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Prospect Roundup: Games of Aug. 30

Dodgers' Diaz keeps on drilling; Indians' Bieber stays in control
Yusniel Diaz has 10 homers in 109 games between Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa. (Tammy Tucker/
August 31, 2017

Dodgers OF Yusniel Díaz, Double-A Tulsa: 3-for-5, HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, BB, K -- Players don't often leave the California League and find ways to put up better numbers elsewhere, but that's been the case with the Dodgers' No. 5 prospect since he joined Tulsa on Aug. 1. Diaz

Dodgers OF Yusniel Díaz, Double-A Tulsa: 3-for-5, HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, BB, K -- Players don't often leave the California League and find ways to put up better numbers elsewhere, but that's been the case with the Dodgers' No. 5 prospect since he joined Tulsa on Aug. 1. Diaz has been particularly hot of late, going 7-for-10 with a homer, two doubles, five RBIs and four runs scored over his last two games. His Texas League slash line now stands at .348/.414/.506 through 26 contests, a significant jump from the .278/.343/.414 he produced with Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga (albeit in 57 fewer contests). Over his two seasons in the Cal League, the 20-year-old outfielder, who cost Los Angeles $31 million when he signed out of Cuba in November 2015, wasn't much more than a league-average hitter, but there's always been the potential for him to be more than that. That, along with his above-average run and defensive tools in all three outfield spots, kept him on the top 100 prospect list at No. 85 after's midseason update. This strong showing to end the season at the Minors' second-highest level should only solidify that standing.

Indians RHP Shane Bieber, Double-A Akron: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K, 91 pitches, 66 strikes -- An impressive first full season continued Wednesday night for the Indians' No. 12 prospect -- a third straight start in which he's struck out exactly eight batters, giving him 157 total punchouts over 167 1/3 innings across three levels. Bieber's 2.90 ERA also ranks second among Indians full-season pitchers. The biggest standout for the 22-year-old right-hander this season, however, has been his ability to find the strike zone with incredible consistency. Bieber's walk Wednesday was only his 10th allowed this year. His 1.5 walk percentage is not only the lowest among all full-season Minor Leaguers, but also the lowest by any Minor League hurler with at least 100 innings since Seth Maness (1.5 percent) in 2012. (Maness walked 10 of the 680 batters he faced that season. Bieber has walked 10 out of 675.) That control keeps hitters on their toes and forces them to be aggressive, which has led to the high strikeout totals despite Bieber not possessing a plus pitch in his arsenal. That could get exposed eventually at the upper levels, but it also makes his future as a starter look all the brighter.
Giants RHP Shaun Anderson, Class A Advanced San Jose: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K, 76 pitches, 51 strikes -- This was easily the No. 17 Giants prospect's best start since he came over from the Red Sox last month in the Eduardo Núñez trade. It was also his longest and perhaps could have gone longer, if not for an apparent pitch limit that has prevented him from throwing more than 68 pitches in any of his previous five outings. But there's a good reason behind that pitch count. A third-round pick last year, Anderson was a reliever at the University of Florida, where he didn't throw more than 46 1/3 innings in any of his three seasons. However, he has the four-pitch mix to work as a starter and has transitioned successfully in that role, posting a 3.44 ERA with 107 strikeouts and 33 walks between Class A and Class A Advanced this summer. Wednesday's outing pushed him to 123 frames on the season -- way above his collegiate workload -- so the fact that he's still able to put in quality outings this late is a great sign for his switch to the new role.
Rays OF Jesús Sánchez, Class A Bowling Green: 2-for-4, 2 2B, RBI, 3 R, BB -- The Rays' No. 4 prospect was a .300 hitter in each of his first two seasons of pro ball, and he wasn't about to let his average dip below that mark in the season's final week. Sanchez entered the day at .300 exactly -- the lowest mark since July 27 -- but pushed it back to .302, highest in the Midwest League, with two doubles in Bowling Green's 9-8 loss to Dayton. Sanchez added to his league-leading RBI total with his 79th of the season in 113 games and moved into a tie for fourth with 29 two-baggers. The 19-year-old outfielder also ranks fifth with a .480 slugging percentage and eighth with an .825 OPS. In other words, the youngster can hit, and he should get even better as he matures into his 6-foot-3 frame. This may be just his first time at a full-season level, but don't be surprised if more .300-plus seasons happen for the Dominican Republic native.

Rangers C Matt Whatley, Class A Short Season Spokane: 4-for-5, HR, 5 RBI, 2 R -- Known primarily as a defensive catcher, the Rangers' No. 27 prospect enjoyed the best offensive performance of his young career Wednesday, setting highs in hits and RBIs. To be clear, Whatley has enjoyed success at the plate in the past. He hit .302/.446/.509 with 11 homers and 11 doubles over 59 games in his junior season at Oral Roberts and was named the winner of the Johnny Bench Award, given to the best collegiate catcher in the country. (A 42.9 percent caught-stealing rate played a large role in that as well.) The fact that Whatley hit just .198/.271/.279 in the competitive wood-bat Cape Cod Baseball League last summer certainly hurt his stock entering his Draft year. The Rangers grabbed him in the third round, and he's been solid in both aspects of his game for Spokane with a .296/.385/.454 line, six homers and a 35.5 percent caught-stealing rate over 36 games in the Northwest League. The bat will determine just how good Whatley can be in the pros, but the early signs are encouraging.

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.