Minor League Roundup: Heaney’s Stellar Start

Today’s roundup features Andrew Heaney‘s stellar start at Triple-A, Jorge Alfaro taking some of Joey Gallo‘s spotlight and a day off for Mookie Betts.

Mookie Meter

Betts did not play Tuesday in Double-A Portland’s game against New Britain, which was suspended after two innings because of rain. Do not panic—it was merely a routine day off. Therefore, no Mookie Meter today. Cue the sad trombones.

International League (AAA)

Eugenio Suarez, ss, Toledo (Tigers): Suarez put on quite a show with general manager Dave Dombrowski and former Tigers manager Jim Leyland on hand. The Tigers’ No. 7 prospect when the season began, Suarez went 3-for-4 with his second homer since being called up to Triple-A in a 12-4 win against Durham. Suarez is slashing .417/.462/.833 since his callup and the appearance of Tigers’ bosses is no coincidence. The team said it would consider internal options when Jose Iglesias was lost for the season. So with Stephen Drew now off the board, the Tigers could quickly turn to Suarez. Hernan Perez had been playing short at Toledo until Suarez arrived and then slid over to second, so the Tigers clearly want to see how Suarez has progressed. Assistant GM Al Avila told the Detroit Free Press that the defense has “always been there,” but that Suarez’s consistent offense has been a plus.
Andrew Heaney
Pacific Coast League (AAA)

Andrew Heaney, lhp, New Orleans (Marlins): The Marlins' top prospect, whom BA looked at on Monday in the latest What To Expect feature, was dominant in his second Triple-A start. The 2012 first-rounder from Oklahoma State gave up only one hit in six scoreless innings in a 9-0 win at Round Rock. Heaney, continuing to display his superb command, walked no one and struck out seven. He has a 5.0 SO/BB ratio this season in 65 innings at Double-A and Triple-A.

Eastern League (AA)

Tyler Austin

Tyler Austin, 1b, Trenton (Yankees): Austin has battled through various injuries and underperformance since his 2012 breakout, and on Tuesday night he hit his first homer of the season. When healthy, he has flashed a compact, quick swing with power potential, but a wrist injury in particular seems to have sapped it. He’s still just 22, but the shine of 2012 is wearing thin.

Southern League (AA)

Robert Stephenson, rhp,  Pensacola (Reds): The Reds’ top prospect has stabilized following a couple of rough outings, allowing just two earned runs in his past 12 1/3 innings. The 2011 first-rounder has a terrific fastball and a potential double-plus pitch with his 12-6 curveball. He’s had some command issues this season, but if Stephenson can iron that out, he could be part of the Reds’ rotation by next season.

Texas League (AA)

Austin Hedges, c, San Antonio (Padres): The Padres’ top prospect went 2-for-3 with a homer to lead the Missions past Northwest Arkansas on Tuesday. He has a quick, balanced swing and is a good bet to deliver power, and has started to show that in May. Following a quiet April with the bat, he’s slashing .316/.386/.544 this month. His defense remains the standout side of his game, with a plus arm that’s accurate.

Carolina League (Hi A)

Jorge Alfaro

Jorge Alfaro, c, Myrtle Beach (Rangers): The home-run exploits of Joey Gallo has overshadowed the output of his Pelicans teammates, but last night the 20-year-old Alfaro had the spotlight to himself. He set a career high with five hits, which tied the franchise record, and he drove in four runs, three on a bases-loaded triple. Alfaro struggled in April in his first full month in the Carolina League, but he has hit for more power in May and is up to .277/.325/.429 overall.

Florida State League (Hi A)

Stuart Turner, c, Fort Myers (Twins): Turner, the second college catcher drafted in 2013 after Andrew Knapp, has struggled with the bat, as expected from the defense-first player. He has hit .223/.277/.322 this season, and that’s with Tuesday’s 4-for-5 night that included two doubles and four RBIs.

California League (Hi A)

Brandon Drury, 3b, Visalia (Diamondbacks): Drury went 2-for-5, including the tie-breaking two-run homer in Visalia’s 11-9 win against Bakerfield. Part of the blockbuster that sent Justin Upton to the Braves, Drury had an excellent 2013 and has begun tapping into his power potential this season. He already has 11 homers in 208 Cal League at-bats after hitting 15 last season.

South Atlantic League (Lo A)

Jose Briceno, c, Asheville (Rockies): Briceno had three hits Tuesday night, including a double and triple in Asheville’s 10-9 win against Lexington. The 21-year-old played in just 69 games in the U.S. entering the season after signing out of Venezuela in 2009, but he’s wielding a big bat thus far, slashing .317/.372/.462. He has not yet shown the power stroke he flashed at Rookie-level Grand Junction in 2013, but his best tools are above-average power and arm strength.

Midwest League (Lo A)

Juan Herrera, ss, Peoria (Cardinals): The Cardinals acquired Herrera from the Indians at the 2013 trade deadline, and he entered the organization with the reputation as a standout defender. He has added some offense this season, including Tuesday night’s 3-for-4 effort with a double and RBI. He’s hitting .289/.326/.387 this season.