Offensive Players of the Week09/03/2013 6:09 PM ET
By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com
Here's a look at the top offensive performers in each league for the week ending Sept. 2:
Eduardo Escobar, Rochester
(.400/.455/.867, 8 G, 12-for-30, 5 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 7 R, 3 BB, 8 K, 1 CS)
There were plenty of clutch performances on Labor Day -- the final day of the regular season for most full-season leagues -- but perhaps none was better than that put together by Escobar. The shortstop homered, doubled three times and drove in five in Rochester's 13-3 win over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, helping to capture the International League Wild Card in the process. That was just the culmination of a stellar week for the Venezuela native, who clubbed three homers after going deep just once in his previous 35 contests with the Red Wings.
Pacific Coast League
Mike Bianucci, Round Rock
(.474/.545/1.053, 5 G, 9-for-19, 2 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 K)
The Express first baseman only appeared in five games last week, but he certainly left enough of an impression to garner this honor. His three homers came in the final four games of the season, along with seven of his eight RBIs on the week. Bianucci only appeared in 56 games this season for Round Rock, finishing with a .281/.353/.536 line with 12 homers and 46 RBIs, after playing just 84 times with the Triple-A club a year ago. But if nothing else, he certainly went out with a couple of bangs.
J.C. Linares, Portland
(.486/.500/1.000, 8 G, 17-for-35, 4 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 8 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 1 HBP)
The Sea Dogs outfielder became the favorite to win this award on the first day of the week when he homered twice and plated six in a 10-5 win over New Hampshire. Then he refused to turn off the power by clubbing two homers, a triple and four doubles in his next seven games. The Cuba native collected two or more hits in six of his eight games last week and finished his Eastern League season on a 12-game hitting streak.
Christian Villanueva, Tennessee
(.304/.346/.783, 6 G, 7-for-23, 2 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 4 R, 2 BB, 6 K)
The Cubs' No. 14 prospect was the organization's top-ranked third baseman at the start of the season. Then, Chicago drafted Kris Bryant in June and acquired Mike Olt in July, not to mention the belief of some that top prospect Javier Baez's future is at the hot corner. Villanueva grabbed some of the spotlight back, though, with a pop-filled final week of the season. The 22-year-old's three homers gave him 19 on the season, fifth-most in the Southern League. He should play a key role from the middle of the Smokies lineup as they enter the semifinals against Birmingham.
Tommy Medica, San Antonio
(.419/.455/.839, 8 G, 13-for-31, 4 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 10 R, 1 BB, 3 K)
With the Texas League South Division on the line, Medica stepped up big for the Missions in their final series against Corpus Christi with a pair of four-hit performances in the first two contests of a three-game set with Corpus Christi last weekend. In those two games alone, he homered three times, drove in five and scored seven runs. The Hooks prevailed in the final game of the season to take the crown, but Medica & Co. will get another crack at their division rivals in the semifinals.
Juan Duran, Bakersfield
(.370/.469/1.074, 8 G, 10-for-27, 1 2B, 6 HR, 10 RBI, 8 R, 5 BB, 8 K, 1 SB)
Some people celebrate their birthday with presents and cake. Duran decided to give himself a gift by homering three times on Monday in the Blaze's season finale. As impressive as the performance was, it wasn't completely out of the blue for the 22-year-old outfielder. He went deep in three of his previous four games entering Monday, thus finishing with a career high 20 on the season. His .251/.323/.450/20/66 numbers overall are all slightly above the .237/.286/.370/12/57 he put up with the Blaze a season ago.
Michael Taylor, Potomac
(.435/.536/.783, 7 G, 10-for-23, 5 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 7 R, 5 BB, 6 K, 6 SB, 1 CS)
The Nationals' No. 4 prospect became a bit of a regular at this spot in 2013. This is his third Player of the Week honor this season, surpassing Jason Martinson, Garin Cecchini, Michael Ohlman and Kyle Kubitza -- all two-time honorees -- for the most in the Carolina League. The highlight of his most recent triumph came on Saturday, when he went 4-for-4 with a homer, two doubles and five RBIs to provide the bulk of the offense in a 7-5 win over Frederick. Overall, he led the league in doubles (41) while ranking second in steals (51) and third in RBIs (87) en route to a spot on the Carolina League All-Star Team.
