Pittsburgh Pirates OF prospect Gregory Polanco hit a home run for Triple-A Indianapolis yesterday. Watch the video below:
Appel has had some mixed results early in the season, and early in his pro career. Reports on Appel's stuff have always been somewhat mixed, as some scouts see a top of the rotation pitcher when he's on, but others see a durable, mid rotation innings eater when his stuff isn't as crisp. He's posted a 5.06 ERA through his first three starts this season in the Class-A+ California League after posting a 3.82 ERA in eight starts in the Class-A Midwest League in 2013. He hasn't been particularly sharp thus far, and the Astros are still stretching him out as he's pitched more than three innings in just one of his starts so far. Appel gets another test against the Inland Empire 66ers tonight. We're hoping to see him go deeper in the game, and be more effective with his pitches, to limit the amount of hits he gives up.2. Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
We talked about Sanchez in this piece before his last start on April 18th. He was coming off a disappointing start against the Binghamton Mets in New Hampshire a week earlier, and was set for a rematch against the Mets, this time at their ballpark. What did he do? Simply shut Binghamton down, pitching six scoreless innings, allowing just four hits and two walks, while striking out six batters. That's more like it. Impressive to see him bounce back so strongly against the same team that gave him a rough ride in his previous start. Sanchez will toe the rubber against the New Britain Rock Cats tonight, and he'll look to continue his success on the road, where he's posted a 1.13 ERA through three starts this season.3. Nick Kingham, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Saw Kingham during the spring, and he looked like a confident young pitcher coming off a breakout 2013 season. He's carried that momentum over into 2014 and has hit the ground running in the Double-A Eastern League, pitching for the Altoona Curve. He made his debut on April 6th, pitching six shutout innings against Erie, and he's been on a roll since. Through three starts, Kingham has a 0.53 ERA and has allowed just 11 hits through his first 17 innings pitched. He'll need to limit the walks a bit, as he's issued three in each of his starts, but he's limiting the damage as opposing batters are hitting just .193 against him thus far.4. J.R. Graham, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Graham's 2013 season effectively ended in mid May as he was suffering from a right shoulder strain. It eventually forced him to miss the rest of the season as he rested the shoulder. There don't appear to be any lingering effects as he's got off to a red-hot start with Double-A Mississippi this season. In his first start of the season, Graham pitching five nearly perfect innings, allowing just a single walk while striking out three batters. He hasn't allowed an earned run in either of his last two starts as well, so he's sporting a 0.00 ERA through his first three starts. On the season, he's pitched 13.1 innings, allowed eight hits and just two walks, but has only struck out four batters. Graham wont strike out a ton of hitters, but he should miss more bats than that, and he's been more hittable in his past two starts. Interested to see how he fares against the Montgomery Biscuits tonight. Many evaluators had Graham at, or near, the top of the Braves' prospect rankings a year ago, so it's been a good sign to see him return to health and pitch so effectively early in 2014.5. Fabio Martinez, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
An old favourite of mine, Martinez was known as Fabio Martinez Mesa when he was an exciting young pitching prospect in the Angels organization. He struck out a whopping 141 batters in 103.1 innings in the Class-A Midwest League in 2010, but his career has been derailed by shoulder injuries and command problems ever since. Claimed by the Indians midway through the 2012 season, Martinez was signed by the Dodgers as a minor league free agent this past offseason. They've put him back in a starter's role, and they've caught some lightening in a bottle thus far. Control will always be a problem for Martinez, but he's posted a 1.69 ERA through his first three appearances. He's limited opposing batters to just a .137 batting average so far, as he's allowed just seven hits through his first 16 innings pitched to go along with 15 strikeouts. The problem is that he's walked four in each appearance, including his outstanding season debut when he pitched six scoreless innings without allowing a hit. Martinez will have a tough test tonight, pitching at High Desert against the Mavericks. There's a good chance he'll allow another four walks, but how many hits will the Mavericks get?
