08/25/2008 12:32 PM ET
Offensive Players of the Week
For the week ending Aug. 24
By Bryan Smith / MLB.com
Jared Keel hit four homers, including two shots on Saturday, and piled up nine RBIs this week. (Joy R. Absalon/MLB.com)
Corky Miller, Richmond
.556 (10-18), 7 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SO, 0 SB, .1.167 SLG
Miller's 11th professional season began with his eighth attempt at playing in the Major Leagues, this time backing up Brian McCann at the catcher position in Atlanta. However, like the Braves have this season, Miller struggled to get his bat going like he did in the Minor Leagues. In the end, Miller was designated for assignment on Aug. 1 after batting .093 in 26 games. Since returning to the Minor Leagues in August, Miller has been a force, showing the power everyone knew was in his arsenal. One more home run with Richmond will mark his 100th career Minor League homer.
Pacific Coast League
Tagg Bozied, Albuquerque
.520 (13-25), 8 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 5 BB, 3 SO, 0 SB, .960 SLG
With the Isotopes scheduled for a long homestand last week, it should have been clear that Bozied was the favorite to pick this up. After all, the slugger is hitting an even .400 at Isotopes Park this season, versus just .226 while on the road this season. In addition, 16 of his 25 home runs on the season have come in New Mexico. It's a long-time trend for hitters to be aided by the New Mexican altitude, but for Bozied, it's merely a return to form. He'll need to continue this big week to top his single-season career-high OPS, which was .997, set in 2004 with the Portland Beavers. However, with his third home run of the week on Friday, Bozied did reach the 25-home run plateau for the first time as a Minor Leaguer.
Steve Torrealba, Bowie
.409 (9-22), 5 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 4 SO, 0 SB, .727 SLG
The Venezuelan backstop -- an ex-Atlanta back-up like Miller -- has long been known for his defensive prowess, but has also proven quite adept with the bat in 33 games with Bowie this season. It's not surprising that Torrealba has yet to make an error with the Baysox, but his two two-homer performances in the span of six games is (Aug. 6 and Aug. 20). The catcher got in all five games he played this week, spending the last four at the DH position. Now 30, the son of ex-Major Leaguer Pablo Torrealba is reinventing his game nicely with Bowie, posting an OPS north of .900 for the first time in his 12-year career.
Danny Dorn, Chattanooga
.519 (14-27), 6 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 0 BB, 3 SO, 0 SB, .889 SLG
Dorn turned 24 last month, so in prospect standards, he's on the older side. But it's just his third season in the Minor Leagues, and there has yet to be a level that has stopped him, so there seems to be little left between him and the Major Leagues. It certainly isn't Double-A pitching anymore, as Dorn's latter two homers this week set a new single-season career high. The outfielder now has seven consecutive games with at least two hits and twice on the weekend he collected three hits. Dorn's average in Chattanooga is up to .292 and his OPS is up to .948. He's now batting .390 in August and .336 since the All-Star Break.
Daryl Jones, Springfield
.438 (14-32), 9 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 0 BB, 8 SO, 2 SB, .875 SLG
This is the definition of a breakout season. Jones' tools have been lauded since his high school days, but up to the 2008 season, it's never been something that has translated to performance. But things began to click with Palm Beach, as he hit .326 in 87 games with the Cardinals. St. Louis then challenged their toolsy outfielder with a promotion to Double-A, where Jones started slow, hitting .224 in his first 16 games with the team. However, it's been uphill ever since, and Jones is showing more power than he has ever showed before. With four homers in his last seven games, Jones now has 13 for the season spread across two levels. Entering this season, Jones had 10 home runs in his first three years.
Brian Joynt, Lake Elsinore
.429 (12-28), 7 R, 6 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 4 BB, 3 SO, 2 SB, 828 SLG
Joynt's 0-for-4 effort on Sunday marks a rarity in August, as the third baseman has hit safely in 13 of his last 15 games. He still managed to record an RBI in the Storm's 8-2 Sunday victory, a feat he has also done in 12 of his last 15 games. However, the majority of Joynt's recent success came this week when the 23-year-old tried his hand at right field for the first time this season. Joynt had three three-hit games on the week and five games in which he recorded at least one extra-base hit. On Thursday and Saturday, Joynt fell just a triple short of the cycle, hitting his 10th and 11th homers of the season. It helped, of course, to leave the confines of Lake Elsinore, as Joynt has hit 10 of his 11 home runs on the road this season, where his OPS is an even 1.000.
Jared Keel, Lynchburg
.409 (9-22), 8 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 5 BB, 4 SO, 2 SB, 1.045 SLG
It's telling of the struggles Keel has had this season that his 1-for-2 showing in Sunday's 8-5 win over Potomac, which pushed his average up to .236, gives him his highest batting average yet this season. It's been that kind of struggle for Keel, who hit .169 in April, .225 in June and .208 in July. However, every month can have its own tone, and August certainly has, as the patient outfielder has hit .349 in August. Keel has cranked seven home runs in 19 games this month, matching his total from the previous two months combined. While Keel has struggled with making contact consistently, his power has been ever-present, and on Saturday, it was a force as he hit two blasts for the second time this season. Keel already has set a personal high in single-season homers, hits, runs and RBIs.
