Henry Urrutia, rf, Orioles: Urrutia’s excellent U.S. debut got a little better on Wednesday, when he went 5-for-5 against Gwinnett for the first five-hit game this season. Since going 0-for-3 in his Triple-A Norfolk debut on June 30, Urrutia has put together a nine-game hitting streak. He now has a .365 average in the International League to go with his .365 Double-A average before his promotion. As a 26-year-old with plenty of major league experience in Cuba, Urrutia is not exactly your average first-year pro. He appears to be ready to pitch in if Baltimore needs outfield help in the second half.
Jose Ramirez, rhp, Yankees: Ramirez was the talks of Yankees spring-training camp thanks to his outstanding arm. What we’ve seen this year is the good and bad of Ramirez. He earned a promotion to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre by going 1-3, 2.76 at Double-A Trenton, but since his promotion, he’s battled control problems which were quite evident on Wednesday.
Against Rochester, Ramirez was knocked out after 1 1/3 innings. He allowed two hits and walked four to give up three runs, two of which were earned. He needed 56 pitches to get those four outs, throwing just 26 for strikes. Ramirez has walked 18 in 23 innings since his promotion, and despite having one of the best arms in the organization, he’s still a ways away from being ready to help the big league club.
Michael Ynoa, rhp, Athletics: Ynoa’s long road back to health finally came together in the low Class A Midwest League this year. Still treated cautiously by the A’s as they remember his previous bouts with elbow tendinitis in 2009 and a Tommy John surgery in 2011, Ynoa was slowly lengthened out to produce some dominating performances for Beloit. Ynoa allowed just five earned runs in his final five starts in the Midwest League, leading to an early-July promotion to the much tougher pitching environments of the California League.
Ynoa has quickly found out how much tougher the Cal League really is. After being shelled for seven runs (five earned) in his first Cal League start, Ynoa gave up six runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings last night. After giving up three home runs in 55 innings in the MWL, he’s now given up two in eight innings in high Class A.
Chris Colabello, 1b/rf, Twins: The last two years of Colabello’s career have been a payoff for the previous seven. After spending seven years dominating the independent Can-Am League, he finally got his shot at affiliated ball with a contract to join the Twins in 2012. Since then, he’s starred for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic and made his big league debut. Along the way, he’s put together one of the best seasons in the minors this year. Playing at Triple-A Rochester, Colabello leads all minor leaguers with a 1.091 OPS, and he hit his 23rd home run of the season and his second in two nights on Wednesday.
If he doesn’t get called back up to majors, Colabello has a shot at winning both the traditional and new-school (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging) International League triple crowns. With a .357 average, Colabello leads the IL by nearly 20 points. The only two IL hitters within 100 points of his league-leading .656 slugging percentage are both currently playing in the big leagues. He’s also second in the league in OBP (.435) and second in home runs, two behind league leader Mauro Gomez. Colabello also leads the league with 72 RBIs.
George Springer, cf, Astros: The Minor League Player of the Year race is going to be interesting, with Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Maikel Franco, Taijuan Walker and Archie Bradley among a group of solid contenders for the award. But Triple-A Oklahoma City’s Springer is making a pretty strong case for being the frontrunner with two months of the season to go. Springer homered again at Round Rock on Wednesday, moving into second place in the minors with his 26th home run overall. (Hickory’s Ryan Rua leads all the minors with 28.)
The home run was Springer’s fifth in the past four games and extended his now 13-game hitting streak. He still strikes out a lot (nine times in 33 at-bats this month), but Springer has also drawn seven walks in that time. Combine those walks with his .417 average since his promotion to Triple-A and you get an extremely healthy .525 OBP. And of course, when Springer reaches base, he’s more dangerous than your average slugger. He has 28 steals in 34 attempts this year.