Minor League Roundup: Tick, Tock For Polanco

Today’s roundup features Mookie Betts showing off, Kris Bryant creeping up on Joey Gallo and Peter O’Brien, Devon Travis busting out of his early funk, a pair of Twins arms busting out, and Francellis Montas continuing his torrid run.

Mookie Meter

Mookie Meter

The Betts is back. After a little bit of a rough patch, Mookie mashed on Saturday. He collected six hits in the über-rare split-admission doubleheader in the minor leagues, including a double, a triple and four RBIs. Thus, the meter is off the charts.

International League

Gregory Polanco, of, Indianapolis (Pirates): New spot in the order, same results for Polanco. Having been moved to the leadoff spot in preparation for his arrival in Pittsburgh, Polanco hasn’t missed a beat. On Sunday he was 2-for-5 with three runs and two stolen bases in Indianapolis’ win over Scranton, and collected five hits in 13 trips and scored five times over the weekend. As a leadoff man, he’s 4-for-10. The new role makes sense, given his combination of patience, speed and knack for getting on base. Tick tock, Pirates fans. Tick tock.

Pacific Coast League
Christian Villanueva
Christian Villanueva, 3b, Iowa (Cubs)Kris Bryant, meet your roadblock, for now. Villanueva was acquired with Kyle Hendricks from the Rangers for Ryan Dempster two Julys ago, and had himself a decent little weekend in the PCL. The 22-year-old was 4-for-11 with two doubles and a longball, but has been scuffling over his past 10 days. Overall he’s slashing .235/.292/.402 with five homers and 20 RBIs. He’s a solid defender at third, which could fend off Bryant’s ascent for now. Still, he hears the footsteps.

Eastern League

Devon Travis, 2b, Erie (Tigers): Travis entered the year with a reputation for being as pure a hitter as they come, and on Sunday he lived up to that billing. In the SeaWolves’ thrashing of Erie, Travis went a perfect 4-for-4 with a triple, a home run, three runs scored and two RBIs. He was picked off first, though. Tsk, tsk. He’s come on strong over his past 10 games, slashing .381/.386/.714, including a seven-game hitting streak. He’s collected all of his extra-base hits for the season in that span. On the negative side, he’s walked just once in 18 games, which will obviously need to improve as he goes forth.

Southern League

Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant, 3b, Tennessee (Cubs): Look out, Joey Gallo and Peter O’Brien, there’s a bear gaining on you. Well, a Cub at least. Bryant clubbed his 18th homer of the season on Sunday in his team’s loss to Birmingham. He’s two behind O’Brien and three behind Gallo, who went deep on Sunday as well. At this point, it seems the Southern League is beneath Bryant. The circuit’s all-star game is a little more than two weeks away, so he might not be long for Tennessee’s roster. That said, Christian Villanueva—also a prospect—is playing third base at Iowa, so Bryant might not move as quickly as Cubs fans would hope.

Texas League

Kyle Smith, rhp, Corpus Christi (Astros): Acquired for Justin Maxwell at last year’s trade deadline, Smith has kept right on working his magic in Double-A. He’s got the fearless approach of a matador in Pamplona, and has been known to attack hitters with an average fastball, an above-average curveball and a fringe changeup. Whatever he was throwing at Northwest Arkansas on Sunday, it worked. Smith allowed a lone run (earned) on five hits over 6 1/3 innings. He fanned eight and walked one. Overall this year, he’s struck out 34 against just five walks. That’ll do.

Florida State League

J.O. Berrios

J.O. Berrios, rhp, Fort Myers (Twins): A word, Mr. Berrios? Judging by your recent performances, it seems you are not a big fan of the Fort Myers area of Florida and its many beaches. What’s the matter? Is Castle Golf not your style? Because you allowed just six earned runs all of last month, and on Sunday you began June with a fantastic outing of seven innings, one hit, no runs or walks and 13 strikeouts. Your fastball and changeup have suffocated the Florida State League all season long, so much so that you’re striking out more than 10 hitters per nine innings. Well, J.O. (can I call you J.O.?), have I got a solution for you. Here’s a list of 11 fun things to do in New Britain, Conn. Read it, then burn it. You won’t be getting to do any of those things. No, not even visiting the New Britain Museum of Art. Instead, you’ll be spending plenty of time in the near future pitching for the Rock Cats. When you’re not pitching? Well, you’ll be charting pitches for the New Britain Rock Cats. Try to act excited.

Carolina League

Francellis Montas

Francellis Montas, rhp, Winston-Salem (White Sox): After coming back from the knee injury that cost him all of April, Montas has been rolling. On Sunday, the big-bodied righthander acquired from the Red Sox in the Jake Peavy swap last summer lasted seven innings against Lynchburg, allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits. He walked nobody and struck out six. Over his last three starts, he’s fanned 25 and issued just two free passes. He brings mid-90s gas, a slider that flashes plus and also has a changeup. So far, that combination has worked quite nicely in high Class A.

California League

Braden Shipley, rhp, Visalia (Diamondbacks): Welcome to the Cal League, Braden, we hope you enjoy your stay. After being bumped up from low Class A South Bend, Shipley took his first turn with Visalia on Sunday and had a little bit of a rocky outing. The team’s No. 2 prospect behind righty Archie Bradley, Shipley brings a mid-90s fastball, a hard curveball and a fantastic changeup. The converted shortstop allowed four runs on six hits in as many innings, struck out seven and walked a pair.

South Atlantic League
Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge, of, Charleston (Yankees): As should be expected of a college player at low Class A, Judge is mashing. And we mean mashing. He was 5-for-7 this weekend with two home runs, including one that reportedly cleared the batter’s eye in center field in Charleston. Everybody knew that he had power to spare, but the question was: Would he hit for average? So far, so good. He’s hitting .316/.410/.497 this season with the RiverDogs, and is looking ripe for a promotion once the South Atlantic League all-star break passes in the middle of this month.

Midwest League

Kohl Stewart, rhp, Cedar Rapids (Twins): One of the most highly regarded arms in the low minors, Stewart has been pitching up to his reputation lately. He’s allowed three or fewer earned runs in all but one of his 10 starts this season, and on Sunday held Burlington to a lone earned run (three runs total) on five hits and no walks. He struck out four. He brings a boffo fastball-slider combination, and also has a curveball and changeup. For the season, he’s fanned 60 against 19 walks in 49 innings.