In-season farm system grades: AL, NL West

Dodgers, Padres, Astros earn high marks for performance so far

By Josh Jackson and Tyler Maun | July 21, 2017 10:16 AM ET

With about six weeks remaining in the Minor League regular season, members of the MiLB.com staff hand out grades to all 30 farm systems based on their prospect and team performance so far. The American and National League East Division made up the first installment in the series, followed by the Central Divisions on Thursday and the West today. Josh Jackson provides the grades here for the AL West, while Tyler Maun breaks out his red pen for the NL West.

American League West

Houston Astros
Grade: B+

The Astros have graduated two pitchers to the big leagues who are ranked among MLB.com's top-100 prospects. Francis Martes (No. 15) has been used primarily out of the bullpen of late and is finding success there, allowing two earned runs in his last four appearances. David Paulino (No. 44), on the other hand, hit a wall in his development after nine big league games. The 6-foot-7 fireballer has been banned for the rest of the season due to a positive PED test. But in the Minors, things are sunny. The organization ranks seventh with a collective .534 winning percentage as Class A Quad Cities and Class A Advanced Buies Creek -- thanks in part to prized pitching duo Forrest Whitley and Franklin Perez -- each hold second-half division leads. Kyle Tucker, the club's top position playing prospect, is more than holding his own at age 20 for Double-A Corpus Christi. Up at the Triple-A level, fellow Futures Game participant Derek Fisher has batted .308/.371/.585 with 21 homers and 14 steals over 80 games. He also had a five-game stint in the Majors in June and went 5-for-18 with two homers. There's individual talent and team success to be found throughout the system.

Josh Jackson and Tyler Maun are contributor to MiLB.com. Follow them on Twitter: @JoshJacksonMiLB and @TylerMaun. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More

On the Road: Orem's millennial pitching coach

Four years after playing for them, Van Eaton returns to the Owlz

By Benjamin Hill | July 21, 2017 9:58 AM ET

Every pitcher on the Orem Owlz roster was born in the 1990s -- and so was their pitching coach.

That youthful developer of even younger talent is Jonathan Van Eaton, who turned 26 a month prior to the start of the 2017 Pioneer League season. Injuries derailed Van Eaton's own pitching career almost before it began, but he appears to have a long future ahead of him within the game he loves. As he puts it, simply and succinctly, "I'm in love with the grind."

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More

SAL notes: Lee excels in Legends outfield

Royals prospect showing promise after pitching in high school

By Bill Ballew | July 21, 2017 9:41 AM ET

At first glance, Khalil Lee doesn't appear to be the most imposing player on the field.

However, watch the Royals No. 12 prospect turn on a fastball with his lightning-quick bat speed or make a throw on the fly from the outfield to home plate and it becomes apparent that his 5-foot-10, 170-pound frame generates impressive explosiveness -- and that's generated some solid numbers.

Bill Ballew is a contributor to MiLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More

Duggar making comeback with San Jose

Giants No. 4 prospect belts slam, has plated eight in two games

By Gerard Gilberto | July 21, 2017 4:08 AM ET

A rash of injuries derailed most of the season for outfielder Steven Duggar, but San Francisco's No. 4 prospect has come on strong for the Class A Advanced Giants.

Duggar belted his first professional grand slam as San Jose outslugged Rancho Cucamonga, 12-7, on Thursday night at Municipal Stadium. The 2015 sixth-round pick also drove in four runs Tuesday against Lake Elsinore, and five of the six hits in his abbreviated season have gone for extra bases.

Gerard Gilberto is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @GerardGilberto4. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More

Smith racks up another four hits for Hops

D-backs first-rounder starts rally with two outs in ninth inning

By Tyler Maun | July 21, 2017 3:47 AM ET

Pavin Smith hails from Florida and went to the University of Virginia, but he's fitting right in on the West Coast.

Arizona's top pick in June's First-Year Player Draft doubled twice on a four-hit night, scored four times and added an RBI as Class A Short Season Hillsboro rallied in the bottom of the ninth inning to sink Spokane, 6-5.

Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More

Marauders' Keller dominates, exits early

Pirates No. 2 prospect felled by liner after six one-hit innings

By Andrew Battifarano | July 21, 2017 3:26 AM ET

After a tough start his last time out, Mitch Keller got back on the right track with a stellar performance Thursday night. But then he took a liner off his shin. 

Pittsburgh's No. 2 prospect yielded an unearned run on one hit and two walks over six innings and exited after taking a hard liner off his shin as Class A Advanced Bradenton topped Fort Myers, 4-1, at LECOM Park.

Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More

Jimenez bashes first homer since trade

No. 2 White Sox prospect has hit .409 in six games for Dash

By Michael Leboff | July 21, 2017 3:03 AM ET

Eloy Jimenez doesn't look like he needed much time to get used to being a member of the White Sox organization. 

In his sixth game with his new club and making his home debut with Class A Advanced Winston-Salem, Chicago's No. 2 prospect hit his first homer since being acquired from the Cubs and added two doubles in the Dash's 7-6 loss to the Salem Red Sox on Thursday night.

Michael Leboff is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More

Great Lakes' Cruz collects career-high five hits

Dodgers No. 20 prospect belts home run in second straight game

By Andrew Battifarano | July 21, 2017 2:43 AM ET

Earlier in July, Class A Loons manager Jeremy Rodriguez noticed Oneil Cruz was using a heavier bat. The coaching staff gave the Dodgers No. 20 prospect a lighter piece of lumber and the move is paying off. 

"He's young, he's going to make those little mistakes," Rodriguez said. "But I think, for him, going back to the bat that he used early in the season and just staying with it is helping him."

Cruz collected a career-high five hits, including a homer, and drove in three runs to power Great Lakes to a 10-0 win over Cedar Rapids at Perfect Game Field. The 18-year-old also doubled, singled three times and scored three runs.

Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More

Alonso maintains power surge for St. Lucie

Mets No. 8 prospect homers twice; Marlins' Davis nabs five hits

By Alex Kraft | July 21, 2017 2:12 AM ET

Peter Alonso offered a rather succinct assessment of his most recent hot streak.

"It looks like a beach ball up there, to be honest." he said.

The Mets No. 8 prospect clubbed a pair of solo homers Thursday -- his fourth and fifth in the last five games -- as Class A Advanced St. Lucie fell to Jupiter, 10-2, at First Data Field. 

Alex Kraft is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and chat with him on Twitter @Alex_Kraft21. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More

McKay clubs first pro homer for Renegades

Rays first-rounder collects two hits in second straight game

By Gerard Gilberto | July 21, 2017 1:45 AM ET

Prior to his debut with Class A Short Season Hudson Valley on Sunday, Brendan McKay hadn't played since June 22. He went deep in his final college game for the University of Louisville.  

The Rays infield prospect admitted that the layoff had taken a toll, but he's starting to shake off some of that rust.

The No. 4 overall pick in June's First-Year Player Draft went deep, notching his first professional RBI in the Renegades' 9-2 win over the Staten Island Yankees at Richmond County Bank Ballpark. McKay also had a single in his second consecutive multi-hit game.

Gerard Gilberto is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @GerardGilberto4. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More