Minoring in British – April/Early May

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Great Britain has no prospects currently representing us in the Minors. What with Darius pensioning off Chris Reed, stalwarts Chris Berset and Antoan Richardson also announcing retirements and all the hoo-ha and celebration about MLB’s first African and Lithuanian rightly dominating coverage of players from minority nations at this juncture.

But you’d be wrong, there are plenty of Brits in the MiLB if you know where to look. Luckily we do, and we’ll be keeping you abreast of their progress all season – starting right here.

Triple A

Michael Roth the 26 year old lefty is switching between starts and relief spells for the Sacramento Rivercats, the AAA affiliate of the Giants. After a strong showing from the pen in spring, Roth’s been back on the bump to start games recently and this has knocked a confident start to the year. He currently holds an ERA of 5.73, which is being inflated by a troublesome walk rate – 14 in 22 IP which is translating to an ugly WHIP of over 2. Nonetheless, the Giants shaky start and possible mid-season pivot could see Roth get the call if the big league club cash in on Johnny Cueto and Matt Cain and he gets his control in check.

Double A

Fellow pitching veteran Jake Esch‘s start has been even more eventful than Roth’s. After being plucked off waivers by the Padres he found himself at Petco Park for a literal sip of coffee before even making his minor league bow – he walked both batters he faced before being swiftly optioned to AAA El Paso. He made one start for the Chihuahuas, letting in 4 runs in just 4 IP. He’s now back in AA with the San Antonio Missions where he’s found his groove, giving up just 1 run in 10.1 IP as a starter to hold an ERA of 0.73, before landing on the DL with ‘forearm tightness’. Let’s hope that isn’t foreboding and we see him back soon.

The Binghamton Rumble Ponies may not be the UK’s Official MiLB Affiliate, but they are home to two of Great Britain’s brightest in Champ Stuart and PJ Conlon.

24 year old Bahamian outfielder Stuart was one of the star Mets in this year’s Arizona Fall League and, after a period of adjustment, has carried his form over to 2017. He was named Eastern League player of the week ending 29 April after coming through a shaky start. His top trait is his speed – a plus defender he has 11 stolen bases in just 19 games, and is developing his contact skills in the high minors – his current 258 avg presents a real step forward and gives hope that he could trouble the majors at some stage.

Last year’s MiLB Pitcher of the Year, Belfast born Conlon has started where he left off with High A St Lucie in 2016. In 6 starts in AA he holds a 3.31 ERA, a SO/9 ration of 9.6 and a SO/BB ratio of 5.83. That is pretty, pretty good. His start yesterday was his piece de resistance – a complete game shutout over the New Hampshire River Cats in which he yielded just a single hit and a single walk. The Mets will surely be pleased with his progress.

High A

Playing in a town made famous by one of David Lynch’s most outre films suits former podcast guest Jordan Serena. Jordan started the year back in Single A Burlington, after telling us back in the Autumn how desperate he was to step up. His disappointment showed in his batting line – 4 hits in 44 ABs equated to a measly 091 avg. Since the step up he’s hitting 360 and has an OPS over 1.000 thanks to two doubles and a pair of triples. Small sample size caveats be damned; some guys just need a little respect.

Single A

Of all the Brits in the minors, Diamondbacks outfielder Jazz Chisholm generates the most buzz. The 19 year old talent has raw power from a small frame, and has already been skipped through short-season ball. Unsurprisingly for a high strikeout guy he’s scuffling a little at the plate, batting a rough 222 with a meager 601 OPS. But he’s the D’backs number 5 prospect for a reason, and he’s 19 years old – plenty of time to figure it out yet.

Yet another Bahamian outfield speedster, Todd Isaacs, is adjusting more readily to full season ball. In 24 games with Lake County, the Indians Single A club, the 21 year old is hitting 250 with a 706 OPS. Add to that an ability to come through in the clutch (15 RBIs) and speed on the paths (10 SB) and Isaacs looks to be on the verge of a breakthrough – definitely a man to keep an eye on.

Rounding us out is LHP Blake Taylor who is enduring the Tebow circus with the Columbia Fireflies. The 2013 second round draftee is returning from Tommy John surgery and has been thrown into the highest level of competition he’s yet faced. Signs are that he’s adjusting well, whilst seeing a few lumps along the way. His W/L record of 0-4 belies a steady, if not world-beating ERA of 4.50 and a strong SO/9 of 8.7. 21 year olds who miss bats will always provide intrigue so he’s another who we can keep an eye on. You can find out more about Blake from the brilliant Gabriel Fidler here.

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