Minor League Roundup: Jockin’ Jay-P

Today’s roundup features more thunder from Trenton’s Peter O’Brien, a standout day from Joc Pederson, a resurgent effort from Casey Kelly, and a triple play in Pawtucket.

Mookie Meter

After failing to get on base in the first game of Portland’s doubleheader on Monday, Betts recovered and was 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a run in the nightcap. Thus, the meter is at two.

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Triple Trouble

With the bases jacked and the score tied, Drake Britton needed some help in a big way with Zelous Wheeler at the plate. I’d say his teammates delivered.

International League

Maikel Franco, 3b, Lehigh Valley (Phillies): After a frigid April, Franco, the Phillies’ top prospect, has turned it up a couple of notches. The 21-year-old third baseman was 1-for-3 with a walk and his fourth home run of the season on Monday (part of back-to-back jacks with first baseman Darin Ruf), which continues his scalding May. He’s hitting .324/.422/.535 this month, with three longballs, 11 RBIs, 11 walks and 11 strikeouts. To put that walk total in perspective, in 69 games last season with Double-A Reading, he drew just 10 bases on balls, never more than six in a month.

Pacific Coast League

Joc Pederson, of, Albuquerque (Dodgers): Gregory Polanco has a Super Two problem. That’s why he’s not in the major leagues. Pederson, on the other hand, has a Super Four problem. The Super Four, of course, being Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp. Until a hole opens, Pederson will take tour after tour after tour of the “Breaking Bad” set. He was 3-for-6 last night with his 14th homer of the year, four runs and two RBIs and is slashing .361/.465/.663 this season. Until then, PCL pitchers will have to keep jockin’ Jay-P.

Eastern League

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Peter O’Brien, c, Trenton (Yankees): Yep, he did it again. With Joey Gallo foolishly adhering to a Carolina League off day, O’Brien took advantage and socked his 16th home run of the year, his sixth in Double-A. Between O’Brien, Gallo and Fresno’s Adam Duvall, a killer home run race is shaping up to play out this summer. O’Brien’s problem, of course, lies not with his offense, but where to put him on the diamond. He’s a catcher most of the time, but in Trenton he’s playing some outfield and DH due to the presence of top prospect Gary Sanchez. Regardless of position, his bat is drawing rave reviews. See below for proof.

Southern League

Jason Hursh, rhp, Mississippi (Braves): One of Atlanta’s top three arms (Lucas Sims and J.R. Graham are the other two), Hursh was excellent on Monday night. The righthander, whom the Braves popped with their first-round selection in 2013, lasted seven innings and allowed three runs (all earned) on seven hits and no walks. He struck out four. Hursh can run his fastball up to the upper-90s and also offers a decent slider and changeup. He’s 3-3 this year with a 3.45 ERA, but has allowed more hits than innings pitched (49 hits in 47 frames).

Texas League

Casey kelly

Casey Kelly, rhp, San Antonio (Padres): It seems like ages ago that Kelly was the centerpiece of the package the Red Sox shipped to San Diego for slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, doesn’t it? He missed a chunk of 2012 and all of 2013 with elbow injuries, and had Tommy John surgery. He’s healthy again, though, and after two starts at high Class A Lake Elsinore he’s begun the slow crawl back to the major leagues, where he debuted in 2012. On Monday he was brilliant, spinning six innings of four-hit, shutout ball with six punchouts against no walks. After all of his turmoil, he’s still the No. 5 prospect in San Diego’s system for a reason.

Florida State League

J.O. Berrios, rhp, Fort Myers (Twins): With Miguel Sano out for the year with Tommy John surgery and top prospect Byron Buxton dealing with a re-occurrence of the wrist injury that cost him most of the season, Twins fans need a bright spot or 12 on the farm. Lately, Berrios has delivered. The soon-to-be 20-year-old righthander was excellent on Monday, punching out 10 in seven innings of two-run ball against Daytona. He brings a plus fastball, an advanced changeup and a developing slider, a repertoire he’s used to fan 29 in 23 1/3 innings this month. Still, he’s walking 3.3 per nine, which shows he may need to attack the zone a little more, much like he did Monday.

California League

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Corey Seager, ss, Rancho Cucamonga (Dodgers): Seager, the best prospect in the Dodgers’ system not named Joc Pederson, has been excellent this season in the Cal League. He was 2-for-4 on Monday with a bomb and two runs scored, and for the year is slashing .340/.394/.567 with five home runs and 22 RBIs. Still, offense was never really the question with Seager. The big issue is: Is he a shortstop in the long run? He’s a big fella already, and at 20 years old might have a little more growing to do. He’ll have to keep hitting like he is now if he moves over to third base or into a corner. Though if he moves into a corner with the Dodgers, he’ll likely encounter other problems, namely Pederson, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig.

Carolina League

Scheduled off day

South Atlantic League

Raimel Tapia

Raimel Tapia, of, Asheville (Rockies): One of the Tourists’ terrific trio—along with Ryan McMahon and David Dahl—Tapia came through in a big way on Monday night. The outfielder was a perfect 3-for-3 with a home run, three runs scored and four RBIs. He also walked twice. The problem with Tapia so far this season is the dreaded Asheville split. McCormick Field is a hitter’s park, you see, and many players tend to boost their stats in its friendly confines. Mr. Tapia has taken advantage. At home, he’s hitting .356/.392/.575 with seven doubles and three homers. On the road, however, he gets taken advantage of. Away from McCormick, he’s hitting .194/.267/.194 with zero extra-base hits. Not good.

Midwest League

Adam Plutko, rhp, Lake County (Indians): After a hiccup in his last start, Plutko was right back to his old tricks on Monday when he mowed down Fort Wayne for seven innings. Before being lifted, he allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits and a walk and struck out seven. The walk was notable; it was his first one this month against 27 punchouts. He’s got four average pitches and good command, and probably should be at high Class A.