An offseason free-agent signing of a first baseman is working out pretty well for the Phillies. No, this isn't about Carlos Santana.
Philadelphia farmhand Joey Meneses has been named the International League Offensive Player of the Week for the second time in the last three weeks, the circuit announced Monday. This is the third time Meneses has been named a Player of the Week in his career, the first coming in June 2016 with Class A Advanced Carolina, then a Braves affiliate.
Meneses, who inked a Minor League deal with the Phillies back in February, went 11-for-23 (.478) over six games last week for Triple-A Lehigh Valley and led the IL with four home runs, seven extra-base hits, 27 total bases and seven runs scored. His 1.712 OPS over that seven-game stretch was the highest among any qualified Minor Leaguer.
• View the Pitcher of the Week winners »
In the entire month of May, which includes part of his first award-winning week from April 30-May 6, Meneses has hit .422/.464/.875 over 17 games. After failing to go deep in April, the right-handed slugger has hit an IL-best seven homers this month. That puts him two shy of his career high of nine, established over 108 games last season with Double-A Mississippi. This hot stretch has pushed him into the IL lead with a .368 average, .658 slugging percentage and 1.071 OPS through 34 games.
Video: Meneses cranks solo shot to left-center for IronPigs
A big reason behind the power jump could be Meneses' improvement in getting the ball in the air. In 2017, only 23.7 percent of the 23-year-old's batted balls ended up as fly balls, compared to 53.6 percent on the ground. (That groundball rate was sixth-highest among the Southern League's 52 qualified hitters.) This season, those numbers are almost even. As of Sunday, the Mexico native was hitting 37.4 percent of his balls in the air and 39.6 percent on the ground. With his line drive rate staying even -- 22.6 percent compared to 22.5 -- Meneses is translating a lot of ground balls into more powerful flies. His career high rate of 20.6 percent of fly balls that ended as home runs is still likely unsustainable going forward beyond this hot month, but he's at least giving himself a chance to make the most of the power generated by his 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame.
What this run means for Meneses' immediate and long-term future in the Philadelphia organization remains to be seen. The Phillies inked Santana to a three-year, $60 million this past offseason and moved Rhys Hoskins from first base to left field on a full-time basis as a result. Even if there were an injury to Santana, Hoskins would be the clear candidate to move back to his natural position, where he's made one start this season. It might take a small catastrophe for the contending Phillies to have a Major League spot for Meneses, who is not on the 40-man roster, this summer, but the seven-year Minor League veteran is making the right adjustments to force the issue all the same.
Below is the complete list of Minor League Offensive Players of the Week for May 14-20:
||.478/.538/1.174, 6 G, 11-for-23, 2 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 7 R, 3 BB, 1 IBB, 7 K
||.417/.462/1.125, 6 G, 10-for-24, 0 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 8 RBI, 8 R, 2 BB, 4 K
||.389/.389/.833, 8 G, 14-for-36, 1 2B, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 7 R, 0 BB, 4 K
||.423/.483/.923, 7 G, 11-for-26, 4 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 7 R, 3 BB, 4 K, 3 SB
||.462/.481/.731, 6 G, 12-for-26, 1 2B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 5 R, 1 BB, 7 K
||.370/.433/.889, 7 G, 10-for-27, 3 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 8 R, 3 BB, 10 K
||.556/.550/1.000, 5 G, 10-for-18, 2 2B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 5 R, 1 BB, 1 K
||.636/.692/1.273, 3 G, 7-for-11, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 CS
||.407/.484/1.037, 7 G, 11-for-27, 2 2B, 5 HR, 10 RBI, 6 R, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 SB, 1 CS
||.417/.462/1.042, 6 G, 10-for-24, 1 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 6 R, 1 BB, 6 K