Pipeline preview: Class A Short Season slates open
New York-Penn, Northwest League seasons set to get underway on Friday
As many of the full-season leagues approach their All-Star break, Friday marks Opening Day for the New York-Penn League and Northwest League at the Class A Short Season level.
Fans can watch on MiLB.TV as the New York-Penn League season opens with Brooklyn facing Staten Island at 7 p.m. ET. The Northwest League season begins two hours later, when Boise hosts Tri-City at 9:15 p.m.
Brooklyn and Boise both happen to have the player who is perhaps the most exciting prospect in each league. The Cyclones feature shortstop Amed Rosario, the Mets' No. 5 prospect, and the Hawks are led by catcher Kyle Schwarber, who was selected fourth overall by the Cubs in last week's First-Year Player Draft.
Rosario made his professional debut last year in the Appalachian League, where he hit .241/.279/.358 as a 17-year-old. He recently made his season debut with Class A Savannah, but will now move to Brooklyn to be its regular shortstop.
Schwarber began the year at Indiana University, where he hit .358 with 14 home runs and a .659 slugging percentage. He was the first position player selected and became the highest drafted player in school history when the Cubs grabbed him last Thursday.
While Schwarber is one of the few members of the 2014 Draft class on an Opening Day roster in the short-season leagues, others will surely join him in the coming weeks as more players sign and get back up to speed. Many of the older players from the Draft will eventually make their way to the two leagues.
Other notable prospects in the New York-Penn League include Aberdeen left-hander Stephen Tarpley (Orioles' No. 10), Mahoning Valley catcher Francisco Mejia (Indians' No. 6) and left-hander Sean Brady (Indians' No. 17), as well as the Williamsport trio of catcher Deivi Grullon, outfielder Cord Sandberg and right-hander Mitch Gueller (the Phillies' Nos. 10, 11 and 18 prospects).
In the Northwest League, fans will want to keep an eye out for Eugene shortstop Franchy Cordero (Padres' No. 12) and the Vancouver trio of right-hander Alberto Tirado, shortstop Franklin Barreto and left-hander Jairo Labourt (the Blue Jays' Nos. 7, 8 and 12 prospects).
Vancouver will hope Tirado, Barreto and Labourt can help it to its fourth straight league title. If the Canadians are able to capture another championship, they would match the league record, set by Spokane from 1987-90.
Friday's Minor League slate is also highlighted by several pitchers scheduled to start who are ranked on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, including Alex Meyer (No. 24), Kyle Crick (No. 27), Lucas Sims (No. 50), Eduardo Rodriguez (No. 58), Braden Shipley (No. 64), Justin Nicolino (No. 67), Edwin Escobar (No. 81), Nick Kingham (89) and Anthony Ranaudo (No. 95). Fans can watch Meyer, Nicolino, Escobar, Kingham and Ranaudo on MiLB.TV, beginning with Ranaudo and Triple-A Pawtucket hosting Charlotte at 7:05 p.m.
After beginning the season with Double-A Altoona, Kingham was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis on Thursday and will be making his debut against Durham at 7:15 p.m.. In 12 starts for the Curve, the Pirates' No. 8 prospect posted a 3.04 ERA and a 54-to-25 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 71 innings.
Top prospect probables
Tyler Anderson (Rockies' No. 10), Tulsa vs. Arkansas
Manny Banuelos (Yankees' No. 11) Trenton at New Britain
Christian Binford (Royals' No. 11), Wilmington vs. Carolina
Zachary Bird (Dodgers' No. 13), Great Lakes vs. Lansing
Paul Blackburn (Cubs' No. 13), Kane County at Beloit
Andrew Chafin (D-backs' No. 12), Reno at Memphis
Michael Clevinger (Angels' No. 12), Inland Empire vs. Visalia
Dylan Covey (A's No. 13), Beloit vs. Kane County
Kyle Crick (Giants' No. 1), Richmond vs. New Hampshire
Zach Efflin (Padres' No. 11), Lake Elsinore at High Desert
Edwin Escobar (Giants' No. 2), Fresno vs. Omaha
Drew Gagnon (Brewers' No. 16), Huntsville vs. Chattanooga
Marco Gonzales (Cardinals' No. 4), Springfield vs. Northwest Arkansas
Severino Gonzalez (Phillies' No. 6), Reading at Altoona
Ismael Guillon (Reds' No. 9), Dayton vs. Lake County
J.R. Graham (Braves' No. 6), Mississippi vs. Tennessee
Taylor Jungmann (Brewers' No. 8), Nashville vs. Tacoma
Nate Karns (Rays' No. 7), Durham at Indianapolis
Nick Kingham (Pirates' No. 8), Indianapolis vs. Durham
Dace Kime (Indians' No. 13), Lake County at Dayton
Branden Kline (Orioles' No. 14), Frederick vs. Myrtle Beach
Austin Kubitza (Tigers' No. 19), West Michigan at South Bend
Alex Meyer (Twins' No. 3), Rochester vs. Lehigh Valley
Francellis Montas (White Sox No. 16), Winston-Salem at Potomac
Justin Nicolino (Marlins' No. 4), Jacksonville at Jackson
Tyler Pike (Mariners' No. 9), High Desert vs. Lake Elsinore
Anthony Ranaudo (Red Sox's No. 8), Pawtucket vs. Harlotte
Eduardo Rodriguez (Orioles' No. 2), Bowie vs. Harrisburg
Lucas Sims (Braves' No. 1), Lynchburg at Salem
Braden Shipley (D-backs' No. 2), Visalia at Inland Empire
Kyle Smith (Astros' No. 18), Corpus Christi vs. Frisco
Seth Streich (A's No. 18), Stockton at San Jose
Lewis Thorpe (Twins' No. 6), Cedar Rapids vs. Burlington
Alberto Tirado (Blue Jays' No. 7), Vancouver at Salem-Kizer
Logan Verrett (Mets' No. 19), Las Vegas at Oklahoma City
Sam Wolff (Rangers' No. 18), Myrtle Beach at Frederick