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Hoos in the Pros: Minor Leagues

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo Day Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images

Yesterday, we looked at the Wahoos currently playing in Major League Baseball (or close to it). Today, we’re taking a look around the minors at the 27 (count ‘em) Wahoos working their way up to the big leagues.

We’re going to go in alphabetical order, because that’s easiest to keep track of as guys move up (or down) levels.

Alec Bettinger, P, Milwaukee Brewers - Drafted in 2017, last year was Bettinger’s first full season of pro ball. He spent part of the season at Low-A and moved to High-A in June. He was solid at the first stop, going 5-4 with a 3.73 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, with 50 Ks in 62.2 IP. At the second stop, he struggled. He went 1-6 with a 6.91 ERA, 1.59 WHIP. His K-rate went up though, striking out 56 in 54.2 IP. The walk rate was higher, but not much. That bodes well for his ability to handle High-A.

Derek Casey, P, Chicago Cubs - Casey threw just 7.2 IP in pro ball last year after finishing the college season. This came with the short-season Eugene Emeralds. He was not great, with a 5.87 ERA, but he did 5 Ks and a 1.17 WHIP in that short span. It wasn’t enough of a sample size to matter. He’ll likely begin this year in Low-A ball.

Ernie Clement, SS, Cleveland Indians - Clement finished last year with 15 games at AA ball, after a solid season between both levels of A-ball. In 33 games at High-A, he batted .346 with an 846 OPS. It was enough for the Indians to give him an invite to Major League spring training where he batted .241 with a HR and two RBI in 14 games. He should begin the year back at AA ball.

Tommy Doyle, P, Colorado Rockies - Spending the entire season with the Low-A Asheville Tourists of the South Atlantic League, Doyle pitched in 52 games, throwing 58.2 innings in relief. He had a 7-6 record and 18 saves to go with a 2.31 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. Those are pretty good numbers. He also had a 66:12 K:BB ratio, which is outstanding. Doyle was a 2nd round pick by the Rockies, so there’s a good chance they’re aggressive with him. He’ll almost definitely move up to AA this year.

Adam Haseley, OF, Philadelphia Phillies - Just a year after being drafted, Haseley made it up to AA ball last year. He batted .316 in AA with 6 HRs and 17 RBI in 39 games for the Reading Fightin Phils. This was after a .300 BA with 5 HRs and 39 RBI in 79 games with the Cleawater Threshers. Haseley garnered an invite to major leauge camp, where he struggled a little bit batting only .167 with 11 strikeouts in 17 games. He’ll probably open the year back in Reading.

Nick Howard, P, Cincinnati Reds - After missing part of 2016 and all of 2017 with injuries, Howard was back on the mound last year. He pitched at two levels, and the results were mixed. His control was completely absent early on, as he walked 27 batters in 34 innings at high-A Daytona. But then he moved up to AA Pensacola and cut his walk rate in half over the final two months of the season. Just being on the mound was a great start, and Howard will look to build on that this year. He probably remains at AA for now.

Danny Hultzen, P, Chicago Cubs - Few baseball players have been through as much as Hultzen. He missed all of 2014 after shoulder surgery, then pitched a grand total of 10 innings between 2015 and 2016. After being released by the Mariners, he went back to Charlottesville and finished his degree while working with the baseball team. He came back towards the end of last year and pitched in the Arizona League for the Cubs. He also threw a couple of innings for the Iowa Cubs (AAA) later in the year. The Cubs are obviously going to be cautious with him, but for a guy with #2 overall pick pedigree, there’s a lot of potential there.

Connor Jones, P, St. Louis Cardinals - Jones opened last year at AA and pitched well enough to earn a promotion to AAA. This year, he’s opening at AAA. He had a 6.46 ERA over 15.1 IP in AAA last year, so he’ll obviously look to improve on those. He did strike out 16 over those innings, which is a big improvement over his 66 Ks in 94.2 IP in AA. Then again, he also had 14 walks in 15 innings, which is not good. He’s a starter, but could end up working out of the pen when and if he makes the big leagues.

Nathan Kirby, P, Milwaukee Brewers - Kirby pitched 71 innings for the Carolina Mudcats (High-A) last year, with a 4.82 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP. The numbers aren’t great, but after missing 2.5 years following Tommy John surgery, just being on the mound was the most important thing. He probably starts back in Carolina again, though AA wouldn’t be a surprise either.

Branden Kline, P, Baltimore Orioles - Kline also missed all of 2016 and 2017 due to injury, but he returned last year and put up some good numbers. Across High-A and AA, he threw 65.2 innings with a 1.64 ERA and 71 Ks versus 18 walks. Kline has been working exclusively out of the bullpen and he garnered an invite to the Orioles big league camp. He’s going to start this year in AAA, and don’t be too surprised to see him get a shot with the Orioles bullpen this year.

Caleb Knight, C, Chicago Cubs - Despite not being drafted, Knight made his way to Low-A ball last year. He batted just .159 in 17 games there, but did HR and steal a base. He also pitched to one batter. He’ll be back in Eugene (Low-A) this year.

Artie Lewicki, P, Arizona Diamondbacks - After making his big league debut in September 2017, Lewicki was back and forth between the majors and minors last year for the Tigers. He even made one start for Detroit in August. He was put on waivers and claimed by the D-backs where he’ll likely pitch for their AAA affiliate in Reno.

Daniel Lynch, P, Kansas City Royals - A first round pick last year, Lynch began his pro career in Rookie ball, but quickly moved to Low-A, where he was excellent. He started 9 times, pitching 40 innings with a 2.09 ERA and 47 Ks versus just 6 walks. He’ll probably start this year in High-A.

Jake McCarthy, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks - Another 2018 first round pick, McCarthy also moved quickly from Rookie ball up to Low-A. He also excelled, batting .288 with 3 HRs, 18 RBI and 20 steals in 55 games. He’s also considered an excellent defensive CF. Like Lynch, figure on McCarthy beginning this season at High-A.

Joe McCarthy, OF, Tampa Bay Rays - Jake’s older brother, Joe, spent a few days with the Rays big league camp, going 3-for-5 with a walk in 3 games. Not too shabby. He finished last year at AAA Durham where he batted .269 with an 889 OPS. He hit 8 HRs and drove in 27 runs in 47 games. He’ll remain in Durham for now.

Mack Meyer, P, San Francisco Giants - Another guy who wasn’t drafted, Meyer signed with the Giants and pitched 20 games in Low-A ball. He had a 5.04 ERA over 30.1 innings.

Jarrett Parker, OF, Los Angeles Angels - After playing parts of 2015-2017 in the majors with the Giants, they released him prior to last year. He didn’t play at all last year while recovering from injury, but signed a minor league deal with the Angels this year, with an invite to major league spring camp. He’s been solid in camp, with a .241 BA to go along with 2 HRs and 7 RBI in 36 PAs. He’s walked 7 times, and has a 906 OPS. He’s also a good defensive OF. The Angels have Mike Trout of course, but just three other OFs on their 40-man roster. Parker could get a look if the Angels have injuries in the OF.

Mike Papi, OF, Cleveland Indians - Despite missing part of last year to an injury, Papi’s performance at AAA was enough to earn an invite to big league camp. He batted just .247, but 47 walks helped him to a .373 OBP (on-base percentage) and he hit 7 HRs in 83 games. The Indians OF is probably the weakest part of their team, so it’s possible Papi gets a look if some other guy struggle. He’ll likely spend most of the in AAA.

Danny Pinero, 3B, Detroit Tigers - Pinero played all of last year at High-A Lakeland, and really started to look good at the plate. He batted .263 with a 748 OPS, smacking 9 HRs and driving in 59. He also stole 5 bases without being caught. He played 7 games with the Tigers in spring training and will probably start this year in AA.

Josh Sborz, P, Los Angeles, Dodgers - Between AA and AAA last year, Sborz threw 53.1 inning and had a 3.88 ERA. He struck out 71 and walked 20. After being mostly a starter in the minors before that, he pitched entirely out of the bullpen last year. The Dodgers are obviously hoping he can become a part of their big league bullpen, and they brought him to spring training this year. He’ll open this year in AAA.

Pavin Smith, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks - At High-A Visalia last year, Smith batted .255 with a 735 OPS. He hit 11 HRs and drove in 54. His .343 OBP was solid, but you’d like to see more power from a 1B. Then again, he’s still just 22 and we know he can hit HRs. He played in six games for the D-backs spring training and went 3/8 with a HR and a 1.194 OPS. He’ll likely open this year in AA.

Bennett Sousa, P, Chicago White Sox - After being selected in the 10th round last year, Sousa pitched just 35 innings of pro ball. He went from Rookie ball to the South Atlantic League (Low-A) and totaled a 1.27 ERA with 42 Ks and just 7 walks. He’ll probably start in Low-A again.

Matt Thaiss, 1B, Los Angeles Angels - Fresh off being named the team’s most outstanding rookie in spring training this year, Thaiss is posed to make his big league debut. He had a .784 OPS at AAA last year in 85 games, with 10 HRs and 51 RBI. He’ll open the year back in AAA, but should be in Anaheim relatively soon.

Brandon Waddell, P, Pittsburgh Pirates - Waddell pitched 135 innings last year between AA and AAA and had a 7-9 record with a 3.99 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. That was enough to get him an invite to big league camp, where he pitched in seven games, starting one and posted a 4.26 ERA. He struck out 8 in his 6.1 IP, which is lot better than his 103 Ks in the minors last year. He’ll remain in Indianapolis this year.

Andy Weber, SS, Chicago Cubs - Another 2018 draftee, Weber played 36 games between Rookie ball and Low-A and batted .254 with 2 HRs and 10 RBI. He managed to get into 3 games with the Cubs this spring, going 2/4 with a double. He’ll likely remain with the Eugene Emeralds.

That’s the group of minor leaguers that I’ve got. If I missed anybody, please let me know in the comments. We’ll check back from time to time throughout the season.