Some fun storylines emerged in the last week on the farm. Matt Skole got his first promotion to the big leagues at 28 years old, Barons hitters just keeping bashing, Dash pitchers have turned the tables and are leading the way, and the Intimidators can't seem to lose. Let's look at some of the individual highlights from the last week.
Charlotte Knights (AAA)
28-year-old journeyman first baseman Matt Skole was picked up this past offseason as emergency depth for the White Sox. Looking for his first shot at a major league job, he showed pretty well for Charlotte this year, and was red hot in the last week (.316/.381/.684, 2 HR) before finally getting the call. He made a splash in his major league debut too, going 2-for-4 with a home run plus a walk. Outfielder Jacob May hasn't earned a major league look this year despite some need in Chicago due to his lack of performance, but he has picked it up recently, hitting .296 with a home run, a double and three free passes in his last seven games.
Michael Kopech had two starts in the last week, both highlighted by big strikeout numbers but also some walks. Combined in those two outings, he whiffed 15 batters in 11 innings, but also walked 6. He allowed four runs on just seven hits. Post-game interviews (you can see some on our YT channel) seem to indicate he's working on his change-up right now. Relievers Juan Minaya (4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K) and Jeanmar Gomez (4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K) have also shown well recently.
Birmingham Barons (AA)
The Barons went bashing in the last week, with five hitters posting OPS numbers of .990 or higher. Let's just list the performances:
- Zack Collins: .438/.640/.563, 2 2B, 2 SB (?!)
- Eloy Jimenez: .381/.480/.714, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR
- Tito Polo: .385/.385/.615, 1 HR, 1 SB
- Bryant Flete*: .500/.615/.600 (* only three games)
- Jameson Fisher: .231/.375/.615, 2 2B, 1 HR
Jimenez and Collins have been hot for a while and qualify as the usual suspects. But Flete hadn't popped up much yet this year, and Polo is recently back from injury, so it's great to see them excel. Fisher was promoted to AA despite only a half season in High-A last year (and not so great results there), so expectations for his results were pretty low. Yet he's quietly been having a pretty good year for Birmingham at the plate: .250/.343/.417, 5 HR in 42 games. The strikeout rate has been high, but it's been sliding down to a better number recently.
Not a lot to highlight on the pitching side, but Ian Hamilton continues to mow down hitters and may not be long for AA. In the last week, he threw 3.1 scoreless with four strikeouts and a walk. On the year: 1.40 ERA, 6.5 H/9, 4.2 BB/9, 12.6 K/9.
Winston-Salem Dash (A+)
The recent trend continues, where the Dash have been more successful on the pitching side than hitting, after spending much of the young season doing the opposite. That said, Gavin Sheets seems to have found some of that raw power (2 HR, 1 3B) while also maintaining that plate discipline that's been strong all year (3:3 BB:K in 26 PA). Joel Booker may be hitting his way out of a recent slump, putting up a .294/.400/.471 line on the week.
Four Dash starters posted standout numbers in the last week of games:
- Dylan Cease: 7.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K (1 start)
- Bernardo Flores: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 K (1 start)
- Luis Martinez: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (1 start)
- Tanner Banks: 15 IP, 11 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 12 K (2 starts)
For all the talk about some Dash outfielders likely headed for AA soon, there are some arms who have a good chance to do the same.
Kannapolis Intimidators (A)
Luis Gonzalez just keeps getting better, and making it clear he should really be promoted as soon as possible. His most recent week? .400/.483/.840, two home runs, three doubles, a triple and two stolen bases. His month of May so far? .368/.409/.701 (yes that's a .701 SLG in 21 games). He's a true center fielder who's hit 8 home runs in less than two months of play and is getting on base at an huge clip. He belongs at least one level higher, and is making case to approach the top ten prospects in the system by the time we make our next list in July.
Luis wasn't the only Intimidator with a hot bat in recent days either (not surprising for a first place team with one of the best records in all of Minor League Baseball). Fellow outfielder Craig Dedelow posted a 1.025 OPS highlighted by a home run and two doubles. Second baseman Tate Blackman hit .304 with the same long ball and two doubles as well. Corner infielder Anthony Villa has been getting a little more playing time recently and is taking advantage, showing as a .261/.370/.565 slash line including a pair of long flies.
There's plenty going right on the mound too. Some highlights:
- Blake Battenfield: 12 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 15 K (2 starts)
- John Parke: 11.2 IP, 11 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 12 K (2 starts)
- Yosmer Solorzano: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K (1 start)
- Tyler Johnson: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K (2 games)
It's hard to cram the highlights in for this team, given how well they are doing as a unit. Like the hitters, some of these pitchers seem primed for promotion around mid-season too.
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Filed under: News and notes
Tags: Anthony Villa, Bernardo Flores, Blake Battenfield, Bryant Flete, Craig Dedelow, Dylan Cease, Eloy Jimenez, Gavin Sheets, Ian Hamilton, Jacob May, Jameson Fisher, Jeanmar Gomez, Joel Booker, John Parke, Juan Minaya, Luis Gonzalez, Luis Martinez, Matt Skole, Michael Kopech, Tanner Banks, Tate Blackman, Tito Polo, Tyler Johnson, Yosmer Solorzano, Zack Collins