With full-season All-Star Games wrapping up this week, members of the MiLB.com staff look at some of the most notable performers from the first half and predict who could be poised to take off the rest of the way. After looking at the Class A, Class A Advanced and Double-A
With full-season All-Star Games wrapping up this week, members of the MiLB.com staff look at some of the most notable performers from the first half and predict who could be poised to take off the rest of the way. After looking at the Class A, Class A Advanced and Double-A levels, we turn our attention here to the Triple-A International and Pacific Coast leagues.
Most exciting hitterD-backs 1B Kevin Cron, Reno:
Cron has always had power. But this season, he's reached a whole 'nother level. The D-backs prospect homered early and often. He went yard three games in a row and he homered three times in one game
. Through 55 Minor League contests, Cron already has a career-high 29 jacks to go with 80 RBIs for Triple-A Reno. Oh, yeah, he also has four more in the Majors. The 26-year-old was among the Minors' top sluggers throughout the first half, with Fresno's Yordan Alvarez
as his only real competition until he was promoted to Houston on June 9. Not only is Cron slugging, he's improved his plate discipline. The TCU product is striking out less and walking more, leading to a career-best .340/.450/.840 slash line. Cron was recalled by the D-backs again on July 3, making many Pacific Coast League pitchers breathe sighs of relief.
Most exciting pitcherMarlins RHP Zac Gallen, New Orleans:
A 1.77 ERA is great for a reliever. For a starter, it's jaw-dropping, and it's enough to lead the Minor Leagues. The Marlins' No. 9 prospect
had that mark in 91 1/3 innings across 14 starts for New Orleans. And for good measure, he's 9-1 for the Baby Cakes. In a season highlighted by historic home run rates, Gallen is not immune. But he's found a way to limit the damage, with nine of the 10 dingers he's allowed coming with the bases empty. The 23-year-old earned his first big league callup, and while he's been challenged, he's still doing his thing with 16 punchouts in 12 frames.
Best teamEl Paso Chihuahuas:
Triple-A teams are using Major League balls this season, a factor many point to for the prodigious home run totals. And no team has taken advantage more than El Paso. The Padres affiliate left the yard 190 times in the first half. It's already a hitter-friendly league, but for some perspective, the highest team total in the Pacific Coast League last year was 173 by Salt Lake and Las Vegas. For the whole year. The Twins just broke the Major League first-half record with 166 long balls and the closest PCL team to El Paso is Reno with 161. So, yes, there are a lot of dingers leaving the yard, but the Chihuahuas have something extra special. Led by Michael Gettys
and his 22 roundtrippers, El Paso has five players with at least 15 homers and nine with double digits. Plus, the pitching staff is hanging in with the sixth-best ERA (of 16 teams). So while Columbus and its level-best .625 winning percentage are impressive, the Chihuahuas are downright historic.
Second-half breakoutBraves RHP Kyle Wright, Gwinnett:
In 2018, his first full season, Wright skyrocketed from Double-A to The Show. And on Opening Day 2019, the Braves gave him a chance, despite inconsistent results at big league camp. After three tough starts, it was back to the Minors for Wright; however, Atlanta has brought him back up three times without making an appearance. That movement and lack of a routine could be part of the right-hander's issues this season as he has a 4.92 ERA over 64 International League innings. Another has been pitching deeper into games as Wright has gone six frames only five times in 13 starts for Stripers. MLB.com's No. 25 overall prospect
has the stuff to turn it around, with plus pitches in his fastball and curveball as well as a solid slider and good changeup. In Wright's final two starts before the All-Star break, he allowed one run over 13 2/3 innings. Braves fans hope to see their top pitching prospect pick up right where he left off when play resumes.
Coming soonAngels OF Jo Adell:
A hamstring strain and ankle sprain postponed the start of Adell's third pro season, but he quickly made up for lost time. After a week rehabbing with Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore, Adell was back with Double-A Mobile. There, the 20-year-old has shown why he's ranked fourth overall by MLB.com. Adell hit .360/.430/.607 with four homers and 12 RBIs and four stolen bases in four tries in 24 games before heading to Cleveland for the All-Star Futures Game, where he reached base three times and flashed some leather. The Angels likely will give the 2017 first-rounder a little more time to get back in the groove, post-injuries, but it shouldn't be long before he's raking in the PCL with Salt Lake.
Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan.