Minor League Roundup: Souza, Soler Hit It Big

Today’s roundup includes Steven Souza continuing to push for a promotion or a new organization, a sports-talk radio favorite and a revived Cubs prospect.

Player Home Runs
Joey Gallo 31
Kris Bryant 30
Peter O’Brien 28
Adam Duvall 25
Matt Olson 25

International League • AAA

Steven Souza, rf, Syracuse (Nationals). The IL’s leading hitter is not slowing down. The righthanded batter slugged his 14th homer Sunday along with his 21st double in a 13-8 loss at Charlotte. Souza, who’ll be in Durham this week for the Triple-A All-Star Game, is hitting .458/.491/.833 in July.

Pacific Coast League • AAA

Mike Foltynewicz, rhp, Oklahoma City (Astros). After a seven-run, six-walk car wreck his last time out, fire-balling Folty had everything working Sunday, holding a watered-down Iowa club to three hits and a walk over six innings. Kris Bryant and Javier Baez were at the Futures Game, and Manny Ramirez wasn’t in the lineup, mind you, but it was progress for Foltynewicz, who has struggled in the past two months after a superb May.

Eastern League • AA

Dilson HerreraDilson Herrera, 2b, Binghamton (Mets). Whenever Mets fans call WFAN late at night and pitch trades involving Daniel Murphy, inevitably the replacement mentioned is Herrera. Acquired last year with Vic Black for Marlon Byrd, Herrera has moved quickly with the Mets, jumping to Double-A at just 20 years old. He has a balanced, all-fields hitting approach and makes lots of hard contact, enabling him to hit for a solid average. He’s also worked hard to improve at the keystone. This season at two levels, Herrera, who hit a three-run homer Sunday, is hitting .313/.366/.430.

Texas League • AA

Ryan Brett, 2b, Montgomery (Rays). Brett is showing more with the bat at Double-A in 2014 than he did when he ended the season with Montgomery in 2013. On Sunday je went 4-for-5 with a homer off Pensacola’s Ben Lively. For the season, Brett’s slashing .292/.337/.451, rebounding from a 2013 that was marred by a 50-game suspension for amphetamine use. Brett has gap power and an excellent feel for the strike zone.

Southern League • AA

Jorge SolerJorge Soler, rf, Tennessee (Cubs). While his organization-mates Kris Bryant and Javier Baez were attending the Futures Game, and while Arismendy Alcantara shined in the majors, Soler had been slowed by a hamstring injury. But the 22-year-old Cuban is healthy now and blasted two homers Sunday, including one off of Marlins prospect Justin Nicolino. Soler was 3-for-5 and drove in a career-high five runs. In 14 games since returning he’s slashing .426/.491/.936 with five homers and 17 RBIs.

California League • Hi A

Brandon Drury, 3b, Visalia (Diamondbacks). Last year, the Diamondbacks possessed three of the top third-base prospects in baseball. Ultimately, they decided to deal from strength, sending Matt Davidson to the White Sox for Addison Reed. But they kept Jake Lamb and Drury and seem to have made the right choice. Lamb is thriving at Double-A Mobile and Drury is going strong at Visalia, including a 2-for-5 night with his 16th homer. For the season the 2010 10th-round pick, part of the deal that sent Justin Upton to Atlanta, is slashing .292/.358/.510.

Carolina League • Hi A

Cody Kukuk, lhp, Salem (Red Sox).  The 6-foot-4 lefthander, who earned a promotion earlier this year after he dominated at low Class A, has struggled with control again as he did last season. For the year, the 2011 seventh-rounder has walked 56 in 72 innings. But for the second time in his past three outings he pitched a scoreless five innings, this time Sunday against Wilmington. Kukuk has one of the largest ceiling/floor disparities in the Boston system, as a pitcher with a fastball that bumps 97 mph and a swing-and-miss changeup. But his walk rate is troublesome. If he can harness his stuff, he could be a very effective late-inning reliever.

Florida State League • Hi A

Billy McKinneyBilly McKinney, rf, Daytona (Cubs). McKinney, one of the “other guys” in the deal that sent Addison Russell from the Athletics to the Cubs for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, hit his first homer for the Cubs on Sunday and knocked in four runs in a win at Jupiter. He struggled at high Class A Stockton prior to the trade, but he’s just 19 and his baseball aptitude and lovely lefty swing make scouts swoon. He’s hitting .243/.334/.399 overall in the two organizations.

Midwest League • Lo A

Jen-Ho Tseng, rhp, Kane County (Cubs). Who says the Cubs don’t have pitching prospects? Tseng, who signed with the Cubs for $1.625 million during the international signing period last July, is off to a superb start. He fired a complete-game (seven-inning) three-hitter in a 3-1 win against Beloit. Tseng is flashing outstanding control with eight walks in 62 innings. According to scouts who spoke to Ben Badler, Tseng has three potentially plus pitches and a fastball that has bumped 95 mph.

Clint Frazier, cf, Lake County (Indians). Following a pedestrian first few months, Frazier has erupted in July, slashing .438/.471/.833 and ripping half his 10 homers since the start of the month. A hamstring injury slowed his first few months, but evaluators praise Frazier’s plus-plus power potential and ability to barrel the ball.

South Atlantic League • Lo A

Chance SiscoChance Sisco, c Delmarva (Orioles). Sisco went 3-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs, extending his hitting streak to 14 games. The 19-year-old raised his league-leading average to .353 and for the season is slashing .353/.414/.482. The 61st pick overall last year, Sisco draws praise from scouts for his bat potential and steady contact.

New York-Penn League • short-season

Aaron Brown, cf, Williamsport (Phillies). The Pepperdine two-way talent is playing center field for the Phillies, who drafted him in the third round this year. He’s adjusted well so far to pro ball (.299/.347/.425) and hit his third homer Sunday. He has plus raw power and a right-field profile but has played center almost exclusively since signing.

Northwest League • short-season

Christian ArroyoChristian Arroyo, ss, Salem-Keizer (Giants). The 2013 first-rounder is spending the second half of 2014 in short-season ball. He had three hits Sunday to raise his slash line to .287/.351/.414 at Salem-Keizer after struggling to a .497 OPS in the South Atlantic League. Evaluators say Arroyo’s bat will need to carry him, as his defense even at second base is shaky.

Appalachian League • Rookie

Chase Vallot, dh, Burlington (Royals). Vallot, the 40th overall pick this year by the Royals out of high school in Louisiana, has a reputation for struggling with receiving the ball as a catcher. But his bat is playing as expected so far with raw power projections. Through 81 at-bats, Vallot has 19 hits and 12 for extra bases, including five home runs. He likely won’t be a catcher for long, but with a comparison to Mike Napoli, a solid work ethic and a powerful righty bat as a carrying tool, you can see a path up for Vallot.