Minor League Roundup: Sweeney, Vasquez Supply Surprising Power

Find complete coverage of Wednesday’s Triple-A all-star game here. Otherwise, the Roundup focuses on surprise power from unexpected places and 2014 draftees.

Southern League • AA

Darnell Sweeney (Photo by Mike Janes)Darnell Sweeney, ss, Chattanooga (Dodgers). After a strong first half, Sweeney has scuffled a bit in July, but turned it around Wednesday, going 3-for-4 with two doubles. He’s showing more power as he gains strength, tying his career high with 11 homers through 350 at-bats, including seven in June. But he still appears to sell out to reach that power, piling up 81 strikeouts after whiffing 151 times last season.

Texas League • AA

Christian Binford, rhp, Northwest Arkansas (Royals). The 6-foot-6 righthander continues to flash trademark control, walking none in seven innings Wednesday against Tulsa. He allowed seven hits and two runs with eight punchouts. The Tommy John survivor and 30th-round pick in 2011 has a naturally-heavy fastball that ranges from 89-93 mph.

California League • Hi A

Danry Vasquez, rf, Lancaster (Astros). Maybe it was the rare opportunity to bat as the DH, as he did yesterday, but whatever it was Vasquez took advantage, hitting three homers Wednesday night after hitting one in the first 80 games. Acquired from the Tigers a year ago for Jose Veras, the 20-year-old Venezuelan had five RBIs and became the first JetHawk to have a three-homer game since George Springer hit four in consecutive at-bats over a doubleheader in May 2012. Vasquez, whose compact lefty swing had led to just 14 homers in his first three pro seasons, is showing more extra-base power this season and is slugging .417 compared to his career rate of .374.

Carolina League • Hi A

Brandon FinneganBrandon Finnegan, lhp, Wilmington (Royals). The hard-throwing first-rounder from Texas Christian made his second, abbreviated pro start, going two perfect innings with a strikeout. The 17th overall pick this year, Finnegan brings a fastball at 93-98 mph and a slider that’s turned into a wipeout pitch after he learned a new grip from Carlos Rodon. Royals officials have said they’ll cap Finnegan’s innings at 45-50.

Florida State League • Hi A

Byron Buxton, cf, Fort Myers (Twins). Baseball’s No. 1 prospect has played in just 11 games this season because of a wrist injury. He had his first multi-hit game yesterday since last August, going 3-for-4 with an RBI triple in a win against Daytona. Buxton returned to action on July 6 and is 5-for-19 in that span.

Midwest League • Lo A

Dawel LugoDawel Lugo, ss, Lansing (Blue Jays). The weather’s warmed up and so has Lugo. The 19-year-old had a career-high five RBIs on Monday and followed that with a 4-for-4 night Wednesday with a homer in a win against Kane County. Batting just .210 on May 1, Lugo is now at .289/.310/.375 in his first try at full-season ball. In July, he’s slashing .340/.339/.566 with two of his three homers. Scouts have projected Lugo will eventually show power, and that’s started to manifest itself after 80 games at the level.

South Atlantic League • Lo A

Antonio Senzatela, rhp, Asheville (Rockies). The 19-year-old Venezuelan tossed seven shutout innings to extend his scoreless streak to 16 1/3 and lead the Tourists to a 6-3 win against Savannah. Senzatela doesn’t have the secondary pitches to miss many bats (59 strikeouts in 100 innings), but he pounds the strike zone with a low-90s fastball. He improved to 11-1, 3.59, but is 3-0, 0.47 in July with 17 strikeouts and three walks in that span.

New York-Penn League • short-season

Sam Travis, 1b, Lowell (Red Sox). The righthanded slugger is one of three Indiana draftees this year showing well in the early going. (Dustin DeMuth, Kyle Schwarber are the others.) Travis went 3-for-5 with his third homer Wednesday. He’s not showing great power so far (five extra-base hits in 101 at-bats), but as he did in college has shown fair plate discipline and doesn’t swing and miss much.