Joey Votto is hitting like an MVP again this year. He's not going anywhere.
The way Yonder Alonso is hitting for Triple-A Louisville, the Reds either have their left fielder of the future or one of baseball's most valuable trade chips.
Playing in Rochester yesterday, Alonso hit a home run, a triple and a double yesterday, taking his averages up to .313/.362/.530 through 30 games. At 24, Alonso has a good approach, uses the middle of the field and has the power to hit 20-plus home runs. Alonso's defense isn't Raul Ibanez/Lance Berkman bad, but he's still a slow-footed outfielder and a defensive liability. Still, the Reds are living with Jonny Gomes' well-below-average defense in left field as he hits .194/.341/.407, so seeing Alonso in left field in Cincinnati is a very real possibility.
• The Bryce Harper show goes on. The would-be high school senior went 4-for-5 and hit his eighth home run, extending his hitting streak to 15 games, a stretch that includes 11 multi-hit games. He's been everything the Nationals could have hoped for, as the 18-year-old outfielder is hitting .396/.472/1.184 with an OPS that ranks fifth in all of the minor leagues.
• Harper's hitting streak isn't even the longest in the low Class A South Atlantic League, though. That honor belongs to Greenville right fielder Bryce Brentz (Red Sox), who extended his hitting streak to 23 games yesterday. Brentz went 4-for-5 with a double and hit his eighth home run of the season. Brentz, a supplemental first-round pick out of Middle Tennessee State last June, created concerns when he struggled a year ago with short-season Lowell, but he's now 11th in the minors in OPS and hitting .381/.439/.679 in 32 games with the Drive.
• Three years ago, the Padres stormed the international market by signing three 16-year-old Latin American kids for at least $1 million. Venezuelan righthander Adys Portillo ($2 million) has a 10.13 ERA and a 17-16 K-BB mark in 18 2/3 innings with low Class A Fort Wayne. Dominican shortstop Alvaro Aristy ($1 million) tested positive for anabolic steroids while in the Dominican Summer League in 2009 and hit under .200 for the second straight year in the league in 2010.
While Portillo and Aristy have struggled, Venezuelan corner outfielder Luis Domoromo ($1.25 million) has hit well since joining Fort Wayne on May 1. Domoromo, 19, went 4-for-4 and hit his first home run of the year yesterday, bringing his line through 10 games to .353/.450/.441. The Padres have re-tooled Domoromo's setup at the plate since he signed, giving him a wider base to help him see the ball better. It's paid off, as Domoromo has six walks and just three strikeouts in 40 trips to the plate, with projectable lefthanded power from his 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame.
• The concerns are growing for a pair of lefties with control issues. Tyler Matzek (Rockies) struck out five and allowed two runs in 4 2/3 innings for high Class A Modesto, but he also walked seven batters, giving him 31 in 23 innings this season. In Double-A Erie, Casey Crosby (Tigers) hasn't been that bad but he struggled to throw strikes yesterday as well, walking six in six innings. He struck out five and limited Akron to two runs, but he's now walked 18 batters in 29 2/3 innings.
• Scouts have often viewed Clint Robinson's big numbers in the lower minors with skepticism since he started mashing in the Rookie-level Pioneer League in 2007 as a 25th-round pick out of Troy. Yet even in Triple-A for the first time in his career, Robinson's numbers haven't deteriorated against more advanced pitching. Robinson went 3-for-4 and hit his ninth home run of the season yesterday, bringing his season line with Omaha to .328/.418/.607 in 32 games. Sure, he's already 26, and as a first baseman/DH, he's in the wrong organization with Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler in Kansas City and Kila Ka'aihue back in Omaha. Still, at some point his performance is going to get him to the big leagues, whether it's in a Royals uniform or not.
• Cardinals righthander Jordan Swagerty blitzed through the low Class A Midwest League (30 IP, 30-2 K-BB, 1.50 ERA) before making his high Class A Palm Beach debut yesterday. A second-round pick out of Arizona State last year, Swagerty allowed two runs and struck out six without issuing a walk in five innings.
• The Giants drafted Zack Wheeler out of high school with the sixth overall pick in 2009, but a cracked fingernail limited him to 59 innings with low Class A August a year ago. Despite limited experience, Wheeler was advanced enough for the Giants to bump him to high Class A San Jose. Wheeler, 20, struck out seven and walked four in five innings yesterday, holding Lancaster to one run. With a low-90s fastball and a curveball that can miss bats, Wheeler is up to 41 strikeouts in 32 innings and lowered his ERA to 3.66.
• At some point this year, Jason Kipnis is going to be a tempting option for the Indians to bring to Cleveland. Kipnis, 24, went 2-for-4 and hit his third home run of the year yesterday to climb to .286/.382/.473 through 30 games with Triple-A Columbus. With second basemen in Cleveland hitting a collective .277/.299/.350 this year, Kipnis could provide a crucial midseason upgrade.
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