Down On The Farm: 6/30 – 7/6 – Leon shines, Sweeney’s power, Holmes debut

Darnell Sweeney becomes “a guy”, Julian Leon questions why I said his power will eventually come and decided to show it immediately, and Alex Verdugo is making quite the impression. Meanwhile, Scott Elbert passes a test in AAA and continues his march back to relevance. On the other side of the coin, Zach Lee and Matt Magill continue to struggle.

Oh yeah, some guy named Grant Holmes debuted or something.

June 30

Hitter Of The Day: Darnell Sweeney (AA) went 5-for-8 with doubles #25 and #26, and homers #9, #10, and #11. Sweeney now has a .909 OPS on the year with a .951 OPS in his last 10 games. The bat is appearing legit and with second base presumably locked down for the foreseeable future, Sweeney could make a solid trade chip at the deadline.

That said, as mentioned before, there are warts. The 23-year-old is 9-for-23 in stolen base attempts and has made 23 errors on the year. But more than half of the defensive miscues were the result of a mistake of an experiment in moving him back to short, as he’s much more fluid and rangy at second, sort of like Dee Gordon during his transition from SS to 2B. No real excuse for his stolen base efficiency, though, as he has the speed to do it.

Pitcher Of The Day: Zach Lee (AAA) makes me feel like I’m beating this issue in the dirt, but he’s a top prospect and I have to give the updates. In 5.1 innings, he gave up five runs on five hits and four walks and only struck out two, raising his season ERA to 5.07. His walk rate is up because he has to nibble more at the corners of the zone due to a lack of overpowering stuff, and his strikeout rate is way down because (again) he has no knockout off-speed pitch, IMO.


Hendrik Clementina (DSL) went 3-for-4 with a stolen base and a walk. However, he has slowed down a bit after his fast start, posting a .550 OPS in his last 10 games.

July 1

Hitter Of The Day: Jacob Scavuzzo (A) is having a rough go of it this year (.619 OPS) in full-season ball after blowing away Rookie-ball, but this homer hopefully helps things.

Upside is still there despite the numbers.

Pitcher Of The Day: J.D. Underwood (R) was a fifth-round pick in 2013 and pitched five innings of one-run ball on five hits and a walk, striking out seven. Underwood has a three-pitch mix, but sits in the 89-91 mph range with the fastball and is more like a back-end starter if everything comes together.


Julian Leon (R) went 3-for-4 with a triple. You’ll hear a lot more on him later.

July 2

Hitter Of The Day: Carlos Aquino (DSL) went 3-for-4 with a walk and his first three doubles of the year. The second baseman should be able to handle the position and is a repeat at the DSL level.

Still only 18, so there’s time and he’s within his age group still.

Pitcher Of The Day: Grant Holmes (R) arrived to the professional ranks and made himself known immediately with his almost flawless two innings of work. The 2014 first-rounder only surrendered a walk and struck out five batters. Holmes was 95-97 mph and there’s a reason many people are excited about him.


Scott Elbert (AAA) only gave up a walk in his inning of work, striking out one. I’m thinking he might get tested on back-to-back days sooner than later…

Matt Magill (AAA) gave up six runs on four hits and two walks in 1.1 innings of relief. Safe to say this experiment is not going all that great.

Tom Windle (A+) posted a solid outing, giving up one run in six innings, walking two and striking out four. The fastball is there, I just wish his breaking ball would be plus instead of flash plus so he can cement himself as more of a starting candidate than a future reliever.

Justin Chigbogu (R) went 1-for-3 and slugged his second homer, while teammate Julian Leon (R) showed that plus power I talked about with his first homer en route to a 2-for-4 day.

July 3

Hitter Of The Day: Corey Seager (A+) went 1-for-3 with his 16th homer and two walks. His line for the year at Rancho is now .354/.412/.633/1.045.

Everybody chant: “Dou-ble A, Dou-ble A, Dou-ble A!”

Pitcher Of The Day: Scott Elbert (AAA) indeed pitched on back-to-back days and threw a perfect inning with two strikeouts in response. He’s now at AAA and has passed what is usually the final test for rehabbing relievers, so I have to wonder whether he’s on the verge of replacing a Paul Maholm or Chris Perez.


Scott Barlow (A) turned in an average start, giving up three runs in five innings. But his six strikeouts and the velocity returning show that he’s on the correct path back, and that’s most important. Even if he couldn’t have made it as a starter prior to surgery, he always had the bullpen as a fallback.

Justin Chigbogu (R) went 1-for-3 with a walk and his third homer.

Jose De Leon (R) was the story a couple weeks ago when he struck out 12 and walked none, and he was back on a similar path today, striking out nine and walking one in six innings. De Leon gave up three runs, but he has now struck out 31 in 22.2 innings, compared to seven walks.

July 4

Hitter Of The Day: Julian Leon (R) slugged his second homer in a 2-for-4 game, and he has a .338/.405/.568/.972 OPS on the year.

I was honestly prepared to mainly focus on analyzing his approach at the plate this season, hoping he could flash a hit tool and show some pop, but maybe the over-the-fence power would have to wait until the 18-year-old matured a bit.

Well, I guess not, as the power and leverage have already come to life, and he’s making me regret not including him as the last man on my prospects list. Better yet, Leon is hitting the ball with authority and to all fields.


Leon is also walking at a league average rate, but perhaps most impressively, he’s putting on his show with a well below-average strikeout rate.

Expectations shouldn’t get unrealistic since it’s a small sample, it’s the Pioneer League, and he’s still a bit raw, but there’s reason for attention now as a power-hitting prospect with the tools to stick at catcher (32% CS & better receiving this year).

Pitcher Of The Day: Julio Urias (A+) only lasted 1.2 innings in his latest outing that was scheduled for three innings. He gave up only a run and struck out three, but allowed four hits and a walk.

Nothing major, but I doubt there’s going to be a ton to be excited about statistically between now and the end of the year given the plan. Just know that the stuff is still there (showing dominance against players an average of six years older) and the fine command issues were always going to need adjustment no matter how “advanced” he was.


Dennis Santana (DSL) pitched another scoreless inning, striking out two, to bring his ERA down to 1.65. Santana has 21 strikeouts and 7 walks in 16.1 innings, as the conversion project continues to pay off.

July 5

Hitter Of The Day: Alex Verdugo (R) went 2-for-4 with his fifth double. The 2014 second-rounder out of high school now has a .300/.420/.525/.945 line with eight walks and only a single strikeout.

Pitchers Of The Day: The relief trio of Michael Johnson (A), Jacob Rhame (A), and Victor Araujo (A) continue to impress, and today’s 4.2 innings of hitless, scoreless work adds to that. The trio struck out eight batters and allowed just a single walk.

Johnson’s ERA on the year is 1.89, backed by 47 strikeouts in 38 innings, and he seems like a good LOOGY candidate in the future. I’ve always watched Rhame because of his MLB fastball, and he has a 3.26 ERA with 46 strike outs in 38.2 innings. Araujo is admittedly a bit of unknown for me, but he has a 1.16 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 46.2 innings.


Jamie Romak (AAA) blasted his 14th and 15th homers of the year and finished 4-for-8 in the doubleheader. His .929 OPS is great, but it’s important to remember that his career OPS in AAA over 234 games in .795.

Julian Leon (R) went 2-for-3 with his third homer. No big deal, right?

July 6

Hitter Of The Day: Corey Seager (A+) collected four hits including homers 16 and 17.


Pitcher Of The Day: Takumi Numata (AZL) is already 20 but is just getting his first experience in the states. So far so good, as after today’s performance (6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 K) he has 18 strike outs and three walks in 13.1 innings, along with a 3.38 ERA.


Tim Federowicz (AAA) went 2-for-4 with his eighth double and continues to hit well in Albuquerque (.885 OPS). Which … take that as you want.

Julian Leon (R) went 1-for-4 with his fourth homer. See what I meant?

J.D. Underwood (R) made a relief appearance and it went real bad. Recording only one out, Underwood gave up seven runs on four hits and three walks.

About Chad Moriyama

"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times