Prospect Roundup: Games of July 5

Padres' Tatis, D-backs' Cron stay hot at upper levels of Minors

Fernando Tatis Jr. is tied for third in the Texas League with 15 home runs this season. (Lance Carter/MiLB.com)

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com | July 6, 2018 11:45 AM

Theme of the day

Feats and near feats: Sometimes if you want something done, you have to do it yourself. Other times, the opportunity to reach great heights is taken out of your hands. The latter is usually the fate of Minor League pitchers. Neither DL Hall (5 2/3 innings) nor Alex Kratz (3 1/3 innings) allowed a hit before hitting their pitch limits for Class A Delmarva, but the Shorebirds still lost, 1-0, to Hagerstown in 10 innings. Wyatt Marks tossed six hitless innings for Class A Beloit but was lifted after 89 pitches. Hitters, who don't have innings or pitch limits, often have a better chance to do something historic, as Trent Giambrone proved. The Cubs prospect hit three home runs -- including a ninth-inning grand slam -- and tied a Southern League record with nine RBIs in Double-A Tennessee's 16-3 win at Jackson. Minor League Baseball is all about the long term, so it makes sense that Hall and Marks were lifted, but they might be jealous that Giambrone got to see his big game through to the end.

Video: Giambrone blasts grand slam for Smokies

Who stayed hot

Padres SS Fernando Tatis Jr., Double-A San Antonio: 5-for-8, 2 R, 2 K in doubleheader -- Carrying things over from a postponed game, MLB.com's No. 3 overall prospect technically collected five hits total in a twin bill Thursday. He now has a 10-game hitting streak in which he has gone 18-for-40 (.450) with four homers and two doubles. Though Tatis was plenty hot before this stretch began, the hitting streak alone has bumped his season average up from .269 to .291. Much was made about the top Padres prospect's April slump, but he now has a 135 wRC+ over 81 games in the Texas League, despite being one of only two 19-year-olds to feature regularly in the circuit. Add in his 15 homers and 14 steals, and Tatis continues to have one of the most exciting offensive profiles in the Minors.

Who needed this one

Red Sox 3B Bobby Dalbec, Class A Advanced Salem: 4-for-5, HR, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R -- It's not that the No. 12 Red Sox prospect has been in a slump -- quite the opposite. He's opened July by going 7-for-18 (.389) with six extra-base hits in his five games. But this is the type of performance Dalbec needs on a regular basis to rise in the Boston system. There's no doubting the 2016 fourth-rounder's power; he leads the Carolina League with 17 homers, and his 41 extra-base hits total are tied for the most at Class A Advanced. But he's had extreme issues making contact, with a 31.3 percent strikeout rate that has dragged his average down to .238. The power is enough to provide Dalbec with some value, but the 23-year-old needs to be more than just a three-true-outcome star.

The unexpected

Royals LHP Daniel Lynch, Rookie-level Burlington: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 51 pitches, 40 strikes -- Friday marks the deadline for 2018 Draft picks to sign with their organizations, but this year's No. 34 overall pick, who officially signed for $1,697,500 on June 10, has wasted no time settling in with the Royals. The University of Virginia product tossed the longest outing of his young career, and did so with remarkable efficiency. Lynch needed only 51 pitches to work through five frames and threw almost 80 percent of them for strikes. The 6-foot-6 hurler showed solid control, with only 24 walks in 88 2/3 innings as a junior this spring, but he's taking that skill to another level in the Appalachian League, where he's issued only two free passes in his first 11 1/3 innings with Burlington. Lynch, whose best pitch is his changeup, could still work deep into games as the summer progresses. He threw 107 1/3 innings between Virginia and the Cape Cod Baseball League in 2017 and is now at 99 frames between college and the pros.

Best matchup

Michael Kopech vs. Brandon Lowe: Lowe has been one of the best hitters in the International League since his promotion to Triple-A Durham on June 7, but on the day before his 24th birthday, his early present was facing MLB.com's No. 10 overall prospect and one of the Minors' most notorious fireballers in Kopech. In this case, the Bulls slugger got the best of the Knights starter. Lowe walked on six pitches in the first inning and doubled on the first pitch he saw from Kopech to lead off the third inning. Kopech needed 74 pitches to get through three innings and exited having giving up four earned runs on three hits and four walks while fanning six. Lowe finished 3-for-4 with a homer and double and is now batting .340/.426/.710 with 19 extra-base hits in 25 games with Durham.

Who strengthened their promotion case

D-backs 3B/1B Kevin Cron, Triple-A Reno: 3-for-4, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, BB -- Cron has been Lowe's Triple-A counterpart in the Pacific Coast League as one of the Minors' hottest hitters. Having collected multiple hits in three straight games, the D-backs' No. 19 prospect is 26-for-55 with seven homers, four doubles and 26 RBIs in 14 games since June 21. His .473 average over that span is best among qualified full-season Minor Leaguers while his 1.435 OPS ranks third. (Lowe is at the top with a 1.552 OPS since June 21.) Cron is hitting .316/.366/.593 through 54 games, and with 15 long balls, he's well on his way to his fourth straight season with at least 25 homers. Cron went unprotected and unpicked in the Rule 5 Draft last offseason but is looking very much like a Major League-ready bat. With Paul Goldschmidt entrenched at first base in Arizona, the 25-year-old slugger's best chances might be at third base, and he has the arm for the position. He's played 32 games at the hot corner this season but has made only one start there in his last eight games.

Video: Aces' Cron rips three-run homer to left

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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