It appears the only thing that can stop Mookie Betts is his lack of a place to play at the big-league level. With Dustin Pedroia manning second base and phenom Xander Boegarts holding down shortstop, Betts isn't likely to see the majors anytime soon. However, depth up the middle can't be a bad thing for the Red Sox. Betts is scorching for Double-A Portland, posting an absurd .412/.469/.623 with four home runs, 16 RBI and 14 steals through 27 contests. Continuing to build off a stellar 2013 campaign, the 21-year-old has launched himself into the conversation of elite hitting prospects.
Up next, a few brief notes in this week's "Three Strikes" section:
1. Rockies neophyte David Dahl has righted the ship thus far in 2014. Over his last six games, Dahl has three home runs, seven RBI and three stolen bases. The speed/power combination has been evident, and if his past transgressions are behind him, Dahl could be a budding star for Colorado.
2. Flame throwing righty Mike Foltynewicz had arguably the best outing of his professional career Monday for the Astros. The 22-year-old allowed one run on one hit in six innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City, walking one batter while fanning 12. The back end of the Houston rotation has been shoddy, meaning Foltynewicz could see the bigs with a couple more gems like this.
3. Could Chris Taylor get a shot at shortstop for the M's? The Mariners have both Nick Franklin and Taylor tearing it up in the minors at the middle infield positions, and Brad Miller hitting just .192 for the big club at shortstop. Taylor still likely remains the odd man out, but the situation is worth monitoring if an injury or a trade strikes.
This week's edition of the Minor League Barometer comes right into your wheelhouse.
Clint Coulter, C, MIL - Coulter has not been talked about in the same regard as other recent top-flight catching draft picks such as Reese McGuire and Stryker Trahan, but he should be gaining more notoriety. After being drafted in 2012, Coulter battled a variety of injuries that stunted his growth in 2013, including knee, oblique and wrist ailments. The wrist issue even required surgery in the offseason. Finally healthy, the 20-year-old Coulter is batting .301/.426/.559 with five home runs, 22 RBI and even three steals through 27 games for Low-A Wisconsin. Coulter has shown superior patience at the dish, with as many walks (17) as strikeouts. Assuming he continues to improve behind the plate, Coulter should become a much more well-known prospect by the end of this year.
Alex Meyer, P, MIN - Don't let Meyer's last, lackluster start dissuade you from jumping on the bandwagon. The 6-foot-9 righty will be in the Twins rotation soon enough. Before his last start, Meyer posted back-to-back 11-strikeout performances. He has 40 punchouts in 31.1 innings for Triple-A Rochester, and opposing batters are hitting just .216 against him. Twins starters have been abysmal, and the squad as a whole is near the bottom of the MLB in team ERA at 4.57. Enter Meyer, the tall, lanky right who should give the Twinkies an immediate boost once he's added to the rotation. Expect his debut to occur sometime this summer.
Joey Gallo, 3B, TEX - When you have as much power as Gallo does, the strikeouts simply don't matter as much. After hitting 40 dingers last season, Gallo has 10 home runs and 26 RBI through 29 games for High-A Myrtle Beach in 2014. Gallo is even hitting for average this season, batting .314/.417/.706. He does have 36 strikeouts, but has also drawn 21 walks. With Adrian Beltre productive but getting up there in age, the Rangers shouldn't have to look further than Gallo for their third baseman of the future. While he likely won't see consistent at-bats in the majors until 2016, Gallo is a must-own in deep keeper leagues.
Jake Thompson, P, DET - Thompson was drafted out of high school in 2012, but he is already full grown. He has a strong, sturdy frame at 6-4, 230. Thompson has also been lights-out in 2014 for High-A Lakeland, posting a 0.97 ERA and 35:11 K:BB ratio through 37 innings. Thompson features a decent heater and devastating slider, by far his best pitch. The rest of his secondary pitches need some work (changeup and curveball), but he's found little resistance since entering the minors in 2012. In 2013, he notched a 3.13 ERA and 91:32 K;BB ratio in 83.1 innings at Low-A. The development of a third pitch will go a long way toward determining his future role, but Thompson should at least be able to build off of a stellar start to his professional career.
Sean Nolin, P, TOR - Nolin was called up for a spot start in 2013, and the results weren't pretty. The 6-4 lefty was blown up for six runs on seven hits, lasting just 1.1 innings. He was having an excellent season otherwise for the Jays in the minors, but was largely written off of many prospect lists due to the one poor start. Nolin accumulated a 2.77 ERA and 116:35 K:BB ratio in 110.1 innings between Double-A and Triple-A in 2013. Nolin has continued to string together quality outings to begin the 2014 campaign, compiling a 1.55 ERA and 28:11 K:BB ratio through 29 innings. Opposing batters are hitting just .154 against him. Although fellow pitching prospect Marcus Stroman has jumped Nolin on the depth chart, the back end of the Jays rotation remains suspect and getting up there in age. As such, the 24-year-old southpaw should be back in the big leagues before the year is finished.
