PT TOMORROW: AL Central—Park punching but not parking

Minnesota Twins

Robbie Grossman (OF, MIN) and Kennys Vargas (1B, MIN) haven't exactly lit it up lately at DH. In June, they've combined to go 27-for-123 (3 HR, 13 RBI). The Twins already began mixing in Miguel Sano (3B, MIN) while Eduardo Escobar (3B, MIN) was swinging a hot bat. However, Escobar has cooled off further against RHPs since Stephen Nickrand looked at lefty-righty splits in the June 19 Batter Buyers Guide, so other options may be in the offing.

We noted in the May 18 PT Tomorrow that Byung Ho Park (1B, MIN; pictured above) was scuffling at Triple-A Rochester. The troubles continued, reaching a low point in the first six games of June when Park was hitless in 20 AB with 14 K. Part of his offense then began to click June 9. Including a 2-for-3 effort that day, he's hit safely in 13 of 18 contests and recorded 23 H in his last 72 AB with 16 K (through June 27). As for the other part of his game, Park's power continues to be missing as he hasn't homered since May 21 and has just three HR in 179 AB. He had surgery on a tendon in his right middle finger in August 2016, yet he lofted six HR in 51 AB during spring training in Florida. Given his struggles have appeared as late as June, Park may be focused on just getting on base.

Yes, it was done in independent ball at Sugar Land, but 13 HR and 11 doubles in 154 AB (.318 BA, 39 K, 23 BB) were good enough for MIN to sign Andy Wilkins (1B, MIN) to a minor league contract. They've started him out at Double-A Chattanooga, but he's already pushing to move up with 12 H (2 HR, 7 doubles) in 40 AB (11 K, 3 BB). Wilkins is not that far removed from 30 HR in 491 AB at Triple-A Durham in 2014.


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Chicago White Sox

In the June 22 Chicago Sun Times, Daryl Van Schouwen wrote about Tim Anderson's (SS, CHW) offensive and defensive issues (.233 June BA, 70% ct% before donning corrective glasses, and an MLB-worst 17 errors). White Sox manager and former infielder Rick Renteria believes Anderson can fix both locally. However, if he needs a refresher at Triple-A Charlotte, Tyler Saladino (2B, CHW) is still out with back issues, but Alen Hanson (2B, CHW), reviewed in the June 15 PT Tomorrow, could get an extended trial.

Offensive depth at SS in the minors is nil, but veteran Everth Cabrera (SS, CHW) might get a showcase for deadline deal to a team looking for defense. He lost three weeks to injury in April and May, and he's been slow to pick up the offense for the Knights. June has seen him go 14-for-63 with 13 K and 7 BB, setting his overall BA at .209 (30 K, 16 BB) in 148 AB. Cabrera's speed lives with eight SB in 2017.

Jose Vinicio (SS, CHW) had spent all of his time in the Boston organization until 2017. At Charlotte, he was wallowing in the 1-for-4 level (.246 BA, 1 HR, 5 SB, 37 K in 145 AB) when an 0-for-6, four K performance June 14 gave the team a reason to send him to Double-A Birmingham. He's off to a decent start with the Barons with 7 H in 22 AB and 2 SB.

 

Cleveland Indians

After showing signs of life at the plate, Yan Gomes (C, CLE) is back on a downslide. Since peaking at a .267 BA May 21, he's batted .169 (71 AB) with one HR and eight RBI, on a 58% ct%. Fellow backstop Roberto Perez (C, CLE) has been equally awful. From May 1 he's contributed a similar one HR and 10 RBI but has a .176 BA (68 AB) on a 65% ct%.

Erik Kratz (C, CLE) feasted off pitching from Triple-A clubs Toledo and Louisville in a four-game stretch June 20-24, blasting 5 HR with 8 RBI and 7 hits in 13 AB. It was a correction to a month of misery from May 16 to June 18, where he hit .145 in 62 AB with 19 K, 10 BB, and a solo shot as his only RBI.

Tribe fans will surely be calling for Francisco Mejia (C, CLE), who's just toying with Double-A pitching at Akron. He was fine in April and May (.331 BA, three HR, one SB, 118 AB), but he's kicked it up a notch in June. Through June 27, Mejia has gone 30-for-76 with four HR. He's added a few Ks (15 in June, 17 between April and May), but he's also taken more walks (nine BB in June of an overall 15). His four June SB have pushed him to a career-high five. Despite the calls, the Indians continue to take a measured approach and want him to build up game calling experience in the minors. Also, according to cleveland.com beat writer Paul Hoynes, the team was OK with Mejia's pitcher-catcher communication in spring training, but it was in need of improvement.

 

Detroit Tigers

Several members of the Detroit media are calling for the Fire Sale. In the outfield, J.D. Martinez (OF, DET) and possibly Justin Upton (OF, DET) could be on the trading block. The Tigers may need to get MLB-ready OF prospects in return, as the situation has improved little since our analysis in the May 11 PT Tomorrow.

Still, one to watch may be Juan Perez (OF, DET), who got major league experience in his days at SF from 2013 to 2015. In 2016 at Triple-A Iowa, he maximized his defense versatility by playing 2B, 3B, and all 3 OF positions. On offense, he slashed to a .276 BA with 20 BB and 85 K in 381 AB. In the Glass City, he just returned to action June 24 after losing over two months to a left wrist sprain, so he only has 38 AB to his credit for 2017. Perez has sprinted to double-digit steals in all but the 2014 season when he spent 61 games at SF as a reserve OF.

JaCoby Jones (OF, DET) and Tyler Collins (OF, DET) have not impressed since their demotions to Toledo. Jones is off to a slow start with 26 K in 74 AB, and he's languished with a .230 BA in spite of a 31% h%. Collins is in a similar situation. He's cracked four HR in 63 AB, but his BA is an unpromotable .222 with 22 K and four BB.

It may be time for Steven Moya (OF, DET) to get a fresh start elsewhere. He was sent to the Mud Hens back in 2016 to work on his defense. However, he didn't allow it to affect his offense as he vastly improved his plate discipline from a 2015 162 K in 500 AB to 96 K in 409 AB for 2016. The 2017 season has seen him regress to 61 K in 151 AB on the way to a .166 BA (7 HR, 3 SB, 11 BB).

 

Kansas City Royals

Eric Hosmer (1B, KC) was once a perceived trade candidate, but maybe that's not the case now with the top of the division in range. He's still batting .302 on a 34% h%, and he's overcoming a 20% FB% to hit more homers. However, Hosmer's nine HR places him 24th of all MLB 1Bs; that's not what you necessarily want to see on a team that's 22nd in dingers. We looked at Double-A Northwest Arkansas DH/1B teammates Frank Schwindel (1B, KC) and Samir Duenez (1B, KC) in the May 4 PT Tomorrow, and we're back again for an update.

The Royals broke up the dynamic duo May 18. Schwindel earned the promotion to Triple-A Omaha with a .350 BA, 88% ct%, 4% bb% and 6 HR over 137 AB in his 3rd year with the Naturals. However, he's experiencing growing pains with the Storm Chasers. While maintaining an 83% ct%, Schwindel has slipped to two HR, a 2% bb% and a .240 BA in 125 AB.

Duenez fell into a May slump (.234 BA, 76% ct%, 111 AB) that carried over to the next month (2-for-25). Then on June 7 he started to roll to a .328 BA with 3 HR and 3 SB in 67 AB on an 81% ct% and 6 BB. Even with the long tumble, overall he's batting .268 (284 AB) with 10 HR, a 79% ct% and 7% bb%.


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