Even before last night, Cubs center fielder Brett Jackson had been one of the best hitters in the minor leagues this season.
Last night's performance for Double-A Tennessee only padded Jackson's stats, as he was just a single short of the cycle, though he did trot down to first base once thanks to a walk. The Cubs' top prospect, Jackson has reached base in all 13 games he's played in this year, hitting .419/.544/.721 with six steals in eight attempts.
Pitchers have attacked the 22-year-old Jackson with breaking balls to get him to swing and miss, but while he'll never be a pure contact hitter, Jackson does a good job of not expanding his strike zone. He recognizes ball and strikes and lays off pitches outsize of the zone, which is why he drew 73 walks last year and already has 12 this year.
• No team has better catching prospects than the Yankees, who have catchers among the Top 100 prospects with Jesus Montero in Triple-A, Austin Romine in Double-A and Gary Sanchez in low Class A. Yesterday Montero showed why he's one of baseball's best hitting prospects, going 3-for-5 with a double, while Romine topped his effort by hitting his first two home runs of the season in a 3-for-4 night to bring his numbers to .310/.420/.500 through 11 games. Montero still hasn't drawn a walk yet, but he also has produced three-hit days in six of his 11 games en route to a .423/.423/.558 start.
• While Indians 2010 first-round pick Drew Pomeranz has put up some of the best numbers in the minors pitching for high Class A Kinston, the organization's first-rounder in 2009 has been twirling gems in Triple-A. Righthander Alex White, 22, held Louisville to two runs in seven innings with seven strikeouts and no walks yesterday, giving him a 20-3 K-BB mark and a 2.00 ERA in 18 innings through three starts. White can put away hitters with his plus splitter, but the plus sink on his fastball and his ability to pound the zone for strikes help him work efficiently.
• While favorable hitting environments have certainly helped, Charlie Blackmon has quietly put up some of the more impressive hitting numbers in the minors since the Rockies drafted him out of Georgia Tech in the second round of the 2008 draft. Blackmon, a 24-year-old right fielder, went 2-for-5 with a double and a steal yesterday for Triple-A Colorado Springs, bringing his numbers up to .316/.391/.614 through 14 games. He could make his debut at some point this season.
• Giovanny Urshela has already developed into one of the best defensive third baseman in the minors. A 2008 signing out of Colombia, now Urshela's bat is showing signs of life for the Indians with low Class A Lake County. In the second game of a doubleheader yesterday, the 19-year-old hit his first home of the year in a 1-for-3 effort. Now batting .327/.373/.481, Urshela would shoot up the Indians' prospect rankings if he can maintain this type of performance.
• Pacific Coast League pitchers don't look forward to facing Omaha, a daunting lineup that includes Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas. Yesterday the Memphis staff became their latest victims, with Hosmer going 2-for-3 with a double and two walks, while Moustakas chipped in two walks of his own and his second home run of the year. While it's been a slow start to the year for Moustakas, Hosmer has been a nightmare for PCL pitchers: He's hitting .415/.492/.547, reaching base in all but one of his 14 games.
• With a high-80s fastball and no plus secondary offering, Mets 23-year-old lefty Mark Cohoon doesn't have frontline stuff. He does, however, throw plenty of strikes and put together the best numbers of any pitcher in the minors yesterday. Pitching for Double-A Binghamton, Cohoon struck out 11 and didn't issue a walk in seven innings, leaving after allowing two runs, neither of which was earned. Cohoon has allowed only one earned run in his first three starts, good for an ERA of 0.47 in 19 innings with three walks and 20 strikeouts while keeping the ball down in the zone to get plenty of grounders.
• A couple of years ago, there was valid debate among scouts as to whether the better Red Sox first base prospect was Lars Anderson or Anthony Rizzo. With Adrian Gonzalez now locked up long-term in Boston, neither one is ticketed to be the Red Sox's first baseman of the future, but Rizzo could take that role soon in San Diego. Rizzo, 21, went 3-for-4 with a home run and a walk yesterday for Triple-A Tucson, his ninth multi-hit game in the 12 games he's started. Working on a seven-game hitting streak even while coming in to pinch-run on Tuesday, Rizzo is off to a .436/.483/.764 start in the PCL.
• After signing with the Marlins out of high school as a second-round pick in 2008, lefthander Brad Hand didn't get off to a great start the next year in low Class A Greensboro, where he struggled to repeat his delivery and avoid walks. He's made significant progress since then and has started well for Double-A Jacksonville, including a seven-inning stint yesterday in which he held Mobile to one run on four hits with only one walk and eight strikeouts.
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