Prospect Roundup: Games of May 3

Gatewood extends streak; Gutierrez shows impressive control

Jake Gatewood ranks second in the Carolina League with a .436 on-base percentage in 26 games for the Mudcats. (Ken Inness/MiLB.com)

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com | May 4, 2017 12:35 PM

Red Sox OF Aneury Tavarez, Triple-A Pawtucket: 3-for-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB, CS -- Tavarez was taken by the Orioles in December's Rule 5 Draft but just missed their Opening Day roster, returning to the Red Sox on April 2. He played 18 games at Double-A Portland and showed he had little to prove there with a .377/.473/.475 line, 12 walks and only six strikeouts. He's hit the ground running in the International League, going 5-for-8 with four extra-base hits in his first two games for the PawSox. In fact, his two homers Wednesday trumped the one he hit over 61 at-bats in the Eastern League. Tavarez, who had a breakout 2016 in which he hit .335 with an .886 OPS for Portland, makes a ton of contact and has good enough speed to grab some extra hits, though he's not typically a power hitter. He might have just missed starting 2017 in the Majors, but he has a chance to prove himself ready with his original organization.

Video: Aneury Tavarez hits his second homer of the game

Rangers RHP Connor Sadzeck, Double-A Frisco: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 95 pitches, 55 strikes -- The Rangers' No. 10 prospect turned in his second quality start of the season, but it wasn't enough to keep Frisco from falling to San Antonio, 5-3, at home. Still, the 25-year-old dropped his ERA to 3.81 and moved into the Texas League lead with 35 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings. With a .173 average-against and no homers allowed in six starts with the RoughRiders, the only thing holding Sadzeck from a standout month has been his control. The 6-foot-7 right-hander, whose fastball grades out as a 70 according to MLB.com, has averaged 4.8 BB/9 this season, up from 3.3 over 140 2/3 innings in the Texas League a season ago. The Rangers would love to keep Sadzeck in a starting role with his ability to miss bats with his heater and above-average slider, but the longer it takes to iron out the control woes, the clearer it becomes that his future may be in the bullpen.

Reds RHP Vladimir Gutierrez, Class A Advanced Daytona: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 86 pitches, 66 strikes -- Not surprisingly, the longest outing of the No. 12 Reds prospect's young career was perhaps his best yet. Gutierrez set a career high with nine strikeouts while throwing 76.7 percent of his pitches for strikes. Signed for $4.75 million out of Cuba last September, the 21-year-old struck out 32 and walked only four over 26 1/3 innings in his introduction to stateside ball. His 4.10 season ERA might not look as nice, but most of that damage came in his first two outings with the Tortugas. Over his last three starts, Gutierrez has allowed only three earned runs on 13 hits while striking out 23 and walking none in 17 innings. The six-foot hurler, who worked out of the bullpen in Cuba, earned plus grades for his fastball and curve, and it might not be long before he gets a look at Double-A.

Brewers 1B Jake Gatewood, Class A Advanced Carolina: 2-for-2, HR, 2 RBI, R, BB, SB -- Primarily a third baseman last season, the Brewers' No. 25 prospect has moves across the diamond to make room at the hot corner for Lucas Erceg -- he of the hidden-ball trick. That means there will be a higher expectation for his bat, but Gatewood is holding up that half of the bargain in his first month at Class A Advanced. The 21-year-old extended his hitting streak to a Carolina League-best 13 games Wednesday and has a .333/.436/.591 line with five homers and nine doubles in 26 games. His 1.028 OPS not only leads a Mudcats lineup littered with hitting prospects but also places third in the Carolina League. Gatewood could stand to make a little more contact with a 27.2 percent strikeout rate, but that might be getting too picky. The Brewers should be very happy with the way he's started 2017, especially coming off his .659 OPS at Class A Wisconsin last season.

Video: Gatewood blasts his 5th home run

Rangers OF Leody Taveras, Class A Hickory: 3-for-5, RBI, 2 R, K, SB -- The Rangers' top prospect seems to be finding himself at Class A. Taveras notched his second three-hit performance in his last four games Wednesday in a 6-4 loss at West Virginia. Since opening the season with a .193 average over 14 games, he's gone 17-for-49 (.347) in his last dozen. Some bumps in the South Atlantic League road were built into the equation for the switch-hitting center fielder, who will be 18 for the entire Minor League season, but it's encouraging to see things turning around this early. The hope is that a little power comes next with only one of Taveras' 17 hits during this run going for extra bases.

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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