Knocking Down The Door: May 13, 2022

“Knocking Down The Door” is a weekly column highlighting minor leaguers who are making a case for a major league promotion. Listed below are the names of this week’s picks and the player’s team, age, level(s), prospect ranking, and last 1-2 weeks of statistics.

Knocking Down The Archive

Nomar Mazara (27), OF, Triple-A El Paso | San Diego Padres | Prospect Rank: n/a | May 5-May 12: 9-for-25, HR, 2 2B, 5 BB

The Padres have one of the least productive outfields in baseball, but fixing it might not be as simple as calling up one of the many players who are putting up big numbers in Triple-A and replacing a struggling big leaguer. Trent Grisham and Wil Myers, who have combined to hit .167 with eight extra-base hits and 54 strikeouts in 191 plate appearances, are going to get a chance to turn things around.

Grisham being optioned wouldn’t be a huge surprise with the way he’s struggling at the plate, but it’s unlikely because they don’t have anybody else to play center field on a regular basis. Myers, who has one infield single in nine plate appearances since returning from an Injured List stint, nearly homered in his final at-bat of Wednesday’s game against the Cubs. The Padres are hoping that was a sign that’s he close to breaking out, but their patience could run out rather quickly if he doesn’t get it going during the current road trip.

While the addition of Robinson Canó is the most recent step that the Padres are taking to help spark a mediocre offense, Mazara could be next man up. The 27-year-old, who is slashing .342/.447/.553 with four homers in 94 Triple-A plate appearances, could feel right at home with former Rangers’ teammates Yu Darvish, Nick Martinez, Jurickson Profar, and Jorge Alfaro (minor leagues).

 

J.J. Matijevic (26), 1B, Triple-A Sugar Land | Houston Astros | Prospect Rank: n/a | May 4-May 12: 10-for-27, 4 HR, 2B, 34 BB, 2 SB

A recent 12-day stint in the majors for Matijevic resulted in only one pinch-hit appearance — he struck out against Blue Jays’ closer Jordan Romano in his MLB debut — and one start against the Rangers on his eighth day in the majors — he was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. While I’m sure there is some benefit to sitting and watching veteran players go about their business on a daily basis, let’s hope that his next stint includes a lot more opportunity.

If first baseman Yuli Gurriel continues to struggle at the plate — he has an overall .550 OPS and only five hits in his last 37 at-bats — Matijevic’s second chance could come rather quickly. Since returning to Sugar Land, the 26-year-old has picked up where left off prior to his promotion. He is in the midst of an eight-game hitting streak, including homers in his last three games.


Caleb Kilian
(24), SP, Triple-A Iowa | Chicago Cubs | Prospect Rank: 8 (organizational)| May 3-May 8: 9 IP, ER, 8 H, 4 BB, 9 K

Trading away homegrown superstar Kris Bryant, who helped lead the team to its first World Series championship in 108 seasons, wasn’t a popular move last July and the return, Kilian and Alexander Canario, wasn’t overwhelmingly exciting. But, five weeks into the first full season with their new organization, both players have been impressive. Canario was quickly promoted to Double-A after posting a .944 OPS with seven homers in 100 plate appearances for High-A South Bend. Kilian is on pace to do the same, although his next promotion would be to the majors.

After a terrific performance in the Arizona Fall League, Kilian continues to pitch well in his first opportunity against Triple-A batters. In six starts, the 24-year-old right-hander has allowed only four earned runs while walking 10 batters and striking out 26 over 24.2 innings. He pitched five shutout innings in his last start and is putting himself in position to be the next call when the Cubs need a starting pitcher again.

As you’ll read in his scouting report and confirm in the video below, he has good command of a fastball that sits in the mid-90s with the ability to touch the upper 90s.

 

Peyton Battenfield (24), SP, Triple-A Columbus | Cleveland Guardians | Prospect Rank: 25 (organizational) | April 23-April 29: 14 IP, 0 R, 6 H, 3 BB, 16 K

After being drafted in the ninth round by the Astros in 2019 and posting a 1.60 ERA and 10.5 K/9 in 39.1 innings in the short-season New York-Penn League, Battenfield was traded to the Rays for Austin Pruitt prior to the 2020 season. When he finally returned to game action in 2021, he hadn’t missed a beat.

New organization. Same results. Battenfield dominated in 31 High-A innings (1.45 ERA, 5 BB, 49 K), followed with similar success in 36.1 Double-A innings (2.72 ERA, 7 BB, 46 K), and was once again traded. This time, he was dealt to Cleveland in exchange for Jordan Luplow.

New organization. Same results. So, is this guy just gonna keep getting traded? Or will the 24-year-old be making his MLB debut in a Guardians’ uniform in the near future? Keep an eye on Aaron Civale’s start on Friday. He’s been the weak link in the Guardians’ rotation. Another poor outing and Battenfield could be very close to getting the call.

 

Adrian Hernandez (22), RP, Triple-A Buffalo | Toronto Blue Jays | Prospect Rank: n/a | May 4-May 11: 4 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 7 K

Hernandez is listed somewhere between 5’8″-5’10” and 170-190 pounds with a fastball in the low 90s and a slider that needs work. So, you’re probably wondering what the heck this guy is doing here? It’s simple. He has an incredible changeup that he throws at least fifty percent of the time and batters still can’t hit it even if they know what’s coming.

Signed as a 17-year-old in November 2017, Hernandez appears to have the same bulldog mentality that several Mexican pitchers have had over the last several decades, beginning with Fernando Valenzuela. Since getting the call to Triple-A, the 22-year-old right-hander has pitched seven no-hit innings with two walks and 12 strikeouts. He won’t need to take on a significant role in a deep Blue Jays’ bullpen once he does get the call, but he could give them valuable innings as hitters struggle to adjust to his repertoire.

 

 





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OddBall Herrera
6 months ago

With the way the Padres outfield is playing, and how Abrams’ first couple games in AAA have gone, I expect we will see him playing some outfield in El Paso before the end of the month

dl80member
6 months ago
Reply to  Jason Martinez

One of him or Tatis is going to have to be the centerfielder long term, right?