FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Hiura, Quantrill, Plesac, Beede, Beaty

First Impressions is a look at recent call-ups, a snapshot of their early progress so far in the majors. Initial BaseballHQ.com minor league write-ups for all of the players in today's column can be found in the News tab on their individual PlayerLink pages. Because the majority of these players have accumulated less than 100 AB or 50 IP, small sample size warnings apply to the analysis here.

 

First Impression: Keston Hiura (2B, MIL)

CALLED UP: 5/14/2019, 6/28/2019
BASEBALLHQ PROSPECT RATING: 9C
CURRENT ROLE: Starting 2B
POTENTIAL ROLE: Starting 2B
2019 MINORS STATS: San Antonio (AAA)—213 AB, .329/.407/.681, 16 2B, 19 HR, 0.36 Eye, 7 SB

Year   AB   BA    xBA  bb%  ct%  HctX  GB/LD/FB   PX/xPX  hr/f  Spd/SBO  HR/SB
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ====  ========  =======  ====  =======  =====
2018# 279  .264   N/A    7   78   N/A     N/A     92/N/A   N/A  105/N/A   6/10
2019   93  .269  .232    5   65    96  43/23/33  115/122   30%  118/17%   6/ 3
#Double-A MLEs

He's doing several things well, just not the main thing he's known for:

  • Hiura has received widespread praise for his quick hands and ability to square up the ball, and he's a career .317 hitter over 865 AB in the minors. But we aren't seeing that yet in the majors, as he's striking out a lot and making just average hard contact, though his LD% is very good. His .269 BA isn't what the Brewers or fantasy owners would've hoped for, and his xBA suggests things might get worse before they get better.
  • However, he has been hitting for power, and that has gone a long way toward keeping his value somewhat intact. xPX supports the output thus far, but he's unlikely to sustain an elite +30% hr/f rate, so odds are his HR pace will slow down a bit going forward.
  • He's got slightly above-average speed skill, and has been able to maintain double-digit SB paces in the minors, but his success rate there hasn't been great—he's 23-for-38 (60.5%) over all minor league levels—so his contributions in this category would seem to be on somewhat shakier ground than the rest of his skills.

Travis Shaw's struggles have given the 22-year-old Hiura another shot at laying claim to the second base job in Milwaukee, but he'll need to tap into more of his bat-to-ball skills in order to do that. (Though it's worth noting that even his .232 xBA and -2 BPV are superior to Shaw's .190 xBA and -37 BPV.) Beyond the 2019 season, his long-term ceiling remains very desirable, with the kind of hitting skills that could win him batting titles, net him 25-30 HR power, and give him a shot at double-digit steals. Being patient with him should eventually yield great rewards.

 

First Impression: Cal Quantrill (RHP, SD)

CALLED UP: 5/1/2019, 5/19/2019, 6/5/2019
BASEBALLHQ PROSPECT RATING: 8C
CURRENT ROLE: Starting pitcher
POTENTIAL ROLE: Starting pitcher
2019 MINORS STATS: El Paso (AAA)—4.54 ERA, 35.2 IP/7 GS, 3.1 Ctl, 8.4 Dom, 2.8 Cmd

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  GB/LD/FB  H%/S%  hr/f  FpK  SwK  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ========  =====  ====  ===  ===  ===
2017#  42  5.51   N/A  3.5  6.1  1.7     N/A    39/73   N/A  N/A  N/A   22
2018^ 148  5.16   N/A  2.5  6.5  2.6     N/A    36/68   N/A  N/A  N/A   59
2019   41  4.83  4.32  2.9  7.9  2.8  49/20/31  31/69   18%  52%  13%   92
#Double-A MLEs
^Double-A/Triple-A MLEs

There are some positive signs tucked away in his skills:

  • Quantrill's ERA history is not very exciting, but his skills—particularly his Dom, Cmd, and BPV—reflect steady forward progress as he has moved up the organizational ladder. His jump in strikeout rate at the major league level is especially encouraging, and his 13% SwK suggests he could increase his Ks even further. That, combined with his high GB% (which matches rates he posted in the minors in 2018 and 2019), could help push his xERA below 4.00.
  • At the same time, his below-average FpK indicates we should worry about an possible increase in his walk rate, though his Ctl has been right in line with his minor league MLEs.
  • Left-handed batters have been a big problem for him, as they are hitting .330 with a 1.008 OPS against him over 108 PA. Some of that has been inflated by a 36% hit rate, but mostly it's not bad luck—he has a 1.5 Cmd rate against lefties, compared to a 10.0 rate vs. RHB. He'll need to find an answer against left-handed batters if he's going to stick as a starting pitcher.

The 23-year-old Quantrill (son of former major league pitcher Paul Quantrill) has been bouncing between the rotation and the bullpen for the Padres, and at his current skill level, he's in danger of that continuing—especially with Dinelson Lamet making his return from Tommy John surgery. With his FpK and SwK offering differing views on his potential going forward, his 2019 fantasy value might remain a bit muddled as well. Long term, he still has some upside potential, but there's also considerable risk that he winds up finding a permanent home in the bullpen.

 

First Impression: Zach Plesac (RHP, CLE)

CALLED UP: 5/28/2019
BASEBALLHQ PROSPECT RATING: 7D
CURRENT ROLE: Starting pitcher
POTENTIAL ROLE: Starting pitcher
2019 MINORS STATS: Columbus (AAA)—2.25 ERA, 20.0 IP/3 GS, 0.5 Ctl, 9.9 Dom, 22.0 Cmd; Akron (AA)—0.96 ERA, 37.1 IP/6 GS, 1.4 Ctl, 8.2 Dom, 5.7 Cmd

Year  IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  GB/LD/FB  H%/S%  hr/f  FpK  SwK  BPV
====  ==  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ========  =====  ====  ===  ===  ===
2018# 22  3.35   N/A  1.8  7.3  4.1     N/A    33/74   N/A  N/A  N/A  114
2019  45  4.00  4.85  3.4  6.6  1.9  41/18/41  22/75   17%  60%   9%   46
#Double-A MLEs

His skills have taken a step backward:

  • Plesac is making a pretty big jump in terms of major league readiness, as he was called up after only 79 IP of combined experience at Double-A and Triple-A, and that seems to be showing in his skills. His strikeouts are down and his walks are up, and when you add in that he's a fly ball pitcher (something that was also true in the minors), that's a bad combination. In addition, his FpK and SwK both indicate his current walk and strikeout rates are right about where they should be.
  • Some of his struggles have been masked by a low hit rate and slightly high strand rate, and his xERA suggests that his ERA should be nearly a full run higher.
  • His skills have eroded even further over his last 5 GS: a 5.61 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 4.9 Ctl, 1.4 Cmd, and a 5.58 xERA.

As a Cleveland pitcher with minor league track record of pinpoint control, plus command, and an average strikeout rate, the 24-year-old Plesac is reminiscent of Shane Bieber in 2018 (who was a 7C prospect at the time), but Bieber came to the majors with a little more experience (131 IP in Double-A/Triple-A), and his skills carried over much more strongly (3.53 ERA, 1.7 Ctl, 8.7 Dom, 5.3 Cmd, 3.59 xERA over his first 43 IP). With Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco both likely out a while longer, Plesac will probably get more chances to start, but his skills make it seem like he'll be heading back to the minors before 2019 is over. That said, the Indians' track record at developing and improving pitchers—as they did with Bieber—makes him worth keeping an eye on in the future.

 

First Impression: Tyler Beede (RHP, SF)

CALLED UP: 4/10/18, 5/30/18, 5/3/19, 5/9/19, 5/30/19
BASEBALLHQ PROSPECT RATING: 7C
CURRENT ROLE: Starting pitcher (recently optioned to Triple-A)
POTENTIAL ROLE: Starting pitcher
2019 MINORS STATS: Sacramento (AAA)—2.34 ERA, 34.2 IP/7 GS, 3.7 Ctl, 12.9 Dom, 3.5 Cmd

