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Hoos in the Pros: All Star Break Minor Leagues Update

MLB: Spring Training-San Diego Padres at Chicago Cubs
Stephen Bruno is having the best season of his career.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

With the Majors at their All-Star break, it seemed like a good time to review the Hoos currently playing pro ball. Yesterday, we looked at all 11 Major Leaguers. Today, we’re looking around the minors. This includes several of this year’s draftees, who have made their pro debuts over the past few weeks.

For this group, we’ll go in alphabetical order.

Alec Bettinger, P, Milwaukee Brewers – Making his pro debut in Rookie ball in the Pioneer League, Bettinger has started once and come out of the pen 3 times. In total, he’s thrown 9 innings and has an ERA of 5 and a WHIP of 1.44 to go along with a 1-1 record. He has 6 Ks and 4 BBs.

Stephen Bruno, 2B, Chicago Cubs – Playing exclusively in AAA this year, Bruno is having the best season of his career. He’s batting .267 with a 767 OPS. That OPS is his career high in a full-season league. He’s also got a career high 7 HRs to go along with 27 RBI and 6 stolen bases (without being caught). He is still striking out too much, with 32 Ks versus just 5 BBs.

Ernie Clement, 2B, Cleveland Indians – Clemente is struggling in his pro debut. At Mahoning Valley of the New York-Penn League, Clement is just 5 for his first 32 and has a 338 OPS. He has 1 RBI in 10 games. He has stolen a base.

Robbie Coman, C, St Louis Cardinals – Despite not being drafted, Coman has ended up with the Cardinals on their Gulf Coast League Rookie level team. He’s 4/11 over his first 5 games and has a HR and 2 RBI. He has a 1021 OPS.

Branden Cogswell, 2B, Oakland Athletics – After repeating High-A Stockton for the first half of the year, Cogswell earned a promotion to AA Midland in the Texas League on July 1st. In 10 games there, he’s currently batting just .194 with a 438 OPS. He has struck out 9 times in 37 plate appearances. Prior to his promotion, he was batting .260 with a 655 OPS. He had a 33:20 K:BB ratio, which is very good. But he doesn’t hit for power and had just 16 RBI in 54 games. He’s known mostly for his defense.

Brandon Downes, OF, Kansas City Royals – After getting a brief glimpse of AAA last year, Downes is repeating High-A Wilmington. He missed about a month and a half, but has been tearing the cover off the ball since his return. He’s currently batting .281 with a 1050 OPS. He’s got 9 HRs and 15 RBI in 25 games (98 ABs). He also has a 26:13 K:BB ratio, and also has 5 doubles and 3 triples. He missed too much time to qualify for league leaders, but his OPS would be tops in the Carolina League. And even with all the missed time, his 9 HRs are 16th in the league.

Tommy Doyle, P, Colorado Rockies – In 5 games out of the bullpen for the Grand Junction Rockies in the Pioneer League, Doyle has given up 4 ER. He has walked 5 while striking out just 2. It’s early in his career, but it’s also a poor first impression.

Adam Haseley, OF, Philadelphia Phillies – Adam has already garnered a promotion in his brief pro career. He began in Rookie ball, where he played 3 games and had 7 hits. He moved up to the short-season New York-Penn League and hasn’t let up a bit. Through 10 games, he’s batting .395 with a 1015 OPS. He’s HR’d and stolen 3 bases. He has 4 RBI.

Nick Howard, P, Cincinnati Reds – Howard was moved to the 60 day DL at the beginning of the season. We still have no word on the nature of the injury, but based on that move we can speculate that he’s either having elbow or shoulder trouble. (no change since last update)

Nate Irving, C, Sussex County Miners – Irving is playing professionally in the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball. This is not an MLB affiliated league. He’s played 37 games this year and has a .295 BA and 2 HRs over 125 PAs. He also pitched once and gave up 1 run in 1 IP.

Connor Jones, SP, St Louis Cardinals – Since our last update, Jones has begun to right the ship. He’s upped his K-rate from 4.7 to 5.7, while his BB-rate has stayed roughly the same. All told, he’s 6-4 with a 4.20 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP. The walks need to drop before Jones can really be successful.

