Arizona Diamondbacks Photo Day

Minor league home run leaders: Arizona’s Goldschmidt leads the way

2 Comments

Here’s a list of everyone in the minor leagues with at least five homers headed into Monday’s action:

9 – Paul Goldschmidt (AA D’backs) – .345/.473/.845
8 – Jorge Vazquez (AAA Yankees) – .348/.361/.710
7 – Jaff Decker (AA Padres) – .359/.481/.859
7 – Ian Gac (A+ White Sox) – .300/.368/.700
7 – Kody Hinze (A+ Astros) – .323/.442/.710
7 – Chris Wallace (A Astros) – .419/.486/.903
6 – Michael Burgess (A+ Cubs) – .213/.262/.574
6 – Cody Decker (AA Padres) – .313/.323/.672
6 – Jonathan Garcia (A Dodgers) – .288/.354/.712
6 – Jeff Larish (AAA Phillies) – .279/.333/.639
6 – Bryce Massanari (A- Rockies) – .421/.492/.825
6 – Tommy Mendonca (AA Rangers) – .322/.349/.661
6 – Cody Overbeck (AA Phillies) – .350/.381/.717
6 – Marcell Ozuna (A Marlins) – .300/.394/.667
6 – Wily Mo Pena (AAA D’backs) – .420/.473/.820
6 – Anthony Rizzo (AAA Padres) – .420/.487/.768
6 – Clint Robinson (AAA Royals) – .397/.486/.778
6 – Joseph Terdoslavich (A+ Braves) – .245/.259/.642
5 – Denny Almonte (A+ Mariners) – .329/.329/.700
5 – Adam Bailey (A Astros) – .344/.359/.639
5 – Michael Bianucci (AA Rangers) – .300/.377/.567
5 – Alex Castellanos (AA Cardinals) – .276/.302/.621
5 – Andy Dirks (AAA Tigers) – .297/.370/.609
5 – Ryan Flaherty (AA Cubs) – .333/.394/.649
5 – Jacob Goebbert (A+ Astros) – .194/.278/.435
5 – Yasmani Grandal (A+ Reds) – .333/.458/.750
5 – Mike Jacobs (AAA Rockies) – .371/.467/.694
5 – Brendan Katin (AAA Brewers) – .209/.306/.628
5 – Donald Lutz (A Reds) – .345/.387/.690
5 – Jai Miller (AAA Royals) – .391/.491/.826
5 – Trevor Plouffe (AAA Twins) – .300/.367/.700
5 – Jerry Sands (AAA Dodgers) – .400/.422/.875
5 – Steven Souza (A+ Nationals) – .281/.305/.667
5 – Michael Spina (AA Athletics) – .327/.449/.691
5 – Trayce Thompson (A White Sox) – .239/.311/.493
5 – Tim Wheeler (AA Rockies) – .302/.392/.619

As one would expect, there aren’t a whole lot of top prospects in the group. Sands is, and he’s already been promoted to the majors. Grandal, a 2010 first-round pick many believed would open the season at Double-A, also qualifies. Wheeler may as well, if he keeps this up for a few more weeks. The 2009 first-round pick didn’t excel in his first year and a half in the minors, but if the power is for real, he could make Dexter Fowler expendable next winter. And then there’s Rizzo, the best prospect of all of them. For more about him, check out my Rotoworld column.

How about a sampling of what’s left…

– Goldschmidt, who was such a pleasant surprise for the Diamondbacks this spring, is showing that his March success was no fluke. The 23-year-old also put up big numbers in the California League last year, but his 35 homers for Visalia came with a 161/57 K/BB ratio. This year, he has a 12/15 K/BB ratio through 17 games. The Diamondbacks should test him with Triple-A soon, but they have to make room for him at Reno, possibly by promoting Brandon Allen or Pena to the majors.

– I didn’t mention Decker in the Rotoworld column, but I probably should have. With the Padres getting nothing from the outfield corners so far, perhaps they’ll consider jumping him to the majors in June. I think he’s less vulnerable to being rushed than Rizzo is.

– Keep a close eye on Jonathan Garcia. The 19-year-old already has 13 extra-base hits in 16 games in the Midwest League.

– The Royals are eventually going to turn first base over to Eric Hosmer, but Robinson, who hit 29 homers in Double-A last year, is making a case for a crack at Kila Ka’aihue’s job in the meantime.

– Dirks is another player who really emerged in spring training, and he probably would have made the Tigers had Brennan Boesch not suddenly returned to early-2010 form. Austin Jackson has shown signs of life the last few games, but if he resumes slumping, the Tigers could send him to Triple-A and give his at-bats to Dirks and Casper Wells.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.

Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery could share Cubs’ rotation spot in 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Mike Montgomery #38 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).

Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.

Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.

Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.