Prospect News: Mr. Casey Goes to Washington or My Cousin Vinny Capra

Yankees SS Anthony Volpe is pressing at AA, slashing .125/.214/.167 with a 3.6% walk rate and a 35.7% strikeout rate. I might repeat myself on the it’s-just-one-week front, but I’ve been concerned about the Volpe hype for quite a while. Reminds me a bit of Kelenic in that people rushed him up the list before he’d proven anything in the high minors, always scary for a guy whose hit tool is the primary question. I’m not Chicken Little, sky-is-falling frightened for him, but that’s partly because I don’t have Volpe on any teams. If I did, I’d be accepting offers or folding him in with deals to get elite major leaguers. The Yankees have developed just one big league caliber field player over the past decade. He turns 21 on April 28, so he’s plenty young for the level, and if you’re a believer, this might be your chance to buy where you can. Still, in prepping this weeks’ article, I found myself wondering if anyone in that camp is regretting their decision to pass on all the free agent shortstops. Not because of Volpe having a tough week but the whole combination of factors that led Isaiah Kiner-Falefa being the everyday shortstop in pinstripes. Things can look pretty different in the cold light of April.

The Washington Nationals called up mighty OF Donovan Casey This week and began to bench Victor Robles, who is 0-for-18 on the season with zero walks in five starts. Pretty sure I’m jumping to a conclusion here, but it feels like the organization might be pulling the plug on Robles, which makes me wonder if they’re being run by fantasy baseball Twitter. Robles turns 25 in May and has 1286 career plate appearances on his ledger along with a .233/.313/.370 triple slash line, 25 HR and 42 SB. He’s been worse than that for a couple years, but to this point in his career, he’s produced at roughly a 12 HR 21 SB pace for our purposes. I was recommending him as a freebie pick up this winter, and while I might turn out wrong on that, I’m seeing now he’s in the lineup today (Saturday), and I hope the club gives him another season to find his feet.

Casey isn’t the answer either. He’d struck out in 36 percent of his plate appearances at AAA when he was recalled, which is in line with his career rates.

Someone has to pitch the late innings in Baltimore, especially if they should somehow find themselves in the lead. After the club traded Cole Sulser, the closer-hunting community crowded around the journeyman RHP Jorge Lopez, and that makes sense. What do the Orioles care if they’re pitching someone mediocre in the ninth? They don’t, is the only logical conclusion we could draw from the last half-decade. In fact, they don’t intend to have any leads late in games. If they’re accidentally winning in the ninth, something has gone wrong with the plan.

Sorry about all that. I just can’t believe they’re playing Kelvin Gutierrez at third base everyday. I mean along with all the other odd things Baltimore has been doing. Some of it has worked out. And maybe, just maybe, RHPs Felix Bautista and Bryan Baker will help the club replicate the success it found with Cole Sulser and Tyler Wells in the arm barn. Both guys have always been good. Feels like they’re the first real relief prospects developed by this front office. I’d like to roster them both if I have the room. Bautista is a 6’5” 190 lb strikeout machine who has kept his K-rate over 30 percent since 2019 and saved nine games last season between AA and AAA. Baker is a 6’6” 245 lb home run suppressor who gets plenty of outs via strikeout himself. I don’t mean to overstate the case, but I’ll bet the front office had these two in mind when they decided to move Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser.

Houston called up 3B Joe Perez from AA this week, then sent him back down, then called him up again. I think he’s just a seat filler for now.

Dodgers OF Ryan Noda (AAA) is blocked like he’s pass-rushing against Tony Boselli, but he’s also got four home runs and a steal in nine games to go along with a .400/.538/.800 slash line and a 20.5%/12.5% ​​BB /K rate. Dodgers gonna dodge.

Oakland SS Nick Allen (AAA) should be the starting shortstop in Oakland, but Elvis Andrus remains on the roster, and he’s actually playing well, which might be a good thing for Allen, who is slashing .395/.477/.500 with more walks than strikeouts through one week. Good chance Elvis is on the first flight out of that building the second anyone comes asking about him.

Toronto SS Vinny Capra (AAA) is the kind of guy nobody notices until it’s too late to add him. He’s listed at 5’8” 175 lbs, which might be a little generous. In 72 AA games last year, Capra slashed .327/.396/.548 with 10 HR and 4 SB. On the downside, he struck out at a 26.2 percent clip, and guys like Capra just don’t have a margin for error like that. They have to be perfect to get that big league opportunity, and Capra’s trying to be exactly that this season. In 8 games, he has three strikeouts, three walks, two home runs, and a .367/.424/.600 slash line. I’ll come right out here and say I don’t think Cavan Biggio is a big-league regular, which is also the primary knock on Capra: he’s a utility piece. And maybe he is. But Biggio is striking out at a 46.2 percent rate this season. It’s just 13 plate appearances, but he’s 0-for-13 and ceding the second base spot to Santiago Espinal. Might soon lose his wings to Capra if his life remains as wonderful as it was this week.

I lost a Razz30 bidding war for Angels RHP Brett (Sister) Kerry this week. The Twins bid $2. My Royals bid $1. Foiled again by a division rival!

Kerry was on the main page of MiLB.com after striking out 12 batters in five innings against the Marlins AA affiliate. He’s up to 20 K’s and one walk in ten innings, which is very, very good. Kerry wasn’t a rotation mainstay in college at South Carolina, and I suspect it’s because he’s a little bit funky, but the results have always been excellent. The Angels might have a steal here after selecting Kerry in the 5th round of the 2021 draft. The short-arm release leads to something of an invisi-ball effect when he’s locating up in the zone, which seems to come pretty naturally to him.

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

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