It's only a matter of time before Kris Bryant makes his way to the hot corner at Wrigley Field. Bryant has simply tormented Double-A pitching recently, hitting .405/.500/.919 with five home runs and nine RBI over his last 10 contests. Bryant's overall line is almost as impressive; the 22-year-old beast is slashing .357/.460/.722 with 22 home runs and 55 RBI through 63 games for the Tennessee Smokies. Though he has fanned 72 times over that span, the strikeouts are not as much of a concern due to his massive power potential. Likewise, it doesn't hurt that he is hitting over .350 and will take a walk when necessary as well. As a result, Bryant could be a big hit this summer in Chicago and provide a boost that the Cubbies sorely need.
More news, notes and observations in this week's "Three Strikes" portion:
1. The rebound season for Toronto Blue Jays southpaw Daniel Norris continues, as the 21-year-old lefty has simply been sparkling for High-A Dunedin. He has a minuscule 1.32 ERA and 73:16 K:BB ratio through 61.1 innings.
2. Texas Rangers' prospect Joey Gallo was promoted to Double-A Frisco. He smashed 21 home runs in 58 games for High-A Myrtle Beach, but perhaps more surprisingly hit .323 With a .463 OBP to boot, Gallo could be emerging as an elite phenom.
3. The Jonathan Singleton deal is going to raise a lot of eyebrows around major league Baseball. While he did give up a bunch of prime free agency years, let's not forget that he battled drug addiction in the recent past. In other words, he gave up those future years for a chance at security that he did not have just one year ago. It's also not a slam dunk deal for the team due to his off-field transgressions either. That's what makes his case - and his contract - slightly unique.
Let's find some more ballers on the upswing and some players on the downturn in this week's Minor League Barometer.
Jose Berrios, P, MIN - Fellow Twins pitching prospects Alex Meyer and Trevor May get more publicity, but Berrios could end up being better than both. He was flat-out ridiculous in a June 1 start for High-A Fort Myers, allowing just one hit in seven scoreless innings. Berrios did not walk a batter while striking out 13. He followed that with two earned runs in eight innings in his next start, striking out nine with no walks. He has had a dominant stretch recently; Berrios has allowed just five earned runs over his last 39.1 innings (1.14 ERA). Over that span, he has notched a 54:10 K:BB ratio. Did I mention he just turned 20 years on May 27? His upside is massive, as he throws hard and has swing-and-miss off-speed pitches. If he can continue to harness his command, the sky is the limit for Berrios.
Jesse Winker, OF, CIN - Winker has been pounding the ball lately, slashing .262/.380/.571 with four home runs and 11 RBI over his last 10 games for High-A Bakersfield. He shook off a nasty collision with the wall earlier this season that left him with concussion-type symptoms, and has not missed a beat since returning from injury. Overall, the 20-year-old lefty is hitting .308/.410/.538 with 10 home runs 41 RBI and four steals through 50 games. Winker's home run numbers should only improve as his power stroke develops, too. Developmentally, he appears to be way ahead of fellow Reds outfielder Phil Ervin, a 2013 first-round pick who is a year older than Winker, but struggling in Low-A.
Brandon Nimmo, OF, NYM - After a couple of lackluster seasons for the Metropolitans, Nimmo fell off a lot of prospect radars. The No. 13 overall selection in the 2011 draft is finally tapping into his potential in 2014, though, slashing .327/.448/.458 with four home runs, 24 RBI and nine steals through 58 games at High-A. The 21-year-old's best asset has been his plate discipline; Nimmo has tallied nearly as many walks (46) as strikeouts (51). He is also on pace to shatter his previous career highs of six home runs and 10 stolen bases. It remains to be seen if he can be a double-digit home run threat, but he's not blocked by anyone at the big-league level, and his above-average speed and stellar patience at the dish could one day make him the starting centerfielder in Flushing.
D.J. Peterson, 3B, SEA - The No. 12 overall pick in the 2013 draft, Peterson has done nothing but hit since entering the minors. He's tearing up the California League, hitting .350/.422/.675 with three home runs and 10 RBI over his last 10 contests. Overall, Peterson is batting .306/.359/.553 with 13 home runs and 54 RBI in 56 games for High-A High Desert. Peterson does need to work on his plate discipline, as he has 56 strikeouts over that span while drawing just 14 walks. However, his hitting stroke is about as pure as they come, and the 22-year-old should be able to adapt as he climbs the ladder in the Seattle organization.
Chris Bostick, 2B, TEX - The power/speed combination makes Bostick an intriguing prospect, particularly from the middle-infield position. He came over from the A's in the offseason after slashing .282/.354/.452 with 14 home runs, 89 RBI and 25 steals in 129 games at Low-A. He did strike out 122 times over that span, though. At High-A this season with the above-referenced Joey Gallo, Bostick has produced similar numbers. The 21-year-old is batting .261/.339/.429 with seven home runs, 37 RBI and seven steals through 58 games. There are a couple of questions with Bostick, though. Will he hit for power at the higher levels? Will the bevy of strikeouts come back to haunt him? And perhaps most importantly, what position will he play at the higher levels? The Rangers are stocked with young talent up the middle ahead of him, including Elvis Andrus, Jurickson Profar, Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas. A move to the outfield could be in store for Bostick, which would certainly knock down his value a bit.
Chris Stratton, P, SF - The California League is not a pleasant place for pitchers, and Stratton has had the misfortune of struggling with the elements in 2014. The 23-year-old righty has a 4.43 ERA through 67 innings for High-A San Jose. Stratton has been plagued by the long ball, allowing 10 home runs in his first 10 starts. By contrast, he allowed just five in 22 starts at Low-A last season. A first-round selection in the 2012 draft, Stratton has a 66:24 K:BB ratio, so he also needs to cut down on his free passes a bit as well. Still, his ERA is likely a bit bloated due to the league he plays in, and the future remains bright for Stratton, who has not seen a dip in his strikeouts at this level.
Steven Moya, OF, DET - Moya is an athletic, physical specimen at 6-foot-6, 230. Not surprisingly, though, his left-handed swing can get long at times, and there are plenty of holes in it due to his size. However, he's having a career year for the Tigers at Double-A Erie, slashing .277/.297/.536 with 12 home runs, 40 RBI and nine steals through 57 games. He's been crushing the ball recently, hitting .310/.326/.643 with four home runs and nine RBI over his last 10 contests. His patience at the dish needs some serious work, though; Moya has fanned 64 times while drawing a mere six walks. The power potential has been on display of late, but the 22-year-old may have an extremely difficult time at Triple-A and then in the majors if he continues to swing and miss at this rate.
Dante Bichette Jr., 3B, NYY - The name is both a gift and a curse for the younger Bichette. Name recognition got him more notoriety than perhaps he deserved coming out of high school. He also has to live up to the expectations of his father, who was a four-time All-Star and career .299 hitter with more than 1,100 RBI to his credit. The pressure got to Junior over his first two professional seasons, including an abysmal .214 batting average at Low-A in 2013. However, he did connect on 12 long balls last year, and has looked much more comfortable in the batter's box in 2014 at High-A. In 61 games at Tampa, Bichette is hitting .276/.365/.438 with seven home runs and 35 RBI. Although he could always draw a walk, the 21-year-old has shown even more improvement at the dish, cutting down on his strikeouts. The sample size is small on the younger Bichette, but it looks like he and Eric Jagielo could end up battling for the title of Yankees' third baseman of the future.
Aaron Sanchez, P, TOR - The Jays have been white-hot at the big-league level over the last few weeks, but the same cannot be said about Sanchez, arguably their top prospect now that Marcus Stroman is in the majors. Sanchez was battered in two recent starts for Double-A New Hampshire, allowing six runs in each of those outings. On May 24, the 21-year-old righty did not record an out, walking four batters en route to the shortest appearance of his brief professional career. He lasted six innings on May 29, but surrendered six runs on nine hits. In two starts since, he's given up three runs in 11.2 innings. However, it's been the walks that have been Sanchez's downfall this season. He has a 57:40 K:BB ratio through 66 innings. Sanchez has walked at least four batters in four of his last eight outings. He battled control problems in the past, but was able to limit the damage due to the inferior levels of competition. That has not been the case thus far in 2014, and Sanchez will need to harness his command to right the ship.
Enny Romero, P, TB - Despite being in the mix for a spot start with the big club earlier this season, Romero has not had a stellar 2014 campaign so far. The hard-throwing, 23-year-old southpaw has a 6.16 ERA in 57 innings for Triple-A Durham. Romero was bombed on May 27 for eight runs on six hits in just 1.2 innings and gave up six runs in three innings in his last start. Romero's control has been his biggest downfall; he has walked 27 batters in 57 innings (4.26 BB/9) after walking 75 hitters in 148.1 innings (4.55 BB/9) last season. He somehow managed a 2.61 ERA at Double-A last season despite the wildness, but it has come back to haunt him in 2014. Romero also has to deal with a stocked Tampa bay rotation at the big-league level, along with fellow rotation mates Matt Andriese and Alex Colome biding for future slots as well. Romero's strikeout stuff makes him an intriguing prospect, but the deck looks to be stacked slightly against him this season.
Chris Anderson, P, LAD - Another victim of the California League, Anderson's ERA is 5.46 through 59.1 innings for High-A Rancho Cucamonga. Opposing batters are hitting nearly .300 against him. Anderson is still striking out more than a batter per inning, though has also issued 29 free passes thus far in 2014. That combined with the high BAA has led to increased base runners and increased scoring against the 21-year-old righty. Anderson actually started off the season well, but has come crashing back down to earth over the last month or so. In fact, he has allowed at least four earned runs in each of his last five starts. Anderson is young with plenty of time to turn things around, but he certainly has not had pleasant experiences on the mound lately.
Taylor Lindsey, 2B, LAA - Considered arguably the best prospect for the Halos coming into the 2014 campaign, Lindsey has sputtered at Triple-A Salt Lake. The 22-year-old is batting just .233/.324/.368 with six home runs, 23 RBI and four steals through 55 games. While Lindsey does possess the ability to take a walk, he has not been able to make consistent contact this season. Likewise, he does not possess much speed. Lindsey is still a threat for double-digit home runs, which is attractive from a fantasy perspective, particularly due to his middle infield status. However, the home runs will not mean as much if he cannot keep his average up. He's also blocked at this time by Howie Kendrick and the surprising Grant Green. Add in an undisclosed injury that has landed Lindsey on the Disabled List, and his future with the Angels has certainly become a bit murkier.