Prospect watch: Jennings starring
It’s that fabulous time of the year.
Across the country, baseball fans will make their treks to major-league stadiums as part of their summer vacation. Many others will opt to take a short ride to enjoy minor-league baseball, scouting the stars of the future while saving cash.
Soon enough, those fans will start to wave goodbye to promising youngsters as they move up the proverbial ladder. A few hot prospects have already gotten the call to “the bigs,” and many future heroes will follow shortly. Who doesn’t want to see Mike Moustakas join Eric Hosmer in Kansas City?
Let’s take a view of the minor leagues starting with a recent callup by Boston.
Josh Reddick, OF, Pawtucket (Boston)
Reddick was recently recalled to the Red Sox to take the roster spot of Darnell McDonald, who was placed on the disabled list because of a strained left quadriceps. He’s there to provide depth in the injury-depleted outfield (J.D. Drew is ailing as well).
Reddick hit a single and drove in a run in his first at-bat. He was batting .248 (41-for-165) at Triple-A Pawtucket prior to being recalled. Reddick ripped eight doubles and 12 home runs with 29 RBI while adding four stolen bases. He possesses solid plate discipline (26 walks against 33 strikeouts) and could stick with the squad this time following brief stints in Boston during the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
Brett Lawrie, 3B, Las Vegas (Toronto)
Lawrie has been positively terrorizing pitching in Las Vegas. His bat is quite clearly ready to ascend to the next level. Unfortunately, he’s got nowhere to roam at the big league level, as that Jose Bautista guy occupies his position.
Lawrie entered Thursday’s play with ridiculous five-category production. He’s batting .337 (67-for-199) with 16 doubles, 12 home runs, 39 RBI and 10 stolen bases. Toronto fans are salivating about the proposition of Lawrie joining the team in the second half. It’s one of the few times that the term “rushed” won’t be applied to a 21 year old. Depending on the bench size allowed in your league, a preemptive waiver-wire move in anticipation of his inevitable callup is in order.
Dustin Ackley, 2B, Tacoma (Seattle)
The future is just around the corner in Seattle. The gamesmanship over arbitration dates and such will fall to the wayside, and the Mariners will promote their future All-Star. Ackley started the season slowly after being sent to the minor leagues. He’s certainly rebounded of late, demonstrating formidable gap power and an exceptional batting eye (35 walks against 26 strikeouts).
Ackley possesses a .268 batting average overall (51-for-190) with 10 doubles, seven home runs, 24 RBI and six stolen bases. He’ll be promoted to the Mariners’ middle infield soon.
Desmond Jennings, OF, Durham (Tampa Bay)
Fantasy owners continue to wring their hands in anticipation of Jennings’ arrival to Tampa. Jennings has generated strong five-category production at Durham, batting .271 (46-for-170) with 10 doubles, seven home runs, 20 RBI and nine stolen bases. He’s also demonstrated great plate discipline by drawing 25 walks.
Let him run!
Mike Trout, OF, Arkansas (Los Angeles Angels)
Anxious fans of the injury-riddled Angels outfield are clamoring for the quick promotion of the 19-year-old outfielder. Trout has exhibited fantastic plate discipline (24 walks against 29 strikeouts) and five-tool potential. He carried a .306 batting average (45-for-147) with 18 extra-base hits, 17 RBI and nine stolen bases into Thursday’s action.
Patrick Lehman, RP, Potomac (Washington)
Lehman is pitching in High-A ball, but I thought his recent dominance in the closer role is worth noting. He’s pitched brilliantly in his 14 2/3 innings this season, limiting opponents to nine hits and three earned runs. Lehman has struck out 11 batters and has yet to issue a walk while earning seven saves.
Lehman is on the short-term disabled list because of elbow strain, but the organization expects him to be back into the mix in several days. He’s a long-term prospect, particularly with Drew Storen locked into the role, but I’ll put him on the radar.
Brad Mills, SP, Las Vegas (Toronto)
In the hitter-dominated desert, Mills has excelled on the hill. Mills has pitched to a strong 2.70 ERA with a 1.14 WHIP in his 66 2/3 innings pitched. Most importantly, he’s struck out 3.7 batters per walk issued (two walks per nine innings).
Josh Fields, 3B, Colorado Springs (Colorado)
Do you remember Fields from his days with the White Sox? He’s back to crushing minor-league pitching and taunting us once again in the Colorado organization. Fields currently possesses a league-leading .383 batting average (51-for-133) with 16 doubles, seven home runs and 34 RBI. With Ian Stewart back in the minor leagues for a second time and recovering from injuries, Fields could eventually find his way to Coors.
Lou Montanez, 1B, Iowa (Chicago Cubs)
It’s another season of frustration in Chicago, and many fans and pundits are seeking out potential solutions in the minor-league system. Might the 29-year-old Montanez get a shot to inject some life into the offense?
Montanez is currently destroying the opposition at Triple-A Iowa. Entering Thursday’s play, Montanez owned a robust .369 batting average (58-for-157) with 11 doubles, five home runs and 43 RBI.
Brandon Belt, 1B, Fresno (San Francisco)
I’m willing to admit that my fist-pounding endorsement of Belt as the future NL Rookie of the Year was premature. Belt struggled to a weak .211 batting average with one home run, four RBI and 13 strikeouts in 52 at-bats before getting demoted.
Belt took the demotion in stride and immediately started crushing the ball. He carried a strong .337 batting average (34-for-101) with seven doubles, four home runs, 21 RBI and three stolen bases into Thursday’s play. Belt will be back to stay soon enough.
Collin Cowgill, OF, Reno (Arizona)
Forget about the similarity of his name to that of a famous broadcaster. The 25-year-old outfielder has been tearing it up in Reno. Cowgill has produced fabulous five-category production. He’s batting .331 (57-for-172) with eight doubles, eight home runs and 13 stolen bases while registering a fantastic .407 on-base percentage.
Eric Young, 2B, Colorado Springs (Colorado)
I circle back to Colorado to highlight the brilliance of one former major leaguer looking for another shot. Young has a robust .363 batting average (58-for-160) with 13 doubles, eight triples and 17 RBI. The two pieces of his stat line that leap off of the page are his stolen-base total (17) and his walk-to-strikeout ratio (32-to-27).