by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Which prospects are tearing it up down on the farm? Obviously we can’t name them all, but here are six names that are currently streaking and need to be on all
Matt Hall – Detroit Tigers – Left-Handed Pitcher
After starting the season in the bullpen, Hall was moved back to the rotation on June 22 and hasn’t missed a beat. In his four starts he’s posted an impressive line:
21.1 IP, 0 ER, 12 H, 2 BB, 26 K
Maybe impressive is an understatement… That said is success really a surprise? Splitting time between High-A and Double-A a year ago (138.1 IP) he posted a 2.60 ERA to go along with a 9.69 K/9 (courtesy of a 14.8% SwStr%), 3.84 BB/9 and 54.0% groundball rate while working mainly as a starter (24 starts in 25 appearances). The key is going to be improving his control, something that hasn’t been an issue since his transition back into the rotation. Michael Avallone of MILB.com posted the following quote from Hall’s pitching coach, Willie Blair, following his most recent outing:
“He’s doing a lot of things right. The biggest improvement for him has been his fastball location. I had him for a bit last year and spotting his fastball wasn’t a great strength. He could get away with mistakes because his curveball was so good, but he needed to make that jump with the fastball command. It makes his curve, which is already a pretty good pitch, look that much better. Now the hitters have to protect against both pitches plus an improving changeup.”
Hall is going to turn 25-years old on July 23, so the potential is also there for him to move quickly.
Akil Baddoo – Minnesota Twins – Outfielder
He’s currently on a 10-game hitting streak, going 17-44 with 1 HR, 4 RBI, 11 R and 2 SB. Overall this season he’s got 8 HR and 14 SB, but he’s hitting just .244 at Single-A as he’s struggled with his strikeouts (25.4% courtesy of a 14.0% SwStr%). He won’t turn 20-years old until August, so there’s obviously time, and there are a few other key numbers worth noting:
- Walks – 16.1%; so it’s hard to call his approach poor
- Recent Stretch – During the hitting streak he has 4 K vs. 5 BB, and has only struck out in one of his past eight games
If he can continue to cut down on the strikeouts, the sky is going to be the limit. Don’t be surprised if he fully breaks out by year’s end.
Jhonathan Diaz – Boston Red Sox – Left-Handed Pitcher
While he has made one start at High-A this season, the bulk of the 21-year old’s time has come at Single-A and the skill set seems impressive:
- Strikeouts – 9.25 K/9 (12.0% SwStr%)
- Control – 2.37 BB/9
- Groundballs – 53.2% (1.80 GO/AO)
You can argue that he’s old for the level, but we also can’t ignore the recent performance. In four June starts (he made a spot start at High-A, where he struggled) he posted a 2.35 ERA and 1.04 WHIP with 22 K vs. 3 BB. He’s followed that up with a strong start to July (2 ER over 6.0 IP). It’ll be interesting to see if he’s included in a deadline deal, but right now he’s starting to show signs of a breakout.
Taylor Widener – Arizona Diamondbacks – Right-Handed Pitcher
His Saturday night start was highly impressive, with 13 K vs. 1 BB over 7.0 IP. It’s the second time in his past four starts that he’s struck out at least 12 batters, and he now has 114 K vs. 26 BB over 86.2 IP. It’s an impressive ratio and has helped him to a 2.60 ERA and 1.02 WHIP while spending the entire season at Double-A.
The concern is obviously his 0.62 GO/AO, which could lead to home run issues as he continues to advance. Time will tell, but with the swing and miss stuff and solid control it’s possible that he can overcome the issue and continue to produce.
Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs