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Sunday 21st Jan 2018

Last week we kicked off the Hot Stove by looking at some of the intriguing players of the International League in 2017, so this week we sojourn mostly west of the Mississippi to the Pacific Coast League.

The PCL has always largely been a hitters league, but these days the discrepancy between the pair is massive, such that the best pitchers in the league are really Taxi squad innings eaters like Justin Masterson.

Still, I was able to scrounge a couple along with some serious sticks, so let's take a look.

These lists are also separate from the Top 250, scheduled for release later this year.

Breyvic Valera (2B, Cardinals): Valera is 25, making him a little long in the tooth for prospect status, but he signed as an 18-year-old with the Cards seven years ago, and has moved up the chain systematically while employing a pretty good tactical game. The Keystone man hit .314-8-41 with 68 runs scored to go with 11 swipes, 22 doubles and six triples. But, most impressive were the 38 walks garnered to 34 strikeouts, a career trend with 260 to 226 respectively coupled with a .359 OBP. This guy was made to hit second in some order somewhere.

Dan Vogelbach (1B, Mariners): Acquired in a 2016 trade deadline swap with the Cubs, Vogelbach was expected to move to the Mariners this year, but that did not really happen. Instead, the 24-year-old spent the year at Tacoma where he hit a decent .290-17-83 with a fine .388 OBP (73 walks to 98 strikeouts). The lefty hitter has a minor league .866 OPS.

Franchy Cordero (OF, Padres): Cordero, a 23-year-old Dominican import also mined at the age of 18, had a strong .326-17-64 season with the Chihuahuas, collecting 18 triples to go with 22 doubles and 15 swipes. The concern is his 23 walks to 118 strikeouts. But, as long as the outfielder can get the bat on the ball, he should be interesting to watch.

Renato Nunez (OF, Athletics): This 23-year-old from Venezuela runs into a glut of very good Oakland youngsters. Still, his 32 homers and 78 RBI over 126 games at Nashville to go with 27 doubles merits a long look. Nunez is so-so with the zone as a young hitter with 191 career walks to 649 strikeouts (.317 OBP).

Jimmie Sherfly (P, Diamondbacks): OK, so the pitchers we will review are both relievers, but Sherfly, a 10th rounder out of Oregon in 2013, has 66 minor league saves to go with 287 strikeouts over 220.3 innings with just 176 walks allowed. He has a career 1.18 WHIP with just 15 homers surrendered. 

Kyle Crick (P, Giants): An "A" Compensation pick for the Giants in 2011, Crick was always highly thought of but struggled. At least until he was yanked as a starter, and moved to the pen to begin 2017. He flourished in his first season as a reliever, with six saves to go with a 2.76 ERA and 39 punchouts over 29.3 innings. The pen seems to be the future, but Crick could be useful there.

Alex Verdugo (OF, Dodgers): A second-round high school pick in 2014, Verdugo has some serious skills. The 21-year-old hit .314-6-62 with 27 doubles and nine swipes at Oklahoma City where he also delivered 52 walks to 50 whiffs, good for a .388 OBP. Verdugo has a career OPS of .800 and a high ceiling.

Remember to tune into the Tout Wars Hour on the FNTSY network, hosted by me, with Justin Mason and featuring Lord Z every Thursday night at 9 PM ET. 

Follow me @lawrmichaels.

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