- Austin Romine is off to a scorching start for AA Trenton, putting up a .326/.396/.516 line on the season, for a nifty .912 OPS. Romine has started off the month of May relatively slowly in the average department, only hitting .267 (compared to .354 in April). However, Romine has flashed more power in May, slugging .567 (compared to .492 in April). With all the attention heaped on Jesus Montero, Romine has sometimes fallen under the radar, but if he continues to hit like this he will shoot up prospect lists. He is hitting above .300 against both lefties and righties, though his high .388 BABIP may indicate that he is due for some regression in the average department. I haven’t heard any overly negative reports on Romine’s defense this season, but going by the stats, he has improved his receiving (only 1 passed ball on the season). His CS% of 19 is below his career average of 25, but this could improve over the season.
- 23 year-old Hector Noesi turned in another solid start tonight for Tampa, fanning 8 in 6 innings of 2-run ball, with 4 hits allowed and no walks. On the season, Noesi is 5-2 with a 3.08 ERA, and a stellar 47:5 k:bb ratio in 38 innings. The strikeout to walk rate shows that Noesi has been successful commanding his low-90′s fastball, and the high strikeout rate indicates progress in his secondary offerings. With a few more starts like this one, Noesi could find himself promoted to AA to face new challenges. At 23 in high-A Noesi hasn’t gotten much hype, but if he pitches this well in AA, he will get noticed.
- Jesus Montero is off to a rough start in AAA Scranton, putting up a mediocre .234/.294/.362 line on the season so far, with only 2 homers, and he went 0 for 4 on the day today. His 8:16 walk:strikeout ratio is not terrible, and does not demonstrate a major lack of discipline. Rumors were that he turned up out of shape for spring training, and this may be a potential explanation for some of his struggles. Another red flag was raised in the last few days when Montero was benched for not hustling, which may be the result of Montero’s frustration. Remember folks, he’s just 20 years old and playing just one rung below the majors, but the pressure may have gotten to him a little bit. Montero has barely struggled at any level when healthy, but he may need to make some adjustments against the more experienced opposition. Although the average looks ugly, neutralizing his season stats for luck and park gives him a .289/.347/.433 line. That is hardly worthy of a top 5 prospect, but it does indicate that Montero may be getting a little unlucky thus far. His line drive rate of over 20% would usually correspond to a higher BABIP than the .278 he has posted this season (though it should be noted that minor league line drive rates are potentially unreliable). Once Montero gets his head together and gets more comfortable with AAA pitching, I expect him to start posting impressive numbers again. At age 20, though, there is reason to believe that he is still improving and making adjustments, so it’s too early to panic.
- Although Andrew Brackman seems to have tamed the control problems that plagued him last season (with only 1 walk in 15+ innings this season), he has been absolutely tattooed by Florida State League hitters this season. In 15 2/3 innings, the tall righty has given up 20 earned runs on 29 hits, good for an ugly 11.49 ERA. Brackman has simply been too hittable, unable to throw his fastball by hitters or use his curveball as an effective strikeout pitch. I’m not sure he has his mid-90′s velocity currently (and he may never have it again), so he will need to work on his command (not just control) if he is going to be an effective starter going forward. One potential positive for Brackman is that he has kept the ball on the ground, with a 2.55 GO/GO ratio. The bad news: a lot of those ground balls are becoming hits, and his BABIP against of .444 is likely unsustainable. His 3.27 FIP also supports the notion that he has been unlucky, and that with better infield defense behind him, his numbers might improve a decent amount.
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