Today’s roundup includes a possum, a no-hitter, two more homers from a Great Minor League Home Run Race contender, an inside-the-parker from a big bopper, hot streaks from a pair of shortstops and impressive shortstop play in the Sally League.
Look who showed up at the Quad Cities game last night, only to be unceremoniously escorted away like a common weasel. Photo courtesy of the River Bandits’ Twitter feed.
Tyler Cloyd, rhp, Columbus (Indians): Sorry, prospects, you take a seat today to a 27-year-old journeyman. Cloyd, reared in the Phillies’ organization, took a perfect game into the ninth inning. He lost that when he plunked Donnie Murphy, but quickly erased him on a 3-6-3 double play. Hernan Iribarren represented Louisville’s last chance, and he lined out to second to seal the no-hitter. Here’s how it looked on Milb.tv.
Pacific Coast League
Jorge Soler, of, Iowa (Cubs): It seemed a little curious that the Cubs would move Soler to Triple-A after just 22 games at Double-A (even if he did hit .415/.494/.862), but he’s had no trouble with Triple-A so far, either. After finally getting healthy, Soler is starting to make the nine-year, $30 million contract look good. He went 2-for-5 in a doubleheader yesterday with a double and a longball, his eighth of the season in just 25 games. Beyond the bat, he also has the best arm in the system, and could make an appearance at Wrigley Field at some point before the season is out.
Peter O’Brien, c/1b, Trenton (Yankees): The Great Minor League Home Run Race just got even more interesting. With two more bombs in a Wednesday matinee against New Britain, O’Brien is up to 33 homers for the year, third in baseball behind Kris Bryant and Joey Gallo. It also puts a final flourish on a fantastic rebound month that saw him hit .299/.365/.667 with six doubles, a triple (!), eight homers and 14 RBIs. He increased each of his slash categories by at least 100 points from his marks in June, and upped his slugging by 281 points. Moreover, his strikeout rate overall has only gone up by about 2 percent since moving up from high Class A. Of course, O’Brien was traded to the Diamondbacks on Thursday for Martin Prado.
Addison Russell, ss, Tennessee (Cubs): I guess the early jitters from being with a new organization are over, eh? Russell went 2-for-4 on Wednesday, continuing a positively torrid stretch with the Smokies. He’s 15 for his last 32 over his recent seven-game hitting streak, including five multi-hit games, two doubles, three homers and seven RBIs. Even if the A’s win the World Series with Jeff Samardzija, the Cubs could come out winners in this deal, too.
Mark Appel, rhp, Double-A Corpus Christi (Astros). Sure, there were other notable pitching performances (27-year-old Tyler Cloyd’s no-hitter, as well as excellent outings from Brian Johnson and Braden Shipley, to name others), but when the No. 1 overall pick from 2013 makes his Double-A debut, you take notice. After posting a 9.74 ERA in 12 starts at high Class A, Appel twirled five scoreless innings Wednesday night for the Hooks. The former Stanford star hit 97 mph in the first inning, according to MLB.com, and said his slider was especially effective. He struck out four and walked four.
Courtney Hawkins, of, Winston-Salem (White Sox): Hawkins is a very powerful man. He has hit many baseballs out of many parks. So when you see in the box score that he clubbed his 17th homer of the season on Wednesday, you wonder: How far did it fly? The answer: Not as far as you’d think. His homer was an inside-the-parker that hit the center field wall and bounced past Branden Webb’s grasp and back toward center field. The play at the plate was close, but Hawkins got in under the tag. Of note: Dash outfielder Jacob May was nipped at the plate the day before on his bid for an inside-the-parker. It was his 17th homer this season, and fourth this month.
Florida State League
J.P. Crawford, ss, Clearwater (Phillies): Four players struck out two or more times in yesterday’s Clearwater-Fort Myers tilt. Those four players all struck out more times than Crawford has since July 10. Crawford was a mere 1-for-3 yesterday with a walk and an RBI, but he once again didn’t whiff. As a 19-year-old in high Class A, he’s hitting .293/.374/.370 this July with just eight punchouts against 13 walks. Add his plus defense to the mix, and you’ve got a very fine player growing in Philadelphia’s system.
Renato Nunez, 3b, Stockton (Athletics): After a pedestrian first two months in the Cal League, Nunez has turned it on since the start of June. He was 2-for-4 Wednesday, and over the past two months has hit a very fine .332/.398/.679 with 12 doubles, a triple, 17 homers and 49 RBIs. He squared 98 mph from Alex Meyer at the Futures Game and is very quickly making himself into a fine prospect in Oakland’s system. He’s a slower runner, though, and an erratic defender at third.
South Atlantic League
Emerson Jimenez, ss, Asheville (Rockies): He was 3-for-4 yesterday in one of just two Sally League games on the docket, but his defense was the most impressive part of his game. He was very smooth at short and showed off a very strong arm at the position, including on multiple tough throws. More interestingly, Jimenez represents one of the very few Asheville players to have stronger numbers away from home. At McCormick Field, he’s a pedestrian .243/.263/.330. At the other SAL parks, however, he’s hitting .333/.346/.449.
Brett Phillips, of, Quad Cities (Astros): Besides the possum, Phillips’ homer was the most interesting thing in last night’s River Bandits game. The outfielder, rated No. 30 in the system heading into the year, has gone deep in five straight games now. He’s got 12 this season, which is 12 more than he’d had in 95 career games before this season.