Theme of the day
Piling it on: Randy Cesar picks up hits. Taylor Widener racks up strikeouts. Tyler O'Neill hits homers. Those have been the themes for each of those players in 2018, which they reiterated Wednesday. Cesar extended his hitting streak to a Minors-best 35 games for Double-A Corpus Christi. Widener added 12 K's to his tally and now has 89 in 67 2/3 innings for Double-A Jackson. O'Neill went deep twice in his fourth multi-homer game of the season for Triple-A Memphis.
Who stayed hot
Royals SS Nicky Lopez, Double-A Northwest Arkansas: 4-for-4, RBI, 2 R, BB -- The Royals' No. 6 prospect has hits in 12 straight games, but none of the previous 11 performances were quite like this perfect day at the plate. Lopez matched a season high with four hits and reached base five times for the third time this season. The 23-year-old left-handed hitter, coming off a standout Arizona Fall League campaign, is tied for the Texas League lead with 82 hits and ranks fourth in the circuit with a .332 average through 64 games. There's little power in the profile -- he's yet to homer and has just a .393 slugging percentage -- but he has incredible plate discipline that bolsters his above-average hit tool. Lopez's ratio of 1.5 walks to strikeouts is best among qualified Double-A hitters.
Who needed this one
D-backs SS Jasrado Chisholm, Class A Kane County: 2-for-5, HR, 3B, 2 RBI, 2 R, K -- The D-backs' No. 3 prospect was coming off a five-strikeout game on Monday and was 2-for-19 (.105) with nine punchouts in his previous five games. So yeah, his homer and triple, each of which came by the fifth inning, were a welcome sight. Chisholm is back in Kane County after a torn meniscus limited him to only 29 games with the club last season, and after showing little power (one homer, .358 slugging) in that limited look, he's exhibiting more pop this year. The 20-year-old shortstop has gone deep nine times in 50 games, putting him in a tie for fourth in the Midwest League. He's also hitting .254/.317/.478, but after his power seemed to be his weakest tool entering 2018, he's doing his best to change that narrative.
Athletics OF Ramon Laureano, Triple-A Nashville: 4-for-5, 3 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R -- After missing most of April and May with a broken pinky finger, the A's No. 21 prospect entered Wednesday's game in El Paso batting .254/.357/.394 and four extra-base hits in his first 20 games. His season high for hits in a single game was just two. So not only did he set a new 2018 mark with his four hits, he also nearly doubled his extra-base hit output. Laureano is now hitting .289/.382/.461 with three homers, four doubles and four stolen bases in his first 21 Triple-A games. Dealt from the Astros last November after a rough offensive season at Double-A (.227 average, .668 OPS), Laureano has a chance to rebuild his hitting reputation with the A's. At the least, he provides plus speed and a good arm from right field; he already has eight outfield assists this season.
Mitch Keller vs. Peter Alonso: The top pitching prospect in the Eastern League faced one of the Double-A circuit's best hitters when Altoona beat Binghamton, 7-2, and both came out looking OK. Keller notched a quality start with two earned runs allowed on four hits and four walks in six innings, improving to 7-2 with a 3.25 ERA through 12 starts. Two of those four hits belonged to Alonso, who doubled off Keller in both the first and third innings. The Curve starter got some revenge, however, when he got Alonso to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play in the sixth. Binghamton next plays Altoona from July 26-29, but it's no safe bet that either will still be in Double-A by then.
Who strengthened their promotion case
Cardinals RHP Dakota Hudson, Triple-A Memphis: 8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 6 K, 104 pitches, 66 strikes -- O'Neill may have stolen the headlines with his two-homer game for Memphis, but don't sleep on Hudson's performance on the mound. It was his second scoreless eight-inning outing in his last four starts, and it's notable that it came at the launching pad that is Albuquerque's Isotopes Park. It helps that Hudson keeps the ball out of the air, with 14 of his outs coming on the ground. Hudson now leads the Pacific Coast League with a 2.18 ERA and has proven plenty durable with 74 1/3 innings pitched, second-most in the circuit. He doesn't strike out as many batters as might be expected of someone with a mid-90's fastball (7.0 K/9), but the sinking nature of that heater helps in the groundball department. The Cardinals lost a starting option with Alex Reyes's lat surgery but still have a strong rotation core in Miles Mikolas, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez and Jack Flaherty, but Hudson is looking like a legitimate Major League option.
Others of note
Yankees RHP Chance Adams, Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 106 pitches, 69 strikes -- This outing against Rochester was the No. 4 Yankees prospect's first quality start since May 16. That also happened to be the last time his ERA was below 5.00. Adams now has a 4.96 ERA and 1.28 WHIP with 70 strikeouts and 27 walks in 61 2/3 innings.
Yankees RHP Albert Abreu, Class A Advanced Tampa: 5 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 85 pitches, 55 strikes -- The Yankees' No. 3 prospect returned to the mound slowly after a February appendectomy, but is now back up to a full load and is showing his usual promise. This gem was his first scoreless start of the season and also his first outing without a walk since April 29. The 22-year-old right-hander has a 4.10 ERA with 43 strikeouts and 19 walks in 37 1/3 innings.