Minor League Level Review (AAA): Week of 4/8/2012

Mar 11, 2012; Tempe, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards (43) pitches during the second inning against the Cleveland Indians at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

Well, with only three games in the books for most teams, there's an even smaller sample size to look at for the minor leaguers. But we can still take a look at some of the pitching prospects who have already made starts in the short season. Every other Sunday I will be taking a look at the AAA level, and in many cases these are prospects who could very well be in the bigs sometime this year.

Pacific Coast League

Garrett Richards (LAA) - Richards pitched well on Thursday, striking out 7 batters, walking none, and allowing 2 earned runs over 7 innings. Richards could be in line for the 5th starter spot in Anaheim should Jerome Williams not be able to finish his rehab in time.

Jarrod Parker (OAK) - Parker is still in the mix for the 5th starter's job for the Athletics, and I was a bit concerned about him after he struggled against the A's last Saturday here in Sacramento. His first start of the season didn't exactly clear up that role, as he gave up 3 earned (including a home run) in 6 innings in the no-decision. I was glad to see just 1 walk, after he had struggled pretty badly with his command in that previous start.

Martin Perez (TEX) - Perez faced the Iowa Cubs on Friday night, and struck out 3 in 6 innings. He pitched well, allowing just 4 hits and a walk in the victory. For me, Perez seems a lot more likely to be a potential trade chip for the Rangers than having a major impact this year in Arlington. That said, he could be the first call for a pitcher if they lose a starting pitcher to injury.

Wily Peralta (MIL) - Peralta threw 6 innings of 1 run ball against New Orleans, striking out 4 and walking 1. Peralta was fairly efficient, throwing just 79 pitches (53 for strikes) in the start. He could be called upon should there be an opening in the rotation for Milwaukee, but I wouldn't expect it to be anytime soon.

Mike Trout (LAA) - Trout has been DHing primarily to start off the season, but that hasn't affected his bat in the slightest. Through 3 games, he's 7 for 13 with 4 runs, a double, 1 RBI, and is 1 for 2 on SB attempts. Meanwhile, Vernon Wells is 1 for 8 with an RBI. Just saying...

A.J. Pollock (ARI) - The outfielder for Reno has crushed everything in the first two games, going 9 for 13 with 5 runs, 4 doubles, 2 runs batted in, and a stolen base. It's good to see him hitting, but I will want to see him continue to perform (and no, not at THIS level, but at a solid one) as the season progresses.

Michael Taylor (OAK) - Taylor has gone 7 for 15 with a home run, 3 runs scored, and a league leading 8 runs batted in through the first three games. Granted that he's played those games in Las Vegas, a known hitters' paradise, but it's encouraging to see solid performance from him thus far.

International League

Manny Banuelos (NYY) - Banuelos got roughed up a bit in his first start of the year, going just 3 1/3 innings, giving up 11 hits, 4 earned runs, and a walk against Syracuse. The only name really in the lineup was Bryce Harper, who had a hit and a walk against Banuelos in the game.

Dellin Betances (NYY) - Betances struck out 6 in his 5 innings, and ended up with a no-decision for his efforts. Betances seems more likely to me to be called upon to make a spot start in the Majors than Banuelos since he is already on the 40-man roster.

Matt Harvey (NYM) - Harvey had a rough outing against Pawtucket, allowing 4 earned runs and 7 hits in the loss. The bigger concern was the 3 strikeouts against 4 walks in that effort, and just 54 strikes against 95 pitches thrown total.

Jeurys Familia (NYM) - Familia lasted only 4 2/3 innings in his start, striking out 4 but walking 3 and allowing 5 base hits. Clearly not quite the performance that the organization was hoping for,

Tyler Cloyd (PHI) - Not really a prospect on anybody's radar, Cloyd was perfect for 6 innings against the Yankees' afiliate on Thursday. Not really a whole lot to say about Cloyd at the moment, but a very nice performance nonetheless.

Will Middlebrooks (BOS) - Through 4 games, Middlebrooks has gone 5 for 14 with 2 doubles and 1 RBI. He'll likely spend the majority of the season down in AAA unless there is an injury in Boston.

Bryce Harper (WAS) - Harper is 4 for 11 with a double, a stolen base, a walk, and 3 strikeouts through the first three games of the year. He's played center field twice and right once, and is also the youngest position player in the International League by nearly 3 full years. Seems like it won't be long at all.

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