After a week’s hiatus due to a busy schedule, we’re back with the weekly Minor Impacts, which is a look at some of the hottest minor league players that could have an impact at the Major League Level in 2009.
Nolan Reimold: This talented player is absolutely killing the ball in Triple-A with a triple-slash line of .396/.484/.755 in 106 at-bats. Left field has been a black hole for the big-league club in 2009. However, 1+1 does not always equal 2 in Baltimore, no doubt much to Reimold’s chagrin. Felix Pie is hitting .180 and Lou Montanez is a bench player. It’s time to see what the former second-round pick (2005) can do – and at 25 years old Reimold’s not getting any younger.
Gorkys Hernandez: This 21-year-old outfielder is also having a nice showing in the minors, although he’s currently playing in double-A. Hernandez is hitting .331/.391/.421 with seven steals in 31 games. He plays good defense, as well. Unfortunately, he still strikes out too much for a player with his skill set, but he can’t do much worse than current Braves center-fielder and rookie Jordan Schafer, who is striking out almost 40% of the time.
Drew Stubbs, Chris Heisey, and Todd Frazier: The Reds organization is about to have another glut of outfielders. No fewer than three outfielders are currently knocking on the big league door but there isn’t room for everyone. Perhaps the club should look to cash in on some of this depth to help out in the pitching department. Stubbs, 24, is hitting .333/.412/.467 in triple-A and has made strides in his strikeout rate. Chris Heisey, 24, has long been an underdog, but he just keeps hitting and is currently at .374/.471/.626 with a BB/K rate of 1.90 in double-A. Frazier, who converted to the outfield from third base this season, is batting .281/.314/.422 but has as much – or more – potential as the other two hotter hitters.
Chris Tillman: The Baltimore starting rotation is an ugly, ugly place to be these days, but Tillman could make things a lot more bearable in the near future. Only 21, the right-hander is dominating triple-A hitters and currently has a 2.03 ERA after allowing just 24 hits in 31 innings of work. His walk rate is a respectable 3.48 BB/9 and his strikeout rate is excellent at 10.74 K/9. Tillman has also not allowed a home run despite allowing more flyball outs than ground outs.
Vince Mazzaro: With so many young pitchers already having surfaced in Oakland this season, it’s hard to believe there are more on the horizon but there are and Mazzaro is leading the charge. He’s flown under the radar so far in his pro career despite the fact he was selected out of high school in the third round of the 2005 draft. Mazzaro is not flashy and he’s not a strikeout pitcher (6.81 K/9 in triple-A) but he gets a ton of groundball outs.
Honorable Mention: Jake Fox, a converted catcher, is not really a prospect anymore. He’s 26 years old and he can’t really play a position – not even first base. With that said, though, he can absolutely crush the ball and he’s hitting an unbelievable .402/.483/.941 with 14 homers in 102 at-bats. The Cubs should do him a favor and either release him or trade him to a needy American League club so he can at least prove that he’s nothing more than a future Japanese export or a quad-A slugger. In the last article we plugged Josh Whitesell as a player who needed a break and he was called up by Arizona, so here’s hoping lightning strikes twice.