Offensive Players of the Week

For the week ending August 3

(Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com)

By Bryan Smith / MLB.com | August 4, 2008 8:31 AM

International League
Ben Zobrist, Durham
.583 (14-24), 7 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 2 SO, 2 SB, .833 SLG
Clearly the heat of the Rays' first pennant race in franchise history is having a trickle-down effect, as Zobrist seems to be fighting for his spot back with the big league club. Zobrist held his own in the Majors this year with five home runs in 23 games, but ultimately he wasn't playing enough to justify keeping on the roster. After a slow re-introduction to Durham, the shortstop has been a revelation during a five-game hitting streak, with three games containing more than three hits. Zobrist also hit two home runs on the week, giving him nine between the Majors and Minors in 155 at-bats. It's enough to give Zobrist a new single-season career high, as eight home runs in more than 300 at-bats in 2007 was his previous high mark.

Pacific Coast League
Josh Phelps, Memphis
.346 (9-28), 9 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 7 HR, 15 RBI, 3 BB, 8 SO, 0 SB, 1.154 SLG
It's not easy being stuck behind Albert Pujols, and since Phelps has only played first base this season, a spot for him in St. Louis is unlikely. Phelps possesses a career .820 OPS in the Majors, but it hasn't been enough for a full-time job offer since 2004. Instead, the Alaskan native keeps mashing at Triple-A, with an amazing seven home runs this week thanks to a three-homer game on July 29. In his last 10 seasons, Phelps now has hit 20 home runs eight times, and Phelps will soon be closing in on his third 30-homer season. The first baseman hit 14 home runs in the month of July to turn around his season.

Eastern League
Luis Montanez, Bowie
.581 (18-31), 13 R, 2 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 2 BB, 2 SO, 0 SB, 1.065 SLG
It's been a long time since Montanez was a first-round pick by the Chicago Cubs. Montanez, a lanky shortstop out of Miami, had seven seasons in the Cubs system, only playing a season and a half above Class A. The Orioles have re-started Montanez's career, starting him in left field this season before recently trying him at every outfield position. Of late, he's shown it doesn't matter where he plays, just that he does, as he is in the midst of an 18-game hitting streak. Montanez hit for the cycle on August 1, tallying eight RBIs as he closes in on triple-digits for the season. To say that Montanez is closing in on a career season is an understatement -- his current .601 slugging percentage would represent the first season that number has been above .500.

Southern League
Gaby Sanchez, Carolina
.452 (14-31), 7 R, 4 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 3 BB, 5 SO, 0 SB, .871 SLG
It was all about timely hitting for Sanchez this week, who led the Minor League circuit over the last seven days with 17 RBIs. The first baseman now has brought in nine runners in three games in August, thanks to a two-homer game on Sunday. In April, Sanchez had 12 RBIs for the month in 26 games. Clearly, he is seeing the ball better of late, as he's had at least two hits in over half (14) of his 27 games in July. Sunday's two-homer game was Sanchez's second in two weeks, however, it's also just the second occasion in which he'd done it during his career. Since the All-Star break, the University of Miami product is hitting .463 and Sanchez has raised his season batting average with runners in scoring position to .367.

Texas League
Tommy Everidge, Midland
.452 (14-31), 9 R, 6 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 0 BB, 6 SO, 0 SB, .839 SLG
With a big start to the month of August, Tommy Everidge is hoping to end his current streak of doing well every other month. In April, Everidge struggled mightily to a .211 average, but he bounced back with a .997 OPS in the month of May. Then June was met with struggles, as Everidge hit just .212 in 27 games. In July, with the help of 14 multi-hit games, Everidge boosted his average to .268 with a .322 average in the seventh month. In August, the first baseman is looking to halt another letdown, and opened well, with three multiple-hit games to start the month. This included two games with a pair of doubles, giving Everidge 48 extra-base hits in his rollercoaster season.

California League
Kevin Kulbacki, Lake Elsinore
.500 (11-22), 7 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 3 BB, 2 SO, 0 SB, 1.000 SLG
In 2006 Kulbacki, then a sophomore at James Madison University, was one of the nation's best collegiate hitters, compiling a .464 batting average. Scouts wondered if JMU's lighter schedule was responsible, but when he hit .398 the next season, he convinced the Padres he could hit any pitching, and they made him their supplemental first-round pick. Since then, Kulbacki hasn't done anything to prove them wrong, and the right fielder is making a late-season push for a promotion. Kulbacki is currently riding a 17-game hit streak, during which he's hit seven home runs and raised his average 43 points. He's now hitting .417 since the All-Star Break, and Kulbacki's talent is no longer in question.

Carolina League
Jeff Bianchi, Wilmington
.423 (11-26), 6 R, 6 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 2 SO, 2 SB, .769 SLG
It has been an up-and-down season for Bianchi, who's also had an up-and-down career. Bianchi built big expectations for himself after hitting .414 as a teenager in two years in the Arizona Summer League. However, he struggled in his full-season debut with the Burlington Bees last year. This season, Bianchi's performance seems to be effected by the field he plays on. At Frawley Stadium in Wilmington, Bianchi has been a shadow of his 2007 self, managing a mere .173 batting average in 39 games. On the road, as he was this week, he's been great, raising his road average to .326 with 11 hits this week. Bianchi is slugging .558 on the road this season, and since he hasn't made an error in the middle infield since April 7, you can bet that will be enough to earn a trip to a new home stadium next year.

