With the draft completed and the first half of the MiLB season coming to a close, expect a flurry of roster activity in the system in coming weeks. Meanwhile, the prospects are biding their time and setting their respective leagues afire just to watch them burn.
Charlotte Knights (AAA)
Remember Eddy Alvarez? The former Olympic speed skater and now-infielder put up gaudy numbers in the lower levels but has struggled over the past couple seasons between Birmingham and Charlotte. Those struggles appear to be behind him, as he has slashed .355/.462/.516 over his last 12 games which has raised his season line to a very respectable .289/.376/.463. Outfielder Mason Robbins has not walked since May 28th, but he has done everything else, slashing .371/.361/.600 over his last 9 contests.
MLB and MiLB journeyman Donn Roach has been a fixture of the Knights rotation and been especially effective of late, posting a 1.32 ERA over his last two starts spanning 13.2 innings. Tyler Danish has been working primarily in relief for the Knights this season and done well, posting a 3.46 ERA for the season and a 2.00 ERA over his last 9 innings.
Birmingham Barons (AA)
Catcher Zack Collins cooled off a bit since his incredible month of May, but he still slashed .279/.377/.488 over the last two weeks. Despite starting the season in a 2-for-46 slump, Collins season line is now up to .273/.440/.471. Same can be said for fellow catcher Seby Zavala, who hit .289/.340/.356 over his last 12 games.
While things were fairly tepid for the Barons hitters, the pitchers are keeping things scorching in Alabama. Birmingham starter Spencer Adams had an ugly 6.42 ERA entering his May 31st start but has ripped off three consecutive dominant outings, allowing one earned run (0.43 ERA) over his last 21 innings with a 15/3 K/BB ratio. It is a fantastic trend for Adams’ development, as the 22-year-old is repeating AA and looking to make that next leap to major league consideration. Rotation mate Dane Dunning is also finding his stride, posting a 2.89 ERA over his last 3 starts with 24 strikeouts to just 4 walks and coaxing 57% ground balls.
Winston-Salem Dash (A+)
Outfielder Blake Rutherford started the season red hot (.338/.372/.437 April), then suffered through a middling May (.237/.290/.419), but thankfully he is righting the ship so far in June. Rutherford has slashed .361/.395/.500 through 10 games in June with three doubles, a triple and only three strikeouts. Joel Booker is not as hyped as his fellow outfielders in Winston-Salem, but he continues to produce, slashing .316/.350/.500 over his last 9 ballgames. Alex Call (.290/.410/.419) and catcher Yermin Mercedes (.303/.378/.515) are also swinging hot bats for the Dash as they march towards a 1st half title.
Former starter Zach Thompson has worked exclusively out of the bullpen and the experiment has worked wonderfully. Thompson has a 1.89 ERA for the season with a 34/11 K/BB rate and has not given up an earned run since May 22nd. Bernardo Flores continues to impress, posting a couple quality starts in June and lowering his season ERA to 2.80 with 53 strikeouts to just 15 walks spanning 70.2 innings. Dylan Cease struck out 21 batters over 16 innings in his last three starts, allowing just 9 hits in that span.
Kannapolis Intimidators (A)
Second baseman Tate Blackman opened the season on a tear (.353/.393/.526, 3 HR in 21 games), saw his numbers regress to the mean with a stretch of meh (.218 AVG in the next 23 games), but lately has turned it back on in a big way (.373/.421/.667, 8 XBH in last 13 games). Luis Curbelo played just four games at Great Falls in 2017 before a knee injury and missed the rest of the season, and only just got into real games in the past few weeks of 2018, but apparently he’s not rusty. In the last two weeks he has put up a very nice .344/.417/.434 line as a 20-year-old in his first taste of full season ball. First baseman Justin Yurchak has an .873 OPS in the recent couple weeks, with just 4 strikeouts in 33 PA.
Lincoln Henzman may not be long for the SAL. The ground ball specialist has done this in his last two starts: 11 IP, 11 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 K. In fact three Kannapolis starters have posted sub-2 ERA”s over the 2-week span we are looking at here. John Parke (1.38 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, filthy 12:0 K:BB ratio in 2 starts) and Blake Battenfield (1.64 ERA, 10 K in 11 IP in his pair of starts) have been very effective as well, as the pitching staff continues to hurtle the Intimidators towards a division title and the post-season.
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