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  GB/LD/FB  H%/S%  hr/f  FpK  SwK  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ====  ===  ========  =====  ====  ===  ===  ===
2016# 147  3.82   N/A  3.5   7.1  2.0     N/A    34/75   N/A  N/A  N/A   67
2017+ 109  5.74   N/A  3.3   5.7  1.7     N/A    35/66   N/A  N/A  N/A   31
2018+  74  7.46   N/A  6.6   7.4  1.1     N/A    36/61   N/A  N/A  N/A   34
18MLB   8  8.22  5.85  9.4  10.6  1.1  45/27/27  42/59    0%  60%  11%  -40
2019   45  5.64  5.25  5.6   8.7  1.5  47/18/35  31/70   17%  67%  11%   29
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
MLB    53  6.02  5.36  6.2   8.9  1.4  47/19/34  33/67   15%  66%  11%   19
#Double-A MLEs
+Triple-A MLEs

He's had major control problems, but his skills offer some hope:

  • Walks have been the number one issue plaguing Beede over the last two seasons, but at the major league level, his FpK rate has been elite in 2019; there's a serious disconnect between that and his Ctl rate. He should be able to pitch better than this, but we have yet to really see it, other than a 4.8 Ctl rate over his last 6 GS.
  • The walks have not really been a platoon split issue, as he owns a career 7.6 Ctl vs. LHB in the majors, and a 5.0 Ctl vs. RHB.
  • If he can get the walks under control, the rest of his skill package—with an average Dom rate and an above-average GB%—suggests he could become a serviceable back-end starter. It would take a remarkable leap of faith to believe that right now, so it might be better to wait and see if he can turn things around.

The 26-year-old Beede was just optioned back to Triple-A this week, but all indications are that this was simply done to take advantage of the All-Star break and the fact that he won't be needed as a starter again until July 14th. Whether he'll be able to stick in the rotation for the remainder of 2019 is still an open question, and one that comes down once again to his control, and if he'll be able to improve it enough to stop testing the Giants (and his fantasy owners) patience.

 

First Impression: Matt Beaty (1B/LF, LA)

CALLED UP: 4/30/2019, 5/17/2019, 6/21/2019
BASEBALLHQ PROSPECT RATING: 6C
CURRENT ROLE: Platoon LF/1B
POTENTIAL ROLE: Reserve 1B/corner OF
2019 MINORS STATS: Oklahoma City (AAA)—107 AB, .299/.380/.467, 7 2B, 3 HR, 0.83 Eye, 0 SB

Year   AB   BA    xBA  HR  bb%  ct%  HctX  GB/LD/FB   PX/xPX  hr/f
====  ===  ====  ====  ==  ===  ===  ====  ========  =======  ====
2017# 438  .288   N/A  13    6   86   N/A     N/A     87/N/A   N/A
2018+ 101  .231   N/A   1    8   80   N/A     N/A     81/N/A   N/A
2019  104  .279  .286   2    3   86   123  49/24/27   71/108    8%
#Double-A MLEs
+Triple-A MLEs

He's exceeded expectations thus far:

  • Beaty is not a big prospect, but he's been hitting well enough to keep his bat in the lineup on a fairly regular basis. His contact skill has held up very well in the transition to the majors, and he's roping line drives and making tremendous hard contact, all adding up to solid xBA support for his .279 BA.
  • All of that hard contact has led to an above-average xPX that suggests he might be able to tap into a little more power. He's done that over the last 31 days, raising his PX to 109 while increasing his xPX to 141, along with a 12% hr/f as both of his HR came over those last 62 AB.
  • He hasn't been tested much against left-handed pitching, just 14 PA, but the results have been discouraging enough (.143 BA, .286 OPS) for the Dodgers to limit his exposure to southpaws, and when he has started against a lefty, he's been near the bottom of the lineup.

The 26-year-old Beaty might get squeezed off the roster when A.J. Pollock returns from the IL after the All-Star break, but he's performed well enough to keep himself in consideration for additional playing time in 2019 and beyond. The sample size here is still small, but he's had enough success in the minors (including being named MVP of the Texas League in 2017) that we can't just dismiss what he's done. Keep an eye on whether he's able to maintain above-average numbers in HctX and xPX, as that will be the key to expanding his value beyond an empty batting average.


Click here to subscribe

  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.