Florida State League
Logan Morrison, Jupiter
.654 (17-26), 9 R, 4 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 0 BB, 3 SO, 1 SB, 1.154 SLG
In case there was any doubt left, Logan Morrison wanted to make sure it's clear that 2008 is his breakout season. He's hit well in every month this year, including .396 in July, so why wouldn't it make sense that Morrison would start August with 11 hits in four games? Morrison even put an exclamation point on his performance Sunday, hitting two home runs for the first time since April 22 last season. His five RBIs on the day represented a career high. It's been that kind of season for Morrison, who has managed to turn a stadium renowned for helping pitchers into a personal haven, as he's batting .361 at home. In truth, Morrison is batting well everywhere, and with just 15 strikeouts since the All-Star Break, we can certainly understand why.

Midwest League
Brett Wallace, Quad Cities
.429 (12-28), 6 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 1 BB, 6 SO, 2 SB, .714 SLG
When the Cardinals made Wallace their first pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, many scouts and pundits wondered where he would play. The Cardinals vowed to keep Wallace at third base for now, and merely stated that they'd let his bat do the talking. So far it's working, as Wallace is handling his first full-season assignment with Quad Cities. Wallace only has four errors in 28 games, but it has been his bat doing the talking, especially with four multiple-hit games this week. Wallace has found his home run stroke with wood of late, bashing three home runs in his last 10 games.

South Atlantic League
Gregory Sexton, Columbus
.360 (9-25), 4 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SO, 0 SB, .800 SLG
Since a tough April, Sexton has been as consistent a hitter as anyone for Columbus, hitting at last .280 in every month since. At a corner position, power is an expectation, and while Sexton hit his 30th double of the season this week, he entered the week with just two home runs. The hope that balls would begin clearing the fence instead of bouncing off it became true this week, as Sexton hit three home runs in his last five games. He'd hit just six home runs in his 152 professional games prior. It's a big change for the 2007 10th-round pick, whose four-RBI performance on Sunday were a career high. While Sexton is hitting .339 against southpaws this season, he's yet to hit a home run off a left-handed pitcher in his career. With the power on the up-swing, expect that to be shattered soon.

Appalachian League
Adan Severino, Elizabethton
.529 (10-19), 6 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 3 SO, 2 SB, .737 SLG
Severino's transition to wood bats was a slow one, as the outfielder had grown quite fond of aluminum after a big season with the Miami Hurricanes in 2008. Entering the week, Severino's professional career was in full slump mode, as the Miami native was hitting just .154 through his first 18 games. However, with 10 hits in five games since, Severino finds his average up an even 100 points and his OPS up nearly 200 points. It's the result of three multiple-hit games, including a four-single affair on July 30. Severino also stole two bases uncontested this week, and with a pair of walks, brought his on-base percentage north of .400 for the first time.

Pioneer League
Luis Jimenez, Orem
.400 (10-25), 3 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 0 BB, 4 SO, 2 SB, .880 SLG
On July 27, the Angels promoted first baseman Gabriel Jacobo, taking away the first-place Owlz's best hitter. Jacobo hit .327 for Orem in 36 games, and when he left, a big hole in the lineup was created. Enter Jimenez, who has also been very good this season, but his performance has been amplified since Jacobo left. In Orem's next game on July 29, Jimenez hit his seventh home run of the season. He had two more home runs on the week, and three more games with at least two hits. To boot, he even showed improved performance on the bases, stealing his first two bags of the season.

New York-Penn League
Derek Norris, Vermont
.476 (10-21), 5 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 13 BB, 3 SO, 2 SB, .952 SLG
Norris finished his week with a pair of hitless games -- a combined 0-for-5 on the weekend -- but, if nothing else, it should only symbolize how good the first part of his week was. Norris, a fourth-round pick in the 2007 Draft, flipped his season on its head with three home runs this week, raising his slugging percentage nearly 100 points. The catcher also had four multiple-hit games, including three straight from Wednesday to Friday. However, his most impressive feat came on Monday, in the Lake Monsters' 18-inning win over Lowell. In the contest, Norris reached base eight of nine times, collecting two singles, a home run, and five walks. For the season, his on-base percentage sits at .483, as the Monday game was enough to raise it 27 points.

Northwest League
Ryan Keedy, Boise
.577 (15-26), 6 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 4 SO, 0 SB, .808 SLG
An 0-for-4 outing on July 25 dropped Ryan Keedy's batting average to .310. His slugging percentage was lower than his on-base percentage. Keedy was having a good season, but more than a week later, it certainly doesn't look like much compared to his current .371 average. Keedy has hit safely in each of his eight games since then. In fact, he's reached base at least twice in all of them. He hit his second home run of the season on Tuesday, a game sandwiched between two four-hit outings and the first baseman now has an RBI in seven straight games.

Bryan Smith is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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