Minor League Roundup: Victor Victorious

Today’s roundup includes more dominance from Trevor Bauer and Ben Lively, huge days from Victor Roache and Joe Munoz, and the unveiling of the Mookie Meter.

Mookie Meter

Portland’s resident on-base expert, Betts collected five hits, walked once and stole two bases. It’s four games, but the current level of the Mookie Meter, which measures how many times he gets on base each day, is Off The Chart.

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JJ’s GIF Of The Day

Considering it was nearing midnight and the game had started at 7 p.m., there weren’t a whole lot of fans or players at Northwest Arkansas’ Arvest Ballpark that weren’t ready to wrap things up. Arkansas had tried to finish off Northwest Arkansas with a run in the top of the 14th, but the Naturals scored a run in the bottom of the inning to extend the insanity.

Kaleb Cowart finally took care of things with the first pitch he saw from Noel Arguelles in the top of the 15th. It also gave Cowart his third home run in three games.

Kaleb Cowart (Source: Milb.tv)

Kaleb Cowart (Source: Milb.tv)

International League

Trevor Bauer

Trevor Bauer, rhp, Columbus (Indians): Armed with seven pitches, including the fabled reverse-slider, Bauer continued his dominance of Triple-A. He silenced Durham for seven innings, allowed six hits, walked two and struck out three. He ran his fastball up to 98 miles per hour and employed a hammer breaking ball as his second-best pitch.

Ramon Flores, of, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees): The RailRiders destroyed Norfolk and Suk-min Yoon on Sunday, and Flores was at the center of the attack. The patient 22-year-old collected two hits, including his second home run of the season, and drove home two runs. He’s hit for more power of late, and will have to continue to do so if he hopes to break into the big leagues in right field, where he’s been playing.

Pacific Coast League

Joe Panik, 2b, Fresno (Giants): During calls for the Eastern League top 20 last season, Richmond manager Dave Machemer was adamant that Panik was a better hitter than his numbers in the Eastern League suggested. This season, albeit in the Pacific Coast League, he’s making his former skipper look very smart. He collected 9 hits in 14 trips over the weekend, and is on a six-game hitting streak. He has the floor of a utilityman, and the ceiling of a contact-oriented hitter at the top of a lineup.

Eastern League
Francisco Lindor

Francisco Lindor, ss, Akron (Indians): We all know Lindor’s a top-shelf defender. The question has long been just how much he’s going to hit at the highest level. And after a bit of a slow start with the RubberDucks, the 20-year-old has begun to turn it on. Over his last 10 games entering Sunday, Lindor had put forth this gem of a stat line: 389/.439/.611 with a double, two triples, a home runs, 10 RBIs and four stolen bases. That’ll do.

Travis Shaw, 1b, Portland (Red Sox): As if Mookie Betts, Deven Marrero and Blake Swihart weren’t enough, the Sea Dogs also have Shaw, who is flat-out mashing this season in his return to Portland. Entering Sunday, Shaw had collected seven hits in his team’s three games. He’s hitting .304/.402/.489 and has driven in 20 runs.

Southern League

Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant, 3b, Tennesee (Cubs): Whereas Asdrubal Cabrera is just keeping Francisco Lindor‘s seat warm in in Cleveland, Mike Olt is doing the same thing for Bryant in the Windy City. On Saturday against Chattanooga, Bryant collected four hits, including his sixth home run of the season. He drove in two runs and scored twice, and was hitting a very fine .304/.423/.559 for the season entering Sunday’s action.

Texas League

Jonathan Gray, rhp, Tulsa (Rockies): As if it weren’t enough for Astros fans to see Mark Appel, their team’s choice with No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft, struggle and get sent to extended spring training, they now have to watch as Gray, the No. 3 selection, carves up hitters in the Texas League. Gray punched out seven and walked none over six innings of three-run ball on Saturday, and has been magical over his last four turns. During that span, he has lasted 23 innings, allowed 16 hits and four runs—three earned—walked three and struck out 26.

Rymer Liriano, of, San Antonio (Padres): After missing all of last year with Tommy John surgery, the tooled-up Liriano had it cooking on Sunday in the midst of what has been a slow start overall. Liriano, 22, was 5-for-11 over the weekend, including a three-hit, two-homer effort on Sunday against Corpus Christi. He’s hitting just .238/.313/.467 overall, however, and will need to improve his pitch recognition before he can be considered a complete hitter.

