Coming into the season, there was a great deal of hope and hype behind Ryan McMahon.
The Colorado Rockies' No. 3 prospect was coming off a successful second consecutive full season of professional baseball, having hit .300 over 132 games at Class A Advanced Modesto.
Across three levels in his first three seasons, he produced a .297/.372/.524 slash line, but when he arrived in Double-A with Hartford this season, he noticed things were different.
"Everybody is sharper up here and in tune with what is going on," said the Yard Goats infielder. "They take advantage of the small things."
He also noticed that the game around him has slowed down and that the talent pool was considerably better than any he had been up against to date.
McMahon also admitted to tinkering with his mechanics, trying different stances and setting up in different spots in the batter's box, which led to bad habits that had him pulling off instead of staying through the ball.
The results were not what he and the organization had been accustomed to, but with a positive attitude and a willingness to work through the down times, he's feeling comfortable once again and is ready to take on the last couple of months of the season head-on.
"Personally, I've had my struggles this year," said McMahon, who is hitting .209 through 69 games. "But I'm starting to feel like I'm working out of them, getting back to doing the things that I usually do. So I'm pretty excited about these last couple of months of the season from a team standpoint and a personal standpoint.
"[I'm] just getting back in the cage, working it out, starting to get back to the things I used to work on the last couple of years. I had kind of gotten away from it, been trying new things, which I really don't know why I did that. So I'm just getting back, having a good approach, putting in my usual work in the cage."
Though the numbers may not bear it out, McMahon has gained a stronger level of comfort over the past two-plus weeks through solid at-bats against strong pitching.
One noticeable point of improvement on the page is in strikeouts -- he had racked up 70 over his first 59 games, but has K'd 10 times in his last 10 games.
"These last two, two and half weeks I'm having really good, quality at-bats against some good pitching," said McMahon. "I'm pretty excited going forward."
Now that things are coming around for the 21-year-old, he is learning most that his opportunities to hit are going to be fewer and fewer as he continues to climb the ladder, and that in order to improve one must be prepared on each and every pitch.
"You got to be a lot more consistent up here," said McMahon. "You're only going to get one or two good pitches each at-bat if you're lucky, and sometimes one or two a game. You got to be ready. You can't foul one off because that may be the only pitch you're going to get."
Heating up: It's been a bit of a roller-coaster season for Orioles No. 9 prospect Jason Garcia, but of late there have been more thrills in his favor. The Bowie hurler has gone 3-0 with a 1.57 ERA in four June starts, holding opponents to a .177 batting average in 23 innings. Garcia, who made 21 relief appearances for Baltimore a year ago, started the season by going 1-6 with a 6.07 ERA in nine starts.
Blockbuster trilogy: You'd be hard-pressed to find a more productive 2-3-4 combo in any other Minor League lineup than Akron's. The heart of the RubberDucks order features Indians' top prospect Bradley Zimmer, Cleveland's No. 2 prospect Clint Frazier and the organization's No. 18 prospect, Nellie Rodriguez. This season that trio has combined for 35 home runs, 130 RBIs and 128 runs scored. Together they have accounted for 41 percent of the team's extra-base hits and 40 percent of their runs batted in.
Already started: Following a two-game stint with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Trenton southpaw Dietrich Enns has done everything to earn a return trip. Over his last six starts for the Thunder, he is 4-0 with 2.04 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 40 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings. In 12 starts this season for Trenton, Enns is 7-2 with a league-leading 1.93 ERA and is fifth in the league with 74 strikeouts.
Craig Forde is a contributor to MiLB.com.