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Glove or no glove, it was a day for defense around the Minors

The catch Tampa Bay outfielder Nathan Lukes made for Montgomery was a little more complicated than this one. (Brian McLeod/

By Michael Avallone / | July 1, 2018 11:15 PM

A pair of Minor Leaguers showed why baseball players are some of the finest athletes around. But in the end, a fan stole the show.

It was quite an afternoon of web gems on the first day of July.

As a wild affair was unfolding between Double-A Montgomery and Jacksonville, Biscuits right fielder Nathan Lukes took things to an even crazier level. The Jumbo Shrimp led, 9-5, and had runners at the corners with two men down in the bottom of the third inning.

Video: Biscuits' Lukes leaps up to rob Diaz of homer

Marlins No. 7 prospect Isan Diaz unloaded on a 2-2 pitch that pushed Lukes back to the right-field fence. The 23-year-old raced to his left, timed his leap and reached up and over the wall to deprive Diaz of his second home run in three games. 

Like any good Minor Leaguer who took away a souvenir, Lukes made sure a lucky fan got the ball when he tossed it into the crowd as he approached the Montgomery dugout. The defensive gem came in handy as the Biscuits rallied to sweep the doubleheader with an 18-9 win in Game 2.

Video: Hillsboro's Rose dives into stands for leaping grab

Several hours later on the other side of the country, Hillsboro third baseman Joey Rose got up close and personal with some fans along the third-base railing in his team's matchup with Spokane. With the Hops leading in the seventh, 6-0, the Indians' Francisco Ventura lofted a foul popup that drifted toward the stands. Rose measured his steps, reached over and made the grab before falling face first into the first row of seats just beyond the Spokane dugout.

It wasn't the only highlight for the 20-year-old, who ripped a two-run triple in the first to open the scoring.

Video: Fan makes great catch of Jake Smolinski homer

But if there was one play that proved how unpredictable a day at the ballpark can be, it came during the eighth at Triple-A Omaha's Werner Park. Jake Smolinski's no-doubt solo homer extended Nashville's lead and ensured one fan earned the moniker "King for a Day."

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Sitting in the left-field bleachers, the patron calmly inched to his right, reached out with his bare hand and grabbed the homer on the fly, eliciting a cheer from the home crowd and some love from the Storm Chasers' broadcasting team.

Sign him up! And we'll wait to see what the rest of July has to bring us.

Michael Avallone is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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