Minor League Roundup: Norris, Like Chuck

Today’s roundup features two excellent Triple-A starts, a Cubs shortstop mashing, continued strings of brilliance from Royals and White Sox prospects, a Cal League hitter creeping up on 30 homers and the latest chapter of Turner the Burner.

MINOR LEAGUE HOME RUN RACE
Player Home Runs
Joey Gallo 38
Kris Bryant 38
Peter O’Brien 34
Matt Olson 34

No-Hitter Alert

What’s more impressive than a nine-inning no-hitter? Why, a 10-inning no-hitter, of course. And what’s even more impressive than a 10-inning no-hitter? Obviously, that’s an 11-inning no-hitter, which seems impossible. And yet, that’s exactly what the Spokane Indians turned in on Sunday, courtesy of four pitchers: Derek Thompson, Shane McCain, Adam Parks and Luis Pollorena, who vexed the Everett Aquasox until their offense could bust through in the 11th. The quartet walked just two hitters and struck out 14. Perhaps the most amazing part of that game, however, was the duration. The teams played 11 innings in 2 hours and 49 minutes.

International League • AAA

Daniel Norris, lhp, Buffalo (Blue Jays): What a way to debut, eh? Making his first start with Triple-A in a doubleheader at Durham, Norris was simply dominant. The lefthander spun six innings of shutout ball, allowing just two hits and a walk and striking out 10 before yielding to Sergio Santos. Norris got a vote for Best Fastball in the Eastern League in our recent Best Tools survey, and he’s used his four-pitch arsenal—which includes three potential plus offerings—to blitz the competition at high Class A and Double-A this season.

Pacific Coast League • AAA

Taijuan WalkerTaijuan Walker, rhp, Tacoma (Mariners): After getting shelled for eight runs in his last turn in Triple-A, Walker recovered on Sunday afternoon. The big righthander and Seattle’s top prospect went seven strong innings against Fresno, allowing one run on two hits and a walk. Oh, and he struck out 13 Grizzlies. That’s pretty good, right? Trying to work his way back into a crowded Seattle rotation that now includes James Paxton, Walker has had an up and down season with Triple-A. A few more outings like this, though, and he’ll find his way back to Safeco Field in no time.

Eastern League • AA

Willy Garcia, of, Altoona (Pirates): The owner of the best arm in the Eastern League has a few other tools as well. Garcia, just 21 years old, went 3-for-5 on Sunday with two runs and four RBIs in the Curve’s thrashing of the Reading Fightin Phils. He almost never walks, but has still managed to put up a .273/.308/.509 line this year with 17 homers in his first trip through Double-A. He also has a league-best 17 outfield assists and his arm grades out near an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale.

Southern League • AA

Addison Russell (Photo by Tony Farlow).Addison Russell, ss, Tennessee (Cubs): If the A’s don’t win the World Series this year, this trade will look very silly in a few years. The centerpiece of the Jeff Samardzija-Jason Hammel trade, Russell collected four hits in four game this weekend (two doubleheaders) and has hit .308/.357/.556 with his new outfit in the Southern League. He’s a solid defender at shortstop with the potential to hit for both average and power going forth, and above-average instincts for the game as well.

Texas League • AA

Brandon Finnegan, lhp, Northwest Arkansas (Royals): Mr. Finnegan’s pro career could hardly have gotten off to a better start. After two innings of one-hit ball on Sunday in relief, the lefthander’s stats this season look like this: 19 innings, eight hits, one run, one earned run, two walks, 15 strikeouts. Congratulations here go out to Mr. Jason Esposito of the Frederick Keys. Esposito’s home run on Aug. 1 stands as the only run Finnegan has allowed this season. With success like this, combined with their recent ascent in the Central, the Royals might be tempted to finagle Finnegan onto the postseason roster, if it gets that far.

Carolina League • Hi A

Tyler Danish, rhp, Winston-Salem (White Sox): What a run. With six hitless innings on Saturday, Danish, just 19, continued his tear through the Carolina League. With his latest gem, he’s now gone 22 consecutive scoreless innings, spanning all but one inning of his last four starts. He’s allowed 14 hits in that time, walked nine and struck out 21. He uses a funky, sidearm delivery and throws three pitches: A 88-93 mph fastball, a Frisbee slider and a changeup with incredible depth and fade away from lefties.

Florida State League • Hi A

J.P. CrawfordJ.P. Crawford, ss, Clearwater (Phillies): When he did our Scout’s Video View on Crawford, the scout who offered his opinion suggested Crawford could have 20+ homer power down the line. On Friday, the 19-year-old showed a glimpse of that potential by smacking two longballs against Daytona. It was the first multi-homer game of Crawford’s career, and represents 20 percent of his career power output. He’s struck out just 27 times in 47 games at high Class A (Joey Gallo calls that a week), and has walked 22 times in that span. The future looks very bright.

California League • Hi A

Renato Nunez, 3b, Stockton (Athletics): Four players have 30 or more homers in the minor leagues this year, and we’re on the verge of a fifth. At this point in 2013, we had two: George Springer and Andrew Lambo. Nunez smacked his 29th homer of the season this weekend, putting him four behind teammate Matt Olson for the California League. The Ports’ version of the Bash Brothers have combined for 63 homers this year, or nearly 40 percent of their team’s Cal League-best 158 longballs. They’re also just 12 behind San Jose’s total output this season.

South Atlantic League • Lo A

Austin MeadowsAustin Meadows, of, West Virginia (Pirates): For a shining weekend, Meadows got to experience the thrill of being a Rockies farmhand. His Power traveled to Asheville over the weekend, and Meadows took advantage of the cozy dimensions of McCormick Field by going 6-for-13 with three doubles against the Tourists. Since missing nearly half the season with a torn hamstring, Meadows has come on strong, hitting .351/.390/.489 in 23 games with low Class A.

Midwest League • Lo A

Trea Turner, ss, Fort Wayne (Padres): Can he be stopped? Not by Midwest League pitching, it seems. Turner went 3-for-5 on Sunday, including his third homer with the TinCaps, with two runs and an RBI. There’s only a couple of weeks left in the minor league season, but a promotion to high Class A Lake Elsinore might be in order. Hitting .431/.496/.642 with 10 doubles, two triples and three homers in 26 games seems to signal that he’s ready for the, ahem, harsh environs of the Cal League.