Theme of the day
First-rounders first: First-round Draft picks dominated the Minor League news landscape Sunday -- for good and for bad. Start with the positive. Tigers 2016 first-rounder Matt Manning fired seven scoreless innings for Class A West Michigan in the longest outing of his young career. Angels 2017 first-rounder Jo Adell collected three more hits for Class A Advanced Inland Empire to continue his incredibly impressive first full season. Now for the less positive. News broke that Royce Lewis, the top overall pick in last year's Draft, has been dealing with a left-knee issue for roughly six weeks, though he expects to be OK for the Midwest League All-Star Game.
Video: West Michigan's Manning finishes seven scoreless
Who stayed hot
Blue Jays OF Ryan Noda, Class A Lansing: 3-for-4, HR, 3 RBI, R, BB, K -- Noda has turned his prospect profile upside-down in June. The Blue Jays' No. 17 prospect was known for his elite ability to take a walk and has consistently been atop the Midwest League leaderboard in OBP as a result. But he'd shown little power, having hit just one homer in his first 46 games. He's now gone deep seven times in 12 games in June alone while batting 18-for-45 (.400). He's still taking his walks, but at 12/7, this is the first month in which his K/BB ratio has tipped more toward punchouts than free passes. He's hitting .253/.447/.455 and now ranks fourth in the Midwest League with a .902 OPS. He's also drawn 58 walks, 10 more than anyone else in the circuit.
Video: Lansing's Noda knocks two-run homer
Who needed this one
Giants RHP Jason Bahr, Class A Augusta: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 84 pitches, 54 strikes -- A fifth-round pick out of Central Florida last year, Bahr has been working toward a promotion to Class A Advanced San Jose. His outing last Monday, in which he allowed five earned runs in five innings against West Virginia, didn't help his case. Sunday's outing got things back on track, especially since it was at the launching pad that is Asheville's McCormick Field. Bahr ranks second in the South Atlantic League with 88 strikeouts over 68 2/3 innings and also owns a 2.75 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. He should be tested with a move to the California League before long.
Blue Jays OF Mc Gregory Contreras, Class A Short Season Vancouver: 2-for-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, K -- The Blue Jays' No. 21 prospect helped his profile with a solid season at Rookie-level Bluefield in 2017, but his power ceiling looked merely average. Contreras hit five homers in 51 games in the Appalachian League last campaign. On Sunday, he delivered his first career two-homer game in Vancouver's 6-4 win at Eugene. If the 19-year-old outfielder continues to show improved pop in the Northwest League, he could give the Jays another intriguing teenager with his solid bat and good defense.
Michel Baez vs. Colton Welker: Two top-100 prospects crossed paths Sunday at Lake Elsinore, and it was Baez (No. 35) who got the best of Welker (No. 91). The Padres right-hander got the Rockies third baseman to bounce out to second base in the first inning, ground out to short in the third and strike out swinging in the fifth. Welker is now just 1-for-5 with a walk and a strikeout against Baez this season. Baez finished with eight strikeouts and just one run allowed on three hits and three walks in his five innings, lowering his California League ERA to 2.79. The two could cross paths again after the Cal League All-Star break when Lancaster hosts Lake Elsinore from July 13-16.
Who strengthened their promotion case
Dodgers OF Alex Verdugo, Triple-A Oklahoma City: 2-for-3, HR, 2B, RBI, 2 R, BB -- The Dodgers' top prospect has been one of the Pacific Coast League's most consistent hitters since he first arrived in Triple-A last season. With two extra-base hits Sunday, Verdugo now has hits in 12 straight games and is batting .423/.474/.596 with one homer, six doubles, five walks and only one strikeout in that time. He's now hitting .341 on the season, and with five homers, he's already one long ball behind his entire 2017 total. Verdugo isn't a power hitter by any means, but he makes lots of contact and is a defensive asset with a plus-plus arm in any of the three outfield spots. It hasn't quite worked out in the Majors, where he's hit .228 with a .630 OPS in 24 career games, but given his Triple-A track record and his recent run, the Dodgers shouldn't be afraid to bring him back up.
Video: Alex Verdugo crushes homer