The minor league season is now well underway with a plethora of high-level performances by intriguing names from triple-A all the way down to low-A. Below is just a snapshot highlighting five strong starts to the season.
It’s not easy jumping from short-season ball to high-A ball but Cingrani made it look easy. His first start – in which he allowed just one hit in 6.0 innings – was all the more impressive when you realize it took place in the hitter friendly California League. The southpaw also walked a batter but he struck out five. Of the balls put into play, Cingrani recorded more outs via the fly ball than the ground ball so that gives him something to work on for his next start.
After cruising through the low minors with San Francisco, Barnes has found the upper levels of the minor leagues a little tougher to tame after coming over to Cleveland in a 2009 trade for Ryan Garko. The southpaw returned to triple-A in 2012 after an injury-shortened 2011. If his first start is any indicator of the year to come, Barnes could be helping Cleveland at the big league level in short order. He allowed just one hit and two walks in 6.0 innings, while also fanning seven batters. Barnes retired all but one right-handed hitter that he faced.
The former Red Sox prospect gives the Rangers yet another interesting prospect in a Texas Rangers system that is loaded with them. Already in his fifth minor league season Mendez has moved rather slowly through the minors to this point but 2012 could be his breakout season. Displaying solid control in his first start the right-hander did not walk a batter and allowed just three hits in 6.0 innings of work. The 21-year-old pitcher had the Wilmington batters guessing and he recorded nine strikeouts.
Tropeano was on the fringe of making Houston’s Top 15 prospects list but was ultimately left off in favor of some higher-ceiling (but raw) players. The college product doesn’t blow people away but he displays good pitchability with his average stuff. Tropeano’s dominance in low-A ball should be expected so it takes a little luster off his results, which included 10 strikeouts and three ground-ball outs in 5.0 innings of work. He was touched up for one run on four hits. With the system lacking quality arms in the upper levels of the system Tropeano could move quickly.
There aren’t many – if any – hotter hitters in the minors than Collins, who started off the season 12-for-17 in his first four games. Despite not being a “big ticket” prospect, the outfielder was skipped over low-A ball to begin the 2012 season after spending ’11 in short-season ball. He’s handled the bat well, striking out just once. A left-handed hitter he’s 5-for-6 against southpaws. Collins doesn’t have a huge ceiling and may top out as a fourth outfielder but he’s definitely making some noise early on in 2012.
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