Prospect Roundup: Games of July 12

Franco boosts hit streak to 17 games; White turns things around

Wander Franco was ranked as the No. 3 international prospect in the 2017-18 signing class by MLB.com. (Bill Mitchell)

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com | July 13, 2018 12:40 PM

Theme of the day

Some powerful NL West catchers: Dodgers fans might have been prepared to tell their rival Giants counterparts, "Hey, look at our catching prospect," before those from the Bay Area could turn around and say, "Oh yeah, look at our catching prospect." There's no doubt that both organizations boast promising young backstops in Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers) and Joey Bart (Giants), and the two showed why Thursday night. Ruiz, ranked as MLB.com's No. 44 overall prospect, homered twice  -- once from each side of the plate -- for Double-A Tulsa while Bart, this year's No. 2 overall pick, went deep in his fourth straight game for Class A Short Season Salem-Keizer. It's certainly possible that Los Angeles and San Francisco fans could be having the Ruiz vs. Bart debate for many years to come.

Video: Drillers' Ruiz homers from left side

Who stayed hot

Rays SS Wander Franco, Rookie-level Princeton: 2-for-4, HR, RBI, R -- This was supposed to be an aggressive assignment. The Rays signed Franco -- who ranked only behind Shohei Ohtani and Julio Pablo Martinez on MLB.com's 2017-18 international prospect rankings -- for $3.825 million last July and sent him stateside for his first season of Minor League ball this summer. Despite turning 17 in March, Franco continues to have no issues handling the Appalachian League. The Rays' No. 7 prospect extended his hitting streak to 17 games with his performance Thursday; no one else in the Appy League has had a hitting streak longer than 13 games this season. He also collected his fourth homer of the year through 21 games and improved his slash line to .368/.409/.598. Franco is making lots of contact with just an 8.6 percent strikeout rate, and he's showing a surprising amount of early power for his age and size at 5-foot-10. The Dominican Republic native earned his assignment by standing out in extended spring training, and he's carried that performance into the regular season.

Who needed this one

Dodgers RHP Mitchell White, Double-A Tulsa: 6 2/3 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 98 pitches, 76 strikes -- It's been a rough second trip to Double-A for the Dodgers' No. 3 prospect. White, who made seven starts with Tulsa last season, was held back a month at extended spring training with an undisclosed injury but hadn't gotten into much of a groove in the two months since his return. The 23-year-old entered Thursday's outing at Northwest Arkansas with a 6.24 ERA and 1.61 WHIP but enjoyed his best of the season by far. It was White's longest start of the season and marked the first time he posted a zero in the earned-runs column since June 2. His six strikeouts also matched a season high, while he didn't issue a walk for the first time in 13 starts with the Drillers in 2018. White now owns a 5.50 ERA and 1.53 WHIP with 48 strikeouts and 24 walks in 55 2/3 innings on the season. Nagging injuries may have been the cause of his early issues, but when things are clicking, White has shown the ability to dominate with three above-average pitches (fastball, curve, slider).

The unexpected

Reds 3B Jonathan India, Rookie-level Greeneville: 3-for-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R, BB, K -- This year's No. 5 overall pick was no doubt going to break out of his slump at some point. The former University of Florida slugger opened his pro career 0-for-12 with six walks over four games but had hit .350/.497/.717 with 21 homers in his final season at Gainesville. But to break that so decisively, as he did Thursday at Kingsport, was a pleasant surprise. More on that in Vincent Lara-Cinisomo's story here.

Best matchup

Chance Adams vs. Nick Gordon: The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre right-hander and Rochester shortstop have each had their issues in the International League this season, but on Thursday, both put together respectable performances in the Red Wings' 2-1 win. In the one-on-one matchup, Gordon got the upper hand with RBI singles off Adams in both the third and seventh innings to provide all of Rochester's offense. But the Yankees' No. 4 prospect hit few other bumps, allowing only the two earned runs on five hits and three walks in 6 2/3 innings. This was his first quality start since June 13 and just his fourth in 17 starts this season. Adams now owns a 4.65 ERA with 84 strikeouts in 81 1/3 innings in his second go at Triple-A. Gordon notched his second straight two-hit game but is hitting .240/.259/.355 in 46 games with Rochester since being promoted on May 22. Rochester and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre cross paths next from July 30 to Aug. 2.

Who strengthened their promotion case

Angels 3B Taylor Ward, Triple-A Salt Lake: 3-for-3, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB -- The Angels' No. 12 prospect returned from the Triple-A All-Star break in perfect fashion. Ward reached base in all five of his plate appearances Thursday in Salt Lake's 9-4 win at Sacramento, collecting a homer and a double for good measure. Since being promoted to the Pacific Coast League on June 2, the 24-year-old is hitting .392/.466/.632 with six homers, 12 doubles and eight steals over 33 games. While some of that has to do with a hitter-friendly environment at home in Salt Lake, Ward has actually been a better slugger on the road (four homers, .646 slugging percentage) than at home (two homers, .617 slugging) in his first trip to Triple-A. Up in the Majors, the Halos are turning more and more to promoted prospect David Fletcher at the hot corner, so as good as Ward has been, a promotion isn't likely imminent. However, he is Rule 5-eligible this offseason, and with Los Angeles falling out of contention in the American League, they could decide to give the 2015 first-rounder a long look with a 40-man roster addition in September to see how he might fit in their long-term plans.

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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