Fortnight on the Farm, Vol. 10

Tammy Rainey
1 year ago
Things are winding down for the farm teams at this point – A ball has two more weeks, AA has three, and AAA has about a month to go.
At this point, for the most part, and apart from injuries or recoveries, a player’s season so far is pretty much the season they had. What I mean is, let’s say Orelvis hits .300 over the next three weeks, that alone really doesn’t provide much of a counter to the reality that he’s hit barely over .200 the entire season.  A scout might notice some player made some adjustments or something but the samples grow increasingly small. The short-season clubs? They’re done. So let’s glance over those briefly…
Among DSL pitchers, I might have mentioned Moises Brito, but he went to the Dodgers in the Mitch White trade. Rafael Sanchez was pretty good, well regarded enough that he moved up to Florida and started three games for the complex team this month, then Sunday for the D-Jays. But he’s a 23-year-old Cuban signing so even now he’s a bit older than the league average. Worth watching to see how he does next year.
On the other side of the ball, the name that pops (for more than one reason) is Gregori Cano. Yes, as reported when he was signed last fall, he’s Robinson Cano’s 18-year-old brother. He’s also one of only 4 players here to have played in as many as 45 games so he has a larger sample than most. He’s split time evenly between third and first, and his hitting ticked up noticeably in August (.691 OPS through the end of July, .864 in August).
In the Florida complex, there aren’t really any pitchers that haven’t yet crossed town to pitch for the D-Jays that you’d want to hear about. Among hitters, I’ll note that Tucker Toman finished with a .391 OBP in his 11-game debut, and that highly regarded SS Manuel Beltre – who’d been a non-factor with the bat all year – finished on a warmer streak, hitting .292 over his last seven games. JC Masson and Robert Robertsis were both doing well enough (noticeably better than any other hitters on this team) to get to move across town briefly in July before all the draftees got assigned, both of them did absolutely nothing after going back to the complex. There might be a little sleeper potential there though.

Low-A Dunedin 

The revised D-Jays lead their division in the Second Half standings by a game and a half, have a significantly higher run differential than the next highest team and are well positioned to do damage in the playoffs. Cooper Benson and Geison Urbaez are pitching well; recently off the IL Kendry Rojas, Eddison Gonzalez, and Lazaro Estrada are all SP who’ve had notable success in the past and will likely hold up their end in the playoffs. Rojas graced some prospect lists last winter and Gonzalez looked very nice in the Rays system before the trade – this will be his first official (non-rehab) work for the Jays’ organization.
Offensively, 78th overall pick Cade Doughty continues to, as they say, announce his presence with authority. In 16 games he has five doubles and five homers along with a .432 OBP and he’s split time between second and third. Close behind him are two undrafted free agent signings – IF Ryan McCarty and  CF Devonte Brown. McCarty is hitting .351, Brown is hitting .327, and has 17 walks in 17 games (11 strikeouts).  Seventh-round 1B Payton Williams is a huge man said to have a lot of power but he got off to a slower start than the others. In his last eight games, he’s 10-for-27 (.370) with a .528 OBP and a .593 SLG so maybe he’s got a groove he can carry into the post-season.

High-A Vancouver

The Van C’s also are in a fairly good playoff position. They trail Eugene but since that club won the first half as well, the second seed goes to the team with the best (other) winning percentage over the whole season, and at the moment that’s the C’s by a game and a half. They also have the potential to lead with an impressive rotation but it’s in flux right now.
First, the good news. Trenton Wallace dominated in the Florida State League with a 1.11 ERA and a strong line to support it. This earned him a promotion on July 15 whereupon his previous fine walk rate blew up. In his first five starts here, covering 17.2 IP, he walked 24. However, in his last two outings, he pitched 11.2 innings, walked TWO, and struck out 18. If he’s got that groove back he’ll be a big factor from here out. Not so good is the impression that Chad Dallas has regressed from the improvement he showed in July. This month he’s walked 11 in 16.2 and his ERA reflects that problem. If he can’t find what he had going in July he’s going to be a problem.
Speaking of problems, former D-Jays ace Dahian Santos seems to have been utterly overwhelmed by the Northwest League. In two starts he’s only managed 3.2 innings and been touched for ELEVEN runs. Obviously, he’s much better than this but he is going to need to find a way to forget that and remember who he is.
Speaking of overwhelmed, I’m forced to be honest about my boy Eric Pardinho: this league has been difficult for him. I’m not sure what’s going on, he was cruising at the lower level, but in five appearances here he came out unscathed only once and sits with a 9.64 ERA at this level.
I should also shout out Matt Svanson, who hasn’t started here since moving up from Florida but is doing good work (2.87 ERA) and often goes beyond one-inning outings.
The offense has a robust core, led by rising star outfielder Gabriel Martinez (.915 OPS), slugging (but slumping) corner infielder Damiano Palmegiani (.796 OPS but just .646 in August), surprising and previously unheralded catcher Andres Sosa (slashing .382/.493/. 691 in August, CF Dasan Brown (.798 OPS in August with nine steals in 10 tries) and 1B Ranier Nunez who has a .822 OPS and his walk rate has spiked nicely since the promotion. Leo Jimenez is still here too, and has the potential too get hot but August has been as brutal for him as his early season struggles.

