Albuquerque Isotopes (Florida Marlins)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Isotopes went 5-2 and stand atop the American Southern Division.
WHO'S HOT/NOT: OF Joe Borchard owned a .444 average (16-for-36) with five home runs and 19 RBIs over his last 10 games. OF Val Pascucci had a .378 average (14-for-37) with five homers and 10 RBIs in 10 games. RHP Kenny Baugh was 0-1 with a 19.80 ERA over his last two games.
BIG BATS: The Isotopes turned Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium into the site of their own home run derby last week, hitting 15 homers in four games, including seven in one contest. They opened the series with the seven-homer barrage, hit by seven different players, in an 11-4 victory Aug. 18. Albuquerque hit five more in an 11-8 win last Sunday, with Borchard and Pascucci launching two each. The Isotopes hit three homers in a doubleheader sweep on Wednesday, and then hit five more against Memphis on Wednesday, giving them 20 in a five-game span. Pascucci collected four of those homers, catapulting him into the PCL lead with 34 entering Friday.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "They've raised their game a level. It's translated into more energy. There's just a different feel about this team now." -- Manager Dean Treanor to the Albuquerque Tribune on the Isotopes' recent surge.
Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Colorado Rockies)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: With a 2-5 mark, the Sky Sox stood in second place in the American Southern Division.
WHO'S HOT/NOT: IF Jolbert Cabrera hit .436 (17-for-39) over a 10-game stretch. 1B Joe Koshansky batted .394 (13-for-33) with two homers and seven RBIs in his last 10 games. OF Alexis Gomez had five hits in 30 at-bats (.167) over his previous nine games.
TOUGH TO SAVE: RHP Ryan Speier earned his 31st save of the season in last Sunday's Sky Sox victory over Tucson, drawing him within one of the PCL season save record set by Todd Williams of Tacoma in 2000. Tying the mark, though, has proven to be difficult for the 28-year-old, who stumbled in his first two chances to do so. He gave up two ninth-inning runs and suffered the loss in back-to-back nights against Salt Lake, not only giving him his fourth and fifth blown saves of the year but also damaging the Sky Sox's hopes of catching up to the Bees in the division race. Speier has blown three of his last five save opportunities after a streak of 16 consecutive converted save chances dating to early June.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "These have been three pretty good games to watch. They've been a battle for everybody." -- SS Clint Barmes to the Colorado Springs Gazette after the Sky Sox dropped the first three games of a five-game home series against Salt Lake.
Fresno Grizzlies (San Francisco Giants)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: On a 6-1 surge, the Grizzlies moved into a tie for second place in the Pacific Southern Division.
WHO'S HOT/NOT: SS Tomas De La Rosa hit .324 (11-for-34) with three home runs and 10 RBIs in a nine-game span. RHP Matt Kinney won his last two starts, giving up five earned runs and fanning 15 in 12 2/3 innings. OF Clay Timpner batted .129 (4-for-31) over his last 10 games.
HOME RUNS, THREE-FOLD: 1B Scott McClain, last year's PCL MVP (as a Sacramento River Cat), has put together a solid campaign for the Grizzlies, particularly over the last two months. He had his biggest game of the season in the Grizzlies' home finale on Tuesday, hitting three home runs in Fresno's 9-2 victory over Salt Lake. It was the 35-year-old's fourth multiple-homer game of the year, and continued a power surge that began on the first of July. Entering Friday, McClain had slugged 17 of his 31 homers in July and August. He also entered the weekend with 99 RBIs, tied for second in the league and just one behind RBI leader Scott Seabol of Albuquerque.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "You don't ice [your arm] when you top out at 75 [mph]." -- 1B Lance Niekro to the Fresno Bee after trying his hand at pitching in last Sunday's game.
Iowa Cubs (Chicago Cubs)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Cubs held second place in the American Northern Division after going 4-3.
WHO'S HOT/NOT: C Geovany Soto had a .378 average (14-for-37) with three homers and eight RBIs in his last 10 games. RHP Rocky Cherry did not allow an earned run in 7 1/3 innings over five appearances. 3B Matt Craig had just two hits in his last 18 at-bats (.111).
THE BIG 10: LHP Les Walrond earned his 10th victory of the season in Sunday's Cubs win over Memphis, reaching a significant milestone. He won 10 games with Iowa for the second consecutive season, becoming the first Cubs pitcher to achieve the feat since Blaise Isley in 1993 and '94, according to the Des Moines Register. Ironically, Isley happened to be Walrond's pitching coach earlier in his career when he was in the St. Louis organization. Despite losing his next outing Friday against New Orleans, Walrond was 10-4 with a 4.99 ERA in 26 games, including 23 starts, for the Cubs this season.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "I don't know how anybody can't pick him as being Player of the Year for the PCL this year." -- Manager Buddy Bailey to the Des Moines Register on the hot-hitting Soto.
