Even though we were all watching the 2009 draft show just over a year ago, that draft class is already staking a claim as one to remember.
No. 1 pick Stephen Strasburg is living up to the very sizable expectations in the big leagues. Reds' first-round pick Mike Leake skipped the minors to go straight from Arizona State to the big leagues. He's not only succeeding, he's been the Reds' most consistent starter. And later first-round picks Mike Trout and Nick Franklin have had exceptional first-halfs in the Midwest League.
Cubs' first-round pick Brett Jackson hasn't been that good, but the athletic center fielder has more than held his own in the high Class A Florida State League, and on Monday night, he was as good as anyone.
Jackson hit for the cycle to become the first Daytona Cub to achieve the feat since Felix Pie in 2004. He had to work a little extra to get his cycle, as he tripled in the first, singled in the fourth and doubled in the seventh. He came up in the eighth inning needing a home run for the cycle, but hit a long fly out instead. Thankfully for Jackson, the game went to extra innings. When he came up again with a man on in the 11th, he quickly hit a game-winning two-run walk-off home run to give the Cubs the win and himself the cycle.
"What a great night that was for Jackson," Daytona manager Buddy Bailey told the Daytona Beach Journal-News. "A leadoff triple, a leadoff double, an RBI single and a two-run walkoff to hit for the cycle. That's a tremendous night. He's been on an upswing. He went through some growing pains for a couple of weeks when things weren't going right and he did some soul searching, and he has his head back on right."
It's not just first-round picks from 2009 who are excelling. Robbie Erlin, a third-round pick of the Rangers last year, lowered his ERA to 1.25 with five shutout innings against low Class A West Virginia. The lefthander doesn't yet qualify for the league's ERA lead–he started the season in the bullpen so he's currently 14 innings short of qualifying–largely because the Rangers are trying to limit his innings this year.
But Erlin has been amazingly consistent this season. Erlin gave up four runs in a start against Charleston on June 2. In his other 13 outings Erlin has given up three runs. With four strikeouts and no walks yesterday, Erlin improved his strikeout-to-walk ratio to 50-to-9.
"It was better than my past few outings," Erlin told the Hickory Record. "I was more in control in the zone and kept them off balance… The offense and the defense was great. It definitely picked me up. It got me comfortable and made it a lot easier to throw."
As good as Erlin has been, Phillies' 2009 eighth-rounder Jonathan Singleton may be even better. Singleton had two more hits—both doubles—for low Class A Lakewood on Monday to raise his averages to .411/.500/.714. A two-hit game is nothing unusual for Singleton—he has had two or more hits in 15 of his 31 games this year. And he has nearly as many three-hit games (four) as games where he went hitless (five).
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