Florida State League

Victor Roache

Victor Roache, of, Brevard County (Brewers): Following a wrist injury that required surgery and screws, Roache recovered his power stroke in the second half of last season with 16 homers with low Class A Wisconsin. He’s scuffled early but was kicking on all cylinders on Sunday, when he smacked three longballs in the first five innings of the Manatees’ win over Clearwater. He’s a mistake hitter at present, and doesn’t project to hit for much average going forth. Still, the power the kind that doesn’t come along every day, and that tool alone could get him to the big leagues if he makes even incremental improvements to his pitch recognition and overall hit tool.

Byron Buxton, of, Fort Myers (Twins): Normally, one game and an 0-for-4 effort with two strikeouts wouldn’t land you in this space. Buxton isn’t a normal case. The best prospect in baseball in a runaway, Buxton finally got back on the field on Sunday after fully recovering from a wrist injury that had shelved him all season. When fully healthy, he’s a true five-tool player with the potential to join Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado on the sport’s Mount Rushmore of young studs.

Carolina League
Jose Peraza

Jose Peraza, 2b, Lynchburg (Braves): During Friday’s Hot Sheet chat, I received a multitude of questions asking when Tommy La Stella was going to come up from Gwinnett to replace Dan Uggla. In a few years, fans may be asking when Peraza is going to come up in place of La Stella. He’s speedy as heck, plays excellent defense, and has been hitting like wildfire of late. Entering Sunday, he’d had 10 hits in his last 20 at-bats, including three doubles and two triples. He’s hitting .348/.368/.429 this season with 14 stolen bases.

Alex Gonzalez, rhp, Myrtle Beach (Rangers): One of the top arms in the Rangers’ system, Gonzalez was dazzling on Saturday. The first-rounder from Oral Roberts went eight shutout innings, allowing five hits and three walks and striking out five. For the season, he’s worked to a 2.80 ERA and has 26 strikeouts against eight walks. His primary offerings are a low-90s heater with life and a hard slider, and he also brings an improving changeup.

South Atlantic League

Ian Clarkin

Ian Clarkin, lhp, Charleston (Yankees): After a month in extended spring training, Clarkin was bumped to Charleston last week and got on the hill on Saturday. The last of the Yankees’ three first-rounders from 2013, Clarkin lasted five shutout innings with just four hits and no walks on his ledger. He struck out five. At his best, he operates with the low-90s heater and a plus curveball. He’s working on gaining consistency with his changeup.

J.P. Crawford, ss, Lakewood (Phillies): Crawford, the Phillies’ first-rounder last season, drew raves from evaluators who watched him tear up the Gulf Coast League. So far, he’s had no trouble adjusting as a 19-year-old in the South Atlantic League. Crawford is athletic, plays plus defense and has the bat speed and hand-eye coordination to be an asset offensively as well. He was 7-for-14 this weekend and hasn’t struck out in his last 25 at-bats.

California League

Ben Lively, rhp, Bakersfield (Reds): By his standards, Friday’s outing was a bump in the road. He allowed two runs, both earned, over 6 2/3 innings, struck out eight and walked one. Those two runs doubled the total he’d allowed all season. The walk doubled his season total. Through the first six starts, Lively is 6-0, has allowed 19 hits and the two walks in 35 2/3 innings and struck out and fanned an ungodly 48 hitters. He’s not overpowering, but he’s got excellent command of four average pitches and gets good deception.

Midwest League

Rob Kaminsky

Rob Kaminsky, lhp, Peoria (Cardinals): Like Ian Clarkin, Kaminsky spent the first month of the season in extended spring training. He lasted four innings in his debut, allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks. He struck out a pair. A high schooler from New Jersey, Kaminsky is known mostly for his nasty hook. He’s also got lively heater that can touch as high as 94 mph and a changeup that could be above-average in the future.

Joe Munoz, 3b, South Bend (Diamondbacks): Arizona’s second-rounder from 2012 appears to have outgrown shortstop. He’s been playing the hot corner in low Class A, and this weekend he’s shown the bat for it. On Sunday he went 4-for-6 with four doubles, four runs and an RBI, and is riding a five-game hitting streak. For the season he’s put up a slash line of .313/.387/.446, but scouts question his hit tool going forward, particularly when it concerns pitchers with quality fastballs.