Quick programming note – I will be on vacation for the next week. Outside of breaking news and major signings I won’t be posting articles. Don’t worry I haven’t left and will be back slightly more relaxed in about a week.
No best matchup this week because there are none. Aaron Nola pitches on Saturday in what might be his last AA start. Rather than just the weekend, I am going to look at the rotations for as far out as they have starters listed.
The IronPigs are still a wasteland of fringe starting pitchers (not listed is Severino Gonzalez and Anthony Vasquez). Gabriel Lino is the only interesting prospect, and Domonic Brown is still intriguing if maddening. The good news is that the cavalry is likely on its way. Aaron Nola should be up soon, Kelly Dugan is playing again and could finish in Lehigh Valley. Then you have Aaron Altherr and Cameron Perkins who are heating up in Reading. Pretty soon the IronPigs will be interesting again.
With Crawford, Nola, and Quinn, Reading has the top 3 prospects still in the minors. Throw in a rejuvenated Altherr, a recently powerful Cameron Perkins, and 4 pretty good pitchers and Reading is still doing good. Crawford has taken to AA rather well and should be a Top 5 prospect in baseball by the end of the year. The Fightin’s could lose some players soon to promotion and may or may not get Kelly Dugan when he is done in Clearwater. Outside those doing really well there is some interesting things going on with Jesse Biddle. Mike Drago wrote that Biddle has added a 2-seam fastball, reintroduced his slider, and forgone the loopy curve for a tighter offering, all with the goal of “pitching to contact” more. In this case this means attacking the zone with a variety of offerings and make guys hit them, rather than nibbling around the zone or hanging curveballs. So far Biddle’s walks and strikeouts are down, and his ground ball rate is up. I think the strikeouts will rebound some as he gets feel for the slider (which flashes plus) and the new curveball as batters will need to respect his ability to throw strikes.
Matt Imhof is back and made a start yesterday. He is likely to be limited in his innings for a little bit while he ramps back up. Brandon Leibrandt is on the DL for an undisclosed reason. Yoel Mecias is still mysteriously in the bullpen. Yacksel Rios looks like he will be a long man in the bullpen, and so far has looked good as a reliever (so has Miguel Nunez). Clearwater gets the benefit of having Kelly Dugan around which should help an inconsistent offense. It appears much like every other level of the org, reinforcements are on the way for the Threshers as well as there is a lot speculation that Carlos Tocci, Rhys Hoskins, and Malquin Canelo are running out of days left in Lakewood.
Lakewood might have the most consistent rotation in the system. Whether it is the extra day of rest or their talent level, they are not walking many, not giving up many home runs, and striking out a decent number of batters. The rotation is needed because only their 1st, 3rd, and 4th batters are really their only offensive threats most nights. Those three guys (Canelo, Tocci, Hoskins) are likely ticketed for Clearwater soon. The good news is that the BlueClaws might get 2015 draftees like Scott Kingery or Kyle Martin to fill those spots.