Minor League Roundup: Everybody Loves The Sunshine

With the rainouts out of the way, the minors were back in full swing on Tuesday, including quite a bit of daytime action, two rehab assignments, a crazy game in the Cal League (what’s new, right?). The craziest game of all, however, featured 29 hits from the Omaha StormChasers, including a monster afternoon from outfielder Brett Eibner, who is featured below in …

JJ’s GIF Of The Day

Brett Eibner

Brett Eibner home run (Source: Milb.tv)

What started as a blip on the radar has turned into a trend. Royals center fielder Brett Eibner spent the first two-and-a-half seasons of his pro career collecting strikeouts, rolled-over ground-outs and the occasional home run. He appeared to be on his way to eventually scrapping hitting and becoming a pitcher, the position many expected to see him play after a career as a two-way player at Arkansas.

But Eibner and the Royals stuck with him hitting. They made some tweaks to close up what had been a very open stance. That enhanced his plate coverage and helped him take pitches on the outside half and drive them the other way. It seemed to make a difference, as Eibner posted a .763 on-base plus slugging (OPS) in June, a .951 OPS in July, and a .779 OPS in August. Those three months were the best three months of his two-and-a-half-year-old career and he’d posted only one month above a .710 OPS before. His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) did improve over that stretch but so did the number of balls he struck squarely–after

Eibner’s start to the 2014 season is offering indications that last year’s uptick in performance is more than a small-sample-size fluke. Eibner went 5-for-5 with two home runs, a double, two singles, a walk, three runs scored and nine RBIs yesterday in an easy win over Memphis. He showed his power with a long home run to left field that left the Omaha radio announces speculating as to whether it actually left the park. He also showed his ability to drive the ball the other way with a home run to right center field.

With excellent defense in center field, plenty of arm, a tick-above-average speed and plenty of power, Eibner can be a valuable big leaguer if he can just make enough contact to let his power play.

REHAB REHASH

Taijuan Walker, RHP — Double-A Jackson: Walker, working his way back from an iffy shoulder to start the year, fanned 10 over five innings of three-hit, shutout ball.

Jeff Locke, LHP — High Class A Bradenton: Like Walker, Locke fanned 10 in his rehab outing. He allowed two runs over six innings and allowed five hits and a walk.

POSITION PLAYERS. PITCHING.

Not only did a position player get the win on Tuesday in Inland Empire’s marathon win over Rancho Cucamonga, but a different position player got the save, too.

Brian Hernandez, a 25-year-old infielder who hit .294/.358/.400 last year with the 66ers, relieved Cam Bedrosian in the 12th inning and spun two scoreless frames, including strikeouts of Jeremy Rathjen and James Baldwin.With the game still tied, Hernandez moved back to first base and gave way to Andrew Ray, the Angels’ No. 28 prospect and the team’s fifth-round choice from 2011. He coaxed Corey Seager into a lineout, then got a game-ending double play from Adam Law.

All this was necessary, in part, because of bullpen’s workload the night before, when starter Nate Smith lasted just one out. That forced the bullpen into 7 2/3 innings. So once Bedrosian exited as the fifth reliever on Tuesday, position player pitchers became an inevitability.

TRIPLE-A

Kevin Kiermaier

Kevin Kiermaier (Photo by Cliff Welch)

Yankees C J.R. Murphy collected his first two hits of the season, both doubles, in a RailRiders loss to Rochester. … Braves C Christian Bethancourt notched three singles and drove in two runs, and 3B Edward Salcedo singled three times and scored. … Orioles RHP Mike Wright fanned four over five innings against Gwinnett. … Rays OF prospect Kevin Kiermaier showed off his top-grade speed in collecting a bunt single and a triple against Charlotte. His offense backed the effort of starter Enny Romero, who fanned eight in 5 2/3 innings. … Red Sox RHP Anthony Ranaudo got touched for five runs (four earned) in 5 2/3 frames. … Blue Jays RHP Marcus Stroman whiffed eight over six three-hit innings but was the victim of no run support in a 1-0 loss to Lehigh Valley. … Angels 1B C.J. Cron clubbed a grand slam in Salt Lake’s loss. … Giants OF Gary Brown came a longball short of the cycle and scored twice. … Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard let up four runs (three earned) in five innings for Las Vegas. …. Astros C Max Stassi homered for the second time in as many days. … Cubs SS Javier Baez doubled and scored twice in Iowa’s win over Nashville.

Kenny Giles

Kenny GIles (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

DOUBLE-A

Indians SS Francisco Lindor went 1-for-5 with a double, a run and an RBI. … Phillies righthanded cutter maven Severino Gonzalez spun seven innings of one-run ball, and RHP Ken Giles, who touched 101 mph earlier this season, fanned three of the four hitters he faced to finish the win. … Twins 1B Kennys Vargas, was 2-for-3 with his first home run of the year. He scored twice and drove home three runs. … Coming off a no-hitter, Boston LHP Henry Owens whiffed nine in 6 2/3 scoreless frames against Trenton. … Yankees C Gary Sanchez went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. … Cubs RHP C.J. Edwards fanned five but walked four in 5 2/3 innings. … Reds OF Yorman Rodriguez was 2-for-5 with a stolen base for Pensacola.

HIGH CLASS A

Brewers OF Tyrone Taylor smacked two doubles for Brevard County. His seven two-baggers leads the minor leagues. … Cubs OF Albert Almora collected his first two doubles of the season for Daytona. … Cardinals LHP Marco Gonzales whiffed seven and allowed just three hits over five shutout innings for Palm Beach. … Yankees 3B Eric Jagielo swatted his third homer in as many days and is 6 for his last 15. … Twins SS Jorge Polanco doubled, tripled, drove in two runs and scored twice for Fort Myers, and teammate Adam Brett Walker clubbed his second home run of the season. … Cubs 1B Dan Vogelbach collected his first homer of the season, a three-run blast against Dunedin. … Braves RHP Lucas Sims fanned four over five two-hit innings. … Royals SS Raul Mondesi was 1-for-4 with two runs and stole two bags against Myrtle Beach. … Hunter Renfroe hit his second home run of the season. … A’s 3B Renato Nunez collected three hits, including a double and a longball for Stockton. … Astros OF Teoscar Hernandez went deep in Lancaster’s win over San Jose.

LOW CLASS A

Aaron Blair

Aaron Blair

Blue Jays 3B Mitch Nay went 2-for-4 with a double for Lansing. … Diamondbacks RHP Aaron Blair fanned eight over six innings of two-run ball. Only one run was earned. … On the other side, A’s RHP Bobby Wahl whiffed seven over five innings to help the Snappers edge the Silver Hawks. … Indians SS Dorssys Paulino was 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI for Lake County. … Mariners RHP Edwin Diaz fanned eight over five shutout innings. … Cubs OF Jacob Hanneman legged out his first triple of the year. … Pirates C Reese McGuire collected three hits including a double and an RBI, and teammate JaCoby Jones lashed his first triple of the year. … Rockies 3B Ryan McMahon homered for the second consecutive day. … Braves C Victor Caratini was 1-for-5 with a double and an RBI. … 18-year-old Yankees SS Abiatal Avelino was 1-for-4 with a run, a walk and stole two bags. … That effort was overshadowed by Red Sox OF Manuel Margot, who homered twice, scored twice and drove in four runs.