Last week I looked at some of the names to follow from the rookie league teams that had just began their seasons. This week I wanted to take a look at a few of the guys who are off to quick starts for the Arizona League Reds and Billings Mustangs. There unfortunately aren’t too many guys that are off to quick starts for either team. The Arizona League Reds fell to 2-7 with a loss last night. The Mustangs are doing better, sitting at 7-7 on the season.
A player that was profiled last week as a name to watch is making me look smart (we won’t talk about a guy or two that was mentioned who aren’t doing so well). The big left hander has thrown 8.0 innings over two games with just one walk and with 11 strikeouts. While the big number of strikeouts is impressive, what jumps out even more is the lone walk. Last season in the Dominican Summer League, where there are guys who will literally swing at anything thrown to the plate, Constante walked 22 batters in 38.2 innings. It’s just two games and 8.0 innings, but the early returns are very nice to see.
The eighth round pick out of Rutgers has had an outstanding start to his professional career. He is hitting .379/.486/.621 for the Billings Mustangs over the course of 10 games with four doubles, a home run, 10 RBI and seven walks. His OPS of 1.107 easily leads the team and would lead the league if he had enough at bats to qualify. He capped off his first 10 games with an impressive 4-5 game where he had two doubles, a home run, five RBI and four runs scored.
The catcher has been splitting time with two others, so he has only played in seven games, but he has made his time count. Boulware is hitting .33/.467/.458 for the Mustangs with three doubles, seven runs and five walks compared to just four strikeouts. He has also thrown out three of seven attempted base stealers while working behind the plate.
The left hander is making his second appearance in Arizona after having spent the 2013 season there. Things are going much better early on in 2014, having made three appearances out of the bullpen totaling 9.1 innings pitched where he has a 1.93 ERA, just two walks and has nine strikeouts. Last season he struggled as he posted a 6.05 ERA in 38.2 innings pitched.
There may be some new players to add to this list soon. Late last night it was announced that the Cincinnati Reds had signed both their first and second round draft picks. First rounder Nick Howard will be making the transition to starting pitcher, which likely means he will wind up in Billings where their additional roster space allows for a larger bullpen that can help compensate for pitchers who are on lower pitch counts like Howard likely will be. Second rounder Taylor Sparks likely fits in best with the Billings Mustangs roster as well, though it may lead to the 2013 second round draft pick (KJ Franklin) heading back to Arizona after having struggles early on with the Mustangs.
Nick Howard signed for $100,000 below the slot value of his pick and Taylor Sparks signed for the slot value of his pick. The two signings left the Reds with an “extra” $50,000 of their allotted “spending cap”. The team has signed their first eighteen draft picks from this years class. Anyone left unsigned is eligible for a bonus of $100,000 or less without counting towards their “extra” money, but anything spent over $100,000 on a single player will count towards that money.