Javier Baez, ss, Cubs: Baez has the kind of difference-making power that’s such a rare commodity at the shortstop position, but his feat Monday was beyond rare. Baez became just the second player in the 94-year history of the Florida State League to homer four times in a game, going 4-for-4 with 7 RBIs in high Class A Daytona’s 9-6 win against Fort Myers.
Baez homered off three different Fort Myers pitchers and to all parts of the park. The 20-year-old righty swinger hit a two-run shot to right-center field in the first inning, a solo to left-center in the third and a three-run blast to left in the fifth. He wrapped up his night by pulling one down the left field line that stayed just fair.
“He only over-swung at one, maybe two pitches tonight, and that was during his fourth at-bat where he fouled them off,” D-Cubs manager Dave Keller told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. “He was under control with his swings. He got good pitches to hit, and he hit them hard.”
Former Cubs prospect Ryan Harvey is the only other player to go deep four times in an FSL game, pulling it off in 2006. Baez now has 13 long balls for the season and just exceeded his May total (three) in a single night. He upped his slash line to .291/.339/.570, and he moved up to third in the FSL in both homers and slugging percentage.
Lucas Sims, rhp, Braves: The Braves have taken it easy with Sims, their first-round pick (21st overall) in last year’s draft out of a Georgia high school. They had the 19-year-old come out of low Class A Rome’s bullpen for most of the first two months of the season, only moving him to the rotation on May 24. Monday, he made his fourth start of the year and shined. Sims went six innings against Lexington and allowed only one run on three hits, walking nobody and striking out seven. He’s just now getting stretched out, so you won’t find him on any Sally League leaderboards, but low Class A hitters haven’t had many answers for his plus fastball and curveball all year. Opponents are hitting just .187 against him, and he’s racked up 47 strikeouts in 42 innings.
Brandon Drury, 3b, Diamondbacks: The least-heralded piece acquired by Arizona in the Justin Upton deal, Drury has broken out with a .321/.357/.574 line through 237 at-bats for low Class A South Bend. While Drury is repeating the levels, he’s still just 20 years old, so time is on his side and he shouldn’t be around the Midwest League much longer if he keeps up the pace he’s on. Drury was guilty of swinging too aggressively at early-count pitches he couldn’t drive last year, so though struck out just just 73 times in 123 games, he hit a meager .229 with six homers. He’s worked on toning down his approach and the results have come. He went 2-for-4 with two homers last night, bringing his season’s total to 10, and he’s up to second in the MWL in slugging percentage, trailing only (of course) Byron Buxton.
Gary Brown, cf, Giants: It’s a sign of how rough Brown’s start was for Triple-A Fresno that his .248/.307/.385 line for the month of May represented progress. He looked to have things gong in the right direction with a six-game hitting streak in late May, only to follow it with a 4-for-37 skid from May 30-June 8. He’s finally broken out, exceeding that four-hit total in his last two games alone. He went 2-for-3 Sunday and 4-for-5 with a double and a homer Monday against Tucson. The other good news is all four of his hits came off righthanded pitchers, who typically eat up the righty-hitting Brown (.203 average against them this year compared to .288 against lefties).
Nick Martinez, rhp, Rangers: Martinez was mainly a shortstop in college at Fordham, but the Rangers saw enough of him on the mound to draft him as a pitcher in the 18th round in 2011, and he’s impressed both with his low-90s fastball and pitchability. Pitching at high Class A Myrtle Beach in his second full season, Martinez has put up a 2.54 ERA through 67 innings and had his best start of the year on Monday. Martinez worked a season-high eight innings against Frederick and gave up just three hits and one run, striking out five. Though he turns 23 in August, his experience level and lack of mileage on his arm make age less of a concern.