In today’s roundup, Mookie Betts gets a callup, a pair of Cardinals lefties spin gems, Kris Bryant creeps up the leaderboard, Aaron Sanchez recovers, and a spate of top prospects perform up to their reputations.
Flags, we’re sure, were at half-staff on Tuesday in and around Portland, Me. That’s because Mookie Betts, the team’s best player and top prospect, was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket. Fans at Hadlock Field will have to suffice on Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, Blake Swihart and Deven Marrero. Won’t somebody please think of the children?
In any case, Betts drew the collar on Tuesday at Durham, but also drew a walk. That means the Meter is at one.
Hernan Perez, 2b, Toledo (Tigers): After struggling in May, Perez has started off June on the right foot. He went 4-for-5 with a triple, a homer and four RBIs on Tuesday, bringing his season-long slash line to .264/.313/.352. Perhaps more importantly, he’s taken on the challenge of playing shortstop after being used primarily as a second baseman over the course of his career. He’s obviously blocked in Detroit by Ian Kinsler and, eventually, Jose Iglesias, so a trade is probably Perez’s best path to the majors outside of utility role with the Tigers.
Pacific Coast League
Tim Cooney, lhp, Memphis (Cardinals): Asking Cooney to top his last start, a nine-inning one-hitter with seven strikeouts and two walks, would be cruel and unreasonable. Instead, we’ll settle for a merely excellent start from the 23-year-old lefthander. He allowed two runs over 6 2/3 innings on Tuesday, with a pair each of walks and strikeouts. He brings a low-90s fastball, an above-average changeup, a usable hook and a cutter, and has used the arsenal to yield a strikeout-to-walk ratio of exactly 2-to-1 this year.
Aaron Sanchez, rhp, New Hampshire (Blue Jays): In a duel with Bowie and fellow prospect Eduardo Rodriguez, the more important goal on Tuesday for Sanchez was to move past his previous two outings, which ranked as disasters. He allowed 12 runs on nine hits and seven walks over six innings during those starts, the first of which saw him fail to record an out before exiting. On Tuesday, however, he was much better. He lasted five innings, allowed two runs (both earned) on five hits and two walks and struck out seven. The stuff is undeniable; the only question is command.
Kris Bryant, 3b, Tennessee (Cubs): Hey there, Joey Gallo and Peter O’Brien, do you hear those footsteps? That’s Bryant, and he’s slowly creeping up. Bryant swatted his 19th homer of the season on Tuesday, pulling him within one of O’Brien and two of Gallo. If he hits another before Thursday, we’ll have three players with 20 homers before the draft. That hasn’t happened over the last decade. He leads the Southern League in runs, hits, homers, RBIs, total bases, average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS. In short, he’s a baseball-hittin’ monster, and more often than not, he’s heading home.
Marco Gonzales, lhp, Springfield (Cardinals): He just keeps dealing. After forcing his way out of the Florida State League, Gonzales has continued his brilliance in the Texas League. The Cardinals’ first-rounder last year lasted six innings on Tuesday, allowing one run on four hits and a walk while striking out seven. He’s struck out 26 in four Double-A starts and has walked five. He brings an easy, repeatable delivery, as well as the best changeup in the system. He’s also got an average fastball and two usable breaking pitches.
Tim Anderson, ss, Winston-Salem (White Sox): Anderson is on another planet right now. He doubled twice as part of a 3-for-5 effort, and over his past 10 games is hitting a scorching .426/.429/.723 with four doubles, two triples, two homers, eight RBIs and a stolen base. His big issue right now is plate discipline, which can, of course, be masked by hitting the ball a ton. When he cools off, however, he’ll still have walked only five times this year against 47 strikeouts. He’s also made 24 errors at shortstop. Still, he’s an electric and tantalizing prospect, as shown by the video below.
Florida State League
Brandon Nimmo, of, St. Lucie (Mets): Enjoy Florida while you can, Brandon. After being named to the Florida State League all-star team yesterday, it’s only a matter of time before you’re bumped up to the Eastern League, where you’ll play for the Binghamton Mets. Binghamton, as you might have heard, is not quite as lush a locale as Florida. Nimmo was 3-for-5 on Tuesday with a double, a run and an RBI and now leads the Florida State League in runs and walks and is second in on-base percentage and OPS. That Mets’ system is looking pretty bright.
Carlos Correa, ss, Lancaster (Astros): Speaking of systems that are looking pretty bright, there’s the Astros. George Springer is mashing in the big leagues. Jon Singleton joined him Tuesday and spanked a homer in his first day on the job. Then there’s Correa, who, aside from a bout of shoulder crankiness, has been brilliant. He went 3-for-4 on Tuesday with a double, a run, a walk and a stolen base, and for the season is slashing .328/.399/.495. Pretty darn good from a shortstop.
South Atlantic League
Lucas Giolito, rhp, Hagerstown (Nationals): Guess who’s back. The top arm in the Nationals’ system and one of the best in baseball returned on Tuesday after missing three weeks while on a throwing program to help manage his innings. Of course, he was fantastic. The righthander went just three innings (as would be expected), and shut down Delmarva on three hits while striking out five. On a disappointing note, the public was deprived a second round of Giolito vs. Hunter Harvey. Harvey, Delmarva’s ace and the Orioles’ top arm in the lower minors, throws today.