2B/SS Wilmer Difo is following up on his breakout 2014 season with a hot start in 2015, hitting .309/.387/.527 in 14 games and 62 PA for A+ Potomac. I’d love for him to walk at an 11.3% rate all season and have a .218 ISO, but those are unlikely to continue based on his history. That being said, he’s not an extreme regression candidate, just playing a little bit over his head right now. Hopefully he’ll get challenged with an AA assignment sooner rather than later.
SS Jason Martinson is hitting .313/.365/.479 in 52 PA through 13 games for AAA Syracuse. Given his awfulness in AA in 2013 and 2014 (.222/.296/.344 in 186 games and 718 PA) the fact that he hasn’t shown improvement in striking out (32.7%, 17 K in 52 PA this year), I wouldn’t expect his hot start to continue.
3B Drew Ward is hitting .311/.367/.378 in 13 games and 49 PA for A+ Potomac. While his lack of power so far is a bit of a bummer, he’s not being overmatched by much older/more experienced competition, which is a step in the right direction. Putting him in A+ ball at just 20 years old was an intriguing challenge, but Ward is taking it in stride so far this year.
RHP Austen Williams only struck out 5.6 batters per 9 innings in his professional debut last year, but has gotten off to a hot start in A Hagerstown, striking out 15 to only 2 walks in 15 and 2/3 innings (1 ER allowed). The fastball/slider righty has struggled with a consistent delivery in the past, so continued success with the K/BB rate would lead me to believe he’s straightened out his mechanics a bit.
LHP R.C. Orlan has only thrown 105 and 1/3 innings since being drafted in 2012 out of UNC due to arm injuries. In three appearances and 6 and 1/3 innings this year, he’s struck out 8 with only 1 walk. The lefty reliever struck out 10.7/9 last year against a 3.3 BB/9, and it’s not inconceivable that he’s finally getting the control and command of his pitches back after years of surgeries.
Early season disappointments
1B Matt Skole is striking out 32.8% of the time (19 K in 58 PA) through 14 games for AA Harrisburg. This is a make-or-break season for him, and he really needs to keep it under 25% to stay on the radar.
2B/SS Stephen Perez is hitting .095/.224/.143 in 51 PA through 14 games for AA Harrisburg. His BB% is in-line with his 2014 numbers and his K% has actually dropped 1.7%, so there’s no reason his stats shouldn’t improve.
2B Cutter Dykstra is striking out 25.0 % of the time (10 K in 40 PA) through 11 games for AAA Syracuse. Too early to worry about this, but his K rate went from a solid 16-17% in 2012-13 to a less-solid 20% last year, so it is preferable to see him trend the other way.
RHP Manny Delcarmen has been thrown out every once in a while as a potential bullpen candidate, but he’s allowed 13 runs on 15 hits in just 7 and 1/3 innings for AAA Syracuse this year.
LHP Rich Hill has already been passed over for a ML LOOGY spot by Xavier Cedeno, Felipe Rivero, and now Matt Grace. Perhaps it’s because he still can’t stop walking guys, with 5 free bases given in 6 innings this year.