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SCV's minor league baseball update

Posted: June 9, 2014 9:37 p.m.
Updated: June 9, 2014 9:37 p.m.

Saugus graduate Zach Vincej is playing shortstop for the High-A Bakersfield Blaze of the Cincinnati Reds organization.

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On the heels of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft and nearing the midway point in the professional baseball season, we get back to our own summertime tradition.

In the following we update you on how our locals are doing at the minor league level.

We’ll categorize these guys differently this time around to give you a little better perspective on where they stand.

Here’s how.

On the cusp: Guys who could reach the big leagues this season.

Risers: Guys who aren’t Major league ready, but if they continue on the path they’re on could be soon.

Middle of the road: Guys who are still young, and are playing at an average level and have time to prove themselves.

Critical point: Guys who are at a critical stage of their career where they need to make an impact sooner rather than later.

If there are names that appear to be missing it’s because there are some players who will be assigned to Rookie League teams when that season starts this week.

Other have suffered injuries and haven’t played in 2014, like Charlie Gillies (West Ranch, College of the Canyons and The Master’s College) and Cody Harris (The Master’s College). Both are out after Tommy John surgeries.

On the cusp

Mike Montgomery (Pitcher, Hart High graduate, Triple-A Durham Bulls/Tampa Bay Rays)

After a stellar April that saw him combine for a no-hitter on the 26th of that month, Montgomery hit trouble head on in early May. Overall, his numbers are pretty good, though — 6-1 record, 3.71 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 59 strikeouts in 68 innings. Particularly promising is Montgomery’s walk rate is at 2.9, which is similar to 2010 when he was considered one of the game’s top pitching prospects. It could be a matter of time before the 24-year-old left-hander makes his Major League debut this season.

Chris Valaika (Infielder, Hart High grad, Triple-A Iowa Cubs/Chicago Cubs)

Valaika, 28, has a couple of things going in his way in his pursuit of a return to the Major Leagues. He is hitting. Valaika’s .294/.362/.412 (average/on-base percentage/slugging) line is solid. His versatility is the other bonus. The natural shortstop has played five different positions this season (shortstop, second base, third base, first base and left field) for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. In order to bring Valaika up, the Cubs would have to make room for him on their 40-man roster by making another move to free up a roster spot.

Risers

Chipper Smith (Pitcher, Golden Valley High grad, Double-A Jacksonville Suns/Miami Marlins)

Golden Valley graduate Chipper Smith has quietly been one of the Santa Clarita Valley’s best professional baseball players. This season, the left-hander has been promoted to Double-A and his combined 2014 numbers have him at 3-4 with a 1.75 ERA, 52 strikeouts in 56 2/3 innings, a 0.92 WHIP, and he has held opposing batters to a .188 average. Since his promotion to Jacksonville, Smith, 24, has been a starter for the first time in his pro career and has a 1.84 ERA in 29 1/3 innings (five starts).

Tyler Glasnow (Pitcher, Hart High grad, High-A Bradenton Marauders/Pittsburgh Pirates)

Glasnow has been simply outstanding in 2014, building off a season in which he was the Pittsburgh Pirates Minor League Pitcher of the Year. The 20-year-old right-hander is 2-3 with a 2.15 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings. Opposing batters are hitting .167 against him. On May 28, Glasnow allowed no runs, one hit and two walks, while striking out 12 batters in 5 2/3 innings.

Pat Valaika (Shortstop, Hart High grad, High-A Modesto Nuts/Colorado Rockies)

Valaika has already received a promotion this year from Low-A to High-A, where he is currently playing with the Modesto Nuts. Valaika has a .308/.360/.500 line with three home runs and 19 RBIs for the Nuts in 20 games. Overall this season the 21-year-old has a .346/.389/.546 line with seven home runs and 42 RBIs in 54 games.

Casey McCarthy (Pitcher, Hart High grad, High-A Jupiter Hammerheads/Miami Marlins)

McCarthy has been excellent in relief for High-A Jupiter of the Florida State League with a 1.59 ERA in 17 innings. Overall in 2014, the 24-year-old is 3-2 with a 2.25 ERA in 28 innings and has held opposing batters to a .240 average.

