Coming down the stretch for the minor league seasons, here is this week’s Minor League Stat Pack. As usual, be sure to check out the major league companion article I posted today at About.com.
Gwinnett – Mallex Smith
For August, Smith has hit a robust .348 with 13 steals. He’s walked 8 times to 16 K’s and added eight extra base hits, a single-month high for this year. He’s picked up a base hit in his last seven games, which matches his AAA personal record. It is not his best streak this year, though. He has a pair of eight-game hit streaks in AA plus an 11-game hit streak. But when you’re hitting .310 on the year, you kind of expect to have a lot of hit streaks. He needs five more steals to match Randy Ventura‘s steal-total for the franchise-high.
Mississippi – Rio Ruiz
Speaking of hit streaks, Ruiz currently has a 13-game hit streak and has finally started to hit this season after a disappointing season in Mississippi. In August, Ruiz is hitting .316 with 11 extra-base hits, including three homers. For reference, he had 13 extra-base hits during the first four months of the season and just one homer. He’s shown great plate discipline, but the rest of his game coming along is a huge boost. For the record, of his 457 plate appearances this year, only eight have come against pitchers younger than Ruiz, who turned 21 on May 22. The Braves are aggressive with their youth and sometimes it leads to long adjustment periods. Ruiz is finally coming around.
Carolina – Jake Schrader
He won’t make many prospect lists, but Schrader has been a consistent bat ever since the Braves drafted him out of Tampa in the 2013 27th round. After hitting .290 for Rome, Schrader has hit .265 with a team-leading 14 homers for Carolina. His 174 total bases paces the club while his 28 doubles is tied for the team lead. One slight problem with Schrader. Ignoring that his power is still less-than-ideal for a 1B and he’s old for the Carolina League at 24, Schrader has never seen a pitch he didn’t like. The fact that he’s walked 19 times this year in 399 PA is a testament to the wildness of youngin’s at that level. Amazingly, it’s not even the most extreme numbers of walks to plate appearances we’ve seen this year in the Braves system. Sean Godfrey has walked just 15 times in 437 PA.
Rome – Touki Toussaint
Shut down for precautionary purposes, Toussaint finished his first full season with just 87.2 innings in 17 starts as both the D’Backs and the Braves heavily monitored his pitch count. He walked a lot of batters (48) and overall, his numbers look poor. Even with that in mind, the Coral Springs Christian Academy alum will be on the Top 100 lists for many publications heading into 2016. The potential of Toussaint may have been most on display on July 20. He shutdown the Lakewood BlueClaws over six innings without allowing a hit. He walked four batters and struck out eight before leaving after 85 pitches. There’s a lot to be excited about. He’s only scratching his surface.
Danville – Juan Yepez
After struggling after a well-earned promotion to Danville, Frank Wren’s final high-priced international prospect has turned the corner. With hits in his last seven games, Yepez has increased his batting average to .282 from the .169 it was before. He’s worked a trio of three-hit games into this streak and has hit his 2nd and 3rd homers the last two days. Yepez has only played first base and DH’d since his promotion as Austin Riley has handled third base, but Yepez may still turn into a good hitter in his own right. The 17 year-old is hitting .295/.367/.459 with 4 HR in 55 games overall.
GCL – Jonathan Morales
A 25th rounder out of Miami-Dade College, Morales saw his playing time opportunities increase in the wake of Lucas Herbert‘s injury. The 20 year-old Morales has taken advantage, hitting .295/.372/.508 with 7 HR and an even 14/14 BB/K ratio. He’s also thrown out 43% of potential base stealers. There wasn’t much written about Morales before the draft, nor a lot since, but the Braves have to be thrilled with the immediate returns. Like Schrader, we must caution our enthusiasm since Morales is facing a lot of younger pitchers, but any 25th rounder posting his numbers deserves a second look.
DSL – Luis Mora
Unlike many that might get mentioned from the DSL, Mora was repeating his stay in the Dominican. The 6’4″ righty threw 38 innings last year with more walks than strikeouts – or innings pitched for that matter. The 20 year-old continues to be winless in his professional career, though that doesn’t tell us much. However, he lowered his WHIP from 2.18 to 1.18, his ERA from 10.18 to 3.80, and his K/B rate from 0.81 to an even 2.0. It was night-and-day for Mora, who might need to get pushed to Danville because he’ll be 21 when next year’s rookie squads are preparing for the 2016 season.