In his Midwest League debut, MacKenzie Gore, the 3rd overall pick in the 2017 draft managed to produce a solid line (3 IP, 5 H, 2 R, BB & 4 K) for the Fort Wayne fans who braved the chilly conditions (42 degrees, 10 mph wind). Gore was pulled after 66 pitches, but he flashed his overwhelming talent across the game’s first three frames. He went right to work on the very first batter he faced, Lansing’s Chavez Young, getting a called third strike on the inside portion of the plate that registered at 94 mph. Gore consistently sat 93-95 mph Tuesday night and although his curveball lacked it’s usual bite, he was still able to use it effectively in certain spots. His slider has the potential to be a plus pitch in the very near future and the changeup he’s been refining since last summer, sat in the low 80s and also looks to be a plus offering sometime soon. Overall, Gore did not disappoint in his first start of the 2018 season and with the advanced state of his secondary pitches, he’ll be a thorn in the side of Midwest League opponents every time he takes the hill.
— Glenn Marini (@GlennMariniWANE) April 11, 2018
Andrew Bechtold, 3B (Cedar Rapids) showed off his solid hitting approach this past weekend going 3-6 with a double and stolen base. The 6-1, 185 lbs right-hander was the Twins fifth round selection last summer and offers a high contact rate to go along with his developing, raw power. His plus-arm makes it easy to envision him sticking at the hot-corner as he progresses through the Minnesota system.
Brendan McKay, the fourth overall selection in 2017 is off to a hot start for Bowling Green. McKay is 7-for-14 with 5 runs scored and 10 walks and has produced a 1.315 OPS through the first week of action. He’s also tossed two perfect innings with four strikeouts in his only start this year. While McKay looks like he’s still being developed as a two-way player, there are some in the organization who would prefer to see him as a full-time first baseman.
When the Athletics drafted Nick Allen 81st overall in 2017, evaluators were overwhelmed by his soft hands and baseball instincts, while showing little worry about how his under-sized frame might play at advanced levels. Allen, who stands 5-9 and weighs in at 155 pounds is much smaller than the usual shortstop prospect, but his fleet feet and plus-arm provide the tools needed to make all the plays on the left side of the infield. He’s off to a nice start for Beloit this spring, racking up four hits in 13 at bats and swiping two bags in the opening weekend of action. At just 19-years-old, Allen will spend his time in the MWL this year trying to find a way to coax as much power out of his bat as possible as he continues to mature physically. If he can provide at least a serviceable bat on a consistent basis, his floor would be a utility role at the big league level when he’s ready to make the jump.
Elijah Morgan turned in his first start of the year for Lake County on April 5th, tossing six innings of four-hit ball while striking out eight. The 5-10 right-hander from Gonzaga boasts a changeup and just enough velocity on his fastball (89-91 mph) to be an effective starter in the low-minors. The lack of a solid third offering and his small stature for a righty will most likely have Indians transitioning Morgan to a bullpen role the closer he gets to a call-up.
Monday night brought us the debut of the Hunter Greene era in the MWL. As expected, the second overall pick of the 2017 draft did not disappoint. Greene lit up the radar gun, hitting 100 mph on his first three pitches of the evening, while working in the high 90s with ease for most of the outing. Greene would eventually record 8 Ks in his three innings of work, while yielding two runs on five hits in the Dayton’s win over Lake County. Even with the conservative approach the Reds use with their prospects, it’s hard to imagine Greene’s stay in the MWL will be an extended one.
Hunter Greene tonight at Fifth Third Field pic.twitter.com/NZJQyxdPKy
— Dayton Dragons (@DragonsBaseball) April 10, 2018
Here’s a great look at the emotion from Hunter Greene after his 8th and final strikeout in his Dayton debut. Pounds his chest as he walks off the field. @HunterGreene17 (video courtesy: @DragonsBaseball) pic.twitter.com/F6E9PjmOKI
— James Rider (@JamesRRider) April 10, 2018
Making his first start for South Bend Saturday night, Javier Assad gave Cubs fans a sneak preview of what evaluators think could be an inning eating, back-end of the rotation future on the North side of Chicago. Flashing a fastball that routinely sat in the 91-93 mph range, Assad registered 5 Ks in five innings pitched to pick up the victory against West Michigan. His secondary offerings, including two breaking balls and a slightly above-average changeup give the 20-year-old a more polished look compared to most Low-A starters.
Ben Rortvedt is off to a 6-for-12 start for Cedar Rapids this year, showing why evaluators believe that he could be one of the top offensive catchers at the major league level someday. He’s at least 4 years away from a spot in a big league dugout, but he’s showing signs of an above average hit tool and power at an early stage.