Double-A New Hampshire

Past time, I guess, for me to give credit where due to Paxton Schultz. There have been moments before when I’d note there’s a shadow of a chance that there’s something here but mostly I’ve always filed him as a guy who probably wasn’t a genuine prospect. But whatever he is, for almost two months now he’s been a beast for this team and that deserves recognition. In 10 starts, covering 44.1 innings, he’s put up a 1.83 ERA and given up one or zero runs in six of them. With that out of the way, let me be clear, the Fisher Cats are not in a playoff chase like the A ball teams.
There are seven SP on this roster that would like to finish strong (not counting Zulueta who remains in the IL and if he gets back on the field won’t be starting after such a layoff). Ricky Tiedemann hasn’t pitched more than three innings in any AA start. He’s pitched well but seems to clearly be in a load management program at this point. Indeed, he was shifted to the Development list after his last outing so how much more run they give him is uncertain. Sem Robersse has been underwhelming in his first two AA starts, giving up 3 over 5 IPs in back-to-back outings. But he’ll get at least three more turns to try to finish strong. Jimmy Robbins had no such difficulty. He gave up just one earned run in his first two starts at this level.
On the other hand, there’s Adam Kloffenstein. I’ll just let Keith Law get you up to date after he watched this team in a recent series:
Kloffenstein has seen his stuff back up so much that at this point I don’t think he’s a prospect even as a reliever. He’s down to 90-91 mph without life or movement on the pitch, and has a fringy slider in the mid-80s, which explains his 6-plus ERA
The story of this offense in July was SS Addison Barger who finished the month hitting .455 with a 1.261 OPS which, of course, was certainly not sustainable. After being an offensive machine at two levels for four months he seems to have run low on gas in August. The strikeout rate is way up and everything else is way down, but a dog-days slump on the heels of a lot of good work should come with a massive grain of salt.
I’ve mentioned corner infielder and switch hitter John Aiello in passing a few times before but after a hot April, a mediocre May sort of took him off the radar. Since then though, with little fanfare, he’s built up a nice portfolio. He had a .744 OPS in June, .849 in July, and so far in August his slash line is .385/.475/.635/1.110 so he’s earned our attention.
Most of his defensive innings in the minors have been at 3B but he’s been so off the radar that I’ve seen no scouting on how good he is at the hot corner. In the same sense that I owed props to Schultz, I’m obliged to acknowledge Davis Schneider. The 2B has never been considered for any top prospect list. His entire career to this point has been a good-but-not-great versatile player who’s a boon to any MiLB squad but ultimately likely an org guy.” But as he climbs the ladder he keeps getting just a bit better than he was before. He’s a good baserunner, though net overly speedy, and has always posted good OBP numbers. So far at AA, he’s got an .839 OPS so, a hat tip is in order.

Triple-A Buffalo

As has been the case all year, all the pitching news for the Bisons flows from the bullpen. Julian Merryweather looks ready (four hits and 15k in 11 shutout innings), Adrian Hernandez is finally back from the IL (knocked around a bit in his first game back but otherwise solid), plus there are four 40-man roster guys here (three with MLB innings this year) who are not hurting there standing and Tyler Saucedo is rehabbing. Plus Hayden Juneger is rolling along (apart from one rough outing where he got touched for 4 runs) and so is Brandon Eisert. The latter two don’t have to be added to the 40 this winter though so there’s effectively no chance they see any MLB innings this fall.
Gabby Moreno is hitting .370 in August with an .865 OPS. Otto Lopez, since his first empty cup of coffee in Toronto in June, is slashing .341/.410/.482/.892 which kind of makes you wonder what the point in acquiring Merrifield was.  On the other hand, Vinny Capra has really struggled since coming off the IL. For August he’s hitting .216 with a .607 OPS and he may have put his 40-man roster spot at risk.
When I started this one I would not have guessed I’d name-check 42 players (albeit a few of them unfavorably) and break 1800 words but here we are.



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