Minor League Roundup: The Future Is Now

Player Home runs
Joey Gallo 30
Kris Bryant 30
Peter O’Brien 25
Matt Olson 24

Today’s roundup features a pair of Vanderbilt alums having excellent weekends, a Red Sox lefty putting it all together for one glorious tour de force, a Yankees righthander chewing up the Florida State League, a Pirates shortstop going off, an on-base streak of Mookie-esque proportions in the Midwest, and the continuation of the greatest spectacle of this year’s minor league season.

International League

Maikel Franco, 3b, Lehigh Valley (Phillies): Although he went hitless on Sunday, Franco nonetheless had a very fine weekend. Between Friday and Saturday he collected five hits in 13 trips (eight at-bats on Saturday) including two doubles, a triple, a homer and six RBIs. It’s been a long, frustrating season for Franco and his fans, but he’s still just 21 and in Triple-A. He’s got plenty of time to turn it around, even if it means a return to the land of bacon next year.

Pacific Coast League

Kris Bryant, 3b, Iowa (Cubs): With his blast on Sunday, Bryant tied Joey Gallo and reached No. 30 for the season. That’s 30 home runs in just 87 games, folks, which, of course, is madness. Instead of blathering on with superlatives about Bryant, I’ll just say this: After this weekend’s trade, the Cubs now have Bryant, Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara and Addison Russell in their upper minor leagues. That’s frightening. The future on Clark and Addison is bright.

Eastern League

henry-owens-2014-mugHenry Owens, lhp, Portland (Red Sox): Abbreviated no-hitter on opening day aside, this is the tour de force we’ve been waiting for from Owens. With his fastball, curveball and changeup, he’s clearly got the stuff to dominate. What he doesn’t always have is control. On Sunday, Owens had control of his arsenal, which he used to go eight innings of three-hit, one-run ball with 11 strikeouts and one walk.

Southern League

D.J. Peterson, 1b/3b, Jackson (Mariners): Peterson, promoted to Double-A late last month, put together his finest weekend as a Jackson General. The 12th overall pick last year collected six his over the holiday, including homers on Saturday and Sunday, giving him 20 on the season and two in Double-A. The general sense is he’ll have to move to first base at some point, but the Mariners have to be pleased with what they’ve seen so far.

Texas League

Tony Kemp, 2b, Corpus Christi (Astros): Scouting director Mike Elias called Kemp’s approach at the plate “ferocious,” and so far this season, it sure looks that way. He hit .336/.433/.468 in the first half with high Class A Lancaster and has hit in eight of his first 10 games with Double-A Corpus Christi. Even if he keeps it up, he’s going to have a lot of trouble unseating Jose Altuve at second base any time soon. If he wants to play in Houston, he might have to change positions.

Cory Spangenberg, 2b, San Antonio (Padres): After more than two and a half months on the shelf with concussion symptoms, Spangenberg returned to the Missions on a … mission. He collected two hits in each of the three games over the weekend, including doubles on Friday and Saturday and a longball on Sunday. Spangenberg has always had a feel to hit, but entered the year needing work around second base. The long layoff certainly cut into development time, but a weekend like this is an excellent way to return from the disabled list.

Florida State League

luis severinoLuis Severino, rhp, Tampa (Yankees): Because it’s was a long weekend, we get to include Thursday action here, so we’ll include a pitcher one scout told Baseball America was the best he’d seen this year, and whom another scout told Jon Heyman was like “a young Pedro.” Lofty comparisons aside, Severino has done nothing but deal since being promoted to high Class A Tampa. Against Lakeland on Thursday, the righthander threw six innings of two-hit, shutout ball with two walks and six punchouts. Over his last two starts, Severino has permitted just five baserunners in 12 innings. In his fastball, curveball and changeup, Severino has three above-average pitches to go with above-average command of the strike zone.

Carolina League

Mike Yastrzemski, of, Frederick (Orioles): An absolute gem of a day in a jewel of a season. Yastrzemski, the grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, hit for the cycle on Saturday night in Frederick’s 17-3 rout of Lynchburg. In all, he went 5-for-6 with a pair of doubles, three runs scored and five RBIs. Along with Arismendy Alcantara, Yastzemski is one of just two players this season to reach double-digits in doubles, triples, homers and stolen bases. As if that weren’t enough, Vanderbilt, his alma mater, won the College World Series. So, yeah, Yastrzemski’s had a fine past few months.

California League

Mark AppelMark Appel, rhp, Lancaster (Astros): This, ladies and gentlemen, is progress. In a prime matchup with talented Dodgers lefty Julio Urias, Appel—last year’s No. 1 pick who’s endured a disastrous endured season—allowed three earned runs over five innings on five hits and two walks. He struck out three and has strung together three palatable starts in a row. After taking some time off, the Astros have to be relatively happy with the results they’ve seen from Appel in his return to high Class A Lancaster.

Midwest League

Andrew Velazquez, ss, South Bend (Diamondbacks): Remember Mookie Betts‘ amazing streak of reaching base in 66 consecutive games? If you read this space regularly, there’s almost no way you could’ve forgotten that. Well, very quietly, Velazquez has tied that streak. His 66th consecutive game on base came Sunday, and he did it with style. In addition to going 3-for-5, he hit a game-tying inside-the-park home run in the SilverHawks’ 8-7 win over Lake County. Overall, Arizona’s seventh-rounder from 2012 is hitting .302/.380/.460 this season with 12 doubles, 12 triples and six homers. It’s probably too late to get a meter up at the top of the roundup, but we’ll keep monitoring Andrew’s Velaz-city for the rest of his streak.

South Atlantic League

JaCoby JonesJaCoby Jones, ss, West Virginia (Pirates): A better weekend there might not have been. In three games against Greensboro, Jones went 8-for-13 with six runs, a double, four homers and four RBIs. Pittsburgh’s third-rounder from 2013 has played exclusively shortstop this season after seeing time in center field in an abbreviated campaign with short-season Jamestown. On the season, Jones is hitting .284/.354/.482 with 14 doubles and 13 homers.