Offensive Players of the Week09/04/2012 5:30 PM ET
By John Parker / MLB.com
Wilkin Ramirez, Rochester
(.367/.387/.867, 7 G, 11-for-30, 4 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 8 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 CS)
The 26-year-old Ramirez closed out the season with a flourish, collecting multiple hits -- at least one of which went for extra bases -- in seven of his final 10 games. After struggling to a .253/.284/.409 line in the first half of the season, Ramirez hit .299/.347/.495 in the second half and had a superb month of August, in which he batted .337 and drove in 21 runs in 27 games. Even the outfielder's baserunning improved, as he was 5-for-7 on stolen-base attempts in the second half after going 2-for-7 in the first.
Pacific Coast League
Matt Long, Salt Lake
(.550/.565/1.050, 6 G, 11-for-20, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 11 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 SB)
Long went long twice on the final day of the season, driving in five runs as Salt Lake outlasted Sacramento, 16-9. That outburst capped a prodigious week that saw him collect multiple hits three times, score seven runs and drive in nine more. Following a slow start to his Triple-A career -- he joined the Bees in early May -- the 25-year-old infielder hit .338/.404/.585 over 43 games after the All-Star break.
Oswaldo Arcia, New Britain
(.382/.417/.706, 8 G, 13-for-34, 1 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 13 R, 2 BB, 8 K)
Arcia, who began the season as the Twins' No. 3 prospect and was a Futures Game participant in July, was everything the club could have hoped for this year. He lead all full-season Twins farmhands with a .320 batting average and finished second with 98 RBIs while navigating the jump to Double-A ball. The 21-year-old outfielder wrapped up the campaign on a nine-game hitting streak and plated seven runs in his last four games for the Rock Cats, who fell just short of the playoffs despite winning their final six contests.
Hunter Morris, Huntsville
(.435/.519/1.043, 6 G, 10-for-23, 2 2B, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 6 R, 4 BB, 5 K)
It was a remarkable season for Morris, a Huntsville native playing for his hometown team. With four homers and 10 RBIs over his last five games, the 23-year-old Auburn product capped a campaign in which he led the Southern League in home runs (28), RBIs (113) and total bases (his 294 were third most in the Minors). Morris was named the Southern League's Most Valuable Player after earning Player of the Month honors in both June and July. After a solid first half, Morris clubbed 21 homers and drove in 68 runs in 69 second-half games.
Nolan Arenado, Tulsa
(.419/.441/.613, 7 G, 13-for-31, 3 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 6 R, 2 BB, 2 K)
A second-round pick in 2009, Arenado emerged as a top-flight prospect after driving in a Minor League-leading 122 runs in the Cal League in 2011 and later being named MVP of the elite Arizona Fall League. The 21-year-old third baseman started the 2012 campaign hot but seemed to hit a wall in July, when he batted just .165 with four RBIs in 27 games. Arenado rebounded to bat .358 in August and closed out the regular season with 13 hits in his last six games. He and the Drillers, who won their last nine, head into the playoffs looking for their first title since 1998.
Domingo Santana, Lancaster
(.484/.590/.968, 8 G, 15-for-31, 3 2B, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 13 R, 5 BB, 7 K, 1 SB)
Part of the deal that sent Hunter Pence to Philadelphia in 2011, Santana has become a notable piece of the Astros' rebuilding process. With homers in three straight games this week, the 21-year-old outfielder finished fifth in the organization with 23 longballs and third with 97 RBIs. Though the Cal League is known for inflated power numbers -- and three of his blasts this week were at notorious launching pad High Desert -- it's hard not to like a 6-foot-5, 228-pounder who can hit .302/.385/.536.
Tommy La Stella, Lynchburg
(.542/.577/.792, 6 G, 13-for-24, 4 2B, 1 3B, 4 RBI, 3 R, 2 BB, 2 K)
La Stella missed almost six weeks with injuries before returning to the Hillcats on Aug. 26. It took him no time to get back in the groove, going 3-for-3 in a doubleheader that day, collecting two hits in his next game, and going 5-for-6 with two doubles and a triple on Wednesday, Aug. 29. Despite being limited to 90 games, La Stella had an outstanding season and led Lynchburg with a .302 batting average and five triples.
