As usual, the New Milford Blazers farm system won’t excite prospect pundits but is chock full of gamer type baseball players and pitching, pitching and pitching. “We do a fantastic job with pitching development,” boasts GM Anthony Peburn. “For some reason, we can’t develop top hitting prospects but we keep churning out heady, gamer types that seem to exceed expectations.” This year is no different.
The AAA Hartford Illuminati is lead by a solid starting rotation headed by Blazer #2 prospect and 1M bonus baby Yohander Mendez. Mendez is a 21 year old left hander with TOR stuff and has the #2 pitch in the system with his devastating change up. He is backed by #10 prospect Chih-Wei Hu. The 23 year old had the greatest assortment of pitches in the system in a fastball, slider, curve, change, and palmball. Righty Dinelson Lamet is a 24 year old with above average fastball, slider and change. Lamet is the #11 ranked prospect in the system. The #4 starter at AAA is the #15 ranked prospect in righty Nick Kingham. Kingham has a fastball, curve and change arsenal with very good control. Rounding out the AAA rotation is #17 prospect Austin Voth. Voth is a 24 year old righty with a solid fastball, slider, curve and change package. All 5 starters have the potential to reach the Blazers roster next season, which is good as the reliable Jose Quintana is set to hit free agency. “Any one of those guys can step up and contribute,” said Peburn. The closer is Dan Altavilla. Altavilla (#8) has a 98 MPH fastball and the third best pitch in the system with his double plus slider.
The hitters are lead by the catching tandem of Garrett Stubbs (#6) and Bruce Maxwell (#7). Both left handed hitters, it is hoped that as least one will be ready for the show next year as Jason Castro is a free agent. “Stubbs is an intriguing guy,” said Peburn. “He is small, but is a great receiver, excellent defensively, and can be an average hitter. Maxwell has a little more polish and pop, and because of this, he may get a cup of coffee with the big club this year. If Castro gets hurt, Bruce will get the call.”
The OF is lead by #9 prospect Anthony Santander. The 21 year old switch hitter has 70 power but will need to work on his defense if he is to stay in the OF. #14 prospect JaCoby Jones is a great athlete who has played SS and 3B, but is now in CF where his D projects as plus.
The IF is led by SS Erik Gonzalez (#13). A true SS with a plus arm, the right handed hitter may be better suited for a utility role a la Greg Garcia. The 2B is Chad Pinder (#16). The righty is like Gonzalez where a utility role is possible but is going to develop at 2B. Both are aggressive hitters and don’t walk much, which is not the Blazer philosophy at the plate. 2B Max Schrock (#18) embodies what the Blazers get out of their hitting prospects. His simple, consistent, left handed swing and steady glove could make a sneaky starting 2B at the big league level.
The A ball Nestle Quik are also led by pitching. Anchoring the rotation is Mr 105 MPH himself Michael Kopech. The #1 prospect in the system has a double plus fastball which is the best pitch in the system and sits at 98 deep into games, flashes a plus slider and developing change. The #2 starter is the #3 prospect in draft day steal Max Fried. The lefty was originally drafted by the Blazers and traded for Matt Carpenter. “When we saw he was dropped by Southern Cal last year, he immediately went to the top of our board,” explaind Peburn. 18 year old Jose Albertos (#5) gives the Blazers 3 potential aces in the rotation. He has a 98 MPH fastball, plus curve and solid average change PLUS good control. “He’s a long way off, but he can be a REALLY good one,” said Peburn. Tomohiro Anraku (#12) is the #4 starter. Like Albertos, he is a long way off but has killer stuff. The #5 starter is lefty Kodi Medieros (#19). Medieros is an enigma and will be given one more year to show the stuff that made him a first round pick by the Blazers a few years back.
The hitters are lead by all-everything 2B Luis Urias. The #4 prospect in the system is an excellent defensive 2B, walks way more than he K’s and can square any pitch. “He tracks pitches better than any 19 year old I’ve ever seen,” said Peburn. “He squares up on double plus heat AND double plus off speed stuff. He can tell you what the pitch is coming out of the pitchers hand. Very impressive eye.”
As always, the future is bright in New Milford.