Friday – Clearwater – Brandon Leibrandt vs Kohl Stewart
I have not been the highest on Brandon Leibrandt among those that follow the organization, but he is putting up big numbers so far. His fastball velocity has ticked up slightly from 86-88 to 88-90 which is enough to close the gap that he needs to make up, but does not get him all the way there. He will be opposed by the #4 pick in the 2013 draft in RHP Kohl Stewart. Don’t let Stewart’s numbers fool you, he is still a big time talent. The Threshers have some talented hitters, but they have not really put it all together every game. Most of the lineup is left handed so it will be interesting to see how they handle Stewart.
Lehigh Valley: (@ Charlotte)
Friday: Adam Morgan
Saturday: Anthony Vasquez
Lehigh Valley is even further depleted by the call-up of Cody Asche to be the Phillies primary left fielder. Sunday could be one of many players after the rain and doubleheaders made them play 4 games in 2 days. On the hitting side it is really just Domonic Brown to watch, and the bullpen lacks impact. If you are an IronPigs fan it might be best to just root for Aaron Altherr’s promotion.
Reading: (vs Richmond)
Reading is much of the same, though now Brock Stassi is starting to put up enough numbers to be firmly in the Matt Rizzotti category. Aaron Altherr is probably ready for AAA, but Kelly Dugan and J.P. Crawford should be up to reinforce the Fightins fairly soon. Every Aaron Nola start is something that should be cherished as the remaining minor league starts are likely to be few and dominating. Jesse Biddle will look to get his stuff more under control, which will be the same goal as the guy who opposes him as top Giants prospect RHP Kyle Crick takes the mound for Richmond.
Clearwater: (Friday vs Ft. Myers – Sat-Sun @ Daytona)
Friday: Brandon Leibrandt
Saturday: Colin Kleven
Kleven follows up Leibrandt and will look to build on a strong outing, and try to throw his name in the race for Nola’s AA rotation spot. I still think he is probably a reliever long term, but no harm in letting him continue to start. After him another TBD in a rotation due to doubleheaders. The spot could be a bullpen game, or we could see the return of Matt Imhof from the disabled list. For now it looks like Yoel Mecias will continue to work out of the bullpen. Speaking of the bullpen, Edubray Ramos, Yacksel Rios, Jesen Therrien, Miguel Nunez, and Ulises Joaquin give the Threshers so serious RH heat to close out games. All of those arms have some chance at being major league caliber. At the plate Dylan Cozens, Aaron Brown, and Andrew Knapp are showing some life to keep up with Crawford’s scorching pace. Crawford shouldn’t be in Clearwater much longer though.
Lakewood: (@ Greensboro)
Lakewood in my mind continues to be the most interesting club developmentally. Carlos Tocci has dropped off some, but we will see if a day off helps him get his legs back under him. Meanwhile, Malquin Canelo is probably ready for Clearwater as soon as Crawford moves up. Rhys Hoskins has done everything but mash at home, but his numbers have him among the best hitters in low-A and as a college junior he could use a better challenge, eventually. On the mound, Garcia continues to be mostly solid, but has yet to really miss bats. Ricardo Pinto has shown himself to be a very solid prospect going forward. Josh Taylor has a 5.79 ERA, but his .389 BABIP coupled with a good strikeout rate (9.9) and not horrible walk rate (3.6) gives him a 3.49 FIP which means that there mind be brighter days ahead.
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