Minor League Roundup: The Aged And The Independent

Today’s roundup features a 36-year-old, a 42-year-old, a former Indy baller making good with his original organization, a second baseman who’s upped his on-base percentage by 81 points, a diminutive lefty with a big arm and, of course, some Joey Gallo action.

Hessman Claims The Crown

Mike Hessman has been in the International League a very long time. As of last night he’d played 1,271 games on the circuit, or just five more games than Manny Machadao, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Wil Myers and Yasiel Puig have played in the major leagues, combined. With all that time, you’d probably figure he’d have a few records under his belt, and you’d be right. When he connected off of Indianapolis’ Jake Brigham in the third inning last night, it was his record 259th longball as an International Leaguer.

Now, to the roundup.

International League

Matt DavidsonMatt Davidson, 3b, Charlotte (White Sox): After entering the year as a legitimate candidate to man the hot corner for the White Sox, Davidson has struggled in Triple-A. He’s hit for some power, but very little else. And on Monday, he solidified that reputation as a legit power threat by swatting two homers against Gwinnett and starter Cody Martin. He drove in three runs with his blasts. And while those are nice, his .201 average and .280 average show that he could stand to improve his feel to hit and his plate discipline.

Pacific Coast League

Manny Ramirez, of, Iowa (Cubs): You thought I was going to go with Kris Bryant here, didn’t you? Well, he did hit a grand slam for his 28th homer of the season, just one off of Joey Gallo‘s lead, but Manny Ramirez is Manny Ramirez, dangit. He’s 42 years old and homered off of Sugar Ray Marimon (a legit prospect!) in his second game in Triple-A as a player/coach. He’s there to help mentor the Cubs’ young righthanded prospects, but I’m sure the fans won’t mind seeing him swat a dinger or two now and then.

Eastern League

Willy Garcia, of, Altoona (Pirates): Lauded for his power potential and overall tool set, Garcia, just 21 in Double-A, clubbed two longballs Monday against Bowie and closed out a great month of June. In the season’s third month, he hit a .313/.333/.578 with seven doubles and five of his 12 homers for the season. Beyond his plus power, Garcia has impressed evaluators with his power, but has some work to do on his routes in the outfield. Again, he won’t turn 22 until September.

Southern League

Darnell SweeneyDarnell Sweeney, 2b, Chattanooga (Dodgers): Although the box scores won’t reflect it, Sweeney hit three homers Monday in a doubleheader. One end of the two-fer will show up as having occurred on Sunday, but we all know he definitely hit three balls out of the park on Monday. A pure athlete, Sweeney was a 13th-round choice of the Dodgers in 2012 and shows off good speed, and an average arm in the infield. He entered the year needing to improve his discipline at the dish, and looks to have done so based on his league-best 45 walks. Now here’s where it gets tricky: He stole 48 bags in the Cal League last year with a .329 on-base percentage. This year, he’s upped that OBP by 81 points, yet has stolen just nine bases. A mystery for the ages.

Texas League

Joey Gallo, 3b, Frisco (Rangers): No, he didn’t homer. Instead, he doubled twice, which has happened just three times in his career, and never before Monday outside of the Arizona League. As has been detailed before, Gallo doesn’t hit doubles very often. When he hits the ball in the air, it usually goes out. He’s got 14 doubles against 29 homers this year, which is pretty close to in line with his career mark of 49 two-baggers against 91 longballs. So, to the 6,987 fans at Dr. Pepper Ballpark last night, cherish what you saw. You probably won’t see it again. Instead, you’ll just see some boring ol’ homers.

Florida State League

Jorge Polanco (Photo by Mike Janes)Jorge Polanco, 2b, Fort Myers (Twins): Even if the promotion was brief, it’s got to be a bit of a culture shock going from the major leagues to the Florida State League. No matter for Polanco, who in his first game back with the Miracle singled twice, doubled, walked and scored a run. He’s a good hitter from both sides of the plate, and is major league-ready defender right now and could be ready to contribute with the big club on a full-time basis sometime in 2016.

Carolina League

Terance Marin, rhp, Winston-Salem (White Sox): Amazing what a cutter can do for a guy, eh? Released by the White Sox early in the season, Marin went to Indy ball a reliever, added a cutter, came back to the White Sox a starter and has dominated the Carolina since then. Now in the rotation with the Dash, Marin has tossed 18 innings (including eight scoreless last night), allowed four runs (one earned) on 10 hits and four walks and has fanned 15, including 10 in his first start back. For further reading, check out this piece from BA intern Jacob Emert.

California League

Scheduled off day

Midwest League

Rob KaminskyRob Kaminsky, lhp, Peoria (Cardinals): After missing the first month at extended spring training, Kaminsky has been nothing but nails with Peoria. The lefty, whom the Cardinals popped in the first round last year, looks promising on the strength of his lively 88-92 gas that can touch as high as 94, sharp curve and a changeup. With those weapons, Kaminsky tossed seven scoreless on Monday with just three hits and seven strikeouts. As a whole this season he’s got a strikeout-to-walk ratio of about 4-to-1 and has permitted just 56 hits in 75 innings.

South Atlantic League

J.T. Riddle, 3b, Greensboro (Marlins): He’s got a sweet, quick swing from the left side and has split his time this season among shortstop, third base and second base, and on Monday he had the game of his career. He went 5-for-7 with two doubles, a longball, four runs scored and three RBIs. He hasn’t been terribly impressive with the bat this season, but if he can find an up-the-middle home he might not need to be an offensive heavyweight.