Florida State League
Mike Walker, Brevard County
(.350/.480/.900, 6 G, 7-for-20, 2 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 5 R, 5 BB, 4 K, 2 SB)
Walker's team-leading 12 home runs came in bunches this year, with a final surge highlighting the last week of the season. The 24-year-old third baseman homered and doubled in the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader, then went deep twice in his next game on Thursday. Walker also led the Manatees with 75 RBIs, was second with 64 runs scored, and was the club's lone representative on the FSL's postseason All-Star squad.
Daniel Paolini, Clinton
(.500/.556/.969, 8 G, 16-for-32, 3 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 9 R, 4 BB, 3 K, 1 CS)
Paolini had an enormous month of August, hitting 11 homers and driving in 37 runs as the LumberKings went 23-7 and cruised to the second-half Western Division crown with a 10-game cushion. The infielder homered in both ends of Monday's doubleheader, collecting six RBIs in total, then went deep twice against Burlington on Wednesday. Both Paolini, on an 11-game hitting streak, and Clinton, on a 10-game winning streak, are red-hot heading into a playoff showdown with Beloit.
South Atlantic League
Maikel Franco, Lakewood
(.556/.571/.667, 6 G, 15-for-27, 3 2B, 5 RBI, 6 R, 1 BB, 2 K)
Turning 20 seems to have flipped a switch for Franco. After celebrating his birthday on Sunday, Aug. 26, the Phillies prospect went 4-for-4 at Delmarva on Tuesday, then reeled off five more multi-hit games to close out the season. Franco struggled in the first half of the season, hitting .207/.269/.338, but was dominant in the second, posting a .346/.395/.530 line and finishing tied for fourth in the Sally League with 84 RBIs overall.
New York-Penn League
Shawn Pleffner, Auburn
(.343/.465/.571, 8 G, 12-for-35, 2 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 10 R, 8 BB, 7 K, 3 SB)
Despite his 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame, Pleffner has hit only three home runs this year. Considering the way he hit everything else, however, the power will no doubt come. Pleffner ranks second in the league in hitting and showed a particular knack for getting on base this week, racking up 12 hits and eight walks en route to scoring 10 times in eight games. He also drove in a run in seven of his eight contests -- all on the road -- as the Doubledays went 6-2.
Stephen Bruno, Boise
(.588/.667/.765, 5 G, 10-for-17, 3 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R, 3 BB)
Though he was not named the league's MVP -- that honor went to Everett's Patrick Kivlehan -- Bruno was a strong candidate, having led the league in batting, on-base percentage and OPS while finishing second in runs scored. (He was also versatile in the field, playing second base, third base, shortstop and all three outfield positions -- presumably at the cost of a spot on the NWL postseason All-Star team, which has no utility position.) The 21-year-old, a seventh-round pick out of the University of Virginia in June, finished the season on a 22-game hitting streak during which he hit .447/.538/.588 as Boise won the second-half East Division title by eight games.
Jeffrey Diehl, Kingsport
(.429/.500/1.143, 2 G, 3-for-7, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 CS)
This week covered just two games in the Appy League, which has already wrapped up its playoffs. Diehl, a 23rd-round pick out of Rhode Island in the 2012 Draft, packed a good bit of hitting into his two games, with a homer, two doubles and four RBIs. The 18-year-old finished the season with a .251/.291/.404 line but hit an impressive .339/.381/.576 in August.
Jake Lamb, Missoula
(.433/.419/.833, 7 G, 13-for-30, 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 5 R, 0 BB, 6 K)
A sixth-round pick out of the University of Washington, Lamb hit the ground running in his first pro campaign, batting at least .300 each month. With the Osprey battling for a playoff spot, Lamb has stepped up to another level, collecting hits in each of his last 10 games. The 21-year-old shortstop fell a double shy of the cycle at first-place Billings on Thursday, added three more hits the next night, and ultimately plated eight runs as the two clubs split a four-game set. Missoula trails Billings by one game with three to play; they play each other, in Missoula, on Wednesday and Thursday to end the regular season.