Florida State League
Todd Frazier, Sarasota
.421 (8-19), 6 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 0 BB, 1 SO, 0 SB, .737 SLG
Frazier's season began in the Midwest League, but it wasn't long before the Cincinnati Reds decided they had failed to challenge him. Frazier hit .321 with a .598 slugging percentage in 30 games with Dayton, while juggling four positions. As expected, the move up to the Florida State League has been more trying on Frazier, who has seen struggles at the plate in terms of strikeout propensity, if only that. However, with his recent performance shaping up to be like his early-season success, Frazier has his average up to .285. The infielder is hitting .372 against southpaws with Sarasota, after hitting .414 against the lefties in the Midwest League.
Taylor Harbin, South Bend
.433 (13-30), 4 R, 6 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 12 RBI, 2 BB, 2 SO, 0 SB, .633 SLG
When Harbin clubbed five hits on Tuesday, he immediately became the favorite to win this award. It didn't hurt that in addition to five total hits, three were doubles, and it resulted in six RBIs. But Harbin would keep up the pace, grabbing at least one hit and one RBI in his next four games. Harbin has become a force as the weather has heated up in South Bend, batting .319 with 41 RBIs in the season's second half and he's inching close to the .280 mark for the season. With South Bend looming in the Midwest League playoff hunt, no Silver Hawk is more important to the team's chances in the coming weeks than Harbin.
South Atlantic League
Caleb Gindl, West Virginia
.429 (12-28), 8 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 2 BB, 7 SO, 1 SB, .857 SLG
It's the nature of the beast, that good performance equals high expectations. So in 2007, when Caleb Gindl was the Pioneer League batting champ with a .372 average, big things would be expected from the then 18-year-old. So when Gindl hit .263 in April, it wasn't enough, even for a teenager making his full-season debut. It hasn't really been enough until this second half, during which time Gindl is batting .341. He has 32 extra-base hits during the span, with four of his 13 homers on the season coming this week. However, in terms of his performance matching the preseason expectations set for him, nothing was more important than his two hits on Aug. 20, which pushed his average up to .300 for the first time since Opening Day.
Nathan Metroka, Greeneville
.536 (15-28), 6 R, 3 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 3 SO, 1 SB, .893 SLG
Metroka was one of the last players drafted this year; the Astros grabbed him out of Compton Community College in the 47th round. However, Metroka seems to be out there proving that his drop was a mistake, putting together a week with five multiple-hit games. Things began in style last Monday, when the outfielder fell a homer short of the cycle in a two-RBI, four-hit effort in Greeneville's win over Pulaski. Metroka would get the blast, his second of the season, the next day as part of a three-hit effort. The road series with Pulaski would finish with two more extra-base hits, a double and triple, in addition to a walk as he managed to reach base 10 times in the series. In the four-game set with Kingston to end the week, Metroka would reach base another eight times, leaving his on-base percentage at .383.
Roberto Lopez, Orem
.529 (9-17), 7 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 3 BB, 0 SO, 0 SB, 1.059 SLG
Two weeks ago, Lopez went 0-for-4, and his average dropped all the way down to .379. It seemed his maintenance of a .400 batting average through June and July would be for naught. But, like the rest of the team, Lopez was only beginning to heat up. No player was as responsible for the Owlz's franchise-record 14-game win streak as Lopez, but when he failed to get a hit on Monday, the team's streak ended. However, Lopez and the Owlz bounced back, and the first baseman would grab nine hits in his next four games. On Saturday, his 12th home run helped push his average back up past .400. On Sunday, two more hits left it at .404 and the plateau is his to lose again.
New York-Penn League
Joel Staples, Jamestown
.563 (9-16), 4 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 4 SO, 2 SB, .875 SLG
Before August, Staples' professional debut was not going well, as the shortstop was struggling both at the plate and in the field. He entered August batting .240, and just this week, he made his 21st error in just 57 games with the Jammers. However, Staples is proving viable with the bat after all and with a double and a home run on Sunday, his average is up to a season-high .297. Staples had been better the night before, collecting his second four-hit game in two weeks, the first of his professional career coming on Aug. 15. The St. Mary's College product has certainly had an up-and -down first summer, but if his recent play continues, crossing the .300 barrier would certainly mark things as a success.
Kyler Burke, Boise
.478 (11-23), 9 R, 5 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 7 SO, 0 SB, .957 SLG
Since he was drafted in 2006, Burke has long been known as a player with more tools than present ability. When he hit .209 in his pro debut in 2006, no one worried, as Burke was cited as being one of the league's best athletes. The Padres traded him last season after Burke hit .211 in 62 Midwest League games, but the Cubs saw his potential. They moved Burke to Boise, where he hit .254 with some power in the Northwest League. After a brief trial in Peoria this season, Burke made his return to Boise, and this week, we are seeing the midpoint between his potential and his performance. Seven-game hit streaks have been rare in Burke's career, including five games in a row with an extra-base hit. While Burke's struggles against southpaws have continued in 2008, his .298/.366/.516 handling of right-handed pitchers is one of his best splits as a professional.
Bryan Smithis an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.