Minor league baseball is definitely in full swing. Who’s been hitting their stride best in the last week?
Our MLB coverage at Call to the Pen is fairly well-balanced, but in an effort to give you better breadth and depth of coverage of the minor league baseball, we have a number of weekly posts.
We will examine the big news items along with the top performers in minor league baseball each Monday. Tuesday will bring a review of the weekend highlight series. Wednesday will bring draft news and college baseball news until that is complete. Thursday will preview the weekend series of note in minor league baseball to watch. Friday will feature a new series, “The Video Room”, where CTTP contributor Benjamin Chase will examine one game from the week from a scouting perspective and break down the game.
Scouting Reports will be scattered throughout the week and weekends as well, so keep on the lookout for those as well. As always, if there is anything you would like to see covered more thoroughly here at CTTP, let us know in the comments section below!
Let’s continue with this week’s news and happenings.
While the #1 prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers loaded system isn’t exactly flying under any radar, Lewis Brinson has been seemingly less-regarded than his incredible tools would suggest.
After coming to the Brewers as part of the Jonathan Lucroy deal last season, Brinson tore up AAA in a short stint there to finish the season. The Brewers, with a loaded major league outfield, returned Brinson to AAA Colorado Springs, and after he missed a week early in the season due to injury, Brinson has been tearing up the Pacific Coast League since his return.
Sunday, interestingly, was his first hitless game of the season, but even with that hitless game on his week’s tally, he went .458/.481/.792 for the week with two doubles and two home runs and even stole a base.
Brinson has shown the ability to handle any outfield position defensively, and it would not be surprising if the Brewers find a spot for him sooner rather than later!
First, the quick shots, then one major one:
Nationals outfield prospect Blake Perkins walked off not once, but twice for low-A Hagerstown in their double header on Sunday. Not only that, but he had a huge overall line, going 4-8 across both games with a home run, a double, four RBI, two runs scored, a walk, and three stolen bases!
Eduardo de Oleo of the Buies Creek Astros in the Carolina League hit three home runs in a game on Friday.
A perfect game thrown by a combined staff in the minor leagues is rare, but it does happen. We featured 9 combined perfect innings by Visalia in an extra-inning game in last week’s column. However, for a single pitcher to do it, and especially in the high minors (AA or AAA), well, that’s a very rare feat.
Tyler Mahle did just that on Saturday. Mahle, ranked #10 on MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Reds prospects, just missed the Call to the Pen top 10 this fall, though in retrospect, redoing the list now would put him on it as a member of that list had Tommy John that would have bumped him out and Mahle, who was my #11, onto the list.
Mahle is not a guy that will wow you with stuff, featuring a fastball that sits in the low-90s, a curve, a slider, and a very good change. I was impressed in viewing Mahle video a few times over the offseason in his ability to pound the strike zone with any pitch and get different movement on his pitches from batter to batter, showing advanced ability to adjust to the hitter at the plate.
While Mahle does sit in the low-90s with his stuff, the impressive thing is that he can dial up that fast ball to the upper 90s. I’ve had reports of 97 with him, and a tweet from a Southern League source stated he was at 99 on the final pitch in the perfect game!
A perfect game for Tyler Mahle tonight. Last pitch was 99 mph. @BlueWahoosBBall win 1-0
Now that could be a “hot” gun giving Mahle favorable readings or some exaggeration, but I do have trouble believing 99. Still, Mahle only threw 88 pitches on the game, so to have a high-velocity pitch in the tank is certainly not surprising.
The best part to me was that in nearly every interview afterward, Mahle was incredibly humble and deferred to his catcher for calling a great game, even declining taking a publicity photo alone in order to include catcher Joe Hudson with him.
Here’s the final out:
Leaders across the minors:
Batting Average: Anthony Alford, AA New Hampshire, Blue Jays system, .469 Home runs: Jamie Romak, AAA El Paso, San Diego system, 9 Stolen Bases: Three with 11
Earned Run Average: Six with 15+ IP and 0.00 ERA Innings Pitched: Jack Fleherty, AA Springfield, Cardinals system, 27 1/3 Strikeouts: Scott Moss, low-A Dayton, Reds system, 33
To close this week, one of the more fun things in minor league baseball are the great promotions that are done in minor league parks. A common one in nearly every minor league park is a “Bark in the Park” day, where dogs are allowed to attend the game as well.
On Sunday, Quad Cities hosted such a day, and a rabbit got on the loose on the field, and you can imagine that it caused quite the stir!
The rabbit got onto the field, and the dogs in the stands barking confused the rabbit long enough to cause a delay. Here’s the video: