Eric Niesen – St. Lucie: 3-3, 2.53 ERA, 10 GS, 57 IP, 49 K, 15 BB, .222 OBA
Niesen was in the "stock down" category coming out of Spring Training when he failed to make the Binghamton staff out of camp, but the left-hander has taken his repeat assignment to St. Lucie and ran with it. He was named a Florida State League All-Star this week on the heels of his fantastic month of May in which he went 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 28 innings.
The biggest difference for Niesen has simply been strengthening his typical approach which is to keep his two-seam fastball and slider down in the zone. Last season, his delivery opened up too much which caused his pitches to stay up. Now he is staying closed and on top of the ball which is making him much more efficient and effective down and out of the zone.
Nick Carr – St. Lucie: 1-2, 2.16 ERA, 12 G, 3 SV, 33 1/3 IP, 32 K, 22 BB, .211 OBA
Carr is showing he has overcome his difficult 2008 season. He has yet to start a game this season as he has mostly piggybacked with Scott Shaw, but he has proven very reliable in his three or four inning roles. Like Niesen, the biggest difference for Carr is that he is keeping his, at times, noisy delivery closed and staying on top of his fastball—which has been reported as high as 95-96 MPH this season. With promotions and pitchers bound to shift around this summer, Carr figures to get a few shots at starting sometime this season.
Ike Davis – St. Lucie: .289, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 54 H, 21 R, 26 BB, .374 OBP
It is not that Davis' stock ever really fell, but the improvements he is showing at the plate are very welcome signs after a touch-and-go first season in Brooklyn. Davis' power, which looked non-existent last summer, is returning and his recent surge in home run and extra-base power demonstrates how his swing has stabilized and he is tracking the ball much better. Davis has always trusted his ability and the resiliency he has shown is another strong sign for last year's top pick.
Josh Satin – Savannah: .315, 2 HR, 30 RBI, 58 H, 22 R, 30 BB, .408 OBP
There have been plenty of rumblings about Satin's success in a league where his age certainly makes him appear long in the tooth, but the fact remains that Satin is producing as anticipated after being drafted as an offense-first second baseman. He was mostly a singles hitter in April on his way to a .362 mark, but the power has come on as of late while he has maintained a high batting average. He leads the Sand Gnats in RBI entering Friday and has shown his tremendous makeup by being a vocal leader on a very young club. He is also making strides defensively with just two errors in 52 games this season and rounding into a complete second baseman that is forcing more looks his way.
Ruben Tejada – Binghamton: .281, 1 HR, 19 RBI, 47 H, 22 R, 24 BB, .381 OBA
Tejada's numbers do not jump off the page but his stock is on the rise because he is improving every facet of the game. Plus, as have scouts have said, he is starting to "look the part". After a very long, inconsistent year in St. Lucie, the 19-year-old shortstop looks much more comfortable in Binghamton. His pitch recognition and feel for the strike zone are much improved. He has lessened the hitch in his swing that prevented him from catching up with fastballs last season and his overall bat control has made him a much more capable hitter. All three factors have allowed him to hit for a very respectable average and on-base percentage.
Josh Thole – Binghamton: .354, 1 HR, 19 RBI, 62 H, 25 R, 21 BB, .423 OBP
A catcher hitting .354 in early June speaks volumes on its own, but Thole's stock continues to rise because he is showing that 2008 was no fluke as he simply continues to hit his way on base. He has an extremely solid approach that allows him to put in play whatever the pitcher offers him. Plus, entering Friday, he has struck out fewer times than he has walked. (20 strikeouts).
Thole is improving defensively thanks to added quickness with his footwork which is helping to make up for at times questionable arm strength. While he still needs some work on his framing, receiving and game-calling, Thole is showing that he has the tools on both sides of the ball to grade out at least as a big league backup.
Dylan Owen – Binghamton: 0-5, 6.97 ERA, 10 GS, 50 1/3 IP, 30 K, 27 BB, .327 OBP
As mentioned in Wednesday's piece, the fear with Owen was that Double-A could bring real trouble if he could not harness his fastball . That was the case this season and what brought on a move back to St. Lucie this week with the promotions handed out in St. Lucie. Owen was expected to be a steady cog in the Binghamton rotation, but with already existing high-80s fastball velocity, if he cannot use his heater's movement to gain an advantage his now uphill climb will continue to get steeper.
Brahiam Maldonado – St. Lucie: .219, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 33 H, 16 R, 10 BB, .277 OBP
A one-time Sterling Award Winner in Savannah in 2007, Maldonado has stalled out in St. Lucie. His season was blown up last year by a broken ankle suffered in April and he still has yet to get back on track in 44 games this season. The biggest issue for the St. Lucie outfielder is that he has never learned to proper gauge and drive a breaking pitch which is something pitchers at this level have exposed. At 23, Maldonado still has the time to play his way into an organization role, but his days as viable prospect have passed.
Jose Sanchez – Binghamton: 1-6, 6.88 ERA, 10 GS, 52 1/3 IP, 33 K, 22 BB, .336 OBA
At this stage in his career, Sanchez's did not have much viability as a prospect, but the rapid swing in his productivity is a bit startling coming off a career season in 2008 during which he went 13-7 with a 3.83 ERA. In conjunction with this week's promotions, Sanchez went on the disabled list with a case of mono, but given the new formidability of the B-Mets rotation, Sanchez faces a daunting task in regaining his spot.
Nick Evans – Buffalo/BNG: .138, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 18 H, 12 R, 20 BB, .253 OBP
The most puzzling off all has been the rapid change in Nick Evans. Just three months ago, Evans was competing for a spot on the 25-man roster and now, after a brutal stretch in Triple-A to start the season, he finds himself back in Binghamton where the struggles have continued. In 13 games with the B-Mets, Evans is hitting .200 (11-for-55) with one home run and three RBI. Once looked upon as a possible stop-gap should anything happen to Carlos Delgado (like right now), Evans has to a long way to go to regain his previous form.
Stock Up / Stock Down
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