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What We Learned from MiLB: Week Two

Posted By Bryan Smith On April 22, 2010 @ 11:00 am In Minor Leagues | 5 Comments

Our look back at the second seven days of the minor league season continues. Here is what I learned.

Jonathan Lucroy was promoted fast.

Not exactly the most publicized promotion of the week, but it took the Brewers as many games to move Jon Lucroy up a level as it did the Mets to call up Ike Davis. At the break of Spring Training, the Brewers opted to return Lucroy to Double-A, presumably so they could continue to let Angel Salome play at Triple-A everyday. But with Salome off the team for a few days with a personal matter, the Brewers used it as an excuse to send Lucroy to the level he belonged.

After starting the season 2-for-8 in two games, Lucroy hit .500 for the next eight games, including three separate three-hit games. In that time he doubled three times and walked four times, and with his .452/.500/.524 batting line, the Brewers didn’t see it fit to keep him in the same place he hit .267/.380/.418 a year ago. So, Lucroy was sent to Triple-A Nashville, and made his debut on Wednesday. The former third round pick started his Sounds career with a double, a walk and a strikeout in four plate appearances, and he airmailed his only throw to second base to center field. After throwing out 41% of runners a year ago, Lucroy is now 3-for-10 this season.

In my future talent report on the Brewers before the season, I wrote, “With his plate recognition, I have some good confidence he can be a .340-.350 guy, play two-thirds of the season behind the dish, and put up 2.5-3 WAR.” Now, I’m just wondering why the Brewers would want to only play him for two-thirds of the season. With Gregg Zaun hitting just .125/.163/.150 in Milwaukee, I have a feeling we’ll see him with the big league team this season.

Mike Trout is a pretty decent prospect.

This article is a couple years old now, but it serves an important lesson in context: teenage players in the Midwest League are often overwhelmed. In the linked article, I found nearly 45,000 plate appearances from 2000-2006 by teenage position players in the MWL, and collectively, they hit just .260/.330/.381. I say this as a long way of putting Mike Trout‘s early season dominance in perspective.

Because of a late birthday, Trout will play most of the entire minor league season at just 18 years old. Some of the pitchers he’s been facing early this season have been 4 or 5 years older, and it hasn’t mattered one bit. The New Jersey outfielder has hit safely in his last 11 games, a streak that includes eight multi-hit games. He has a 8/9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 65 plate appearances, and has stolen 7 bases in 8 attempts. And the make-up that has glittered his scouting reports since the beginning is still getting high praise.

If the 2009 draft was re-done today, Mike Trout would be a top 10 pick. He is also the Angels top prospect, and the leader of one of the most prospect-heavy teams in the minor leagues.

The Bradenton Marauders are good at hitting.

One of two minor league teams to hit .300, and the only one of 120 getting on base at a .400 clip, the Pittsburgh Pirates High-A affiliate has been a revelation. The team has three regulars with an OPS above 1.000, and that’s to say nothing of top team prospect Starling Marte, whose .364/.472/.523 batting line is only the fourth-best on this team. Overall, in the notoriously pitcher-friendly Florida State League, the Marauders are averaging a robust 7.3 runs per game.

If it’s not Marte that has emerged as the best prospect on the team — and I think he has — then the title belongs to Pirates top draft pick Tony Sanchez. The catcher has struggled mightily behind the plate (he’s yet to throw out a baserunner in 13 attempts), but it more than making up for it with his offense. The BC product is now hitting .316/.469/.605, drawing six walks in his last four games alone. And the team must be encouraged by the breakout of 2007 fourth round pick Quincy Latimore, who seems to now be hitting for the power that was once projected to him. Latimore has four home runs and a .395/.449/.721 batting line in 11 games.

These are all encouraging sign for a Pirates team that needed a big season the farm. With remnants of the previous regime like Latimore and Dan Moskos finally showing some life to go along with the bevy of prospects acquired in the last two seasons, things are looking up in Pittsburgh for the first time in awhile.


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