Commentary

Minors: Conger coming on strong

Updated: May 12, 2009, 4:08 PM ET
By Kevin Goldstein | Baseball Prospectus

Hammerin' Hank is hitting, just not hammering

Hank Conger, C, Angels (Double-A Arkansas)
Monday's stats: 3-for-4, 2B, R, RBI
A Korean-American with the birth name Hyun Choi, Conger became Hank when his grandfather gave him the nickname in honor of Hank Aaron. Conger is not showing the kind of power he has in the past, but he is hitting. Since an incredibly slow start that saw his batting average sitting at .140 on April 24, Conger is 26-for-60 (.433), and the even better news is that scouts are seeing significant progress from him behind the plate as well.

Coming soon to a Metrodome near you?

Anthony Swarzak, RHP, Twins (Triple-A Rochester)
Monday's stats: 6 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K
Swarzak always has been a scouting darling due to his power frame and power stuff, but he's battled inconsistency both on and off the field, including a 50-game suspension in 2007 for testing positive for drugs. Still only 23 and still in possession of a low-90s fastball that gets up to 94 mph and an excellent cuve, Swarzak might finally be putting it all together, lowering his ERA to 1.70 Monday night with his sixth very good outing in six tries. Kevin Slowey's magic act hasn't been so magical lately and Scott Baker has been a mess, so we might see him this year.

For news on Esmil Rogers, Derek Norris, Jesus Guzman and Brian Dopirak, plus daily stats updates on the top prospects, you must be logged in to ESPN Insider. Insider

On a roll, with butter

Esmil Rogers, RHP, Rockies (Double-A Tulsa)
Monday's stats: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K
A converted shortstop, Rogers didn't begin pitching until 2006, but his progress on the mound has been remarkably quick. Monday's performance was the third time in four starts that the 23-year-old Dominican delivered six shutout innings, including six no-hit frames his previous time out. Both his fastball and curve rate as plus, and unlike most converts, he has clean mechanics and very good control, walking just seven in 31.1 innings this season.

Yes, Virginia, the Nationals really do have some prospects

Derek Norris, C, Nationals (Low-A Hagerstown)
Monday's stats: 2-for-3, 2B, RBI, BB
Norris might be the best catching prospect nobody has heard of. After exploding onto the scene in the New York-Penn League last season, he has picked up where he left off, with a .287 BA/.387 OBP/.554 SLG line while showing plenty of power and patience. He's not just a one-dimensional catcher, either, as he's excellent defensively with an outstanding arm.

4-A guy or late bloomer -- you make the call!

Jesus Guzman, 1B, Giants (Triple-A Fresno)
Monday's stats: 5-for-6, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI
Guzman floated around the Dodgers' chain for years with mixed results, but he suddenly exploded with a .364/.419/.560 line in the Texas League last year for Oakland. Still seen as more of an organizational player than anything else, he was made a free agent despite the production and was picked up by the Giants. Now at Triple-A, the 24-year-old (he turns 25 in June) Venezuelan keeps on mashing, now batting a healthy .347/.364/.573 in 31 games. Is it real? With Travis Ishikawa still trying to get his average to the Mendoza line, we just might get to find out.

From the lost and found department

Brian Dopirak, 1B, Blue Jays (Double-A New Hampshire)
Monday's stats: 1-for-4, HR (8), R, RBI
In 2004, Dopirak was the top prospect in the Cubs' system, earning Midwest League MVP honors while hitting .307/.363/.593 and making a run at the league home run record with 39 bombs. In 2007, he was released after bombing out at Double-A. The Jays picked him up, and he had a nice rebound year with 27 home runs for High-A Dunedin, and now he seems to have solved the big leap to Double-A, with a .317/.385/.617 line in 32 games for the Fisher Cats while leading the Eastern League with 19 extra-base hits. He turns 26 at the end of the year, so it's hard to suddenly call him a prospect again, but it's hard not to be interested.

Monday's box score reports

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