Note: M’s prospects guru Jay Yencich has returned to answer some of our questions about the M’s farm system. A big thanks to Jay for doing this.
SoDo Mojo: Who has the organization’s best fastball? Slider? Curve? Change? And what factors make these pitches particularly effective?
Jay Yencich: Fastball probably goes to Maikel Cleto because it’s so good he hardly ever needs anything else. He can throw it hot and heavy, as it’s helping him get five grounders for every fly at the moment. Health and secondaries willing, he could be neat. Pineda’s a close second though, because he’s sneaky with it and has good velocity to boot.
As for the rest, it’s really hard to say because at the moment we don’t really have anything in the way of signature weapons. You knew Clint Nageotte’s slider was something else. You knew Felix had that curve. You knew about Blackley’s change-up, or Livingston’s change-up, but these days there’s not so much of that.
For the best slider, I keep hearing Steve Hensley. It contributed to a solid number of Ks for him last year. This year, not so much, but there may be a lot of different things going on because no one seems to be making solid contact against him. Kasparek might be the runner up there, but he’s having his share of troubles this year with flyballs and walks. It could be environmental, but Hensley had no trouble there, so I don’t know.
Curveball might be Josh Fields, but it’s hard to say because he’s been so inconsistent with the oblique injury and the like. It’s deep and gives him a good 15 mph differential off his fastball at times. Andrew Carraway is probably second best, if not Robles, who has been making strides of his own.
The best change-up is usually going to go to a left-hander at any given time. When healthy, that would be Nick Hill, who held right-handers to a .215 in part because of it. Pineda and Robles would be in consideration again in this area. Their change-ups are superior to their breaking pitches at this stage.
SoDo Mojo: What’s up with Carlos Triunfel? Does he still project to be as awesome as we had originally thought? If not, why?
Jay Yencich: Nothing, really? He’s a twenty-year-old hitting around .300 in double-A while playing a competent short, though he could still move off in the future. I suppose people are expecting him to have hit for more power by now, but it’s known that power is often the very last tool to develop in any appreciable way.
An interesting exercise is to set up Jose Lopez’ stats year for year with Triunfel’s. Injury year aside, they’re eerily similar, except Triunfel walks a little bit more and has adjusted better to double-A. Use that information however you will. If you’re positive about him, you’ll think that he’ll be a little more focused and make good on the potential rather than finding a new way to be an average player every year. If you’re not positive, he’s got a stronger arm and a weaker bat for power, which is not good.