Asher Wojciechowski, rhp, Astros: It's easy to overlook Wojciechowski given the Astros' depth of pitching prospects—from his Triple-A Oklahoma City teammate Jarred Cosart to newly minted No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel. But at this moment, Wojciehowski has as strong a case for a big league callup as any of them, particularly after what he did Monday, when he threw a one-hit shutout and faced the minimum 27 batters against Round Rock. He retired the Express' first 15 hitters before Mike Olt led off the sixth with a single. A one-out walk in the eighth accounted for the only other baserunner he allowed, and both of them were erased on double plays. He struck out five.
Since his promotion to Triple-A in early May, the 24-year-old Wojciechowski has gone 5-4, 3.06 in 79 innings. He stands third in the Pacific Coast League in ERA and leads the circuit in WHIP (1.10) and opponent average (.199). His strikeout rate of 7.5 per nine innings doesn't blow you away, but since he throws in the low 90s, his lack of a knockout secondary pitch limits his potential to miss bats. However, his strikeout rate is higher today than where it stood after two years at high Class A in the Blue Jays system from 2011-12.
Stefen Romero, lf, Mariners: The Mariners have already brought three of their best position-player prospects to the majors in Nick Franklin, Brad Miller and Mike Zunino, and Romero may not be far off if Seattle finds an opening for him. The left fielder at Triple-A Tacoma extended his hitting streak to eight games by going 3-for-4 with a homer (a seventh-inning grand slam) and five RBIs on Monday. Romero's pure hitting ability stands out more than his power, as last night's homer was his sixth of the year and first since June 12 while he raised his average back above .300. A late-June slump had dropped him to .280, but he's 15-for-33 through eight games in July.
Andrew Pullin, 2b, Phillies: If you're looking for a sleeper in the Phillies system, keep an eye on Pullin, a fifth-round pick last year out of a Washington high school. Pullin has the tools and aptitude to hold up against older competition, and he's hitting .299 through 77 at-bats as a 19-year-old in the short-season New York-Penn League. Pullin starred in Monday's doubleheader for Williamsport against Auburn, going 3-for-4 with two doubles in the first game and 3-for-3 with another double in the second. Pullin was an outfielder in high school but the Phillies converted him to second base last year in instructional league. He has stuck there with Williamsport, going 16 games before committing his first error.
Jose Ramirez, ss, Indians: Ramirez has the makings your classic, scrappy 5-foot-9 middle infielder, but appearances can be deceiving because he brings some offensive tools to the table. He can manage an at-bat, and he has legitimate plus speed, which he’s applied to lead the Double-A Eastern League in steals with 33 for Akron. Ramirez added two more swipes last night while going 4-for-6 with two doubles against Richmond. He’s hitting just .271 through 339 at-bats, but he's doing it as the second-youngest position player (age 20) currently in the EL (only Miguel Sano is younger). He's drawn more walks (33) than he's struck out (28), and he's been the toughest hitter to whiff in the EL, going down on strikes just once every 13.6 plate appearances.
James Paxton, lhp, Mariners: On any other night, Paxton probably would have been recognized as having the best performance in the minors, but instead it wasn't even the best in his league. The 24-year-old continued his strong run over the last month with Triple-A Tacoma by authoring a shutout of his own against Tucson, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out four. Since his ERA stood at 5.70 on June 12, Paxton has allowed two runs or less in four of his last five starts, improving his line to a more respectable 6-6, 4.63 after 91 innings.
Luiz Gohara, lhp, Mariners: Sticking with Mariners pitching prospects, Brazilian lefty Gohara has all the makings of a frontline starter. He's a long way off, yet he's also ahead of schedule by pitching in the Rookie-level Appalachian League as a 16-year-old, where he's the league's youngest player (he turns 17 at the end of the month). Signed for $880,000 last year, Gohara dominated for Pulaski on Monday in his third pro appearance, striking out nine over five shutout innings against Princeton. He didn't issue a walk, and his strikeout-walk ratio is up to 16-2 through 10 2/3 innings as a pro.