Minor league baseball has been quietly roaring along for two months now. There’s enough of a sample for us to finally dig into, enough for us to draw some conclusions about where things stand right now. Right now is just that, right now. Things always change, but it’s time we examine what has taken place to date. As we prepare for the 2016 MLB draft, the one in which the D-backs don’t have a first round pick, we can even begin to see some early returns on last year’s haul. Here are some stock reports from two of the team’s four full-season affiliates (Kane County and Visalia), focusing primarily on Top 30 Prospects with a few bonuses thrown in.
Cody Reed, LHP (#21): after plowing through the Midwest League, Reed earned a promotion to the California League on the back of 39.2 innings of 1.82 ERA ball. Reed struck out 55 and walked just three over that span. Velocity reports have been conflicting, but with a strong changeup and command from the left side, A-ball hitters were overmatched. He’ll have more to prove in the hitter-friendly CAL with Visalia.
Taylor Clarke, RHP (#13): along similar lines, Clarke made the jump to Visalia after just six starts with Kane County. The 2015 3rd round choice has paid early dividends as he’s held his own quite well in his first four starts in the CAL. It’s no surprise that he’s yielded more homers with Visalia, but it is one area we’ll have to keep an eye on going forward.
Oscar Hernandez, C: the 22-year old Hernandez was assigned to High-A Visalia after Spring Training, then he promptly hit the DL. As you’re likely aware, Hernandez can really catch, but he’s hit well for Visalia in 21 games, slashing .304/.392/.478 including a pair of homers. High-A shouldn’t be too much trouble for him and the CAL is hitter-friendly, so a trip to AA Mobile in the future will tell us a lot.
Dawel Lugo, 3B (#30): known for his bat, Lugo has slugged eight home runs in his first 47 games with Visalia while hitting for a .293 average, too. He’s shifted to third base nearly full-time from shortstop, a move that seemed inevitable given his filled-out frame. At 21, this quiet-but-solid season seems about right for Lugo who continues to make steady progress.
Henry Castillo, 2B: I didn’t rank Castillo in the offseason, but he caught my eye in Spring Training and has now landed on MLB.com’s top prospect list. While there’s admittedly little physical projection left, Castillo can hit. He’s struck out more than his teammate above, but also walked more and plays a solid second base for Visalia while leading the team in doubles.
Gabriel Moya, LHP: the 21-year old Venezuelan lefty has made steady progress since being transitioned to the bullpen last year. A strong start to the season resulted in an early promotion for Moya, who was dominate in 19 innings for Kane County, then hasn’t allowed a run in his first four innings for Visalia. With 25 strikeouts and just five walks in 23 innings, Moya is moving quickly while avoiding major splits.
Tyler Mark, RHP: Mark was not on the pre-season Top 30 list, but reports on him from last season and this spring had been positive. He was promoted to Kane County in mid May and scuffled mightily in four appearances, three of them starts. The sample is small, but he’s walked nine in 16.2 innings and surrendered 23 hits, including a pair of long balls. There’s plenty of time for this to turn around, but this clearly isn’t the start we were looking for from the 2015 6th rounder.
Colin Bray, CF (#24): the switch-hitting center fielder broke onto the scene in a big way for Kane County last season and even earned some Spring Training action with the big club in March. High-A baseball has proven a different beast, however, as his strikeout rate has risen and he’s hitting more balls on the ground, limiting the potential for extra-base hits. A plus-athlete, Bray has the defense thing down and his future role will be defined by his bat.
Wei-Chieh Huang, RHP (#11): with an innings-limit in place for the slight right-hander from Taiwan, Huang didn’t start pitching for Visalia until late April. Through his first six starts, he’s running an unsightly 6.49 ERA. While his strikeout rate has increased, so have the walk and hits in dramatic fashion. A plus changeup was enough to dominate the MWL, but hitters in the CAL have been less kind early in the season.
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FanGraphs Stats Glossary
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Previously on The Pool Shot, the guys explained some of their favorite advanced stats. Hitting, including wRC+, HHAV and batted ball; pitching (38:00), including FIP, xFIP and SIERA; and baserunning and defense, including UBR, UZR and DRS (58:00).