RailRiders. Both should see some time in the Bronx this summer, even if it’s more of the cup of coffee variety.
- Let’s hope this afternoon’s homer for the Pirates prospect Austin Meadows is the beginning of a glorious hot streak. With both Marte and Gregory Polanco on the shelf, an early June promotion just makes too much sense. The Pirates will wait out the Super 2 date, even if it means bringing Andy Van Slyke out of retirement.
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