Tommy La Stella, 2B, ATL - Rumors continue to swirl that the Braves will call up La Stella to replace the struggling Dan Uggla at second base. La Stella won't provide much power or speed, but he has hit above .300 at nearly every stop in the minors. In 2013, he slashed an astounding .356/.444/.492 with five home runs, 45 RBI and eight steals, mostly at Double-A. Triple-A has been no match for the 25-year-old either; he is hitting .320 with 16 RBI through 28 games for Gwinnett. La Stella is mostly an NL-Only League pick-up, but at a shallow position in deeper leagues he could be worth a flier, too.
Chris Stratton, P, SF - Stratton's ERA of 4.83 has to be taken with a grain of salt, as he is pitching in the extremely hitter-friendly confines of the California League. His peripheral numbers are good, too; Stratton has a 29:11 K:BB ratio in 31.2 innings, along with a 2.65 GO:AO ratio. Keeping the ball down is of vital importance in this league, but he hasn't been doing it all the time. Stratton has allowed five home runs in six starts, including one in each of the last three starts. Mistakes get hit a long way at this level, but it would be a mistake to dismiss Stratton as a pitching prospect simply from this small sample size. He remains a hurler to watch for the Giants.
Blake Snell, P, TB - Strikeouts and ground balls have made Snell successful the last few seasons, but he has been a tad wild since the beginning of 2013. Last season, Snell walked 73 batters in 99 innings. He did fan 106 batters as well, but the additional base runners left the 21-year-old lefty with a 4.27 ERA and Low-A. He has started at the same level in 2014, with similar control issues. Snell has walked 12 batters in 22.1 innings; however, he has been able to limit the damage with a 2.24 ERA through five starts. Snell has also fanned 20 batters over that span. It remains to be seen whether his penchant for issuing free passes will come back to haunt him at the higher levels, but he certainly has the raw stuff (four-pitch repertoire, including plus change-up) if he can harness his command.
C.J. Edwards, P, CHC - Edwards has been placed on the disabled list at Double-A Tennessee due to inflammation and "fatigue" of his throwing shoulder. Although the MRI did not reveal any structural damage, Edwards will not throw for at least a couple weeks. Coming over from Texas as part of the Matt Garza trade, Edwards has emerged as arguably the top pitching prospect for the Cubbies. He was dynamite in 2013, posting a minuscule 1.86 ERA and 155:41 K:BB ratio in 116.1 innings between Low-A and High-A. He did not face much resistance at Double-A before the injury, notching a 2.61 ERA and 20:8 K:BB ratio in 20.2 innings. Hopefully the injury is not serious, and Edwards returns to the mound sooner rather than later.
Colin Moran, 3B, MIA - Moran's future fantasy impact is questionable. The No. 6 selection in the 2013 draft is considered a pure hitter, but he has only gap power. At the hot corner, his speed is minimal. Moran hit four home runs in 42 games at Low-A last season, and has yet to go yard for Double-A Greensboro in 2013 through 13 games. Add in that he'll be playing his future home games in a pitcher's park in Miami, and Moran may be a better actual player than fantasy player for the Fish.
Yorman Rodriguez, OF, CIN - Rodriguez's name was briefly mentioned as a possible call-up due to the knee injury to Jay Bruce, but an injury of his own put an end to those talks. Rodriguez suffered an oblique strain toward the end of April and has not made it back to the field since April 24. He remains sidelined indefinitely for Double-A Pensacola. The timing was particularly poor for Yorman, who was slashing .325/.361/.442 with two home runs, six RBI and three steals in 19 games before the injury. Signed as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela, Rodriguez has not hit above .260 in any of the last three seasons for the Reds despite slowly moving up the ranks. His plate discipline continues to be an issue as well, as he fanned 159 times 129 games last season. Perhaps the injury was a blessing in disguise for Rodriguez, who has a bit of speed and a bit of pop, but does not appear to have enough patience at the dish to be an everyday regular in the majors at this time.
Brian Goodwin, OF, WAS - Goodwin's production has never quite materialized for the Nats. The 23-year-old was supposed to develop into a superstar, but he has put up only solid, albeit unspectacular numbers since being drafted in the first round in 2011. Last season, he batted .252/.355/.407 with 10 home runs, 40 RBI and 19 steals in 122 games at Double-A. He's been sluggish to begin the 2014 campaign, batting just .228/.376/.337 with one home run, 13 RBI and three steals in 31 games at Triple-A. While he has shown stellar plate discipline, Goodwin has not been able to hit for average, and his power/speed combo has not developed as hoped. Goodwin isn't a bad prospect, but his upside appears to be limited. In other words, it looks like he has already reached his peak of what can be expected.