Welcome to the first Prospect Stock Watch of 2019. This is a little feature I’ve been doing since 2012. It provides thoughts and observations about a handful of prospects each time out. Today, we have a chance to review prospects from the Red Sox, Mets, and Blue Jays.
Tanner Houck, RHP, Red Sox (AA):
It’s been a frustrating season for the Red Sox so far so any good news out of the barren minor league season would be very welcomed. Houck’s first Double-A start will not be included in the “good news” category. The former first-round pick, and top college hurler, struggled mightily in the low-50s F weather. He threw a number of deep counts early and was around (but not consistently in) the strike zone with his collection of offerings.
Houck’s slider had its moments in the game and he showed the ability to throw it for strikes or as a chase offering. The biggest issue Houck has was that his fastball command was just not strong good enough for a starting pitcher with only two pitches. It’s too easy for hitters to sit on one offering and fight off (or lay off) everything else. The heater was mostly 91-93 mph.
It’s early but this look at Houck underscores the concerns over his overall ceiling. He looked more like a No. 4 starter than a top-of-the-rotation arm, which was the hope early on in his college career. His stuff would probably play up out of the bullpen.
Bonus: On a side note, Bobby Dalbec showed some solid athleticism at third base. In one particular instance, he charged a slow roller and threw on the run to catch a solid runner. He showed a strong arm on a number of occasions. I really like the defensive side of his game but, despite the power, the question marks remain on the offensive side. Dalbec is off to a slow start with the bat as he returns to Double-A but he does have three walks in the first three games.
David Peterson, LHP, Mets vs Zach Logue, LHP, Jays (AA)
I wanted to get my eyes on this game because of the interesting contrast in starting pitchers. Both are southpaws but Peterson was the more highly regarded college hurler as a first-round selection in the 2017 draft. Logue, meanwhile, is a fast-riser in the Jays system. He was selected in the ninth round of that same draft and, like Peterson, was making his first Double-A appearance.
Peterson showed a nice, easy arm action that made the fastball look faster than it was. He utilized his height well and kept the ball down. He also showed the ability to hit the strike zone with all of his offerings. As with any pitcher who lacks a blazing fastball, Peterson is at his best working down in the zone but he did a nice job changing hitters’ eye levels when necessary and kept the ball out of the meat of the zone when he pitched up.
Logue showed a solid curveball and worked exceptionally well at the knees with his 91-93 mph fastball. He showed the ability to get ahead of hitters with his fastball. He showed a sweeping breaking ball for strikes and would then create more depth on the offering to turn it into a chase pitch with two strikes. Logue was not afraid to throw inside to left-handed hitters. He has an easy delivery, which helped him create above-average control and command. I didn’t see much of his changeup.
Despite the significant gap in draft range with these two hurlers, their ceilings appear to be similar as future No. 4 hurlers that can come in, throw strikes, keep the ball down and provide you five or six innings of work. I give a slight edge to Peterson because he has a deeper repertoire.
Bonus: I’m quickly becoming a fan of Jays catcher Alberto Mineo. Signed out of Italy by the Cubs, he’s been a long-term project and came to the Jays last year after six years in Chicago’s system. But he’s still just 24 and coming off of a solid offensive season. Double-A will be the real test but I liked what I saw from a defensive standpoint. He created an excellent target for the pitcher and had a very quiet set-up behind the plate. Mineo has also maintained his athletic build despite the time behind the dish. In his first at-bat of the night, the left-handed hitter took the ball the other way against the southpaw for a well-stung single. If the offensive showing from 2018 (which actually began in ’17) continues, there might actually be a big league back-up here.