Henry Owens, lhp, Red Sox: This isn’t quite Johnny Vander Meer’s feat, but it might be about as close as we’ll get in the minor leagues. Owens turned in his second consecutive hitless outing on Monday at high Class A Salem, following up the six no-hit innings he threw in his previous start with five more no-hit frames before being relieved Monday against Potomac. Going back to his July 11 start against Myrtle Beach, Owens has gone 15 2/3 innings since his last hit allowed (a Pat Cantwell leadoff single in the third in that July 11 start, in case you were wondering).
Owens struck out nine on Monday, taking over the Carolina League strikeout lead from the promoted Kyle Zimmer with 116 in 97 innings. Wildness has continued to plague Owens, though, a big culprit behind his not working deeper in his no-hit bids. He walked three and hit a batter on Monday, and he’s allowed nine free baserunners (seven walks, two HBPs) over the 11 no-hit frames he’s thrown over his last two starts.
Victor Roache, lf, Brewers: There’s at least some good news for Brewers fans out there. Roache figured to take some time to get back to full speed considering this spring was his first live game action since last February for Georgia Southern. He broke his left wrist six games into the 2012 college season and didn’t play another official game until joining low Class A Wisconsin this April. He carried a .218/.301/.347 line through the end of June but has caught up to the Midwest League in July, batting .321/.371/.667 with seven homers in 20 games. Roache has prodigious righthanded power, and he clubbed two more homers Monday in Dayton, one of them a grand slam. He’s up to 14 homers on the season and has raised his batting line to .245/.319/.431 after 306 at-bats.
Luke Jackson, rhp, Rangers: If not for Owens and Zimmer, we’d be talking more about Jackson as one of the Carolina League’s hottest pitchers. The 21-year-old has allowed more than three runs in a start just twice all season in 18 outings, and Monday was his fourth straight quality start as he logged six shutout innings on two hits and struck out eight against Lynchburg. He’s up to 101 whiffs in 94 1/3 innings on the year while allowing just a .211 opponent average. Jackson’s results didn’t measure up with his stuff last year, when he posted a 4.65 ERA combined between Myrtle Beach and low Class A Hickory, but he’s putting things together in his second full pro season, going 8-4, 2.39 so far for the Pelicans. He’s among the Carolina League’s top five in ERA, strikeouts and opponent average.
Brett Oberholtzer, lhp, Astros: Oberholtzer figures to be one of several pitchers currently stationed at Triple-A Oklahoma City who’ll be paying close attention to see how many big league arms the Astros sell at the trade deadline. He made two big league appearances already this month, and on Monday he made his first Triple-A start since June 28. The 24-year-old made his case to be back in Houston before long, striking out nine Omaha hitters in six innings while allowing only one run on one hit. Oberholtzer doesn’t share the prospect spotlight of OKC teammates like Jarred Cosart or Asher Wojciechowski, profiling more as a back-of-the-rotation innings-eater, but you can expect to see him back in Houston before the end of the season.
Aaron Miller, dh, Dodgers: The Dodgers have had a couple prospects make midseason conversions, with Blake Smith moving from the outfield to the mound and Miller grabbing a bat after four seasons as a lefthanded pitcher. Miller does have a track record as a position player, having been drafted as an outfielder out of high school in 2006 and hitting .310 with 12 homers as a junior at Baylor in 2009, when he was a two-way player. He was a sandwich-round pick as a pitcher in 2009, but injuries took a toll on his pitching as a pro and the Dodgers converted back to hitting after he posted a 6.00 ERA in Double-A in April and May.
As a 25-year-old now in low Class A, Miller has a long way to go, but his tools as a hitter earned him Paul O’Neill comparisons in high school. Serving as Great Lakes’ everyday DH since his conversion, Miller’s slowly picked up his average as time’s gone along, and he had his best game of the season on Monday, going 4-for-4 and hitting his fifth homer. He added a walk as well and has shown decent contact skills all along, despite what had to be plenty of rust, having gone down on strikes 36 times in 44 games.
Kohl Stewart, rhp, Twins: The fourth overall pick in this year’s draft made his fourth pro appearance Monday in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. As always, we should never get too high or too low based off Rookie-ball stats, but Stewart does boast a 9-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his first 10 pro innings, having allowed just two earned runs. He fanned two in two innings of work yesterday, though he did give up three runs (one earned) on two hits.