Theme of the day
It's all happening in the AL Central: Sunday's biggest news was that of Michael Kopech's imminent Major League debut. The White Sox will summon their No. 2 prospect to the big leagues Tuesday, which comes as a pleasant surprise given the service-time implications. Kopech leads the Minors with 170 strikeouts in 126 1/3 innings with Triple-A Charlotte while showing dramatically improved control in the second half. The Twins -- who, like the White Sox, are well out of contention in the AL Central and Wild Card races -- are also bringing up one of their top pitching prospects in Stephen Gonsalves for his Major League debut Monday after he posted a 2.96 ERA over 100 1/3 innings with Triple-A Rochester. Now if only the White Sox would do the same with Eloy Jimenez ...
Video: Kopech strikes out ninth batter for Knights
Who stayed hot
Braves RHP Kyle Wright, Triple-A Gwinnett: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 96 pitches, 58 strikes -- Last year's fifth overall pick is ending his first full season on a high. This was his second straight seven-inning gem -- he allowed only one hit and struck out eight over seven frames last Monday against Louisville -- and lowered his Triple-A ERA to 2.81 through four starts. He's posted a 0.82 WHIP since debuting with Gwinnett on Aug. 3 -- the fifth-lowest mark among Triple-A pitchers during that span. The Braves got aggressive with the 22-year-old right-hander, sending him to Double-A Mississippi to open 2018 just one year out of Vanderbilt, and while there were some bumps along the way, Wright continues to show top-of-a-rotation stuff with four above-average pitches. His 130 strikeouts in 135 innings this season trail only Touki Toussaint (148) and Bryse Wilson (139) for the organizational lead. Wright is unlikely to follow Toussaint, Kolby Allard and Mike Soroka as top-100 pitchers to make their Atlanta debuts in 2018, but look for him next year.
Who needed this one
Nationals OF Victor Robles, Triple-A Syracuse: 2-for-4, 2B, R, K -- The one Robles really needed came Saturday when he went 4-for-6 with a double, and it's even more promising that the 21-year-old outfielder put together back-to-back multi-hit games for the first time this season. Robles entered the weekend with a .211/.314/.267 line over 24 games with Syracuse and had collected just five hits in his previous 13 games (while batting .111) before popping off for six over the weekend. Despite the slump, Robles has the skills to be a five-tool monster, and the Nats are likely to see what he can do when rosters expand in September. Should Washington continue to fall out of the NL playoff picture, Robles could get a fair amount of playing time.
Reds OF Jose Garcia, Class A Dayton: 3-for-5, HR, 2 RBI, R, CS -- In the micro sense, this may not have come as much of a surprise. The No. 14 Reds prospect's performance against Bowling Green was his fifth straight game with multiple hits -- a run that's seen him go 12-for-24 (.500). But in the macro sense, few could have seen this run of success coming for the 20-year-old middle infielder. Even after this five-game string, Garcia is hitting just .245/.295/.345 with six homers and 10 steals in 114 games. His long ball Sunday was his fourth of August after he'd gone deep just twice in the previous four months. Cincinnati signed Garcia for almost $5 million out of Cuba in June 2017 but didn't let him make his Minor League debut until this season. Despite the slow start, Garcia has plus speed and impressive defensive tools at shortstop and second base.
Brendan McKay vs. Elehuris Montero: On Friday, Montero, who had been promoted to Class A Advanced Palm Beach on Aug. 7, was named Midwest League MVP. Two days later, he had the humbling experience of having to face MLB.com's No. 29 overall prospect when Palm Beach visited Charlotte. Montero faced McKay only twice Sunday, but neither plate appearance went well, starting with a 6-4-3 double play to end the first inning and finishing with a swinging strikeout in the third. The Charlotte southpaw only lasted 3 1/3 innings, having thrown 73 pitches and allowing two earned runs on five hits and two walks while fanning four.
Who strengthened their promotion case
Orioles LHP Keegan Akin, Double-A Bowie: 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 92 pitches, 68 strikes -- The Orioles' No. 12 prospect is cementing himself as the front-runner for Eastern League Pitcher of the Year. After Akin's gem at Erie, the 23-year-old left-hander leads the Double-A circuit with 14 wins, a 2.77 ERA and 135 strikeouts and ranks third with 130 innings pitched. Those numbers make him worthy of a promotion either way, but it's worth noting the postseason situations for Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. The Baysox sit at the bottom of the Eastern League Western Division, 11 games behind Akron, while the Tide are 4 1/2 back in their IL South Division and only one game out in the IL Wild Card race. The Triple-A club could use some help to get over the top, and Akin has little left to prove in the EL