Nathan Kirby, SP, Milwaukee Brewers – Kirby had a second elbow surgery on his pitching arm this spring, causing him to miss 8-12 weeks. This is on top of the Tommy John surgery he had late in 2015. Not good news for Kirby.

Branden Kline, RP, Baltimore Orioles – Kline also had another surgery this spring, coming off TJS in 2015. But Kline’s procedure was arthroscopic and was just cleaning up some things in the elbow. He is currently working at the Orioles spring training complex.

John La Prise, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays – After finishing last season at High-A Dunedin, John was sent back there this year. Right now, he’s on the DL and hasn’t played yet this year. (no change since last update)

Artie Lewicki, SP, Detroit Tigers – In his second run through AA Erie, Lewicki is 7-3 with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. He’s got 69 Ks and 21 BBs in 85 IP. The numbers aren’t all that different from last year, but he’s done it over an increased workload.

Whit Mayberry, SP, Washington Nationals – Mayberry was released by the Nationals earlier this year. We’ll keep tracking to see if he picks up somewhere else.

Joe McCarthy, OF, Tampa Bay Rays – Every time we do one of these updates, McCarthy’s numbers are up. He’s up to a .295 batting average (9th in the Southern League) and a 839 OPS (6th). In 83 games and 352 PAs, McCarthy has 33 RBI (24th), 4 HRs, 4 triples and 23 doubles (2nd). He’s also stolen 14 bases (7th). Interestingly, McCarthy has played more 1B than OF thus far this year, though he’s started in LF for 12 of the last 13 games (and DH the other).

Mike Papi, OF, Cleveland Indians – Since a late-May promotion to AAA, Papi hasn’t hit very much. He’s batting just .215 with 1 HR and 13 RBI in 25 games and 93 PAs. Despite the low average, his OBP Is a respectable .340, because he has nearly as many walks as strikeouts (14 to 19). But his .291 slugging is very poor. Hopefully, he’ll adjust and get it together in AAA. (Note: Papi has been sent back to AA, where he’s batting .182 since his return. He does have 1 HR, and his plate discipline continues to excel. Hopefully, this is just a garden variety slump.)

Daniel Pinero, SS, Detroit Tigers – Pinero continues to struggle, batting just .238 with a 658 OPS. He has hit 2 HRs and driven in 29. He’s also walked 32 times in 72 games, which isn’t bad. The bat will have to come around before Pinero can be promoted to the higher levels of minor league baseball.

Will Roberts, SP, Cleveland Indians – Roberts apparently announced his retirement back in May. He had been dealing with an injury and hadn’t pitched since last year.

Josh Sborz, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers – Sborz is still struggling with his command, walking almost 5 batters per 9 innings. However, he’s got his ERA down to 4.36 and a 4-6 record. His WHIP remains high, at 1.44 and his K-rate of 5.86 isn’t high enough to sustain such a high walk rate.

Pavin Smith, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks – Over the first 16 games of his pro career, Smith has done nothing to temper the D-backs expectations. He’s batting .328 with a 781 OPS. He hasn’t HR’d yet, but he does have 4 doubles. He’s got as many walks as strikeouts (6 of each) and his OBP is a very strong .388. As he gets more comfortable with the wooden bats, expect the power to come through as well.

Matt Thaiss, 1B, Los Angeles Angels – Thaiss was perfoming pretty well at High-A Inland Empire, so the Angels promoted him to Mobile in the AA Southern League. He’s played just 2 games there, but is 4/8 with a walk and a double and a stolen base. In 84 games at High-A, he was batting .263 with a 750 OPS along with 8 HRs and 47 RBI.

Brandon Waddell, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates – Waddell was placed on the DL in June with a forearm strain. He suffered a similar injury back in April and missed a few weeks. We’ll see when he’s able to return.

Once again, please let me know in the comments if there’s anybody I missed. We’ll check back in next month and keep you updated on any developments in the meantime.