Theme of the day
Lower levels, high excitement: Class A and Class A Advanced may be further away from Major League Baseball, but that doesn't mean the bottom two rungs of the full-season ladder can't provide thrills. No. 19 overall prospect Royce Lewis grabbed headlines with his first career two-homer game for Class A Cedar Rapids and followed it up with a walk-off sacrifice fly in the second game of a doubleheader. Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga, led by Dean Kremer, needed one more out for a no-hitter before top Angels prospect Jo Adell of Inland Empire broke it up with a two-run homer in the ninth. Rangers outfield prospect Eric Jenkins jumped over the fence in left field for Class A Advanced Down East to make a snag that could well be the play of the year. In that same game, Anderson Tejeda went 4-for-5 with two homers. Sleep on the lower levels at your own peril.
Video: Jenkins makes catch, takes tumble
Who stayed hot
Brewers 2B Keston Hiura, Class A Advanced Carolina: 3-for-5, 3B, 2 R, CS -- The 2017 ninth overall pick was hitting .238 with a .634 OPS over 21 games in April. After Sunday's performance at home against Myrtle Beach, Hiura is now hitting .349 with 18 extra-base hits and a 1.014 OPS in 26 games this month. His season average is up to .301. That's what folks expected out of the UC Irvine product, who may have had the best overall hit tool in the 2017 Draft. In even more promising news, Hiura has played 13 games at second base this month after elbow and shoulder issues limited him to DH duty in April.
Who needed this one
Phillies OF Jhailyn Ortiz, Class A Lakewood: 3-for-6, HR, RBI, 2 R, K in doubleheader -- The Phillies' No. 5 prospect pushed his average above the Mendoza line for the first time this season when he went 1-for-3 in the first game of a twin bill at Delmarva. It went up to .218 with a two-hit nightcap that included his second homer of the season. The 19-year-old outfielder is now hitting .218/.283/.322 through 24 games. Ortiz opened the season 0-for-16 in his first five games and then missed nearly a month (from April 24 to May 20) with a shoulder injury. Now healthy, the right-handed slugger, who hit .302 with a .961 OPS at Class A Short Season Williamsport last season, is warming up.
Pirates INF Stephen Alemais, Double-A Altoona: 2-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, R, BB, K -- The Pirates' No. 19 prospect isn't known for his power -- he had zero homers, a .286 slugging percentage and .563 OPS heading into Sunday's game in Harrisburg. So it was a surprise to see him homer against the Senators. A third-round pick in 2016, Alemais provides most of his value through his above-average run and defensive tools, but he has to improve his offensive output to compete with Kevin Newman, Cole Tucker and Kevin Kramer for middle-infield spots at the Bucs' upper levels. After Sunday, he is 11-for-26 (.423) with the homer and two doubles in his last eight games..
Video: Altoona's Alemais slugs his first Double-A home run
Jon Duplantier vs. Eloy Jimenez: Following a breakout 2017, Duplantier has been solid for Double-A Jackson, posting a 2.78 ERA and 1.12 WHIP with 41 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings -- but he hadn't faced someone like Jimenez yet. The top White Sox prospect hit an RBI double to center off the Generals starter in the first inning, walked against him in the fourth and reached on a force attempt in the sixth. Duplantier finished with three earned runs allowed on three hits and four walks in 5 1/3 innings in his team's 7-5 loss to Birmingham. That's just the second time in seven starts that he's allowed more than two runs. Jimenez finished 2-for-4 with the double and walk and is now hitting .336/.379/.623 through 36 games. Duplantier's side doesn't face Birmingham again until a six-game stretch from June 28 to July 3, and Jimenez, at least, may have earned a promotion by then.
Who strengthened their promotion case
Braves LHP Kolby Allard, Triple-A Gwinnett: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 87 pitches, 58 strikes -- That's six straight quality starts for the Braves' No. 6 prospect after this gem against Columbus. His 2.09 ERA is the second-lowest among International League qualifiers, and his 1.09 WHIP ranks eighth. It should also be noted that this was the first start Allard made after leaving a May 19 start early due to a collision on the infield. Obviously, there were no lasting effects. The 6-foot-1 left-hander doesn't have the peripherals of a dominant starter (3.64 FIP, 38 strikeouts in 56 innings), but he's becoming the most reliable member of the Gwinnett rotation. With Mike Soroka, Luiz Gohara and Max Fried all getting starts for the surprisingly competitive Major League club, Allard is doing his part to be the next man up.
Others of note
Angels 1B Matt Thaiss, Triple-A Salt Lake: 3-for-4, HR, 3B, 2 RBI, 3 R, BB -- The Halos' No. 8 prospect is no doubt enjoying the Pacific Coast League. Since going 0-for-8 in his first two Triple-A games, the 23-year-old first baseman is 10-for-18 (.556) with three homers, one triple, two doubles and six RBIs in his last four games with the Bees.
White Sox OF Luis Gonzalez, Class A Kannpolis: 3-for-6, HR, 3B, 2B, RBI, 5 R, 2 BB, 3 K in doubleheader -- The No. 18 White Sox prospect extended his hitting streak to 12 games with knocks in both ends of Kannapolis' doubleheader at West Virginia. His season line is up to .337/.393/.558 through 42 games, and his .951 OPS ranks second in the South Atlantic League.
Mariners RHP Chase De Jong, Double-A Arkansas: 8 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 93 pitches, 70 strikes -- The Mariners' No. 21 prospect was incredibly efficient, throwing 75.2 percent of his pitches for strikes, in his longest outing of the season. Despite having 89 1/3 Triple-A innings and 28 1/3 Major League frames on his resume, the 24-year-old right-hander has spent all of 2018 in the Texas League, where he has a 3.84 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings so far.