Here’s a quick look at the minor league leaderboard for strikeouts.
1. Edwar Cabrera (23 – Rockies) – 68 K – 4.14 ERA in 50 IP for low-A Asheville
2. Shelby Miller (20 – Cardinals) – 59 K – 3.15 ERA in 40 IP for high-A Palm Beach
2. Tyler Skaggs (19 – D-backs) – 59 K – 3.20 ERA in 45 IP for high-A Visalia
4. Matt Moore (22 – Rays) – 56 K – 3.54 ERA in 40.2 IP for AA Montgomery
4. Brad Peacock (23 – Nationals) – 56 K – 2.13 ERA in 42.1 for AA Harrisburg
4. Eric Surkamp (23 – Giants) – 56 K – 1.88 ERA in 38.1 IP for AA Richmond
7. Jake Odorizzi (21 – Royals) – 55 K – 2.45 ERA in 36/2 IP for high-A Wilmington
8. Josh Smith (23 – Reds) – 54 K – 1.91 ERA in 42.1 IP for low-A Dayton
8. Allen Webster (21 – Dodgers) – 54 K – 2.47 ERA in 47.1 IP for high-A Rancho Cucamonga
10. Chad Bettis (22 – Rockies) – 51 K – 3.26 ERA in 47 IP for high-A Modesto
10. Jose Cisnero (22 – Astros) – 51 K – 5.94 ERA in 33.1 IP for high-A Lancaster
10. Brad Meyers (25 – Nationals) – 51 K – 2.61 ERA in 48.1 IP between AA/AAA
10. Juan Nicasio (24 – Rockies) – 51 K – 1.90 ERA in 42.2 IP for AA Tulsa
10. Joseph Wieland (21 – Rangers) – 51 K – 1.62 ERA in 44.1 IP for high-A Myrtle Beach
– Cabrera’s name certainly isn’t very well known, and as a 23-year-old in low-A ball, he’s not nearly the same kind of prospect as the next few guys on this list. His fastball is a bit below average, so he’s not going to be taken very seriously unless he can do it at higher levels.
– After Cabrera come the big names. Of guys yet to make their major league debuts (basically, a qualification that allows me to rule out Julio Teheran), Miller may well be the top pitching prospect in the game. Skaggs is showing incredible potential as well, though his walk rate is a bit high. Of course, he’s the youngest pitcher on the list.
– Moore isn’t quite dominating the Southern League the way I thought he would, mostly because he’s given up six homers. He has an outstanding 1.03 WHIP, and he’s striking out five batters for every one he walks.
– Peacock and Surkamp could be factors this year. Peacock, blossoming in his fourth year in the Nationals system, has picked up velocity and now occasionally hits the mid-90s with his fastball. A debut in the second half is a possibility, and he could be part of a very exciting rotation with Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann next year. Surkamp, another young lefty for the Giants, doesn’t have the fastball of either Jonathan Sanchez or Madison Bumgarner, but with two excellent offspeed pitches, he projects a mid-rotation guy.
– A few other names worth mentioning: Detroit’s Charlie Furbush is the strikeout leader for pitchers who have spent all season in Triple-A. He’s fanned 47 while amassing a 2.90 ERA in 40.1 IP. 2010 first-rounder Drew Pomeranz would have made the list if the Indians weren’t being so careful with him; he has 48 strikeouts in just 32.2 IP. And the top reliever on the board is Boston’s Juan Rodriguez. He has 43 strikeouts in 24.1 IP for low-A Greenville.
Twins’ right-hander Nick Burdi is set to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the team announced on Friday. Burdi made 14 appearances for Double-A Chattanooga before succumbing to a torn ulnar collateral ligament and is not expected to make his major league debut until mid-2018 at the earliest. A UCL tear doesn’t always require Tommy John surgery — less severe cases can be treated with platelet-rich plasma injections, for example — but Twins’ chief baseball officer Derek Falvey told the press that surgery was unavoidable as Burdi had sustained a “full thickness tear” in his elbow.
Entering the 2016 season, Burdi was widely considered a top ten prospect in the Twins’ system. His exceptional velocity and potent fastball-slider combo made him a fearsome relief option as he came off of his first season in Double-A Chattanooga in 2015. During the 2016 season, however, the 24-year-old experienced a significant setback after a bone bruise cut his season short in late July. Prior to Friday’s diagnosis, he appeared to be staging an impressive comeback with the Chattanooga Lookouts this spring, decorating his efforts with a sparkling 0.53 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.6 SO/9 over 17 innings.
It’s a tough break for the Twins, whose farm system was ranked 21st in the league by Baseball America. “Obviously he’s proven when he’s healthy he’s an absolute premium prospect, and the Twins are treating him that way,” Burdi’s agent, Matt Sosnick, told Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. “We just want to make sure everything we do ultimately leads to the goal of getting him back on the field as quickly as he can.”
Things have gone from bad to worse for Red Sox’ outfielder Brock Holt, who was shut down “for the foreseeable future” on Friday after meeting with head trauma specialist Michael Collins. The Red Sox placed Holt on the 10-day disabled list in April after he began experiencing vertigo, the latest in a series of head injuries he’s sustained since last spring.
According to the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato, the outfielder was initially advised to attempt playing through his symptoms, but it quickly became apparent that the strategy wasn’t going to work. Now, the plan is to shut him down from any game activity in the hopes that he’ll be able to recover from all lingering symptoms before returning to the roster. Club manager John Farrell told reporters that the 28-year-old is still cleared to take batting practice and work on his defense, but won’t continue his rehab starts in Triple-A Pawtucket for the time being.
Holt had been making regular appearances for the Pawtucket Red Sox and was batting .209/.292/.372 with two home runs through 14 games this spring. This season marks his fifth run within the Red Sox’ organization. He experienced a bit of a slump at the plate in 2016 and slashed .255/.322/.383 after breaking out during his first All-Star year in 2015.
Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe suggests that the team’s concern for Holt extends past his setbacks at the plate. It’s still a long road to a full recovery, and while Farrell told reporters he believes the outfielder is on track to make a return sometime in 2017, he’ll need to make sure that Holt is both physically and mentally prepared to do so.