Picking back up where we left off reviewing the various levels of the minors and the interesting prospects therein, let’s dig into the Texas League.
Now, it is important to remember that the Texas League is indeed a hitters paradise, and should you think otherwise, remember that Clint Robinson banged out a Triple Crown in the circuit in 2010 (.335-29-98) while Adam Piatt (.345-39-135) did the same thing in 1999.
So, then the question then pushes to “what did either do in the Majors that was of note?” None-the-less, a hot prospect is a hot prospect so here are eight names worth tracking from the league this past season, and my reasons why I like the player.
Note that I really like Padres prospect Luis Urias, and would have listed the infielder here had I not mentioned him last week when I reviewed the top players I saw at the Arizona Fall League.
Matt Beaty (OF, Dodgers): Beaty was a 12th round pick of the Bums in 2015 out of Belmont University and has moved up the ranks since, and following a solid year at Rancho Cucamonga in 2016 (.297-11-88) Beaty kept it going in 2017 at Tulsa. A .326-15-69 line with 31 doubles and just 54 whiffs to 39 walks (.378 OBP) suggest good contact and prospects for the prospect.
Oscar Mercado (OF, Cardinals): A high school selection in 2013 (#2) , at just 22 Mercado has moved up his team’s chain just as efficiently as Beaty, albeit minus the higher education. At Springfield last year Mercado hit .287-13-46 while swiping 38 bags (he was caught 19 more attempts) and hitting 20 doubles. Mercado likes to swing the bat (112 whiffs to 32 walks) but he has a quick bat and the wheels to be a weapon.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa (3B, Rangers): The Rangers have been so solid at producing prospects the last few seasons, and Kiner-Falefa is the latest. The 22-year old Hawaiian native hit .288-5-48 for the year, but added in 31 doubles and 17 swipes to make for a respectable season. The outfielder gained 41 walks to 72 whiffs last year (.350) OBP), close to his career average.
Andrew Knizner (C, Cardinals): How fun to have a backstop on the list, and with Yadier Molina getting long in the tooth, maybe St. Louis will take a look at their 7th round pick in 2016. Knizner hit .279-8-29 at Peoria to start 2017, then finished up at Springfield finishing at .324-4-22, making for an aggregate .302-12-51 season with 23 doubles and a strong 23 walks to 49 strikeouts (.349 OBP). Knizner is certainly ready for AAA, and maybe more.
Grant Holmes (P, Athletics): A first-round pick of the Dodgers in 2014, then moved to Oakland as part of the Rich Hill/Josh Reddick swap in 2016, Holmes is a hard thrower though he also has trouble with control. At Midland he was 11-12, 4.49 over 143.3 innings with 150 strikeouts, though he also allowed 61 walks and 149 hits. Holmes is still a work in progress, but one worth watching.
Enyel De Los Santos (P, Padres): A lanky 21-year old lanky (6’3″, 170 lbs.), De Los Santos more than held his own at AA last year going 10-6, 3.78 over 150 innings. The righty whiffed 138 while issuing just 48 free passes and 138 hits (1.19 WHIP) with just eight homers allowed. De Los Santos should make his presence known on the rebuilding Pads in 2018.
Yohander Mendez (P, Rangers): Mendez, who scored high(#13) on my prospect list last year spent pretty much a full season at AA in 2017 going 7-8, 3.79 over 137.6 innings, striking out 124 while posting a 1.14 WHIP). Mendez made his second September call-up over two years, although the Major League results at this point (0-1, 7.63 over 15.3 innings) indicate that though Mendez is beyond AA, he still needs some fine tuning prior to the Majors. However, his time is near.
Dakota Hudson (P, Cardinals): Another first-rounder for the Cards, this time a 6’5″ huler out of Mississippi who went 9-4, 2.53 at Springfield last year before moving to Memphis for 38.2 more frames (1-1, 4.42). Though not the dominant arm one would expect from a tall guy, Hudson does keep the ball down with a career 2.14 GO/AO mark. He is 12-6, 2.82 over 166 minor league innings with 115 whiffs, a 1.28 WHIP, and a solid chance to be a third or fourth starter in the near future.