Saturday – Reading – Zach Eflin vs Joe Ross
A matchup of former Padres first rounders traded this offseason (Ross in 2011, Eflin in 2012), Ross went to the Nationals in the deal that sent Wil Myers to San Diego and Steven Souza to Tampa Bay. Eflin so far has taken better to the Eastern League (Ross made 4 starts in AA last year) having allowed no runs on 7 hits vs Ross’s 8 runs on 18 hits. This will be Ross’s fourth start of the year and Eflin’s third. Outside of their history, both bring great stuff to the mound. Ross has gotten more press (he was #96 on BA’s Top 100) due to a fastball he can run up to 96+, but mostly sits in the low 90s. Ross is able to miss bats with a plus slider and above average changeup (16 strikeouts in 13 innings this year). Eflin so far this year has been 90-92 touching 94 with a 2-seam fastball a bit below that, and has used them to generate a ton of week contact so far. He has a plus change, but is really working to get feel for a short slider to help him give hitters a different look. The hitting talent in the series won’t match the pitching talent, but Reading still runs out Roman Quinn and Aaron Altherr.
Lehigh Valley: (vs Buffalo)
Joely has been utterly frustrating, he is generating a ton of ground ball contact, but can’t miss bats and is walking everyone. Billingsley is nearing his major league return and should be up to 80 pitches this time out. Severino has no room for error, so when it is on it is good, but when it is off run away (especially if you are in home run danger). On the hitting side, Franco continues to make the necessary adjustments and is putting up good numbers. Tommy Joseph is still healthy, but has had a slow start to the year at the plate, maybe this weekend he can get it going a little bit.
Reading: (vs Harrisburg)
Never a dull moment in the Reading rotation. Biddle has looked like his old self, and while the control can get away from him at times his stuff is much sharper. He still needs to sharpen the curveball and find consistency in the changeup, but once again he looks like a major league pitcher. It was a rough time out last start for Windle who saw the velocity regress back to 91-93 as opposed to the 93-95 he showed in his first start. It took him a while to find feel for his pitches, and the lack of changeup really can hinder him against right handed batters. There should be some bounceback potential in his Sunday start.
Clearwater: (vs Lakeland)
Not the most prospecty weekend rotation of all time. Kleven has good fastball velocity but remains fairly hittable. Whitehead is a groundball machine who is leaving FSL batters with little more to do than hit it to the infielders, but he does lack the impact stuff to be more than a back end starter. Leibrandt lacks fastball velocity, but has the command, feel, and changeup to dominate A-ball hitters. He combined with Edubray Ramos for a shutout last time out and could try for a solo bid this time. The hitting for the Threshers hasn’t been spectacular so far, but the middle of the lineup (Pullin-Knapp-Cozens-Astudillo-Brown-Walding) has some potential fire power.
Lakewood: (vs Hagerstown)
It has not been a good start to the year for Ranfi who is still tall and inconsistent. He has the stuff to be good, but I fear he may be in the bullpen before the end of the season. Chris Oliver has flashed better stuff this year than in his debut and it will be important for him to build off his first start and not his second start. Elniery was brilliant in his first start, but the wheels came off a bit last start. The Lakewood assignment was a bit aggressive so there may be rough patches, but he should continue to work through them. At the plate, Carlos Tocci has a 10 game hitting streak and is still batting .370/.452/.556 on the year. Elsewhere, Malquin Canelo leads the South Atlantic league in doubles, Cord Sandberg will eventually stop hitting the ball right at people, Deivi Grullon hit his first home run of the year, Grenny Cumana is still fun in the field, and Rhys Hoskins is coming off a 3 home run week.
- Slowly But Surely, Tocci Making Gains – Josh Norris (Baseball America)
- Gkita’s Youtube Channel – (I cannot pimp this enough)
Top 50 Prospect Injuries
- J.P. Crawford – Oblique – Taking ground balls in Extended Spring Training
- Yoel Mecias – Shoulder soreness – Pitching in Extended Spring Training
- Kelly Dugan – Stress Fracture, Foot – In Florida and out of his walking boot
- Matt Imhof – Left Shoulder Strain – Unknown
- Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez – Right Shoulder – Unknown
- Samuel Hiciano – Ankle Fracture – Out for the year
- Drew Anderson – UCL Tear – Tommy John Surgery, out for the year
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