Zack Thompson Flashing or Joey Wentz to Motown

Cubs RHP Cam Sanders listens to Parliament between innings to maintain his mothership connection. He shakes out a little aqua boogie before and after every pitch, and it’s working for him. If you want your funk funked up, grab a flashlight and take a look. Sanders is doin’ it in 3D. He’ll put a glide in your stride and a dip in your hip. Might even tear the roof off the sucker when he makes the show. His stuff has always been good, but like a lot of young Cubbies, he’s added velocity over the past few seasons and harnessed that stuff at AA this season better than he has before, posting a 25% K-BB rate and a 1.00 WHIP in six starts. He’s yet to debut at AAA, but I’m hoping he pitches Friday when I get down to Des Moines to watch the I-Cubs. Feet don’t fail me now!

Milwaukee SS Jackson Chorio, the youngest player in Low-A at 18 and 2 months, is slashing .480/.519/.800 in his first week at the level, flashing his five-tool, roto-star potential and himself on track to be a Consensus top 50 prospect when the mid-season reshuffles start trickling out. Get him now if you can.

Oakland RHP Adrian Martinez thrived in his big league debut, throwing 5.1 shutout innings without walking a Tiger. Be careful whenever walking tigers, but please walk your tigers on the regular, if you’re one of these Joe Exotic types who collects tigers. And pick up their poop. Should you pick up Adrian Martinez? Can’t hurt, in some leagues, is my immediate thought. I wouldn’t run him out there against real offenses like the Angels or Astros, but he might slide by some Ranger-type teams in that big-league park they have out in Oakland. Most foul ground in baseball. Guys without true strikeout pitches get away with more there when they can’t finish a tough contact hitter. Not that Martinez is without weapons, particularly his changeup.

His 7.45 ERA in AAA this year came with a 58.4% left-on-base rate, well below the norm which tends to settle a little above 70, depending on what baseball is being used. He carried an 81.2 LOB% and 2.34 ERA across 81.2 AA innings in 2021. Posted a 1.09 WHIP over that stretch, too. Also worth mentioning the return of Ramon Laureano, who has been playing right field with Christian Pache in center. That’s two double-plus defenders at the most important outfield spots, especially in a big outfield with extra foul ground. I always pay close attention to Oakland pitchers, but this outfield combo has me intrigued. Kevin Smith has been impressive on defense, and Nick Allen might be the best defensive shortstop in the minor leagues. Sean Murphy and Shea Langeliers are both superb defensive catchers. Nick Blackburn is 4-and-0 with a 1.74 ERA. I dunno. Life’s weird. Baseballs change. But I’m picking up A’s starters with half a chance to see what happens.

Detroit LHP Joey Wentz will make his major league debut today against these same Athletics, and for all their strengths on defense, they pay a price on offense. Landing spots don’t get much cozier for inexperienced arms. Wentz has 1.07 WHIP and a 33.8% strikeout rate in five AAA starts so far this year, and changeup dominant lefties tend to fare better early on that some archetypes, so I’m in. He recorded eight strikeouts in four innings against Boston’s AAA, for what that’s Weurtz.

Dodgers RHP Ryan Pepiot will have already debuted by the time this piece goes to press, and he might be sent right back to AAA after today’s game, but he reminds me a bit of Tony Gonsolin just in the sense that his control comes and goes, but his stuff is extremely good. He’s been dominant this season, posting a 2.05 ERA, 33% K-rate and 1.14 WHIP in six starts. If he’s hitting his spots, he’ll probably be too hot for Pittsburgh to handle and could earn himself another turn as Los Angeles plays the long game looking toward October.

Baltimore SS Darell Hernaiz is repeating the level but was young for Low-A as a 19-year-old in 2021 and is thoroughly mashing in 2022, slashing .318/.356/.612 five borers, five steals and a 14.4 percent strikeout rate. Nothing fluky in it, as Hernaiz was among the youngest players in the 2019 draft, when Baltimore plucked the 17-year-old plus athlete with the first pick in the fifth round, 138 overall. Ground-floor opportunity here if you’re panning for gold in a developmental system on the rise.

Miami RHP Bryan Hoeing is a 6’6” 210 lb pop-up prospect in a Marlins pipeline that knows how to develop a talented arm and found a few extra mph in the slender righty’s arm. He was an effective pitcher at Louisville thanks in large part to his ability to induce ground balls in key spots, but he never cracked a stacked rotation there (Reid Detmers, Bobby Miller) in a long-term capacity. With the newfound velocity, he cruised through AA, allowing just one earned run in four starts, before tossing seven solid innings against a tough Memphis team in his AAA debut. Hard to see how he’ll crack this rotation in Miami from where we stand today, but he passes the eye test for me and is well worth a flier in deep leagues in case opportunity knocks.

st. Louis LHP Zack Thompson was opposite Hoeing in the May 7 match-up and looks like a new man in 2022, channeling his inner Reid Detmers and using his big curveball to steal early strikes and high fastball to put guys away. The 19th overall pick in 2019 has lost some shine off his prospect star and may have been dropped in your league. While I’m not sure he can maintain his early 0.94 WHIP, he was pumping 97-98 early with good control and shutting down the highest-scoring offense in that league. Velocity tailed off a bit throughout the game, but the command remained and the curveball got nastier throughout the night. Might be worth a trade offer or two if he’s already rostered in your deep leagues. His 25.7 K-BB percentage puts him in elite company.

Cubs RHP Keegan Thompson draws the start today after dominating in long relief. I started him in a few places because I like his spot as a win-vulturing, innings eater, but he could end up even more valuable as a rotation mainstay. Tune into his start if you can. He’s pitching on three-days rest and will likely head back to the pen when Marcus Stroman comes off the IL, but this team needs every spark it can get, and Thompson is a one-man tinderbox.

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

Leave a Comment