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minor-league-report-myrtle-beach-v15-2327 | May | 2008 Articles

2008 Archives

Minor League Report: Myrtle Beach

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Update: I guess Travis Jones read my mind on this one. After I wrote this, Jones went 4/5 with two doubles, a homerun, and two RBIs, bringing his average up to .263. The Myrtle Beach Pelicans have fared just a tad better (note the sarcasm) than Mississippi this season. Atlanta’s high-A affiliate leads the Carolina League Southern Division with a 16-12 record, on the back of a 2.66 team ERA. That’s not much of surprise however. The Carolina League is notoriously pitcher-friendly and the Pelicans’ home park is considered one of the least hitter-friendly parks in the minors. Anyways, on with the individual performances. Who’s Hot RHP Tommy Hanson- Questions about the 21-year old’s control and velocity arose after a mediocre showing with Myrtle Beach in eleven starts last year. This year, Hanson has done his best to put those concerns to rest and with that, has probably helped his stock more than any prospect in baseball. The 6’6” right-hander’s velocity has risen about 2-3 mph and he is now sitting in the 92-94 mph range. His fastball has good movement, his changeup has improved significantly over the past two seasons, and of all the people I’ve talked to who have seen him pitch, one phrase has come up every time when I bring up his curve -- knee-buckling. Hanson is 3-1 with an 0.79 ERA as well as 42 strikeouts and only 10 walks in 34 innings. He should see a promotion to double-A within the next month or two and that will be a big test for him. He’s given up over two flyball outs to every groundball out and once he gets out of such a pitcher-friendly league and park, and starts pitching against more advanced competition, the poor groundball rate could result in some big homerun numbers. CF Gorkys Hernandez- Hernandez, who was acquired from Detroit in the Renteria deal this off-season, has been overshadowed by the success of Jair Jurrjens in Atlanta. Hernandez has enjoyed quite a bit of success himself though. Through 19 games, he is hitting .309/.378/.568 with five stolen bases, five triples, and two homeruns. His 6/14 BB/K isn’t great but it isn’t a big issue at that young of an age. Hernandez has missed some time this year with a hamstring injury but it doesn’t seem all that serious and if he keeps producing at this level, he’ll almost certainly receive a promotion at some point this year. SS Brandon Hicks- Hicks has really blown past my expectations early in the season. The 2007 third-round pick out of Texas A&M has four homeruns and a .586 SLG through 16 games with the Pelicans. His defense and athleticism are very good but as he moves up, his hitting ability will probably be questioned at every level. He’s doing well so far to put those at rest. The big drawback however is his plate discipline. After showing a pretty good feel for the strikezone last year (39/44 BB/K in 186 AB), Hicks’ plate discipline has tanked in 2008. His 5/23 BB/K puts him on pace for 192 strikeouts and only 42 walks over 500 at-bats and that is far from what you want to see out of a polished college product in a fairly low level. His production isn’t suffering now but if that doesn’t change drastically, he has no chance of hitting enough at higher levels. The discipline absolutely has to improve. Who’s Not 1B Tyler Flowers- Flowers’ defensive inadequacies behind the plate mean he'll almost certainly end up at first in the future. Defense isn’t his biggest issue this season however. After impressing the Braves in spring training, Flowers has shown very little power this season with only two homeruns and a sub-.400 SLG. In addition, he has.674 OPS against right-handers which could be the sign of a future platoon role. His on base skills have been impressive this year with a .134 isoOBP, but that alone isn’t going to make him a major leaguer. All of his value is in his bat (specifically his power) and that .247/.381/.392 line is not anywhere near good enough. 2B Travis Jones- This Georgia-native was one of my favorite players from last year’s draft and though he has struggled this season, he remains one of my favorites. The 22-year old second baseman has a meager .234/.342/.404 line, however his peripherals are solid. He’s shown pretty good plate discipline, power, and speed this season and it looks like the only thing that is really holding him back is the low average. He’s going to need to cut down on his strikeout numbers a bit but I still have faith that he can become a quality starting secondbaseman.

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