Here's a look at the top pitching performers in each league for the week ending Aug. 30:
Logan Darnell, Rochester (MIN)
(2-0, 0.53 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 1 CG, 1 SHO, 17 IP, 10 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 17 K)
A starter for most of his career, Darnell began the 2015 season in Rochester's bullpen. After posting mixed results -- he had a 4.54 ERA and .320 batting average against in 28 relief appearances -- the 26-year-old lefty moved back into the Wings' rotation and had a pair of splendid outings last week. Last Monday Darnell retired the first 15 Syracuse batters he faced en route to a nine-inning, five-hit shutout. Five days later he held visiting Pawtucket to one run on five hits over eight innings to win his third straight start.
Pacific Coast League
Eric Jokisch, Iowa (CHC)
(2-0, 0.69 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 1 CG, 13 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 3 BB, 6 K)
Jokisch was out of the I-Cubs rotation for two months with rib-cage soreness before returning Aug. 13. Following two shaky outings, the 26-year-old lefty beat a pair of California teams -- Fresno and Sacramento -- last week, allowing just one run on six hits over 13 innings. Though Jokisch has been successful pitching to contact lately, his strikeout rate has dropped precipitously, perhaps due to his injury. Whereas last year he fanned 8.1 PCL batters per nine innings, this season's number is 4.8.
Chad Green, Erie (DET)
(1-0, 0.69 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 1 CG, 13 IP, 12 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 0 BB, 14 K)
An 11th-round pick out of Louisville in 2011, Green skipped over Class A Advanced this year to join Double-A Erie. The 24-year-old right-hander faced his share of adversity early -- he was 2-12 with a 4.91 ERA prior to the All-Star break -- but has made adjustments and found success in the second half. Green owns a 2.65 ERA since the break and has allowed just one home run over 51 innings after yielding eight long balls in 91 2/3 first-half frames. He ranks second in the Tigers system with 129 strikeouts.
Adrian Houser, Biloxi (MIL)
(2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 13 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 3 BB, 7 K)
Part of the deal that sent Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to Houston, Houser has been reborn since joining the Brewers system. In seven Texas League appearances for Corpus Christi, the 2011 second-rounder had a 6.21 ERA; in six Southern League starts for Biloxi, he's 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA and is holding opposing hitters to a .215 average. Small samples, to be sure, but Houser appears to have turned a corner with the Shuckers.
Chad Bell, Frisco (TEX)
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 7 K)
In an up-and-down season for Bell, August has definitely been up. The 26-year-old lefty won his fourth consecutive start last week, holding San Antonio to three hits over eight scoreless innings. His seven strikeouts in the game gave him 116 for the season -- most in both the Rangers Minor League system and the Texas League this season.
Victor Alcantara, Inland Empire (LAA)
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 8 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 8 K)
The Cal League is no place for pitchers faint of heart. Heading into Friday night's matchup in Stockton, Alcantara had allowed 32 earned runs over 31 2/3 innings in his previous six starts. The 22-year-old righty responded with his longest outing of the season, limiting the Ports to an unearned run on three hits over eight frames. Alcantara's eight strikeouts were one shy of a season-high and he lowered his ERA from 6.15 to 5.77.
David Hess, Frederick (BAL)
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 1 CG, 1 SHO, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 5 K)
It's been a tale of two seasons for Hess, a fifth-round pick out of Tennessee Tech in 2014. His first-half numbers were ugly: 2-4, 5.83 ERA, 7 HR allowed, .260 BAA. Since the All-Star break, he's 7-0 with a 1.34 ERA, one homer allowed and a .182 average against. The Orioles' No. 10 prospect threw his first career shutout Tuesday, holding host Potomac to one hit in the seven-inning gem. After being named the Orioles' Minor League Pitcher of the Month for July, he's a strong candidate to repeat in August.
Florida State League
Jordan Montgomery, Tampa (NYY)
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 0 BB, 6 K)
A fourth-round pick out of the University of South Carolina in 2014, the left-handed Montgomery doesn't have an overwhelming fastball but has excellent command and movement on it along with a very good changeup. The 22-year-old turned in the best outing of his brief career Friday -- a perfect one, even, for six innings before giving way to the bullpen. The effort pushed Montgomery into the Yankees' system lead in strikeouts with 128.
Dean Deetz, Quad Cities (HOU)
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 2 BB, 9 K)
Deetz had an unpleasant first taste of pro ball in 2014 after being taken by the Astros in the 11th round. In 13 appearances for Greeneville in the Appy League, Deetz posted an 8.88 ERA and walked 19 batters in 25 1/3 innings. The right-hander is a new pitcher this season, however. Promoted to Quad Cities after going 4-2 with a 2.86 ERA in seven outings with Class A Short Season Tri-City, Deetz has been all but impossible to hit in the Midwest League. After fanning a career-high nine batters over seven no-hit innings last Monday, Deetz owns a 1.11 ERA for the River Bandits and is holding MWL hitters to a .148 average.
South Atlantic League
David Trexler, Kannapolis (CWS)
(0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 1 SV, 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 1 BB, 10 K)
Relievers tend to be overlooked for Player of the Week awards due to a lack of innings. Trexler overcame that aversion by fanning an eye-popping nine batters over four one-hit innings Saturday. The 24-year-old's previous season high was five strikeouts in a game. The outing was Trexler's longest of the year and lowered his season ERA from 5.02 to 4.71, along with earning him his seventh save.
New York-Penn League
Spenser Watkins, Connecticut (DET)
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 0 BB, 7 K)
Heading into Friday night's game against Lowell, Watkins had allowed just three runs on nine hits in his previous 17 innings but was only 1-2 in those three starts. The right-hander, who turned 23 the day before, took his performance to the next level by tossing seven scoreless frames to earn the win. A 30th-round pick out of Western Oregon in 2014, Watkins leads the NYPL with a 2.23 ERA and ranks second with a 0.99 WHIP.
Oscar De La Cruz, Eugene (CHC)
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 13 K)
De La Cruz dominated the Dominican Summer League last summer, going 8-1 with a 1.80 ERA at age 19, and has done much the same in the Northwest League this year. After a pair of iffy starts, the right-hander fanned 13 batters over seven one-hit innings against Spokane. The Cubs prospect has yet to crack Chicago's top 30 prospects, but that could be simply a matter of time. De La Cruz ranks third in the NWL in strikeouts and WHIP and sixth in ERA.
Andrew Thome, Greeneville (HOU)
(2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 1 GS, 9 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 0 BB, 7 K)
Pitchers often talk about "pounding the zone" and "pitching to contact." Thome has taken both strategies to an extreme in his first 11 pro appearances. Though he's allowed exactly one hit per inning, none of them have been homers. Though he has only 19 strikeouts, he's issued just one base on balls. Those factors, combined with a strong propensity for getting groundball outs, have allowed him to post a 0.87 ERA in the Appy League after tossing nine scoreless innings last week. The approach has worked well -- he's already been promoted to Class A Quad Cities.
Cameron Smith, Missoula (ARI)
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 4 K)
There were only 40 rounds in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft, and Smith was taken in the 36th after 1,065 others had already been selected. He likely has outperformed the vast proportion of them in their first professional seasons, however. After throwing six scoreless, one-hit innings Sunday, the left-hander has allowed three hits over 13 scoreless innings in his last three outings. Smith narrowly lacks the innings to qualify for the Pioneer League ERA crown, but his seven wins, 1.78 ERA and 0.83 WHIP would all rank first.
John Parker is an editor for MiLB.com.