Southern League – Bethancourt On Fire
Braves catching prospect Christian Bethancourt has always been thought of as a defensive first catcher. Based on his recent play, you’d never know it. Bethancourt is currently on a 14 game hitting streak, and is hitting .341 over his last 10 games. While a 14 game hit streak is moderately impressive, Bethancourt’s 38 game on base streak is more impressive. To put the icing on the cake, last night, August 11th, Bethancourt recorded a 4/4 night, 2 of his hits homers. The game just solidified the success Bethancourt has been having as of late. While he is still not walking, as has always been the case with Bethancourt, he doesn’t strike out much, which helps negate some of the negative impact of his non-walking tendencies. His recent hot-streak has to be impressing Braves officials, and could help his case for a MLB roster spot either in September or next year. With Brian McCann on track to leave for free agency, Bethancourt is the most likely in house replacement, as Evan Gattis can’t play catcher everyday. If Bethancourt can keep his batting average high enough to not be a negative on the offensive side, his superior defense will allow him to secure a big league spot next year.
Texas League – Butler Dominant In First Two Starts
Rockies pitching prospect Eddie Butler has had one of the most successful pro debuts as any of the 2012 draftees. Over his first 199.2 pro innings, Butler has a 1.98 ERA, with a 185/59 K/BB rate. Pretty amazing numbers. Butler has risen from rookie ball to Double A in just over a year, and if he keeps pitching the way he has, it won’t take him too much longer to get to the MLB. In his first two Double A starts, Butler has not yet allowed a run over 10 innings, nor has he walked any. Butler has struck out 12 batters while only allowing 5 hits. One of Butler’s most valuable assess is his ability to generate ground balls. His ground ball rate so far this year is just under 55%., and his rate of ground outs per air outs (GO/AO) is 2.28. To put that in perspective, the highest ground out per air out rate in the MLB among qualifying SP’s is 2.05, held by Justin Masterson of the Indians. While Butler won’t be able to sustain such a high GO/AO rate in the MLB, he should still be able to generate ground balls at an excellent rate. This will be very important in Coors Field, as some typical fly balls can turn into homers easily in the mile high air. By generating more ground balls than fly balls, it will greatly help Butler keep the ball in the yard. He will likely see the majors before the end of next year, and personally, I believe he will be very successful.
Eastern League – Sano Heating Up
One of the games top prospects, Miguel Sano, is having a phenomenal season thus far in the minors. Sano’s play in the Florida State League (.330/.424/.655) earned him a promotion to Double A. Sano hasn’t been as good in Double A, and this was expected, as Double A is often a top prospect’s first real test. However, he is still putting up good numbers, and has caught fire as of late, and this trend is beginning to turn his good numbers into great numbers. In 47 games so far, Sano is hitting .258 with 13 homers and 11 doubles. In his last 10 games, Sano is hitting .342 with 3 homers with an absurd 1.167 OPS. The Twins young third baseman has become a consensus top 5 prospect, as his raw power is among the the best in all of baseball. Sano just turned 20 this season, so he is still reasonably young for a prospect in Double A, so he likely won’t be rushed, but nothing is for sure. If Sano finishes out the season while continuing to hit at this rate, he may earn himself an outside chance to earn a MLB roster spot during spring training next year. Even if Sano isn’t up in the beginning of 2014, he should be up before the end of that year, barring something unforeseen. If you look around the Twins system, they have multiple top flight offensive prospects, and have the potential to become one of the best offenses in baseball. Sano figures to be a big part of that if it all works out in the Twin Cities.