Prospect Roundup: Games of April 9

Jays' Jansen picks up where he left off; Greene, McKay take hill

Danny Jansen posted an .884 OPS across three levels of the Blue Jays system last season. (Buffalo Bisons)

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com | April 10, 2018 12:55 PM

Theme of the day

Succeeding one way: Hunter Greene and Brendan McKay -- the second and fourth overall picks in the 2017 Draft, respectively -- both entered pro ball as potential two-way stars. Greene has given up the shortstop position -- for now -- to focus on the mound with the Reds' Class A affiliate in Dayton, while McKay continues to forge ahead in both roles with the Rays. Both took the mound Monday night for their 2018 pitching debuts and lived up to the hype. McKay, who is 5-for-9 with six walks at the plate, struck out four over two perfect frames in his first Class A Bowling Green start, and Greene struck out eight of the 14 batters he faced over three frames. There may come a day when McKay has to choose hitting or pitching, or when Greene decides to give short another shot, but both are looking like potent hurlers.

Video: Bowling Green's McKay whiffs Hughes

Who stayed hot

Blue Jays C Danny Jansen, Triple-A Buffalo: 4-for-4, HR, 2 2B, RBI, R, BB -- Hot isn't the optimal word to describe anything dealing with the Buffalo baseball club right now; the Bisons had their first three games against Rochester postponed because of snow and wet grounds. But in his 2018 debut, the Blue Jays' No. 6 prospect picked up where he left off last season by reaching in all five of his plate appearances and collecting three extra-base hits. Jansen climbed three levels last season, hitting .323 with 10 homers, a 40/41 K/BB ratio and .884 OPS. Some of his best numbers came during his 21-game stay with Buffalo, where he hit .328/.423/.552. The Jays added him to the 40-man roster in November, and it might not be long before he contends for Luke Maile's backup job behind Russell Martin in Toronto.

Video: Buffalo's Jansen slugs his first homer

Who needed this one

Twins RHP Kohl Stewart, Double-A Chattanooga: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 75 pitches, 50 strikes -- Like Jansen, Stewart was Rule 5-eligible in December. Unlike Jansen, the Twins' No. 18 prospect went unprotected and for good reason. Despite being the No. 4 overall pick in the 2013 Draft, Stewart's profile took hit in 2017 when he posted a 4.28 ERA with only 57 strikeouts and 48 walks in 82 innings between Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester. No team took a chance in him in the Rule 5 Draft, and he's back in the Southern League for a third straight season. Monday's outing was a big step in the right direction. Stewart's nine strikeouts were a career high, and he issued zero walks for the first time in a start since June 9, 2016. The 23-year-old right-hander still earns above-average grades on his fastball and slider, and if he can continue to pound the zone, he could be back on track toward a Major League rotation spot.

The unexpected

Phillies LHP Cole Irvin, Triple-A Lehigh Valley: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 81 pitches, 52 strikes -- A 2016 fifth-round pick out of Oregon, the Phillies' No. 25 prospect had a solid 2017 but didn't rack up big strikeout numbers. The 24-year-old left-hander was known more for his control, walking only 38 while fanning 118 in 151 1/3 innings between Class A Advanced and Double-A Reading. Still, he has four potential Major League-average pitches, and his ability to fill the zone means he might run into some strikeouts. Monday marked the second time in his career he's fanned 10 in a single appearance.

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Best matchup

Greene vs. Indians OF Will Benson, Dayton-Lake County: This was a battle of raw potential. Like Greene, Benson was a highly touted first-round talent, but he was so raw that the Indians held him back at Class A Short Season Mahoning Valley last season. He has plenty of power and speed, but his hit tool remains a question after batting .238 with a 33.9 percent strikeout rate in 2017. He smoked a liner off a 98 mph Greene fastball for a first-inning single to center, but fanned on a breaking ball in the third. These two prospects don't see each other again until May 21-24, and if Greene's rotation spot comes up during that series, it'll be interesting to see how each adjusts to the other.

Who strengthened their promotion case

Padres OF Franchy Cordero, Triple-A El Paso: 3-for-6, 2B -- The Padres' No. 10 prospect became a Statcast darling for posting elite exit velocities and sprint speeds during his 30-game stay in the Majors last season, leaving many to wonder if he could find a regular spot in a San Diego outfield that already features Wil Myers (who is on the disabled list with nerve irritation), Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe. Cordero's groin strain this spring forced the left-handed slugger to begin the season with El Paso on a rehab assignment, but now that he's healthy, he's pressing the issue again. Cordero is 6-for-14 (.429) with a homer and a double in three games with the Chihuahuas, and with Jose Pirela not exactly taking off in Myers's absence, perhaps Cordero will get a shot soon.

Video: Cordero lines a double for the Chihuahuas

Others of note

Astros OF J.J. Matijevic, Class A Quad Cities: 3-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB -- The Midwest League isn't the most challenging circuit for a 22-year-old college bat, but the Astros' No. 25 prospect delivered his first career multi-homer game.

Twins OF Brent Rooker, Double-A Chattanooga: 3-for-4, RBI, R -- The Twins are aggressively pushing their No. 8 prospect, a senior sign out of Mississippi State. After going 1-for-14 in his first four games, Rooker started to show off one of the system's best bats with his first multi-hit game of the season.

Giants OF Malique Ziegler, Class A Augusta: 2-for-3, HR, 2 BB, K, SB -- Heliot Ramos gets the most attention in Augusta, but the Giants' No. 30 prospect, previously known as a plus-plus runner without much of a bat, put together a performance that demands notice.

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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