Today’s roundup features Greg Bird taking flight and the return of Jesse Biddle.
|MINOR LEAGUE HOME RUN RACE
International League • AAA
Micah Johnson, 2b, Charlotte (White Sox): Johnson’s first month and change in Triple-A were rough, but that’s not entirely unexpected for a prospect in just his second full season as a pro. In July, however, Johnson rebounded in a big way. He hit .347/.394/.474 with three doubles, three triples and a homer, and stole 10 bases in 15 tries. Oddly, Johnson’s overall attempted steals are way down. After swiping 90 bags across three levels last year, Johnson has stolen just 20 this year and made just 32 attempts.
Pacific Coast League • AAA
Eastern League • AA
Greg Bird, 1b, Trenton (Yankees): It didn’t take very long for Bird to fit in with his new league, it seems. After swatting his first Double-A homer on Tuesday, Bird added two more longballs on Wednesday afternoon in Trenton’s comeback win against Altoona. Bird, who missed the first month with recurring back problems, profiles as a power-hitting first baseman with excellent on-base skills (he drew more than 100 walks last season)
Southern League • AA
Jordy Lara, 1b/rf, Jackson (Mariners): It might be time to give Lara due for his whale of a year. With his ninth-inning grand slam last night, Lara has 151 total hits this season, which is just three behind Braves prospect Jose Peraza for the most in all the minors. He leads the Mariners organization in hitting (.350) and is third in both homers (23) and RBIs (87). He’s never made a Prospect Handbook and he’s never won a Best Tools award, but as a 23-year-old in Double-A, there’s certainly time to make a late charge.
Texas League • AA
Jorge Alfaro, c, Frisco (Rangers): One of the most athletic catchers in the minors, Alfaro moved up to Double-A with teammate Nomar Mazara earlier in the week. Mazara collected two hits on Tuesday, but it was Alfaro’s time to shine on Wednesday. Against Springfield, he popped his first Double-A longball and his 14th this season. He’s been working on the finer points of catching and needs to add polish to his defensive game, as shown by his 18 passed balls and 13 errors.
Florida State League • Hi A
Jesse Biddle, lhp, Clearwater (Phillies): Phillies fans, rejoice, Biddle is back after an extended break to recover from a concussion and restore his lost confidence. After a tune-up in the Gulf Coast League, Biddle turned in a gem on Wednesday, throwing five no-hit innings at Daytona with a walk as the lone blemish on his ledger. He struck out five. At his best, Biddle brings a low- to mid-90s fastball and couples it with a curveball and a changeup. He’s been dominating in the past, but was hit hard this year in a return to Double-A Reading, even before being concussed.
Carolina League • Hi A
Jose Leclerc, rhp, Myrtle Beach (Rangers): When he’s on, Leclerc can be dominant. He brings a mid-90s fastball and couples it with a nasty, 12-6 curveball and a changeup. He’s walked a few too many guys this year, but since July 4 has fanned 17 against four walks in a dozen appearances, including a a scoreless inning on Wednesday night. He’s got the stuff and mindset to be a closer, but the third pitch gives the Rangers the option to toy with him as a starter.
California League • Hi A
Kent Emanuel, lhp, Lancaster (Astros). Drafted out of North Carolina in the third round last year, Emanuel worked in the Astros’ tandem-starter system for part of the season in an attempt to control his innings. But last night, the 6-foot-3, 225-pound lefthander had his longest outing of the season, pitching eight innings of six-hit ball, allowing only a run. He walked none and struck out one. Emanuel’s not overpowering (87-89 mph fastball), but his funky delivery and deception are keys to his success.
South Atlantic League • Lo A
Austin Meadows, cf, West Virginia (Pirates). After missing three months with a hamstring injury sustained in spring training, Meadows is trying to make the most of what’s left in his second pro season. The 19-year-old from Loganville, Ga., slugged his second homer in two games and knocked in three runs for the second game in a row. With a fluid, repeatable swing, Meadows has a power projection. He has six extra-base hits among his 27 safeties in 81 at-bats at West Virginia.
Midwest League • Lo A
Jeimer Candelario, 3b, Kane County (Cubs). The system’s No. 8 prospect prior to the season, he fell off the list entirely for our Midseason Prospect Update—for sale here—after hitting .193 at high Class A Daytona. After posting a .438 OPS in June, he got to .802 in July and is 7-for-20 in August, including 3-for-4 Wednesday night. Still just 20, the Cubs believe he’ll hit for above-average power, with average or slightly better hitting ability.
New York-Penn League • short-season
Connor Spencer, 1b, Staten Island (Yankees). The eighth-round pick from UC Irvine has a sweet lefty swing and uses the middle of the field, and he’s done nothing but hit since turning pro. He’s hitting .333 (37-for-111) since joining the Yankees’ short-season affiliate, with nine extra-base hits, including two doubles on Wednesday night. Spencer hit just one homer at UC Irvine, in part because of Anteater Ballpark, but it remains to be seen if the 6-foot-2, 215-pound first baseman will develop the necessary power to man a corner infield spot.
Northwest League • short-season