Today's roundup includes Maikel Franco's sizzling July, a Tennessee two-step and another member of the minor league 30-home run club.
|MINOR LEAGUE HOME RUN RACE
International League • AAA
Maikel Franco, 3b, Lehigh Valley (Phillies). The Phils' No. 2 prospect in our Midseason Prospect Update got off to an awful start after a terrific 2013, hitting bottom on June 23, when he was batting .207. But the righthanded hitter has rebounded, batting .352 (31-for-88) in July with 21 RBIs and three homers. On Monday, he went 4-for-4 with a homer and has his average back to a more respectable .241.
Pacific Coast League • AAA
Taylor Lindsey, 2b, El Paso (Padres). Acquired in the deal for Huston Street, Lindsey hasn't fared particularly well in his first nine games in the Padres organization. But on Monday he went 2-for-4, lifting his average to .138 since joining the Chihuahuas. Lindsey's a career .286 hitter in almost 2,000 minor league at-bats, but has struggled so far in his first Triple-A foray.
Eastern League • AA
Gary Sanchez, c, Trenton (Yankees). With the Yankees on the prowl for a bat or another starter, Sanchez could be in his final days in the organization. The righty power hitter went 2-for-5 Monday with his 11th homer and a double. He has above-average power and hit tools, but with short-season Staten Island backstop Luis Torrens' breakout season, the Yankees might be more willing to discuss Sanchez in trade negotiations.
Southern League • AA
Albert Almora, cf; Addison Russell, ss, Tennessee (Cubs). The two high-level prospects went a combined 8-for-10 with four runs scored and three RBIs in the Smokies' 11-8 win against Birmingham. Russell is flashing power since his trade to the Cubs with a .579 slugging percentage in 19 games. Almora went into the game 1-for-18 before his 4-for-6 outburst Monday.
Texas League • AA
Delino DeShields Jr., cf, Corpus Christi (Astros). After a terrific year repeating the Cal League in 2013, DeShields had a rough go in Double-A. Since the all-star break, he's picked it up, and on Monday he went 2-for-3 with a homer. On the positive side, he's getting on base (.351 on-base percentage) and still stealing bases at a prodigious clip (43 in 52 attempts).
Florida State League • Hi A
Tyler Wagner, rhp, Brevard County (Brewers). Wagner improved his prospect stock with a solid 2013 and has done nothing to slow the train this year by going 10-4, 1.53. On Monday, he blanked Jupiter on two hits over six innings. He's allowed 88 hits in 118 innings with an 86/35 SO/BB ratio. Wagner's fastball features good sink and heavy life in the low- to mid-90s, touching 96 mph, and he pairs that with a sharp breaking slider.
Carolina League • Hi A
Chris Garia, Myrtle Beach (Rangers). In a night that featured just one game on the schedule, Garia takes the prize after a 3-for-6 performance that included a triple and three RBIs. Signed out of Curacao in 2009, Garia takes advantage of his speed and has stolen 34 of 44 bases this season.
California League • Hi A
Matt Olson, 1b, Stockton (Athletics). Olson went just 1-for-5 Monday, but that one hit was his 30th homer, making him the fourth minor league with 30 home runs this season. The lefty swinger generates good leverage and hits balls hard to all parts of the park.
South Atlantic League • Lo A
Nomar Mazara, rf, Hickory (Rangers). Power was what attracted the Rangers when they lavished a $4.95 million bonus on the Dominican Mazara in 2011, and he's starting to access that in games this season. He blasted his 19th homer Monday, with 14 of those coming in the past 41 games. Still just 19, Mazara's swing generates loft, but now most scouts give him average raw power with the ability to take balls over the fence to his pull side. The Rangers still consider his power plus.
Alec Mills, rhp, Lexington (Royals). A 22nd-round pick in 2012, Mills was bumped to low Class A earlier this month. In his second outing there Monday, Mills allowed only one hit over six innings in a 1-0 win against Savannah. He walked two and struck out seven. He's given up only one run in 11 innings for Lexington. The lanky, 6-foot-4 righty is a strike-thrower, who after struggling with the longball last season has not given one up in 30 innings in 2014.
Midwest League • Lo A
Kevin Ziomek, lhp, West Michigan (Tigers). The Vanderbilt product didn't get the win, but what he did was strike out 13 over six innings against Kane County on Monday, his second consecutive double-digit strikeout game. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound second-rounder last year now has 112 strikeouts in 95 innings and has walked just four in his past four appearances after some early issues with command. Ziomek has steady stuff, including a fastball that parks at 88-92 mph and hits 94, and a changeup that flashes above average.
New York-Penn League • short-season
Troy Scribner, rhp, Tri-City (Astros). The nondrafted free agent from Sacred Heart is doing perhaps what you'd expect a 22-year-old to do in the Penn League: dominating. But to dismiss his performance that way is a disservice to Scribner. After starting the season going 2-0, 2.70 at Double-A Corpus Christi, Scribner—the brother of Oakland farmhand Evan—was sent to the NYP to be stretched out as a starter. He's handled it beautifully. The righthander in nine starts is 6-1, 0.77, with 25 hits allowed in 47 innings and a 57/12 SO/BB ratio.
Appalachian League • Rookie
Mat Batts, lhp, Elizabethton (Twins). Known around here as "former BA intern Mat Batts," the UNC Wilmington star has made a terrific transition to pro ball. On Monday night, he spun six, one-run innings, allowing just two hits and a walk while striking out eight against Greeneville. As a pro over two levels, Batts is 2-1, 1.41, with 34 strikeouts against four walks in 32 innings. A 17th-round pick, Batts was the Colonial Athletic Association's pitcher of the year for the past two years.
Gulf Coast League • Rookie
Jeffry Fernandez, Brayan Villareal, Yankory Pimentel, Jose Almonte, GCL Red Sox (Red Sox). Three international signees and Villareal, rehabbing from a shoulder injury, combined on a no-hitter against the GCL Orioles on Monday. The only baserunner was Ronarsy Ledesma, who reached in the fifth on an error by shortstop Javier Guerra. Fernandez went the first three, striking out five; Villareal struck out one in his inning; Pimentel, who got the win, went two innings; and Almonte pitched the ninth for his first save.