Giolito is on a roll with Class-A Hagerstown, as he's posted two consecutive five inning scoreless starts, allowing just three combined hits and three combined walks over those two starts, dominating Lakewood and Delmarva. More importantly, Giolito is building up his pitch count and his durability, as he went five innings in each of his last two starts. Through three outings, he's posted a 2.08 ERA in 13 innings, with 15 strikeouts. Giolito will go up against the Augusta GreenJackets tonight.2. Trevor Bauer, RHP, Cleveland Indians
It's a mystery to many that Trevor Bauer is still pitching in the minor leagues. He's had three fantastic starts this season, one in Cleveland as part of a doubleheader, book-ended by two nine strikeout performances for Triple-A Columbus. It appears that Bauer is simply biding his time at this point, and perhaps another couple of impressive starts will seal the deal and earn up a promotion to the big league level for good. Bauer takes on the Gwinnett Braves tonight.3. Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
Jungmann was the 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft, but he's had more mediocre results as a pro. He's repeating the Double-A Southern League after posting a 4.33 ERA in 26 starts last season. A big issue for Jungmann thus far in his pro career is that he just hasn't been missing enough bats. Through three starts in 2014, Jungmann has pitched 17 innings, allowed six earned runs on 16 hits and just three walks, while recording 17 strikeouts. He'll toe the rubber against the Double-A Mobile BayBears tonight looking for his third quality start of the season, in four tries.4. Justin Nicolino, LHP, Miami Marlins
Nicolino, part of the mega trade with the Blue Jays prior to the 2013 season, has returned to Double-A Jacksonville for the 2014 season, after pitching there in the second half last year. Nicolino's best start of the 2014 season came in his last turn against the Chattanooga Lookouts, when he limited them to five hits and a walk over 6.2 innings of one run ball. On the season thus far, Nicolino has posted a 3.38 ERA in 16 innings, allowing 18 hits, two walks and recording eight strikeouts.5. Dylan Unsworth, RHP, Seattle Mariners
Unsworth is a 21 year old right-hander that the Mariners signed out of South Africa in 2009. He posted an impressive season in Class-A in 2013, marking his full season debut. He made 11 starts for Clinton of the Midwest League. He allowed one walk in each of the first two starts, but impressively did not allow another walk for the rest of the season, more than roughly 50 innings pitched. Unsworth got off to a strong start to the 2014 in Class-A+, pitching six innings, allowing just five hits, a walk and an unearned run while striking out four batters. Things haven't been as easy the past two times he's taken the hill, but the Class-A+ California League can be unforgiving for pitchers, especially pitching for the Mariners' High Desert affiliate. Unsworth will take on Rancho Cucamonga tonight, and will be looking to get back on track.
Syndergaard goes up against the El Paso Chihuahuas in his fourth start of the season tonight. He's been solid through his first three starts, putting up a 3.94 ERA and a .283 opponents average, respectable numbers for the hitters haven that is the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Syndergaard appears to be on the cusp of the big leagues, so a strong stretch of starts could push him over the top.2. Kyle Crick, RHP, San Francisco Giants
Crick has made just two starts so far but he appears to be adjusting to the Double-A level quite well. He had a strong debut for the Richmond Flying Squirrels on April 6th, when he limited the New Britian Rock Cats to just three hits, two walks and a run over five solid innings, racking up five strikeouts along the way. He was limited in his last start by pitch count restrictions, and only lasted 2.2 innings. He still punched out five hitters. Crick will look to put up a longer performance against the Altoona Curve this afternoon.3. Eddie Butler, RHP, Colorado Rockies
Eddie Butler is off and rolling for Double-A Tulsa again, picking up right where he left off at the end of the 2013 season. He's put up three impressive starts in a row to start the season, striking out 17 batters while issuing just three walks. Opposing batters are hitting just .143 against Butler with runners on base. He's going up against Double-A Northwest Arkansas tonight.4. Julio Urias, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Urias pitched in the Class-A Midwest League last season at the age of 16, putting up impressive numbers with a 2.48 ERA and a 67:16 K:BB ratio in 54.1 innings. Promoted to Class-A+ Rancho Cucamonga at the young age of 17, Urias had a nice debut start, allowing one hit and four walks over four shoutout innings, picking up five strikeouts. Things have been a bit tougher his last two times out and he's currently sporting a 5.40 ERA through three starts. He'll go up against the Visalia Rawhide tonight.5. Domingo Tapia, RHP, New York Mets
Tapia returned to the Class-A+ Florida State League, where he pitched in 2013. He's off to a hot start for the St. Lucie Mets, as he's posted a 0.90 ERA through his first two starts. Tapia pitched five no-hit innings in his last start, limiting the Fort Myers Miracle to just two walks. He's drawn Fort Myers again for his next start tonight, and he'll look to carry over the success he had last time out.