Las Vegas 51s (Los Angeles Dodgers)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The 51s, 4-3 last week, remained in the Pacific Southern Division cellar.
WHO'S HOT/NOT: 1B John Lindsey boasted a .400 average (16-for-40) with three home runs and 10 RBIs in his last 10 games. SS Wilson Valdez hit .462 (18-for-39) in a 10-game span. OF Choo Freeman batted .115 (3-for-26) over a nine-game stretch.
HITTING STAR: After winning the MVP award at the All-Star Futures Game in San Francisco on July 8, SS Chin-Lung Hu joined the 51s and has continued his hot hitting all the way through August. The 23-year-old native of Taiwan entered Friday batting .341 in 39 games with Las Vegas, and was enjoying a surge of seven hits in 10 at-bats over his last two games. Hu, a right-handed hitter, was particularly hot against lefties, batting .458 (22-for-48). He was promoted to the 51s after hitting .329 with six homers and 34 RBIs in 82 games for Double-A Jacksonville.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "If you ever think you figured something out, this game has a way of humbling you and bringing you down a level or six." -- C Chad Moeller to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on his offensive prowess.
Memphis Redbirds (St. Louis Cardinals)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Redbirds went 3-4 and sat in last place in the American Northern Division.
WHO'S HOT/NOT: 2B Edgar Gonzalez hit .441 (15-for-34) in his last 10 games, including eight hits in his last 14 at-bats (.571). OF Joe Mather slugged three home runs and drove in 10 runs in a four-game span, batting .474 (9-for-19). 2B Mike McCoy had three hits in 17 at-bats (.186) over an eight-game stretch.
FEAST OR FAMINE: The Redbirds entered Saturday with the second-worst offense in the league (.258) and the worst run total (587), but in two of their first three games in last week's series at Albuquerque they looked nearly unstoppable. Memphis opened the series at Isotopes Park on Wednesday with a 20-12 victory. Then, after falling, 10-0, in a game shortened to eight innings by rain, the Redbirds rebounded Friday to beat the Isotopes, 12-5, pounding out 17 hits. Prior to Wednesday's outburst, the Redbirds had managed to score more than three runs just twice in a nine-game span.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "Getting upset means you care, which is good. Getting upset to where it distracts you and you don't pitch well is not good." -- St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa to the Associated Press, citing RHP Brad Thompson's temper as a reason why he was demoted to the Redbirds.
Nashville Sounds (Milwaukee Brewers)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: With a 5-3 mark, the Sounds strengthened their hold on first place in the American Northern Division.
WHO'S HOT/NOT: SS Chris Barnwell sported a .419 average (13-for-31) over his last eight games. OF Drew Anderson batted .364 (12-for-33) with 10 RBIs in his previous nine games. 1B Andy Abad had two hits in 14 at-bats (.143) over a four-game stretch.
NEAR-RECORD POWER: OF Laynce Nix had an impressive power surge in the last week, even after the opportunity to make his streak historic had passed. He homered in six consecutive games Aug. 13-20, falling one game short of the Minor League record, after Round Rock held him homerless on Tuesday. But the 26-year-old picked up his run the following day, going deep on Wednesday against Oklahoma, and another home run Thursday gave him eight homers in nine days and raised his season total to 23 in 85 PCL games. The Sounds won all but one of the eight games in which Nix homered.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "It was a good decision. I've hit a home run eight out of nine days, so, you know." -- Nix to the Tennessean on being intentionally walked in a win over Oklahoma.
New Orleans Zephyrs (New York Mets)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Zephyrs went 3-4 to fall into third place in the American Southern Division.
WHO'S HOT/NOT: C Robinson Cancel had a .357 average (10-for-28) with seven RBIs in his last eight games. RHP Steve Schmoll has not allowed an earned run in his last five outings, spanning 5 2/3 innings. OF Chad Hermansen had a .133 average (2-for-15) over his last five games.
HARD TO WIN: Since becoming the first PCL pitcher to reach 10 victories July 16, RHP Philip Humber has had trouble increasing his win total, going six starts without one. Not even coming within two outs of a no-hitter, as he did Wednesday against Iowa, could earn him a victory. Humber was nursing a 3-0 lead with one out in the ninth inning at Zephyr Field when Iowa's John Nelson singled. Humber was pulled in favor of RHP Ambiorix Burgos, who promptly surrendered three runs to send the game to extra innings. The Zephyrs eventually won the game, 4-3, in 10 innings.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "It's something I don't think the fans understand. If someone asks, 'Why did you take him out?' He had over 122 pitches, and I like my job." -- Manager Ken Oberkfell to the New Orleans Times-Picayune on removing Humber from Wednesday's game.
