Welcome to the Minor League Mailbag, with questions submitted by you, the Twitter users, and answers supplied by me, Kate Morrison.
@unlikelyfanatic OK. Who are the guys we have not heard much about, but you think have a great shot at making it up.
Well, “great shot” is a difficult pair of words to put on any minor leaguer, especially ones who aren’t heralded top prospects. Jimmy Reyes is one of the better bets to see time in a bullpen, as a left-hander who can get batters of both handedness(es) out, with a variety of pitches and the ability to throw strikes. Phil Klein is a large human being who throws in the mid 90s effectively. He’s also struck out more batters than innings pitched in every season of professional ball he’s played.
Alec Asher and Jerad Eickhoff are quietly making a statement for themselves in Frisco across this season, putting up solid (if not spectacular) numbers and showing steady improvements in both their skills and their durability. It may not be exciting to think “Oh, two no. 4 pitchers,” but two solid, young pitchers who can keep a team in the game, eat up innings, and provide depth? That’s the stuff that rotational dreams are made of. In a few years, there could a rotation of Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Luke Jackson, and Asher; with Eickhoff in the pen providing solid relief with a 97 mph fastball.
Of course, this could also not happen at all, because baseball is like that.
@unlikelyfanatic Who do you think has the better odds of closing: Kela or Leclerc?
Keone Kela has the capacity to throw high-90s with a breaking ball he varies. However, the fastball, though high in velocity, has yet to gain much movement, and the breaking ball can look a little sloppy at times, but the closing mentality is there. Jose Leclerc (pronounced leclur) has a high-velocity fastball (topping out at 97 mph) with good life, a changeup that’s still in the developing phase of existence, and a curveball that has gone from “decent” to “ridiculously good at times.” I haven’t heard any reports of whether he’s got a “back of the bullpen” makeup, but the stuff certainly suggests it. Though some have floated the idea of Leclerc starting, that’s unlikely as his value is probably highest as a closer.
@unlikelyfanatic You think Chi Chi goes to Frisco with Gallo?
I do think it’s possible. Gonzalez has pitched like someone who could face more advanced hitters, and if there’s not too much worry about durability it would be easy to see him getting the bump up to AA at the same time. I’ll write some more about Gonzalez later this week, but right now he has a 2.49 ERA in 61.1 innings pitched with Myrtle Beach, giving up a total of six runs in his last five games, including pitching 8.0 five-hit shutout innings on May 3rd. Gonzalez would likely take either Kyle Lotzkar or Edwar Cabrera’s spot in Frisco, making an already stout rotation even better.
@unlikelyfanatic does Gallo project as a Major League 3B or maybe 1B? In other words how is his D[efense]?
If there’s anything Gallo’s worked harder on improving than his hitting, it’s his defense, and it shows. Last season, many were saying that Gallo, though athletic, most likely wouldn’t be able to stick at third, but that the outfield was a possibility in the majors. Now, though? He looks like a third baseman. Like Ryan Rua, he’ll never be the rangiest guy at the position, but he could potentially offer an average level of defense there for at least his first few years in the big leagues, which is more than some slugging third basemen have offered in the past. With Gallo’s extreme arm strength, the organization may look for every option to keep him off first base for as long as possible, and a move to the corner outfield could happen later in his career. An outfield with Gallo and Leonys Martin’s arms in it could be one of the most exciting in baseball, a prospect I’m more interested in than I was at the beginning of writing this answer.
If I told you, I’d have to kill you. Gallo should be in Frisco after he hits baseballs at attendees of the Carolina League All-Star Game in June.
@unlikelyfanatic when (not a question of if) Gallo breaks a window at AMLI apartments, who's insurance covers that?
I would assume the renter’s. There’s usually a provision for things beyond one’s control, yes?
What's the best food item of all the minor league parks you've visited?
While I wish I was able to say I’ve visited more parks, I’ve only actually been to Dr Pepper Ballpark and Dell Diamond. Dell Diamond has some fantastic food, as well as good offerings of Texan beer, and the seasoned fries in Frisco are good. Not just “ballpark good,” but genuinely good.
@unlikelyfanatic three things I need to know before attending my first Frisco Roughriders game
First, sunscreen is your friend, if attending a day game. Second, foul balls come into the stands with great regularity. Third, try the fries.
I have had neither. If I were to conduct a poll of the minor leagues, I have a feeling it would come back “Chipotle” by a mile.
@unlikelyfanatic are the Royals REALLY an MLB team, or Double A in disguise?
The Royals are technically out of my jurisdiction, but I have a sneaking suspicion they are at least partially a double-A team. Of course, I’m in no real position to say anything, looking at the Rangers’ roster.