Alberto Cabrera, rhp, Cubs: Cabrera made it to the big leagues as a reliever last year after a seven-year odyssey through the Cubs system, going 1-1, 5.40 in 25 appearances for Chicago. But seeing Cabrera's power arm with the potential for a quality three-pitch mix combined with their lack of much in the way of quality starting pitching prospects in the upper minors prompted the Cubs to give Cabrera another crack at a rotation—2012 was his first year as a reliever—with Double-A Tennessee.
Cabrera's been up and down with the Smokies—his ERA stood at 4.08 on June 6—but he's now made three straight quality starts. The 24-year-old had his best outing of the year on Monday, setting season-highs for innings (eight) and strikeouts (13) while allowing one run on three hits. Cabrera improved to 7-3, 3.53 through 92 innings on the year, and he should take over the Southern League strikeout lead shortly. He's up to 94 whiffs, putting him second in the SL and two behind the now-promoted Taijuan Walker's 96.
Addison Russell, ss, Athletics: Those pushing the panic button on Russell can take a step back. The 19-year-old is getting the California League figured out. The A's top prospect went 2-for-3 with a triple and a homer, his ninth of the year, on Monday and figured in all four of high Class A Stockton's runs in a 4-1 win against Visalia, driving in two and scoring the other two. Russell extended his hitting streak to 13 games and is hitting .377 in June, upping his line for the year to .259/.338/.502 after 247 at-bats.
Willy Garcia, of, Pirates: Garcia plays in the shadows of Dominican countrymen Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson in the Pirates system, but the 20-year-old has legitimate pop in his bat. He hit 18 homers last year in low Class A and is already up to 10 in the notoriously homer-challenged high Class A Florida State League. Granted, Garcia's hitting a pedestrian .256 and will have to make adjustments to cut down on his strikeouts and hit for more average, but he had the night of his life on Monday. The Bradenton right fielder went 6-for-6 and hit the game-winning two-run homer in the 12th inning against St. Lucie. He mixed in a double along the way as well, improving his line to .256/.292/.449 in 254 at-bats.
Zach Davies, rhp, Orioles: Davies, 20, was the second-youngest pitcher on an Opening Day roster in the high Class A Carolina League, older only than Frederick teammate Eduardo Rodriguez. Davies has been able to handle the assignment based on his feel for mixing four pitches, posting a 3.32 ERA after 81 innings. His stuff doesn't blow anyone away—his fastball tops out around 91 mph—and likely limits his upside to a No. 4 starter, but he hasn't allowed more than three runs in any start since May 5. He shined on Monday, tossing seven shutout innings against Carolina. He struck out six, allowed just three hits and induced 10 groundouts. He also handed out only one walk, dropping his walk rate to 2.2 per nine innings, fourth best in the Carolina League.
Tom Murphy, c, Rockies: The Rockies must feel strongly about Murphy needing to hone his defense while handling low Class A pitchers, because from an offensive standpoint, there's little reason for him to still be in the South Atlantic League. He's right at the league’s median age (22) and has spent most of the year crushing the ball. Murphy went 3-for-5 with a double and a homer for the Tourists yesterday, and he's hitting .339 in June after tailing off a bit in May, raising his average to the year back up to .321 after 190 at-bats. His 14 homers are tied for fifth in the SAL and he leads the way in slugging percentage at a stratospheric .658.