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

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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.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.