James Paxton, lhp, Mariners. After two solid starts that appeared to show that he was turning the corner in a rough year, James Paxton struggled through one of the worst outings of the weekend. He allowed 10 hits and seven earned runs in 5 1/3 innings for Triple-A Tacoma. It was an ugly line in what has been an ugly season for Paxton, who sits at 4-6, 5.24.
Paxton had not allowed an earned run in his previous two starts, so Friday's outing appears to be a pretty significant setback. But Paxton wasn't as bad as his line would indicate. He generally located his pitches, he showed an ability to get ahead of hitters and generate swings and misses with his offspeed stuff. But he gave up a number of softly-hit infield singles and had the bad timing to make his worst pitches at the worst times.
The second inning was an example of bad results stemming from decent pitching. Las Vegas first baseman Ike Davis led off the inning with a single back up the middle that never left the infield. After producing a strikeout, a walk and another infield hit to load the bases, a sacrifice fly scored a run. Paxton gave up two hits and a run without ever getting squared up.
It was a similar story when Paxton was chased from the game in the fifth. He gave up a bunt single to Jamie Hoffman to start the inning. A ground ball past diving third baseman Leury Bonilla put two runners on to set up Francisco Pena's three-run home run.
Micah Johnson, 2b, White Sox. Billy Hamilton has some competition when it comes to stealing bases.
Hamilton is threatening to steal 100 bases for a third straight season, but even he is chasing Johnson, who sits atop the minor league leaderboard with 61 steals. Hamilton is second with 49.
Now admittedly, stealing bases in the South Atlantic League is a little easier them racking them up in the International League, but Johnson's season is one of the finest breakouts we've seen this year. He did not steal a base this weekend, but he did have a 4-for-5 night on Friday with a double and a triple, followed by a 2-for-2 Saturday with a pair of walks.
Johnson is first in the Sally League in runs scored (76), triples (11) and hits (104). He's second in total bases (161), third in average (.342) and fourth in on-base percentage (.422).
Tyler Skaggs, lhp, Diamondbacks. Skaggs had handled his demotion back to Triple-A Reno about as well as a pitcher could. After getting shelled in his two big league starts, Skaggs has allowed five earned runs in his last four starts for Reno. On Saturday, he was at his best, striking out a career-high 13 in 8 1/3 scoreless innings against Sacramento.
It was easily the longest outing of the season for Skaggs. He appeared to have a chance to throw just the third nine-inning complete game in Reno history, but he walked two batters in the ninth and was pulled from the game.
Away from the nightmare that is pitching in Reno, Skaggs is 5-1, 2.62 this season with 52 strikeouts and 15 walks in 45 innings. He has a much uglier 6.61 ERA at home.
Miguel Sano, 3b, Twins. Sano's batting average (.226) since he was promoted to Double-A New Britain still sits below where he or the Twins would like to see it. But even though he's striking out too much—20 in 62 at-bats—he's drawing walks and hitting for power (.613 slugging percentage).
Sano homered twice on Friday against Reading, giving him six home runs in 62 at-bats since he was promoted to Double-A. His 22 home runs are fourth-best in the minors, two behind the minor league leaders Mauro Gomez and Ryan Rua.
Byron Buxton, cf, Twins: After going 2-for-13 in his first three Florida State League games, Buxton heated up this weekend. The center fielder went 2-for-5 on Saturday and followed that up with a 3-for-3 day on Sunday that included a double and a stolen base for high Class A Fort Myers. He also made an excellent catch at the center field wall to rob Matt den Dekker of a potential extra-base hit.