Pipeline Prospects of Week: April 7-13
A's Pinder produces at plate to earn notice; Astros' Velasquez starts strong
It's one thing to be labeled a prospect; it's another to live up to that billing.
Baseball, after all, is a game about production and performance. Yes, the numbers a player puts up in the Minor Leagues do not tell the whole story, but at some point, a prospect has to perform well to make it to the highest level.
That brings us to the latest in MLBPipeline.com content: Pipeline Prospects of the Week. Each week, the Pipeline staff will choose Prospects of the Week, one hitter and one pitcher, along with others who deserve "Honorable mention" status.
The first edition looks at games from April 7-13. So without further ado…
Offensive Prospect of the Week: Chad Pinder, 2B, Stockton Ports (A's No. 18 prospect)
7 G, 15-for-30 (.500/.559/1.200), 4 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 10 RBIs
The A's drafted Pinder out of Virginia Tech in the second round of the 2013 First-Year Plater Draft, and he didn't exactly open eyes with his summer debut, hitting a lackluster .200/.286/.293 in the short-season New York-Penn League. Assigned to the Class A Advanced California League to begin his full-season debut, Pinder has hit the ground running. Or should we say hitting.
A shortstop in college, Pinder played there during his summer debut, but has shifted over to the right side of the diamond. With the way he's swinging the bat, he could profile as an offensive-minded second baseman, one with solid defensive skills to boot. Pinder hit in all seven games last week, notching four multihit performances, including a 4-for-4 game on Saturday that included two home runs. He homered in three of his final four games of the week.
For the season, Pinder is hitting .390/.444/.902. He's tied for the California League lead in home runs with fellow A's prospect Billy McKinney, and he is second in slugging and OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage).
Joey Gallo, 3B, Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Rangers' No. 5 prospect): 6 G, 8-for-19 (.421/.577/1.105), 4 HR, 7 RBIs
James Ramsey, OF, Springfield Cardinals (Cardinals' No. 7 prospect): 6 G, 11-for-28 (.393/.452/.964), 4 HR, 9 RBIs
Gregory Polanco, OF, Altoona Curve (Pirates' No. 1 prospect): 7 G, 10-for-26 (.385/.548/.786), 1 HR, 7 RBIs
Trevor Story, SS, Modesto Nuts (Rockies' No. 10 prospect): 7 G, 15-for-30 (.500/.545/.833)
Pitching Prospect of the Week: Vincent Velasquez, RHP, Lancaster JetHawks (Astros' No. 9 prospect)
2-0, 2 G, 1 GS, 9 IP, 1 H, O R, 0 BB, 9 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.11 WHP, .037 BAA
The more Velasquez throws, the further in his rear-view mirror his Tommy John surgery becomes.
The 2010 second-round pick missed the 2011 season due to the elbow procedure, but he is picking up where he left off from a strong 2013 season that saw him top 100 innings pitched for the first time. Pitching in the California League is often an adventure, especially when your home park is Lancaster. Velasquez threw extremely well in a four-inning relief outing at home on April 7 to kick off the week. The right-hander was perfect in those four frames, striking out five, keeping his JetHawks team in the game. The scored twice in the bottom of the ninth to give him the win.
Velasquez started in Lake Elsinore on Friday, and while he wasn't perfect, he was pretty close. He went five innings, allowing just one hit while again giving up no free passes. Velasquez struck out four.
Christian Binford, RHP, Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals' No. 12 prospect): 1 GS, 1-0, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.29 WHIP, .091 BAA
Austin Brice, RHP, Jupiter Hammerheads (Marlins' No. 19 prospect): 2 GS, 2-0, 12 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 12 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, .128 BAA
Dylan Baker, RHP, Carolina Mudcats (Indians' No. 16 prospect): 1 GS, 1-0, 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP, .000 BAA
Ariel Pena, RHP, Nashville Sounds (Brewers' No. 18 prospect): 2 GS, 0-0, 9 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 16 K, 2.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .188 BAA
Joe Ross, RHP, Lake Elsinore (Padres' No. 9 prospect): 2 GS, 1-0, 11 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, .175 BAA