Theme of the day:
Excitement in the PCL: The Pacific Coast League is typically a circuit with a lot of offense. Dodgers No. 2 prospect Alex Verdugo had that covered when his pinch-hit, three-run home run gave Oklahoma City a walk-off, 8-6 win Sunday, but Eric Lauer and James Naile showed that the Triple-A circuit can still be dominated by arms. Lauer tied a career high with 10 strikeouts in his third start for El Paso while Naile improved to 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA with a gem of his own for Nashville. One step away from the Majors, PCL pitchers can prove their bona fides in some of the most extreme hitting environments in the Minors, and both hurlers took advantage.
Video: Verdugo seals win in extras with three-run walk-off.
Who stayed hot
White Sox OF Micker Adolfo, Class A Advanced Winston-Salem: 2-for-3, HR, 2B, RBI, R -- The No. 10 White Sox prospect extended his hitting streak to eight games in a 6-2 loss to Carolina. He also collected two hits for the fourth time in his last five contests and hit a homer for the second straight day after going his first nine games without a long ball. Adolfo is known for more for his pop than his overall hit tool after hitting .264 with with 16 homers at Class A Kannapolis last season, but his .395/.435/.651 line in 11 games in is very encouraging.. Perhaps the most exciting development, even in that small sample: his strikeout rate has dropped from 31.5 percent last season to 17.4 so far in 2018.
Video: Micker Adolfo hit his second home run of the season.
Who needed this one
Braves OF Travis Demeritte, Double-A Mississippi: 2-for-2, HR, 2 RBI, R, BB in doubleheader -- The Braves' No. 21 prospect was Rule 5 eligible this past offseason but went unprotected and unpicked after hitting .231 with 15 homers, 134 strikeouts and a .708 OPS last season with Mississippi. The Braves returned him to the Southern League this spring, and he didn't help his cause by going 1-for-25 (.040) in his first seven games. After walking and scoring as a pinch hitter in the first game of a doubleheader at Biloxi, the right-handed slugger finally enjoyed a breakout performance in Game 2, which saw him homer for the first time this season and reach base in all three of his plate appearances. After hitting 28 homers in 2016 between the Rangers and Braves Class A Advanced affiliates, Demeritte has struggled, and he'll need a few more performances like this one to avoid getting lost in the shuffle again.
Video: Travis Demeritte gets the Braves on the board.
Phillies RHP Sixto Sanchez, Class A Advanced Clearwater: 4 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 83 pitches, 46 strikes -- The Phillies' top prospect finally made his season debut after dealing with the flu, and it didn't go to plan. Sanchez averaged only 1.7 BB/9 between Class A Lakewood and Class A Advanced Clearwater last season but averaged a free pass each inning Sunday. The good news is his stuff was still dominant. Jason Woodell of Baseball Prospectus reported that the 19-year-old right-hander was hitting triple-digits while showing impressive breaking stuff. This was probably just a case of Sanchez shaking the rust off; the results will likely become just as eye-popping as the stuff soon.
Brendan McKay vs. Esteury Ruiz: The Rays' No. 3 and the Padres' No. 12 prospects each got the best of each other in the first game of a Fort Wayne-Bowling Green twinbill. McKay fanned Ruiz swinging on three pitches to open the game, but the right-handed slugger got the best of the southpaw hurler in the third inning with a two-run homer to center. Those were the first runs McKay has allowed this season after tossing two perfect frames in his Hot Rods debut last Monday. McKay is expected to move quickly after Tampa Bay took him fourth overall last June and was only sent to Bowling Green (instead of Charlotte) to focus on his two-way potential. Ruiz just turned 19 in February and is looking to join Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias as the Padres system's star middle infielders.
Who strengthened their promotion case:
Rangers OF Willie Calhoun, Triple-A Round Rock: 2-for-6, 2 2B, 3 R, 2 BB, K in doubleheader -- The Rangers' No. 2 prospect wasn't expected to be back in the Pacific Coast League this year. He hit .300 with 31 homers and a .927 OPS between Round Rock and Oklahoma City last season and seemed like a candidate to take the Texas left field spot this spring. Instead, he was optioned back early in Spring Training, likely to focus on his defense following his move from second base, and after a slow start, he's starting to turn it on at the plate. He doubled, walked and scored at least one run in both ends of a double header at Colorado Springs and now has a hit in eight straight games. His .267/.313/.400 line is merely adequate, but if Calhoun gets truly hot soon, he shouldn't be around much longer.
Video: Rangers' Calhoun doubles
Others of note
Dodgers OF DJ Peters, Double-A Tulsa: 3-for-4, HR, 2B, RBI, R, BB -- The Dodgers' No. 6 prospect may be out of the California League, but he's had little trouble keeping the power on. Sunday's homer was his third in nine games, and he's hitting .333/.378/.595 with Tulsa.
Brewers OF Corey Ray, Class A Advanced Carolina: 4-for-8, 2 2B, R, SB -- Could this be the Ray turnaround? The Brewers' No. 7 prospect, who has seen his prospect status diminish since going fifth overall in the 2016 Draft, is hitting .33/.378/.595 with eight extra-base hits and three steals in his first 10 Double-A games.
Cubs 2B David Bote, Triple-A Iowa: 3-for-5, HR, 3B, 2 RBI, 3 R -- It's not easy trying to break through as a Cubs infield prospect these days, but the organization's No. 14 prospect is doing his darndest.. He's hit three of Iowa's five home runs this season.