Every Thursday throughout the season, Minor Impacts takes a look at some of the hottest minor league players that could have impacts at the Major League Level in the near future.
Andrew McCutchen: When the Pirates organization is done trying to save money and decides to promote Andrew McCutchen, current right-fielder Brandon Moss should be rightfully shifted back to the fourth outfielder role. For the second straight year in triple-A, McCutchen is showing the ability to play good defense, steal bases and hit for average. He currently has a triple-slash line of .291/.354/.473 with nine steals in 41 games. He’s also striking out just 10% of the time, which is excellent news for a top-of-the-order player. The club could use his spark.
Justin Turner: With the promotions of Matt Wieters, Nolan Reimold and Jason Berken, Baltimore has been turning to its minor league system as of late to infuse some talent into the roster in what is turning into another murky year in the AL East standings. Infielder Justin Turner, 24, has been hitting very well recently in triple-A and he could eventually take the place of disappointing utility player Robert Andino. Turner, who was acquired from Cincinnati this past off-season in the Ramon Hernandez trade, is hitting .405 in his last 10 games and .356 in May.
Wes Roemer: A big, strong right-handed pitcher, Wes Roemer has never posted flashy numbers but his base statistics have been respectable this season. Recently promoted to double-A, the former supplemental first round pick is having a lot of luck with putting the ball in play with a new emphasis on sinking the ball. He’s striking out just over five batters per nine innings but he doesn’t walk many hitters and he has yet to allow a home run in 46.2 innings this season after struggling with the long ball in 2008. Arizona could use the pitching help, so Roemer could get a look before too long, even if it’s in the bullpen.
Matt Maloney: Like Roemer, Matt Maloney is having success in 2009 despite non-sexy numbers. The 25-year-old southpaw has now spent parts of three seasons in triple-A but has yet to receive a call-up to the Majors because of the Reds’ pitching depth. This season, Maloney has walked just seven batters in more than 50 innings of work and he’s struck out 41 (7.19 K/9) so he deserves a look in the near future. With a repertoire that includes a fastball that works in the high 80s (and tops out around 91-92), as well as a plus changeup and two average breaking balls, Maloney has more than enough to survive as a solid No. 4 starter in the National League.
George Kontos: Yet another pitcher who succeeds with modest stuff, George Kontos gets lost in the Yankees system amongst some of the bigger-named prospects (with stronger arms). This right-hander, though, strikes out a healthy number of batters (8.1 k/9 career) despite working in the high 80s and low 90s. His best pitch is a slider, although he also has a curveball and changeup. Combined between double-A and triple-A this season, Kontos has allowed 36 hits and struck out 42 batters in 42.1 innings of work. Once he improves his control (19 walks), he could get a look in the bullpen with all the movement being made in the big-league bullpen this season.
Vince Mazzaro: The Oakland Athletics organization has leaned heavily on its young pitching with mixed results in 2009. The club, though, has yet to take a look at Vince Mazzaro at the Major League level. The sinker-slider pitcher is having a nice season in triple-A at the age of 22. In 50.2 innings, the right-hander has allowed just 38 hits and 16 walks (2.84 BB/9). He’s also seen just two balls leave the yard on a fly in a good hitters’ league, thanks to a 59% ground ball rate.