Birmingham Barons (Chicago White Sox)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: A 1-5 week dropped the Barons to 15-14 and into third place in the South Division, five games behind Mississippi.
WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: RHP Jack Egbert lowered his ERA to 1.46, but fell to 3-2 after a 1-0 loss to Tennessee. . . . LHP Gio Gonzalez (4-2) was battered for eight earned runs in 3 1/3 innings against Tennessee, his ERA more than doubling to 3.98.
PLAYER TO WATCH: RHP Kris Honel is trying to reestablish himself after missing all of last season following "Tommy John" elbow surgery. "For a guy with arm problems the last couple of years, he's throwing well," Barons manager Rafael Santana told the Birmingham News. After four starts, Honel was 1-1 with a 4.82 ERA and had 15 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: OF Ricardo Nanita, batting .312, was 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs against Huntsville, completing a red-hot series. He was 8-for-16 against the Stars. Nanita, 25, hit .286 with Birmingham last season, showing good plate discipline -- he had 51 walks to go with 56 strikeouts.
Carolina Mudcats (Florida Marlins)
WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: RHP Kurt Koehler ran his save total to five and was 1-0 with a 1.84 ERA in 12 appearances. . . . LHP Manuel Olivera has made it to the sixth inning in just one of his six starts, falling to 0-4 with a 6.49 ERA.
PLAYER TO WATCH: 3B Lee Mitchell, who came into the season with a .240 career average, is hoping for a breakthrough year. The former Georgia standout started to bounce back last season, hitting .253 with 11 homers and 56 RBIs for the Mudcats. This year, he is batting .265 with four homers and 18 RBIs, but has struck out 35 times in 98 at-bats. Mitchell, 25, was a sixth-round draft choice in 2005.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: OF Brett Carroll, a Knoxville native playing before family and friends, hit one of the longest homers ever at Tennessee's Smokies Park, a 450-foot blast against the top of the scoreboard in left field. The eighth-inning homer tied a game Carolina won 6-4 and Carroll, a late-game replacement, had an RBI single in the ninth. "That was definitely the farthest ball I've ever hit," he told the Knoxville News Sentinel. Carroll, 24, hit his first three homers of the season in the series and was 6-for-16, adding two doubles.
Chattanooga Lookouts (Cincinnati Reds)
WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: RHP Sam Lecure won twice during the week, improving to 4-0 and lowering his ERA to 2.48. . . . SS Paul Janish went 7-for-20, getting his average up to .259 after a slow start. . . . A 1-for-11 stretch dropped 2B Luis Bolivar's average to .203.
PLAYER TO WATCH: RHP Calvin Medlock pitched well out of the bullpen for the Lookouts last season and he has been even better this year, posting a 1.50 ERA with two saves in his first 12 appearances. He had 21 strikeouts against two walks in 18 innings. He's allowed just nine hits. "I'm very happy with my start," Medlock, 24, told the Chattanooga Times and Free Press "I can't throw the ball any better than I am throwing it right now."
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: RHP Justin Mallett, moved into the rotation from the bullpen in a swap with Opening Night starter Tyler Pelland, pitched seven strong innings in his debut, although he didn't get a decision. Mallett allowed two runs on four hits, striking out nine and walking four.
A COOLER LOOK: The Lookouts hope to keep their cool during home afternoon games this season. Chattanooga is wearing mesh jerseys without the team's familiar pinstripes. "They're really a thin material and we all know how hot it can get in Chattanooga," manager Jayhawk Owens told the Chattanooga Times and Free Press. "I love them," CF Chris Dickerson told the newspaper after the Lookouts won their first game in the new uniforms. "I like it simple and this is kind of an old-school, throwback look."
Huntsville Stars (Milwaukee Brewers)
WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: OF Brendan Katin, hitting just .232, homered in consecutive games, going 4-for-8 with three RBIs. . . . 3B Adam Heether came off the DL, but went 0-for-4 as his average fell to .119.
