The Angels' Luis Jimenez has shown power before, when he led the Rookie-level Pioneer League in homers with 15 in 2008. He hadn't enjoyed that kind of power production since, but he put on a display last night, homering twice for Double-A Arkansas.
After his promising U.S. debut in '08, Jimenez's career was slowed by a torn labrum, which caused him to miss the entire 2009 season. He returned to action at two Class A levels last year and made the jump to the Texas League this spring. Jimenez hadn't been getting overwhelmed by the TL, with his average hovering in the .260s and .270s, but he's turned it up in a hurry. The 23-year-old third baseman went 3-for-4 last night, adding a double to go with the two long balls, his fourth straight multi-hit game. He's upped his line for the year to .285/.325/.481 with seven homers, and his 21 doubles rank 2md in the TL.
One thing that hadn't changed for Jimenez is he's always been a free-swinger. He's drawn just 12 walks all season in 236 plate appearances—only one of those walks has come since May 19—though his pitch-recognition skills have helped him keep his strikeouts to a minimum (28) as well.
AROUND THE MINORS
• Julio Teheran continues to make Triple-A look like child's play, making it easy to forget he's still just 20 years old. The Braves righthander threw seven shutout innings against Indianapolis on Tuesday, extending his shutout streak to 20 innings over his last three starts. Although Teheran had just three strikeouts yesterday, he also didn't issue any walks and allowed just three hits. International League batters are hitting just .217 against Teheran and he's allowed only one homer in 11 Triple-A starts. Despite his best efforts, Teheran didn't figure in the decision yesterday, so his record stayed put at 6-1, but he did lower his Triple-A ERA to 1.78 in 70 2/3 innings.
• The Cardinals thought they might have fast riser in righthander Carlos Martinez, but the 19-year-old might be exceeding even their wildest expectations. Martinez threw six shutout innings for low Class A Quad Cities yesterday, lowering his ERA to 2.48 in 32 2/3 innings. But even that 2.48 figure is misleading, as Martinez hasn't yielded a run in four of his seven starts since joining the River Bandits in early May. The number is inflated by his May 14 start, when he gave up six runs in 2 2/3 innings. He's allowed three runs in his other six starts combined. A power pitcher, Martinez struck out eight against one walk yesterday and has 43 whiffs and 12 walks on the year. His fastball has consistently been clocked between 94 and 100 mph.
• After being bothered by injuries, most recently a knee infection, over the first couple months of the season, Royals outfielder Wil Myers might be hitting his stride. The 20-year-old went 3-for-4 with two doubles last night for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Myers had just five extra-base hits in his first 27 games but has four in his last four games, including a homer. He's improved to .282/.346/.410 in 117 at-bats for the year.
• Jameson Taillon's outing Tuesday ended on a sour note, but that didn't erase the fact that the No. 2 overall pick in last year's draft has turned in his best back-to-back starts of the season. The Pirates have kept the 19-year-old righthander on tight pitch counts so far in his debut season with low Class A West Virginia, and he hasn't pitched more than five innings in any of his 10 starts. Coming off an outing in which he allowed one hit over four scoreless innings on June 9, Taillon struck out a season-high (and career-high) eight hitters in 4 2/3 innings against Greensboro yesterday. He lone mistake came on his last pitch, when he gave up a home run to Greensboro catcher Wilfredo Gimenez. Taillon was pulled immediately after Gimenez's homer. That was the only run Taillon allowed as he limited the Grasshoppers to three hits and no walks. For the season, Taillon boosted this strikeout-walk ratio to an impressive 38-4 in 42 2/3 innings. He's gone four starts without issuing a single free pass, his last coming on May 23. Taillon's record remained at 2-1 while he lowered his ERA to 3.16.
• Not much has slowed down Padres righthander Keyvius Sampson, who owns a 7-1, 2.60 mark for low Class A Fort Wayne. When Sampson, 20, has hit some bumps in the road, he's responded. After he was touched up for five runs in five innings on May 1, he reeled off four straight starts allowing one run or less. Sampson had his second tough showing last week, when he again gave up five earned in five innings, and again he responded. Sampson struck out nine over five innings against Dayton yesterday, allowing only one run which was unearned. He walked two and allowed two hits. Sampson's strikeout-walk rate stands at 72-20 in 62 1/3 innings, and he ranks fifth among Midwest League starters in strikeouts-per-nine at 10.40.
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