Henry Owens, lhp, Red Sox: It took 19 1/3 innings, but Owens’ stretch of no-hit innings finally ended yesterday. Owens was cruising for high Class A Salem with seven shutout innings as he entered the eighth inning, at which point he allowed four runs, but he’s elevated his prospect status this year with both his performance and an uptick in his stuff. Like a lot of long-levered pitchers, the 6-foot-6 Owens needs to improve his control, but if he can get to the point where he’s an average strike thrower, he has the potential to be at least a mid-rotation starter.
Danny Salazar, rhp, Indians: Last year was Salazar’s breakout year, as he jumped from obscurity to become Cleveland’s No. 6 prospect with a rising fastball that hit 100 mph in 2012. He’s taken another big leap forward this year, as the jump in his stuff has led to an increase in missed bats this season. With 11 strikeouts in five shutout innings yesterday for Triple-A Columbus, Salazar lowered his ERA to 2.98 with 70 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings for the Clippers.
Edwin Escobar, lhp, Giants: Escobar has shown steady improvement every year since he joined the Giants organization from the Rangers in 2010 as compensation for Rule 5 pick lefty Ben Snyder. Escobar does it more with savvy than stuff, but his strikeout rate has gone up and his walk rate has decreased each of the last three years, and the jump to Double-A hasn’t given him an issues. Yesterday Escobar shut down Akron for 7 1/3 scoreless innings with nine strikeouts in one of his best starts of the year.
Maikel Franco, 3b, Phillies: Franco struggled in the first half of the 2012 season, but he was outstanding in the second half and has seen his stock skyrocket since then. Franco went 8-for-12 with two homers, a double and a walk since Friday, raising his numbers with Double-A Reading to .385/.407/.607 through 33 games. When he was struggling to hit in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League three years ago, Franco didn’t look like he would be a fast mover, but he’s put himself in the discussion to become the everyday third baseman next year in Philadelphia as a 21-year-old.
Teoscar Hernandez, of, Astros: Hernandez is raw, but he has tools and will show you bursts of performance that make you think he’s starting to slowly translate those tools into skills. He’s gone 7-for-14 with a pair of doubles and a home run since Friday for low Class A Quad Cities, bringing him up to .301/.339/.522 in 124 plate appearances since the all-star break. The 20-year-old Hernandez still needs to cut back on his strikeouts, but there’s a promising tool set here of speed, power and arm strength.
Domingo Santana, of, Astros: Catch him when his timing is on and Santana will look like a beast. That’s what happened this weekend, with Santana homering on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, giving him 17 home runs on the year for Double-A Corpus Christi. The raw power is massive, but the length in his swing leaves him vulnerable to racking up big strikeout numbers—he already has 114 in 89 games—but at 20 years old he’s young enough that he has time to make adjustments.
Byron Buxton, cf, Twins: Buxton continues to build a strong argument to become BA’s Minor League Player of the Year in his first pro season. After going 2-for-4 with a home run yesterday, Buxton has recorded two hits in five of his last six games, raising his slash line with high Class A Fort Myers to .277/.336/.479 as a 19-year-old. If he keeps this up, finishing the season in Double-A isn’t out of the question, with a 2014 major league debut possible.