PLAYER TO WATCH: C Lou Palmisano, a third-round draft pick in 2003, hit just .241 last season with the Stars, but he has been one of the SL's hottest hitters this season. Palmisano, 24, was 7-for-15 with two homers and nine RBIs in four games against Birmingham, driving in five runs in one contest. In his first nine road games, he hit .419 with 12 RBIs.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: LHP Steve Hammond, who had allowed 14 earned runs over nine innings in his previous two starts, pitched a six-hit shutout against Birmingham. He struck out six and walked one in the 8-0 victory. Working on his delivery, the former Long Beach State standout returned to his more normal arm angle and it paid off. "He was getting the ball up and they were hitting it. But today he was around the plate. And when you're around the plate, you get guys to chase a few more pitches," Stars manager Don Money told the Birmingham News.
Jacksonville Suns (Los Angeles Dodgers)
WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: SS Chin Lung Hu raised his average to .366 with a 5-for-5 game that included three doubles. He led the SL in hits (41) and doubles (15). . . LHP Michael Megrew won twice during the week, allowing just three hits in seven innings while beating Carolina 5-0 to go to 3-1 and lower his ERA to 2.97. . . . LHP Eric Cyr didn't allow a hit over the first six innings against Carolina, but got no decision. . . . A 2-for-18 slump dropped 2B Luis Maza's average to .237.
PLAYER TO WATCH: RHP Jonathan Meloan, a fifth-round draft choice in 2005 out of Arizona, was one of the SL's busiest relievers. He was 3-1 with three saves. Meloan had a 1.88 ERA in 10 appearances, striking out 20 and walking just four over 14 1/3 innings. Meloan, 22, was 27-2 in his final two seasons with Arizona.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: 1B John Lindsey went 3-for-4 with a double and three RBIs in an 8-4 victory over Montgomery. He was 7-for-18 in the series, driving in eight runs and hitting his seventh home run. Prior to getting five hits in the last two games, his average was under .200.
SHUT DOWN: LHP Scott Elbert was held out of action by the Dodgers because of shoulder tendinitis. The first-round draft pick in 2004 last pitched April 16, when he allowed seven walks in three innings against Huntsville. Elbert, 21, struck out 173 last season, ranking seventh in the Minors. He had 24 strikeouts in his first 14 innings with the Suns this year.
Mississippi Braves (Atlanta Braves)
WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: LHP Matt Harrison improved to 4-0 and lowered his ERA to 2.14, working into the ninth inning against Montgomery in a 9-1 win. . . . OF Carl Loadenthal was 16-for-36 during a 10-game hitting streak, raising his average to .288. . . . OF Josh Burrus, batting just .169, doubled his RBI total by driving in five runs on a grand slam and a sacrifice fly against the Biscuits.
PLAYER TO WATCH: 2B Diory Hernandez hit .349 in nine games with Myrtle Beach and hasn't cooled off since being promoted to Double-A. He had five straight two-hit games and was 13-for-30 with seven RBIs during a recent eight-game hitting streak. Hernandez was hitting .333 with two homers and 15 RBIs. He was moved from shortstop this season because of the glut of Atlanta prospects at that position.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: OF Matt Esquivel homered in his third consecutive game as the Braves won 9-8 at Mobile. He also had a RBI single and a sacrifice fly, giving him three RBIs. The homer was Esquivel's seventh and he took over the SL lead with his eighth two days later. He was also tops in the SL with 26 RBIs and 24 runs scored. This is a bounce-back season for the 24-year-old, who was suspended for the second half of last season by Atlanta.
RUN, RUN, RUN: The Braves took over the SL lead in stolen bases by swiping nine in nine attempts in the series finale at Mobile. 3B Van Pope had three steals, while 2B Mike Rozema and Esquivel stole two each.
Mobile BayBears (Arizona Diamondbacks)
WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: After allowing just two earned runs in his first four starts, RHP Matthew Green (3-1) allowed eight in his next two. . . . C Phil Avlas was the victim as Mississippi stole nine bases in nine attempts.
PLAYER TO WATCH: 1B Cesar Nicolas batted .400 with a homer and seven RBIs in his first 12 home games, but the former Vanderbilt player can hit anywhere. Nicolas, 25, batted .302 with 14 homers and 80 RBIs for Lancaster in the California League last season. This year he was hitting .344 with three homers and 14 RBIs.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: OF Javier Brito hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning to give the BayBears a 4-3 victory over Mississippi. He also had a single, walk and stolen base, keeping up his impressive start. In addition to his .319 batting average at the end of the week, he had walked 14 times. That gave him a .429 on-base percentage.
Montgomery Biscuits (Tampa Bay Devil Rays)
WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: RHP Chris Mason lowered his ERA to 1.87 while raising his record to 4-0. He had allowed just four earned runs in his last four starts. . . . LHP Mike Prochaska, who had been 0-3 with a 6.46 ERA, allowed three hits over six shutout innings to get his first victory.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Although no torn ligaments were found in his injured knee, OF Fernando Perez will be out for awhile. "It's hard to put on timetable on it," Biscuits manager Billy Gardner Jr. told the Montgomery Advertiser. Perez was hitting .272 and had 10 stolen bases. He went into the year with 114 steals in three seasons.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: 2B Brooks Badeaux had two hits and two RBIs in a victory over Mississippi as he continued a bounce-back season. During the week, the 30-year-old was 10-for-28 to raise his average to .293. The former Florida State player hit just .217 last year in the Baltimore organization.
TAKING IT SLOW: LHP James Houser is expected to be ready to return to the rotation after missing a second start. He tweaked an oblique muscle during a side session. That came just after he had his wisdom teeth removed. "I should be back soon," Houser told the Montgomery Advertiser. He was 1-0 with a 3.80 ERA in his first four starts.
Tennessee Smokies (Chicago Cubs)
WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: RHP Mark Holliman has allowed just two earned runs in five starts, going 4-0 with a 0.55 ERA. . . . LHP Donnie Veal finally won after four losses, allowing three hits over seven innings in a 1-0 victory against Birmingham. . . . SS Joe Simokaitis was 1-for-12, dropping his average to .213.
PLAYER TO WATCH: 3B Matt Craig went on a tear after spending a week on the DL, his spree including six RBIs in a 16-1 rout of Birmingham. The switch-hitter was 9-for-18 in his first six games back, with two homers and seven RBIs. Craig, 26, was hitting .397 and had thee homers and 14 RBIs. A third-round pick in 2002 out of Richmond, Craig was an all-star last year in the Florida State League, hitting .287 with 12 homers and 76 RBIs.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: OF Jorge Cortes, hitting .361, capped a 4-for-5 game by scoring the deciding run in the 11th inning after a leadoff single as the Smokies won 4-3 at Birmingham. Cortes, 26, hit .293 last season in the Texas League while with the Houston organization.
West Tenn Diamond Jaxx (Seattle Mariners)
WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: OF Jeff Frazier, after a horrible start, batted over .300 during an 12-game hitting streak to get his average to .213. . . . C Rene Rivera was hitless in five consecutive games, going 0-for-16 to drop his average to .189.
PLAYER TO WATCH: 1B Marshall Hubbard drove in six runs during a four-game streak, including the game winner in the bottom of the 11th inning as West Tenn edged Mobile 3-2. The former North Carolina player was 2-for-3 with three walks in that game. He was hitting .266 with a homer and 22 RBIs.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: OF Prentice Redman had a pair of two-homer games and was 10-for-23 over a six-game stretch. He started 4-for-22 after being sent down from Triple-A Tacoma, but the hot streak raised his average to .311. Redman, 27, had four homers and eight RBIs.
Guy Curtright is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.