Middle of the road

Zach Vincej (Shortstop, Saugus High grad, High-A Bakersfield Blaze/Cincinnati Reds)

Just up the road in Bakersfield, Vincej has been steady at shortstop for the Blaze. He isn’t hitting for much power (.321 slugging percentage), but he’s batting .250 with 16 RBIs and he has a .328 on-base percentage. The 23-year-old is in his third pro season.

Kyle Hooper (Pitcher, Saugus High grad, Low-A Great Lakes Loons/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Hooper, 23, was recently brought up to play in Low-A Great Lakes in the Dodgers organization. The Saugus grad has four games under his belt, all in relief, and has struck out 10 batters in eight innings, having allowed two runs (2.25 ERA).

Scott Barlow (Pitcher, Golden Valley grad, Low-A Great Lakes Loons/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Barlow, 21, is looking to find his consistency thus far in 2014. At times he’s been very good and other times he has struggled. Overall he is 1-2 with a 4.71 ERA with a 1.49 WHIP and 32 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings.

Trevor Brown (Catcher, Hart High grad, Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies/San Francisco Giants)

Brown has a great opportunity being in Triple-A Fresno. However, since being promoted in late May, the 22-year-old catcher hasn’t hit in sporadic playing time. He is 2-for-14 with the Grizzlies and overall on the season he has a slash line of .193/.247/.259 with two home runs and 11 RBIs between High-A San Jose and Triple-A.

Brian Hernandez (Infielder, College of the Canyons, Double-A Arkansas Travelers/Los Angeles Angels)

Former College of the Canyons infielder Hernandez, 25, has flourished in the Double-A Texas League with a .319/.360/.428 line with three home runs and 21 RBIs. Overall this season he has a line of .278/.317/.392 with five home runs and 31 RBIs.

Christian Lopes (Infielder, Valencia High, High-A Dunedin Blue Jays/Toronto Blue Jays)

When Lopes was playing at Valencia High, he was one of the nation’s top high school baseball prospects. He has yet to fulfill his promise in the minor leagues. Lopes, 21, is at High-A Dunedin with a .234/.312/.326 line as the team’s everyday second baseman. He has 13 doubles, no homers and 13 RBIs.

Tim Lopes (Infielder, Valencia High, High-A High Desert Mavericks/Seattle Mariners)

Christian’s little brother played briefly at Valencia High and is at .216/.300/.332 as the everyday second baseman for the Mavericks. The 19-year-old has two home runs and 24 RBIs.

Juan Perez (Infielder, College of the Canyons, High-A Bakersfield Blaze/Cincinnati Reds)

Bakersfield second baseman/third baseman Perez, 22, has been steady for the Blaze with a .256/.302/.413 line with six home runs and 27 RBI in 48 games.

Critical point

Steve Susdorf (Outfielder, Hart High grad, Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs/Philadelphia Phillies)

One thing that has been consistent about Susdorf in his pro career is that he has always hit. The 28-year-old outfielder is batting .275 (50-for-152) though the first 60 games of the season in Triple-A. Susdorf, who has a .343 on-base percentage and a .335 slugging percentage, has no home runs and 16 RBIs. He’s not on the Philadelphia Phillies’ 40-man roster and would likely have to get very hot to get to Philadelphia. He played three games for the Phillies last season and was 1-for-7 at the plate.

Danny Worth (Infielder, Valencia High grad, Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens/Detroit Tigers)

Worth, 28, reportedly accepted a minor league assignment over the weekend after being designated for assignment by the Detroit Tigers (where he was just 7-for-42 at the plate in 18 games). Worth could have declined the assignment and become a free agent, but he stayed loyal to the Tigers organization. In Triple-A Toledo this season he has a .308/.345/.404 line in 14 games. The Valencia High grad and natural shortstop was brought into two blowout games to pitch and displayed an impressive knuckleball (two innings, four hits, one earned run, two strikeouts). There’s no word on whether or not he will be pitching in Toledo.

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