Oklahoma RedHawks (Texas Rangers)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The RedHawks went 5-3 and held second place in the American Southern Division.
WHO'S HOT/NOT: 1B Nate Gold batted .359 (14-for-39) with six home runs and 12 RBIs in a 10-game span. OF Freddy Guzman hit .448 (17-for-38) in his last 10 games. 2B Tug Hulett had three hits in his last 24 at-bats (.125).
STIFF PENALTY: RHP Edinson Volquez, arguably the RedHawks' most impressive starter over the last two months, was scheduled to be called up by the Rangers to start Tuesday in Baltimore. But Volquez, according to the Oklahoman, overslept and arrived late to the ballpark before Oklahoma's game at New Orleans, missing his scheduled pregame bullpen session. The Rangers subsequently cancelled the 24-year-old's scheduled promotion. Volquez instead pitched for the RedHawks on Tuesday, and he responded by striking out eight and limiting New Orleans to two hits over seven scoreless innings in the RedHawks' 10-2 victory.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "He's disappointed, but he knows he screwed up. It's too bad for him, but you live and learn. Hopefully it'll never happen again. This is a wakeup call for him." --Manager Bobby Jones to the Oklahoman on Volquez.
Omaha Royals (Kansas City Royals)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Royals sported a 3-4 mark and are in third place in the American Northern Division.
WHO'S HOT/NOT: SS Angel Berroa sported a .355 average (13-for-35) with two home runs and six RBIs in nine games. LHP Tyler Lumsden threw six scoreless innings, giving up only two hits and earning the victory against Round Rock on Friday. OF Chris Lubanski had one hit in 10 at-bats (.100) over a three-game stretch.
LEADER OF THE MINORS: With another homer in the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader against Albuquerque, 1B Craig Brazell raised his season total with Omaha to 30, tied for fourth in the league. It also gave him 37 for the entire year -- he hit seven homers hit for Double-A Wichita earlier in the season -- which is the highest total in the Minor Leagues. Entering Saturday, the 27-year-old stood three homers ahead of Albuquerque's Val Pascucci for that distinction. Brazell, who hit 13 homers in his first 22 games with Omaha, had five in his last 20 games.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "I just got a cab from the airport. It would have been a little weird going to the hotel with them on the bus." --LHP Paul Mildren to the Omaha World-Herald on traveling with the Albuquerque Isotopes after learning he had been claimed by the Royals from Albuquerque on waivers.
Portland Beavers (San Diego Padres)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Beavers sat in last place in the Pacific Northern Division after going 3-4.
WHO'S HOT/NOT: OF Brady Clark collected 10 hits in 21 at-bats (.476) over his last five games. 3B Brian Myrow hit .371 (13-for-35) in a nine-game span. C Luke Carlin had one hit in his last 13 at-bats (.077) over four games.
DELIVERING QUALITY: By giving up one unearned run in 7 2/3 innings to beat Las Vegas on Tuesday, RHP Tim Stauffer continued a run of excellence that has lasted more than a month. The game marked his seventh consecutive quality start dating to July 13, when he allowed one run in seven innings of a Beavers' victory over Sacramento. Stauffer has won five consecutive decisions and lowered his ERA from 5.99 to 4.40 in that span, and has worked at least six innings in 13 of 14 starts dating to May 27. The 25-year-old was 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA in four August starts.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "Fortunately for us right now, our last few days we've been picking each other up and playing together. We could easily lay down, but we're still playing and it's good to see that." --Manager Rick Renteria to the Oregonian on the Beavers' late-season play despite their losing record.
Round Rock Express (Houston Astros)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: On a 1-6 slide, the Express remained in last place in the American Southern Division.
WHO'S HOT/NOT: C Humberto Quintero hit .393 (11-for-28) over his last nine games, including six hits in his last 14 at-bats. 3B Mark Saccomanno hit .324 (12-for-37) with eight RBIs in a 10-game stretch. 2B Brooks Conrad had one hit in 16 at-bats (.063) over five games.
LONG WAIT: In the midst of a dismal season, the Express had to endure a lengthy delay while trying to break a losing streak. Round Rock lost, 4-3, at Nashville on Tuesday for a series sweep and their seventh consecutive defeat before moving on to Omaha, where the Express sat idle for two days as rain postponed its two scheduled games against the Royals. The Express finally returned to action Friday and ended the skid with a 6-0 victory in the first game of a doubleheader behind a strong performance from rehabbing Astros RHP Brandon Backe. However, Round Rock lost the nightcap, 8-0.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "They've kicked our butts the last couple of nights." -- Manager Jackie Moore, to the Austin American-Statesman after the Express gave up a total of 21 runs in consecutive losses to Nashville.
Sacramento River Cats (Oakland Athletics)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The River Cats went 2-5 but held on to the top spot in the Pacific Southern Division.
