In this roundup, we crown a home run king, acknowledge a versatile Brewer, and give nods to a few of the better players in their respective leagues.
|MINOR LEAGUE HOME RUN RACE
International League • AAA
Dalton Pompey, of, Buffalo (Blue Jays): With the Bisons eliminated from the playoff race, Pompey got a fine consolation prize: A call to the big leagues. With roster expansion, Toronto decided to give Pompey—as well as fellow breakout star Daniel Norris—a shot in the majors. In the season’s final game, Pompey went 4-for-6 with two doubles and two runs. He would have had a third double were it not for that pesky Michael Taylor and his powerful throwing arm. At three levels this season, the 21-year-old former 16th-rounder from Ontario finished .317/.392/.469 with 22 doubles, nine triples and nine home runs.
Pacific Coast League • AAA
Kris Bryant, 3b, Iowa (Cubs): It’s only fitting that we honor the season’s best prospect here. After all, he did have a hit in all three games over the holiday weekend, which he finished 3-for-11 with four runs and an RBI. Beyond the past three days, Bryant’s season was nothing short of marvelous. The 22-year-old collected 34 doubles, led the minor league in home runs with a whopping 43, drove in 110 runs and scored 118 times. It’s not often you can lead your organization by 20 in homers and by 30 in RBIs, but that’s just what he did. Oh, and his final slash line? Just .325/.438/.661. That’s all. No big deal.
Eastern League • AA
Mike Yastrzemski, of, Bowie (Orioles): Yastrzemski, the grandson of somebody famous, finished his season with a 2-for-4 afternoon with a triple and an RBI. That’s a fine cap to an outstanding season. Not blessed with any one above-average tool, Yastrzemski is the ultimate sum-of-his-parts player. He’s a solid outfielder with an accurate arm, solid foot speed and a good feel to hit. That triple on Monday pushed him past Andrew Velazquez for the minor league lead. He finishes the season as one of just 10 players to post double-digit totals in doubles, triples and homers. Add his double-digit stolen bases and he’s one of just nine to do that in four categories.
Southern League • AA
Justin O’Conner, c, Montgomery (Rays): The minors’ preeminent rifleman didn’t disappoint during his time with the Biscuits. After catching 50 percent of runners with high Class A Charlotte, all he did was move to Double-A and gun out nine of the 12 who so foolishly attempted to steal on him. He had 13 passed balls on the year, though none came at Double-A. Beyond that, he also showed he can handle the bat a little. He went 3-for-4 with a home run to end the regular year on Monday, and finished the year with a .278/.316/.466 slash line with 35 doubles and 12 homers. He’ll get to continue to add polish in the Arizona Fall League.
Texas League • AA
Joey Gallo, 3b, Frisco (Rangers): Of course he ended the season with a homer. Of course he did. He didn’t win the minor league home run race, but he did lead the Carolina League despite not having played there since June 6. He also fell one shy of the Texas League lead, succumbing to the mighty power of Telvin “Toe” Nash. Overall, he split his 42 homers between high Class A and Double-A, reached the 100-homer plateau before he turned 21, broke a pickup truck and won the MVP at the Futures Game, and finished the season with a .271/.394/.615 line. In more of an upset, he didn’t lead the minors in strikeouts, and he didn’t finish second, either.
Florida State League • Hi A
Nathan Orf, everywhere, Brevard County (Brewers): For the final game of the season, Brevard County manager Joe Ayrault decided to surprise his most versatile player. He wanted Orf, a non-drafted free agent out of Baylor, to play all nine positions. For an added twist, Ayrault decided to have Orf play the positions in their numerical order in the scorebook. He’d start at catcher (2), then move to first base (3) and so on, with the exception of finishing at catcher. Needless to say, Orf was excited.
“It’s the last game with the guys and something fun to remember forever. I was so excited,” Orf told MiLB.com. “Before the game I didn’t know what to do, I was pumped. Since I was going to start at catcher, I saw some pitches from (starter Jorge) Lopez.”
Orf handled the task with aplomb. He didn’t make an error at any position, didn’t commit a passed ball behind the plate, and finished the game 0-for-2 with a walk and pitched a scoreless one-third of an inning. Not a bad way to end a season.
Carolina League • Hi A
Manuel Margot, of, Salem (Red Sox): In a system stocked with prospects at the upper levels, Margot did a fine job holding down the lower half of the system. Blessed with all five tools and the potential to be an all-star in center field, Margot finished his season Monday 2-for-5 with two RBIs, giving him a fine coda to the year heading into the first round of the playoffs against Myrtle Beach. Margot, just 19 years old, finished ninth in the system in average (eighth if you exclude Rafael Devers and count only full-season affiliates). He also paced the system with 42 stolen bases. Overall, he finished the year .293/.356/.462 with 25 doubles, 12 homers and the 42 stolen bases.
California League • Hi A
Matt Olson, 1b, Modesto (A’s): With a longball on Sunday, Olson gave himself a little breathing room for the third spot in the Great Minor League Home Run Race. He finished the year with 37, just six behind Bryant for the overall lead, and two ahead of Steven Moya for the final spot in the top three. He topped Renato Nunez by eight for the most home runs in the organization, and he bested Rancho Cucamonga’s Dennis Raben by six in the California League. His slash line of .262/.404/.541 placed him among the top 10 in the latter two spots.
South Atlantic League • Lo A
Chance Sisco, c, Delmarva (Orioles): In a neck-and-no-neck race with Lakewood’s Willians Astudillo for the South Atlantic League batting title, Sisco used a solid weekend to pull away and claim the crown with a .340 mark to Astudillo’s .334. Sisco hit safely in his final seven games, including six hits over the last three days to give him the edge he needed. His .406 on-base percentage also paced the league. He and Astudillo tied with 145 hits, but Sisco had three fewer at-bats. Sisco has drawn excellent reviews for his bat this season, but needs to polish his defensive game.
Midwest League • Lo A
Domingo Leyba, ss, West Michigan (Tigers): With Willy Adames gone, Leyba moves to the top of the stack in the Tigers system as far as shortstop prospects are concerned. He finished the regular season on a 13-game hitting streak, and has put together a darn fine season between two levels, going .323/.360/.423 with 18 doubles and two home runs as an 18-year-old. He’s a polished hitter with a good nose for the strike zone and has the potential for power down the line.