Every time I watch a minor league game, I ask myself “does this guy have major league stuff or tools?” I try to project them to the final level, the MLB. Granted, last night’s Florida State League game was the third level down from the majors but it was easy to project the talent level of several of the Clearwater Threshers. Left fielder Dylan Cozens, starting pitcher Mark Leiter Jr. and closer Edubray Ramos are made of major league stuff.
Leiter carried a one-hitter into the eight inning in last night’s game against the Dunedin Blue Jays at Bright House Field. I have seen him on nights when he had better stuff but he still had the moxie to hold a 3-0 lead after seven. See two of his four strikeouts on splitters HERE and HERE.
Then what turned out to be four singles in a row to lead off the eight inning including a bunt single on a deteriorated infield spot to the left of the mound, a infield single, a line drive single which just fell in left to load the bases and an apparent grand slam home run which only tied the game at three.
It turned out the that Blue Jays Christian Lopes passed the runner on first while watching his ball go over the left field wall costing him the slam, the fourth run an a Blue Jays victory. Leiter retired the final two batters to end up with an eight inning, five-hit, three-run night.
Ramos came on in the ninth and threw two shutout innings. His fastball was off a tick or two sitting at 93 but it was his slider on which two Blue Jays struck out.. See Here and Here. No one doubts those were major league sliders!
Then, Cozens walked off the Threshers to the 4-3 win in the tenth inning with a hard hit single up the middle with the bases loaded. See HERE. No one hits a ball harder than does Cozens. Earlier in the game he drove in another run with a shot so hard the ball bounced off the ground over the head of the second baseman. See HERE.
“Clutch” Cozens, who just turned 21 years old on Sunday, is on fire. He is hitting .351 with 9 RBIs over his last ten games. It was his third bases loaded walk-off hit of the season and second in five days. He is 5 for 7 with 8 RBI’s with the bases loaded so far this season. Don’t ever bring the infield in with Cozens at bat. He just hits the ball too hard.
“Moxie” Mark Leiter Jr. just knows how to pitch. He gets ahead in the count and then uses his extensive pitch repertoire to get his outs. In his six start, he has a 1.73 ERA striking out 33 while walking only 7 with a 0.84 WHIP. Opponents are hitting only .190 off of him as a starter. Threshers play-by-play voice Kristen Karbach has an interesting interview with Leiter which explains why he has been the best they have. See Here.
“Rapid” Ramos now has the best slider in the Phillies organization with the fall off we have seen in the slider of Ken Giles this season. The late, rapid movement on his slider is what major league stuff is made of. Look for him to move up quickly just like Giles did last season.
This is why we go to the minor league games to see the likes of “Clutch Cozens”, “Moxie Mark” and “Rapid Ramos” play the game with among the highest skill sets in the game. Some year soon we will see them in the major leagues.