One of my favorite parts of doing the Minor League Recaps is highlighting strange and interesting things about the minor leagues - whether that's the "new identity" of Akron's Eastern League team, the latest "Moniker Madness" updates, or a story about a one-pitch strikeout.
Unfortunately, the minor league season hasn't begun, so there are no recaps yet. So I'm going to use this space to talk about the fact that not only are the Fresno Grizzlies going to be wearing Ninja Turtles uniforms on August 2nd, but that the Toledo Mudhens countered with a sweet set of Ghostbusters-themed uniforms on May 30.
Have I mentioned that I love the minor leagues?
The prep season is underway across the country, and Clint Longenecker has a great roundup of some of the top performers. Of particular note:
- Tyler Kolek (Shepherd HS, TX) has reportedly hit triple digits, and has allowed just one walk and no hits over 16 innings. Meanwhile, he's struck out 35 of the 52 batters he's faced this season (67.3%).
- In his first two starts, Braden Webb (Owasso HS, OK) has thrown consecutive no-hitters, with 23 strikeouts and six walks over twelve innings - that's a 17.25 K/9.
- Shortstop Jacob Gatewood (Clovis HS, CA) reportedly hit a 486-foot home run.
Now - the reason we're all here: The collegians. First, let's talk about TCU left-hander Brandon Finnegan. Despite standing just 5'11", Finnegan is turning heads with his results so far this season. He's started five games for the Horned Frogs, and struck out more than ten batters in four of them. In the fifth, he struck out just nine. All told, he has 55 strikeouts (13.5 K/9) and just seven walks (1.72 BB/9) over his 36.2 innings. Opposing batters are hitting just .181 against him. He hasn't exactly been pitching against slouches, either. His starts have come against BYU, Jacksonville, Sam Houston State, Michigan State, and an always-dangerous Dartmouth squad. Not world-beaters, but a decent list of teams.
Finnegan struck out more than a batter an inning in 2013, as well, but his 3.97 BB/9 was reason for concern. If his early-season walk rate continues, he's going to help himself quite a bit come draft day. He put up good numbers in the Cape Cod League this summer, as well, albeit in a miniscule sample: 1-0, 3.68 ERA, 7.1 IP, 10 K (12.27 K/9), 2 BB (2.45 BB/9), 1.09 WHIP.
A lefty with a mid-nineties fastball (reportedly hitting 98), a slurve with horizontal and vertical movement in the low eighties, and a changeup that doesn't dominate, but keeps hitters honest, Finnegan also spent time this offseason with Team USA. He was already highly-touted coming into the season, and the early improvement in his walk rate is only going to give him more steam.
- Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt: 7.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K vs. LSU
- Brandon Finnegan, LHP, TCU: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 K vs. Dartmouth
- Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina: 6.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 5 K vs. Tulane
- Matt Imhof, LHP, Cal Poly: 8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 14 K vs. Wagner
- Daniel Mengden, RHP, Texas A&M: 7.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K vs. Auburn
- Aaron Nola, RHP, LSU: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 12 K vs. Vanderbilt
- Jeremy Null, RHP, Western Carolina: 7.0 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 9 K vs. Rider
- Austin Robichaux, RHP, Louisiana-Lafayette: 9.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 K vs. Louisiana-Monroe
- Carlos Rodon, LHP, NC State: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 12 K vs. Florida State
- Luke Weaver, RHP, Florida State: 6.1 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K vs. NC State
- Brett Austin, C, NC State: 7/15, 3 R, 1 RBI, 3 K, BB vs. Florida State
- Austin Byler, 1B/3B, Nevada: 4/12, 3B, HR, 4 R, 4 RBI, 2 K, 3 BB, 2 SB vs. Hawaii
- Michael Conforto, OF, Oregon State: 5/10, 2B, HR, 4 R, 4 RBI, 1 K, 3 BB vs. Utah
- J.D. Davis, 1B/3B, Cal State Fullerton: 6/12, R, 3 RBI, 1 K, 4 BB vs. St. Mary's (CA)
- Casey Gillaspie, 1B, Wichita State: 4/14, 2B, HR, 3 R, RBI, 3 K vs. UC Santa Barbara
- Joey Pankake, 3B, South Carolina: 5/12, 2B, R, RBI, 1 K, 2 BB vs. Mississippi
- Mike Papi, 1B/OF, Virginia: 3/12, R, 2 RBI, 3 K, 3 BB vs. Boston College
- Kyle Schwarber, 1B/C, Indiana: 2/13, RBI, K, BB vs. Long Beach State
- Taylor Sparks, 1B/3B, UC Irvine: 5/13, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, 2 K, 0 BB, SB vs. Nebraska
- Trea Turner, SS, NC State: 3/16, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 K, 0 BB vs. Florida State