Minor League Roundup: Not So Fast, My Friend

In today’s roundup, Kris Bryant ties Joey Gallo at the top of the home run leaderboard, but not for long. Also, Justin O’Conner‘s rifle arm keeps on keeping on, Teoscar Hernandez has a monster day and Lucas Giolito works his way back.

Mookie Meter



Triple-A Pawtucket center fielder Mookie Betts went 0-for-2 with a walk, thus the Meter is at one.

International League (AAA)

Hernan Perez (Photo by Mike Janes).

Hernan Perez, ss, Toledo (Tigers): After a tepid May, Perez has started with a torrid June. He went 3-for-4 with a double, a triple, a run and an RBI, and has collected 12 hits in the first 33 at-bats of June. Half of those hits have gone for extra bases. He’s playing shortstop now, where one Eastern League manager saw him last year and loved him. Any move to increase his versatility is a good one, what with Ian Kinsler in the way in Detroit and all.

Pacific Coast League (AAA)

Javier Baez, ss, Iowa (Cubs): Is he heating up? Well, he’s 8-for-22 so far in June with a double, a triple and a homer, so it’s a start. The triple and one of the homers came last night as part of a 3-for-5 effort with four runs, two RBIs and a stolen base thrown in. Despite the slow start, it was hard to find anyone who really gave up on Baez. He’s 21, in Triple-A, has some of the best bat speed and power potential in the minor leagues, and he plays shortstop. What’s not to love?

Eastern League (AA)

Aaron Altherr, of, Reading (Phillies): He’s got the body, but does he have the soul? Altherr is one of the more physically-gifted ballplayers in the minors, but right now he’s just not hitting, with the exception of yesterday. Against Richmond in a game played at 9:35 a.m., Altherr collected three hits—all singles—scored twice and stole a base in the Fightins’ win. Overall, though, he’s hitting just .230/.281/.337. Even with excellent defense in center field, he’s going to have to hit a lot more to avoid washing off the prospect landscape.

Southern League (AA)

Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant, 3b, Tennessee (Cubs): For a little while, Bryant led all of baseball in home runs, with 22. Joey Gallo made sure his lead was short-lived, but the brilliance of Bryant remains unblemished. He went 2-for-5 with two runs and the homer, and he continues to punish Southern League pitchers at a disturbing and shocking rate. Your daily check of the categories in which he leads the circuit: runs, hits, homers, RBIs, total bases, walks, average, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS (obviously). Cubs fans are begging Theo and pals to bring him to Wrigley yesterday.

Texas League (AA)

Joey Gallo, 3b, Frisco (Rangers): From across the land word spread: Another man, a mere mortal and another third baseman, no less, had dared surpass the The Great Gallo for home runs. Hearing this, he immediately became stirred into a Hulk-like rage. Because The Great Gallo is already Hulk-sized, his body merely turned green. “Who is this Bryant, and how dare he challenge the Great Gallo?,” he bellowed, his voice and rage carrying from the depths of Frisco, to the outskirts of Myrtle Beach and even into downtown Arlington. Still stewing in the ninth inning, he channeled his rage into a pitch from Midland’s Seth Frankoff and cranked a walk-off home run, bringing himself even with Bryant and restoring order to all the land.

Florida State League (Hi A)

Justin O'Conner

Justin O’Conner, c, Charlotte (Rays): Yes, he went 3-for-4 yesterday with a double and an RBI, but that’s not why he’s here. He’s here because he picked yet another runner off. This time the victim was Bradenton’s Adam Frazier, whom O’Conner sniped at first base. That was O’Conner’s 10th pickoff off the season, leading Asheville’s Jose Briceno by two. In the past two seasons he’s picked off 23 runners, or one fewer than Andy Pettitte caught between 1996-97. Point is, baserunners probably should shorten their lead when he’s behind the dish.

Carolina League (Hi A)

Alex Claudio, lhp, Myrtle Beach (Rangers): This wasn’t a great day for Carolina League prospect production, admittedly. Still, Claudio and his Bugs Bunny changeup (in the mid-to-high 60s on the radar gun) are incredibly fun to watch. In his first start since 2012, Claudio wasn’t bad at all. He lasted five scoreless innings while scattering six hits and two walks. He struck out three and his strikeout-to-walk ratio this season stands at 44-to-8. This was probably no more than a spot start, but it was a pretty good one at that.

California League (Hi A)

Teoscar Hernandez

Teoscar Hernandez, cf, Lancaster (Astros): For a guy with no true plus tools, Hernandez sure is cooking lately. He went 4-for-6 yesterday with two doubles and a homer, as well as three runs and RBIs. Oh, and he stole his 21st base of the year. He’s up to .302/.383/.574 for the season and is quickly moving up the ranks in the Astros system. He’s probably in line to move up to Double-A Corpus Christi after the Carolina-California League all-star game.

South Atlantic League (Lo A)

Lucas Giolito, rhp, Hagerstown (Nationals): The stuff seems to be back, so now it’s a matter of working his stamina back up so he can handle a starter’s workload. He lasted four hitless innings yesterday against Lakewood. He walked three and struck out six. At his best, Giolito is among the best pitching prospects in the minors with arguably the best stuff in the land. Right now, it’s just a matter of getting reps and building himself back to form. So far, so good.

Side note: If the weather plays nice, Giolito and Trey Ball will lock horns on Saturday in Hagerstown. That’s pretty awesomesauce.

Midwest League (Lo A)

Kohl Stewart, rhp, Cedar Rapids (Twins): With Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano on the shelf, Twins fans need all the prospects they can get to fill the void. Alex Meyer is doing quite nicely, and so is this guy. He’s given up just 39 hits in 55 innings and on Monday gave up two runs (one earned) on two hits and two walks in a prime matchup with Kane County and Jen-Ho Tseng. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is slightly better than 2-to-1. Hold him tight, Minnesotans.