The minor league season is nearly a month in, but with the month of May starting we’re just going to call it a month in the books. That is only about 20% of the season, but it’s a good time to take a look at which players raised their stock with early performance in the season.
The position player who raised their stock the most
For me, there’s a clear answer for which position player has raised their stock the most with their performance in the month of April. And I don’t believe that it’s particularly close, either.
In December at the winter meetings the Cincinnati Reds made a move that 99% of Reds fans didn’t notice. In the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft (not to be confused with the Major League version where a player has to stick to the big league roster all year) the organization picked up Mitch Nay.
The former 1st rounder of the Toronto Blue Jay is 24-years-old and playing for the Daytona Tortugas. Ideally, at that age you want a guy to at least be in Double-A, but more likely in Triple-A. But, for Mitch Nay, things are a bit different. In late 2015 he began having knee problems, eventually finding out he had a staph infection that resulted in three surgeries and missing nearly two seasons as he recovered. He returned to the field last season in Lansing while still in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. However, he was not 100% at the time and his performance wasn’t strong as he was coming back after so much missed time and still recovering. You can read a little bit here from the Lansing State Journal with more information on Nay and what he went through with the infection and comeback.
When it comes to what he’s done on the field this year, it’s been quite impressive. He’s leading the organization in OPS. And home runs. And RBI. Nay is hitting .352, which also is tops in the organization. His on-base percentage is .414 and he’s slugging .614 (also tops in the organization). The production has been outstanding, and it’s come in the Florida State League, which is the toughest league in the minors to hit in. His walk rate is solid, and his strikeout rate is currently under 20%, too. Who knows if he can continue doing what he’s done, but he’s showing things he’s never shown before (this kind of power), and after missing so much time, he warrants a guy keeping an eye on.
The pitcher who has raised their stock the most
There were a few guys that jumped out among the pitchers, but I want to talk about one guy in particular today here at Redleg Nation. He’s the player that the Reds selected in the 18th round last season. He went 527th overall in the draft out of The University of Rochester. That player is John Ghyzel.
He’s a 21-year-old reliever (he’ll be 22 in two weeks) with the Dayton Dragons. From a numbers standpoint, things look good. He’s pitched in eight games, spanning 7.2 innings. In that time he’s allowed two runs (2.35 ERA) with three walks and 13 strikeouts. He’s been the final guy out of the bullpen in each of his games, racking up four saves along the way.
What the numbers aren’t showing you is what he’s been doing to get those numbers. And that is bringing the heat. He opened my eyes the first time I saw him this season by sitting 95-96 MPH and hitting 97 a few times. That was quite unexpected. The next time that I saw him pitch he was in a more expected 93-95 MPH range. Still good velocity, but a bit different from the 95-97 he was at a few days before. And then there was his last outing over the weekend. The right hander sat at in that 95-97 range with his fastball with the exception of his final pitch. That one was 99 MPH. It ended the game with a strikeout swinging on the outside corner. He also shows an inconsistent, but at times above-average breaking ball.
There’s definitely some things to work on for John Ghyzel – there’s a reason he is in Dayton and not in Cincinnati – his fastball control can be a little inconsistent still, and as noted, the breaking ball is too. But he’s showing legitimate big time velocity and a good offspeed pitch. For a guy who was drafted in the 18th round less than a year ago, his stock has to be up quite a bit.