Today’s roundup features newcomers dazzling in Triple-A, two members of the Great Minor League Home Run Race playing catch-up, an unorthodox hitter succeeding in the Sally League, and a first-rounder lighting the Midwest League ablaze.
Henry Owens, lhp, Pawtucket (Red Sox): Welcome to Triple-A, young man. In his first game, Owens was paired against Tyler Cloyd, who, no big whoop, had thrown a no-hitter his last time out. No matter, Owens dazzled in his first time with the PawSox, going 6 2/3 shutout innings with two hits and three walks in addition to nine strikeouts. The nine strikeouts represented the fourth time this season he had reached that total or better. He K’d nine in each of his first two games with Portland, then whiffed 11 on July 6 against New Britain. If he keeps this up, it might not be long before he’s showing what he can do at Fenway.
Pacific Coast League
Jake Lamb, 3b, Reno (Diamondbacks): Much like Owens above, Lamb hasn’t had any issues in his short time transitioning to Triple-A. The third baseman, who tore up the Southern League for the first four months of the season, has collected eight hits in his first 15 at-bats with the Aces. He was 1-for-4 last night with a double, his third with Reno and his 38th overall this season. He moved up in part to accommodate the arrival of Peter O’Brien, who came over from the Yankees in the the deal for Martin Prado. Between the levels this season, Lamb has hit .326/.404/.566 with the 38 doubles, five triples and 15 homers.
Kelly Dugan, of, Reading (Phillies): With just one game on the docket, the pickins are slim for this space. With that in mind, we’ll go with Dugan, who has hit well in limited time this year. He’s got plenty of power and can play an adequate right field with more than enough arm for the position. He went 2-for-3 with a run last night, and in 58 games this season has hit .286/.381/.411 with 12 doubles and four homers. The truncated season might give Dugan another shot at the Arizona Fall League this season.
Peter O’Brien, of/c/1b, Mobile (Diamondbacks): After just a few days in the Southern League, O’Brien has made his power known to his new club. With the game tied in the 10th, O’Brien popped a three-run homer to give his team the eventual win. The longball was his 34th of the season, third in all baseball behind Joey Gallo and Kris Bryant. Interestingly, O’Brien played right field with Mobile, a position the Yankees had put the kibosh on shortly after the experiment had started. If he’s going to be a major leaguer with the Diamondbacks, it’s obviously not going to be at first base because of Paul Goldschmidt’s presence, and Miguel Montero’s deal goes through 2017, which makes catcher unlikely, too (O’Brien’s struggles behind the plate puts the kibosh on that as well). It seems right field would have to be the spot for O’Brien, and he’s got both the power and arm for the position, if not the ideal mobility.
Florida State League
Roman Quinn, of, Clearwater (Phillies): Quinn may well be the fastest man in the minors, and he’s showed off his speed this year with 23 stolen bags in 30 attempts over 63 games with high Class A Clearwater. He went 2-for-5 last night with a double, a steal and a run, but questions linger about how much he’ll hit at the upper levels. Even if he doesn’t hit, his speed could get him to the major leagues. He’s back to playing center field this year with J.P. Crawford at shortstop, and has shown plus range and a plus arm at the position.
Matt Olson, 1b, Stockton (Athletics): Olson was 3-for-3 last night with a double, a homer, three runs, a walk and a strikeout. And although this night would have been out of character for Adam Dunn, the rest of Olson’s season has mimicked the big donkey, and others of his three-true-outcome ilk, quite nicely. The homer was Olson’s 33rd, helping him keep one behind Peter O’Brien in the Great Minor League Home Run Race. His homers lead the Cal League by five over teammate Renato Nunez, his walks lead the circuit by a large margin, and his strikeouts rank among the top 10.
South Atlantic League
Raimel Tapia, of, Asheville (Rockies): After watching Tapia for a few games last week, I’m marveled by the fact that he can hit. And yet he can. Tapia, who stands 6-foot-2, gets into a deep squat in the box, shrinking down to about 5-foot-7. Then, when he gets to a two-strike count, his squat gets him down to almost Gaedelian in size, to the point where he could rest his elbows on his knees. In either case, his first move is up, which is not something they’ll teach you at the Ted Williams School of Hitting. Still, here we are four months and change into the season and Tapia’s line stands at .332/.384/.464, including a 3-for-5 night with his 26th double of the season on Monday night. Just goes to show that talent doesn’t always go by the book.
Trea Turner, ss, Fort Wayne (Padres): At this point, Midwest League pitchers must be blowing up Randy Smith’s phone, email and gchat lines, begging him to send Turner to Lake Elsinore. He’s done enough damage, they say, and is ruining everyone’s good time. Turner, the Padres’ first-rounder out of N.C. State, was at it again last night, going 3-for-4 with a double and a run in the TinCaps’ win over Lansing. In 20 games with the team, Turner is hitting .458/.516/.639 with 10 doubles, a triple and a homer. In 54 games with the Wolfpack this year, Turner hit 12 doubles. He’s already equaled that total in 43 pro games.