Florida State League
Devon Travis, Lakeland
(.410/.419/.923, 10 G, 16-for-39, 3 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 11 R, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 SB)
The Tigers' No. 12 prospect did nothing but hit at Class A West Michigan, where he put up a .352/.430/.486 slash line in 77 games before moving up to Lakeland. Despite the promotion, it was more of the same in the Florida State League, where he finished with a .350/.401/.561 line in 55 games. Those numbers saw a bump last week when he collected multiple hits in half of his games. His uptick in power, especially in the last week, was surprising though. The second baseman had hit only five roundtrippers in his first 48 games with the Flying Tigers, and yet he matched that number over his final seven.
Dalton Pompey, Lansing
(.455/.548/1.136, 6 G, 10-for-22, 3 2B, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 11 R, 6 BB, 5 K, 1 SB)
Like Travis, Pompey saw an unexpected surge in power last week. A prototypical leadoff hitter who walks a lot (12.3 percent walk rate) and has good speed (38 steals), the Blue Jays' No. 15 prospect is graded with 30 power on the 20-80 scale, according to MLB.com's Prospect Watch. Yet there he was last Monday, homering twice for the first multi-homer game of his career. He added two more before the week was out to triple his season's home run output over just six games.
South Atlantic League
Joey Gallo, Hickory
(.409/.480/1.364, 6 G, 9-for-22, 7 HR, 11 RBI, 7 R, 3 BB, 7 K, 2 SB)
While we're talking about two hitters not known for their power, we might as well talk about Minor League home run king. Gallo caught ours and everyone else's attention by going deep three times Friday, only to add two more to his total the following night. His seven blasts in six games pushed his overall total to a Minor League best 40 on the season, thus becoming the first teenager to put up that many since Dick Simpson slugged 42 for Class C San Jose in 1962. What might be most impressive -- at least for Rangers followers -- is the way he his approach at the plate in August. After entering the month with a .225/.311/.540 line, he batted .308/.400/.885 in the month to push his numbers for the year up to .245/.334/.610 with Hickory.
New York-Penn League
Conor Bierfeldt, Aberdeen
(.344/.382/.813, 8 G, 11-for-32, 1 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 6 R, 2 BB, 11 K, 1 SB)
Bierfeldt was already enjoying quite the year before even taking the field with the IronBirds. He set the Western Connecticut State University school record with 54 RBIs in the spring en route to being named the Little East Conference Player of the Year for the second straight season. The Orioles took him in the 29th round in June and assigned him to Aberdeen, where he struggled some in July. He found his stride in August, though, especially in the last week of the season when he homered four times and drove in at least a run in six of the eight games he played. He leads the New York-Penn League in OPS (.868) and ranks second in homers (12) this season.
Zach Esquerra, Hillsboro
(.333/.391/.857, 5 G, 7-for-21, 2 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 4 R, 1 BB, 8 K)
Esquerra (oblique strain) returned from a month-long absence on Wednesday and over the next five games made it look like he hadn't missed any time at all. The 22-year-old outfielder, who was named the NCAA Division II Player of the Year at California Baptist earlier in 2013, homered, doubled and drove in two in his second game back, only to go deep twice and drive in five on Sunday.
Ronnierd Garcia, Johnson City
(.500/.476/1.000, 5 G, 10-for-20, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 4 R, 0 BB, 3 K)
After having not hit above .262 in three years in the Cardinals system, Garcia enjoyed a bit of a breakout season with Johnson City, punctuated by his season-ending five-game stretch. He went 3-for-5, drove in five and just missed the cycle by a triple to start the week Monday. On the season, he owned a .286/.362/.442 slash line with five homers and 39 RBIs in 59 Appalachian League games.
Ryan McMahon, Grand Junction
(.571/.591/1.000, 6 G, 12-for-21, 3 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 3 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 SB)
The 42nd overall pick in last June's Draft is already making the Rockies look good. Of his six games played last week, he collected two or more hits in all but one of them. In case that wasn't enough, he started the week with a walk-off single on Monday and completed it by hitting two homers and driving in seven runs over his last two games. The 18-year-old third baseman ranks fourth in the Pioneer League with a .330 average and is third with a .984 OPS.