The Salt Lake Bees are not a team chock full of top prospects.
They are not a club with a murderers row of power hitters, nor do they boast an arsenal of power pitchers who can shut down other teams.
What the Bees are is the team with the best record (74-54) in the Pacific Coast League and a league-best six-game lead in their division.
"It's just guys going out and playing to win," manager Keith Johnson said. "Obviously everybody is not going to have a good night every time out, but we do a pretty good job of getting past bad nights and moving onto the next game."
As with most PCL teams, the Bees have endured their fair share of player transactions. The current active roster has five position players who have been with the club all year in catchers Luke Carlin and John Hester, first baseman Efren Navarro, second baseman Luis Rodriguez and outfielder Roberto Lopez, all PCL veterans who have kept the club on an even keel.
"Definitely, guys that have kind of been there, done that," Johnson said. "Like I said, regardless of the situation that we're in, we do a really good job of playing nine innings every night."
The Bees are second in the league in team batting average (.287), tied for first in on-base percentage (.364), first in runs (722) and third in doubles (295).
"We have a lineup full of guys that grind out at-bats," Johnson said. "Very rarely are we going to have a one-pitch at-bat or a three-pitch at-bat. If we do, then it's followed by someone who's up there for six or seven pitches."
Salt Lake has just four players who have reached double digits in home runs this season. Kole Calhoun (12 homers) is now in the Majors while Trent Oeltjen (14) is out for the season after being hit in the face by a pitch. That leaves just Lopez and fellow outfielder Matt Long with 10 homers apiece still in the lineup.
The Salt Lake lineup has recently gotten a boost from the arrival of former big league third baseman Andy Marte, who signed out of the independent Atlantic League. Also rejoining the team after nearly two months on the disabled list is the lone ranked Angels prospect on the team, third baseman Luis Jimenez (No. 11).
The only two pitchers who have been with Salt Lake all year are starter Matt Shoemaker and reliever Fernando Cabrera.
The Bees' team ERA of 5.17 is the second-highest in the PCL, while they are also third in hits allowed (1,261) and fourth in walks (469). And yet, Salt Lake keeps on winning.
"Every single one of these guys know … they're going to get opportunities for quality innings," Johnson said. "Regardless of what their ERA is, I'm going to throw those guys in there if it's their turn."
Salt Lake will finish its current series with Las Vegas on Tuesday.
Chasing .500: Omaha has climbed back into first place in the American Northern Division despite entering Sunday with a 64-64 record. The Storm Chasers' pitching staff has been led by lefty prospect Chris Dwyer (9-10, 3.52 ERA) and veteran Brian Sanches (9-2, 3.25). Infield prospect Christian Colon has hit .339 since the All-Star break in July and leads Omaha with 12 home runs while ranking second on the team with 53 RBIs.
Hometown domination: The American Southern Division-leading RedHawks have looked awfully comfortable of late in Oklahoma City, winning 14 straight games there through Saturday. Despite plenty of player movement, the midseason addition of outfield prospect George Springer (.315, 15 HR, 44 RBI, 16 stolen bases) has been a huge boost for the RedHawks' lineup. Prospect Asher Wojciechowski (7-6, 3.51) has led the pitching staff.
Death, taxes, division titles: It's August, so the Sacramento River Cats must be in first place in the Pacific Southern Division. Indeed they are, but they lead by just one game over Las Vegas heading into the final two weeks of the season. Outfield prospect Michael Choice (.303, 14 HR, 82 RBI) and right-hander Bruce Billings (13-5, 3.88) are leading Sacramento in the stretch run.