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MiLB Player & Pitcher of the Week: June 4 – June 11

Looking at the best performances in the month of June 2022.

With 120 teams and 5,000+ players spread through four levels (not to mention the Dominican Summer League and the renamed Complex leagues in Arizona and Florida), keeping up with minor league performances can be difficult. If you wait until end-of-season wrap-ups, a breakout prospect may no longer be available. You can scout stat lines all year, but that can be tedious, and it’s difficult to keep an eye on every tweet of a new highlight. But fear not, intrepid dynasty league manager: Welcome to Pitcher List’s MiLB Player and Pitcher of the Week!

This is a weekly column where I’ll select one hitter and one pitcher who performed outstandingly in the prior week. Not only will you get a name, but also we’ll dive into what powered their results and where their future value stands.

 

Player of the Week: OF Sal Frelick, MIL, Double-A

Stats: (6 games) 11-27, 2 HR, 4 doubles, 5 RBI, 5 runs, 1 SB

It seems only right—after recognizing his teammate and buddy Joey Wiemer previously—that we notice the week that Sal Frelick just had. Frelick tore through High-A in 2021 but Double-A posed a significant enough roadblock that some evaluators began to wonder if Frelick would hit with enough power to be the impact bat the Brewers saw in him.

Well, 2022 Frelick is removing much of the doubt. Corbin Carroll is probably the next five-category prospect to break into the bigs, but I definitely see Frelick as being a poor man’s version of the dynamic Diamondback center fielder. He’s able to utilize pull-side power to drive balls out while making quality contact to the rest of the field. His hit tool and approach continue to mature; there’s a reasonable path to a .270/.340/.400 everyday CF with 6-8 HRs and 8-12 SBs.

 

Honorable Mention: C/1B Yainer Diaz, HOU, Double-A

Stats: (6 games) 9-24, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 6 runs

Diaz was seen as the throw-in part of the Myles Straw deal, moving from Cleveland to Houston last summer. As a 21-year-old in Low-A, he didn’t seem to represent much as a prospect once he arrived in Houston. The Astros promoted him to High-A where Diaz looked progressively more dynamic (.396/.438/.781! with 11 HRs in 25 games).

The Astros, quite alertly, moved Diaz to AA-Corpus Christi to start this season and he’s continued his accelerated growth. While it seems that his defense at catcher is adequate, the fact that the Astros are trying him at other positions in Double-A could point toward their eagerness to get his bat into the senior club’s lineup in any way possible.

 

Pitcher of the Week: SP Xzavion Curry, CLE, Double-A

Stats: (1 start) 7 IP, 2 ER, 5 hits, 0 BB, 12 Ks

I’ve been a fan of Curry’s since early last season when he was at Low-A Lynchburg. Curry is still learning how to pitch as he was a two-way player at Georgia Tech and it can occasionally show in the command of his secondaries. However, when he’s locked in, you see really good results.

You could easily make the argument that this is Curry’s best performance in his pro career, especially when considering the level. I’ve started posting more gifs of all the PoTW working with men on base because I think it gives a better view into how he competes on the mound. Can he get out of trouble? Can he shake off a missed call, a booted grounder by the shortstop? In this case, Curry was staked to a four-run lead and is in danger of giving it all back. After a well-hit double to dead center (that arguably should’ve been caught), he’s facing two runs in and the tying run at the plate. He goes after with two fastballs and then finishes him off with a tough slider.

The slider and changeup will be where Curry’s fate as a major leaguer is likely decided. If he can continue to be sharp with both pitches like in this start, he absolutely could become an SP3/4 for Cleveland. If the command wavers, especially at the Triple-A level, he could fall into the Eli Morgan/Cal Quantrill bucket as a low leverage reliever/mop-up guy.

 

Honorable Mention(s): P Austin Vernon, TBR, Low-A

Stats: (1 start) 5 IP, 1 ER, 1 hit, 2 BB, 10 Ks

Vernon is a BIG man: 6’8, 265 yet somehow he’s snuck through just about all prospect write-ups, being drafted in the 10th round out of HBCU North Carolina Central University. But we all know Rays gonna Ray and here’s another potential diamond in the rough they’ve pocketed.

Vernon has posted a 30%+ K-BB rate along with a .83 WHIP in 45.2IP. Similar to how Royber Salinas and Ricky Tiedemann overwhelmed Low-A in April and May, “Mount” Vernon is looming large over the Carolina League.

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

LaMar Gibson

A lifelong Baltimore Orioles fan that still hasn't forgiven Jeffrey Maier, Tony Fernandez, the 2014 Royals, or Edwin Encarnacion...and has no interest in doing so in the foreseeable future. You can read more of LaMar's thoughts by subscribing to his free monthly newsletter, Inside Fastball, for all things prospects.

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