Today's Daily Dish is a little bit abbreviated as we get ready for the crush of signings on signing deadline day (which isn't yet a holiday anywhere, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be). But we still wanted to spotlight some of the stars of the weekend around the minors.
Jaff Decker, of, Padres: Decker can't run at all, and he's a liability defensively, so his path to the big leagues rests completely on his bat. For much of the season, that's been a problem as the 20-year-old hasn't produced at the level that was expected for one of the Padres' best hitting prospects. Decker missed the start of the season with a bad hamstring, and he followed that up with a slow start–Decker was hitting .222/.308/.400 on July 1. But Decker is finally starting to figure out the California League. He homered three times this weekend at High Desert and now has seven home runs this month—he had nine in the previous three months. Decker has raised his slugging percentage nearly 70 points this month.
Brad Brach, rhp, Padres: Decker's season hasn't gone as planned, but one of his teammates is having a season to remember. The high Class A Lake Elsinore closer has set a California League record with 38 saves, breaking the old record of 37 set by San Jose's Brian Anderson. Brach broke the record on Thursday night with a scoreless inning against Rancho Cucamonga. For the season Brach is 5-1, 2.88. Brach's delivery is not exactly pretty—it is the opposite of smooth, but that just helps add deception to his lively low 90s fastball.
Matt Moore, lhp, Rays: Moore's amazing second half of the season just keeps getting better and better. Moore struck out 10 of the first 12 batters he faced and 12 overall in 6 2/3 innings on Friday for high Class A Port Charlotte. He allowed one unearned run and three hits and two walks. Moore, the minor league's leader in strikeouts, as struck out 10 or more in five of his past six starts, and he's 3-3, 1.48 with 14 strikeouts per nine innings in the past 11 starts.
Hector Noesi, rhp, Yankees: Noesi had been one of the best success stories in the Yankees' organization this season, but all of a sudden in late July, his season with Double-A Trenton started to fall apart. Noesi saw his ERA climb almost two runs in three starts as he gave up 19 earned runs in 11 2/3 innings. Thanks to some work with Yankees' pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras, he's back on track.
“His stride was shortening,” pitching coach Tommy Phelps said. “Nardi’s the one that picked it up. He came into town and saw him pitch last time, so all we did was lengthen his stride a little bit to get the ball out front and help him finish a lot better.”
Thanks to that tweak, Noesi gave up one unearned run on Sunday in 6 2/3 innings while striking out 12.
Jae-Hoon Ha, c, Cubs: The Cubs scout Korea heavily, which has paid off in signing prospects like Hak-Ju Lee and Dae-Eun Rhee. It's time to start paying attention to Ha as well. The 19-year-old catcher is having a solid season in low Class A Peoria (.307/.328/.472). On Sunday he became the first Chief in 11 years to hit for the cycle.
Elih Villanueva, rhp, Marlins: Thanks to rain, Villanueva threw a no-hitter of sorts on Sunday. The 24-year-old righthander threw five hitless innings for Double-A Jacksonville against Carolina on Sunday, then saw the game called by a downpour that was already falling as he recorded his last out.
"It sort of feels like a no-hitter," Villanueva told the Jacksonville Times-Union. "I just wish I could have had an opportunity to finish it. Who knows what would have happened if I had kept going, though. I felt good out there. I kept with the game plan and pounded the zone, especially the inside today. It worked out well."
Villanueva lowered his Southern League-leading ERA to 2.15 with the win.
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