WHO'S HOT/NOT: C Jeremy Brown batted .344 (11-for-32) with three home runs and eight RBIs in his last eight games. RHP Jermaine Van Buren had four scoreless innings over his last three appearances, striking out seven. RHP Brad Knox was 0-2 with an 11.88 ERA in his last two starts.
PERFECT 10s: RHP Colby Lewis didn't get a decision to show for his seven strong innings on Monday at Tacoma, but for the third straight start he reached double digits in strikeouts. He fanned exactly 10 batters for the third time while giving up one run on four hits. Lewis was 1-1 with a 0.90 ERA in those three starts while raising his strikeout total to 95 in 14 starts and 88 2/3 innings with the River Cats. The 28-year-old posted a double-digit strikeout total one other time for Sacramento, fanning 12 against Las Vegas on April 23. He sported a 1.83 ERA but didn't have enough innings to qualify for the ERA title.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "We're still four games up and finished our road trip 7-5. Now, if that's bad, we should quit." -- 1B Daric Barton to the Sacramento Bee on maintaining first place despite numerous transactions this season.
Salt Lake Bees (Los Angeles Angels)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Bees went 3-4 and maintained the top spot in the Pacific Northern Division.
WHO'S HOT/NOT: 1B Kendry Morales hit .452 (14-for-31) with two home runs and eight RBIs in his final eight games before being called up to the Angels. 3B Matthew Brown collected seven hits in 16 at-bats (.438) over his last four games. SS Brandon Wood batted .138 (4-for-29) over an eight-game span.
CLOSING IN: Despite a recent six-game losing streak, the Bees are getting closer to securing the Pacific Northern Division title by winning the big games -- through Friday they had won the first three games of a crucial five-game series at Colorado Springs to increase their lead over the second-place Sky Sox to 5 1/2 games. The Bees rallied in the ninth inning in each of the first two games to win by identical 9-8 scores before winning Friday's game 5-3. The Bees had been streaky for much of August, winning six games in a row before their six-game skid, which included a four-game sweep at Fresno. Salt Lake has had three losing streaks of at least five games since the start of July.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "I was more comfortable in my last at-bat." -- OF Juan Rivera to the Colorado Springs Gazette on hitting a game-winning two-run double to beat Colorado Springs after going hitless in his first four at-bats.
Tacoma Rainiers (Seattle Mariners)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Rainiers sported a 4-3 mark and stood in third place in the Pacific Northern Division.
WHO'S HOT/NOT: 2B Nick Green sported a .400 average (14-for-35) with two home runs and 11 RBIs over a nine-game stretch. OF Charlton Jimerson hit .385 (10-for-26) in seven games, including nine hits in his last 13 at-bats (.692). SS Mike Morse had just one hit in 21 at-bats (.048) over his last five games.
MAKING THE ADJUSTMENT: In his first eight games with Tacoma after being promoted from Double-A West Tenn, Jimerson was batting .179 (5-for-28). But over the next three games the 27-year-old settled in quickly at the plate, collecting nine hits and raising his average to .341 (14-for-41) with a home run and five RBIs in 11 games. Jimerson, who hit .247 in 123 games for Round Rock last season, joined the Rainiers after batting .276 in 82 games for West Tennessee, slugging 23 home runs and driving in 73 runs -- far surpassing his career high in both categories.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "If you try to do too much just because they're there, you're not going to do anything." -- C Jeff Clement to the Tacoma News Tribune on performing well with Seattle front office executives in the stands.
Tucson Sidewinders (Arizona Diamondbacks)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Sidewinders went 3-4 and were tied for second place in the Pacific Southern Division.
WHO'S HOT/NOT: 3B Jamie D'Antona hit .429 (18-for-42) with three home runs and 12 RBIs over a 10-game span. OF Alex Romero also drove in 12 runs in 10 games while batting .357 (15-for-42). RHP Enrique Gonzalez was 0-1 with a 10.80 ERA in his last two starts.
STILL HITTING: The Sidewinders' offense suffered a big blow early last week when 1B Chris Carter, who entered Friday ranked sixth in the league with a .324 average, was traded by Arizona to Boston. Carter's loss, though, didn't stop the Sidewinders from hitting -- they entered Friday having hit a collective .340 over their last 10 games, averaging 7.8 runs a game. Tucson went 6-4 in that span, scoring at least seven runs seven times. Their offensive surge culminated in a 17-12 victory over Las Vegas on Thursday in which they pounded out 26 hits, led by a 5-for-6 performance by 1B Robby Hammock.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "I would prefer a player who makes his living hitting." -- Hitting coach Joel Youngblood to the Arizona Daily Star on making starting pitchers available to pinch-hit in last Sunday's game against Colorado Springs because of a shortage of bench players.