Here's a look at the top pitching performers in each league for the week ending Aug. 16:
Chris Jones, Norfolk (BAL)
(2-0, 1.20 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 15 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 0 BB, 7 K)
Now primarily a starter for the Tides, Jones' strikeout rate is down to 5.9 per nine innings this season, but his walk rate has also dipped (1.8 per nine). The 26-year-old lefty had his second-best outing of the year Saturday night, allowing two hits and one hit batsman over eight scoreless innings to beat Louisville. With help from strike-throwers like Jones, Norfolk leads the IL in both ERA and WHIP.
Pacific Coast League
Chien-Ming Wang, Tacoma (SEA)
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 1 CG, 1 SHO, 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 4 BB, 2 K)
In 2006, Wang went 19-6 for the Yankees despite allowing 233 hits and 52 walks while fanning just 76 in 218 innings thanks to a knack for getting ground outs. Nine years later Wang owns a 5.71 ERA in Triple-A and his peripheral stats are still underwhelming, but when his sinker is on, it's on. On Saturday the right-hander, now 35, tossed his first pro shutout since 2009, holding host Oklahoma City to three hits and four walks while striking out a pair. Wang induced 19 groundouts (and two flyouts) in the gem.
Lucas Giolito, Harrisburg (WAS)
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 1 BB, 11 K)
Despite having begun the year as MLB.com's top pitching prospect, the 21-year-old Giolito has been solid but not spectacular most of the season. On Friday night the 6-foot-6 righty showed what he's capable of, fanning 11 batters over seven scoreless one-hit innings to earn his first Double-A victory. With an upper-90s fastball among three above-average offerings, this sort of outing may soon become the norm for the Nationals prospect.
Ryan Williams, Tennessee (CHC)
(2-0, 0.75 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 12 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 HR, 0 HBP, 2 BB, 9 K)
Conventional wisdom has it that, though the Cubs system is loaded with young position players, it's short on pitching. Williams' brief pro career provides an exception to that line of thought -- the 2014 10th-round pick out of East Carolina owns a 1.86 ERA in 33 career appearances (20 starts) and is 12-3 with a 1.98 mark this season. With a pair of dominant outings last week, the 23-year-old right-hander has allowed seven hits over his last 18 innings and has yielded one home run in 123 innings this season.
Alex Reyes, Springfield (STL)
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 10 K)
Rays lefty Blake Snell leads all qualifying Minor Leaguers with 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings; he's the only pitcher in double digits. A lack of innings has kept Reyes off the list, but his rate in 86 frames this year is an astonishing 13.5. The 20-year-old showed off that magnificent stuff last week, fanning 10 Frisco batters over six scoreless one-hit innings to earn his first Double-A win. Reyes is poised to become the next in a long line of young Cardinals pitchers with upper-90s fastballs.
Alex Balog, Modesto (COL)
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 3 BB, 7 K)
Coming into his matchup with Bakersfield on Saturday, Balog was 0-3 with a 5.77 ERA in his previous six starts, including a loss to the Blaze six days earlier. The University of San Francisco product rebounded to hold Bakersfield hitless for 7 2/3 scoreless innings and notch his first win since July 8. Despite pitching in the homer-happy Cal League, the 23-year-old righty's home runs and walks allowed are both down this season, boding well for his future.
Reynaldo Lopez, Potomac (WAS)
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 0 BB, 11 K)
Lopez had gone exactly a month without a win before his start against Winston-Salem last Wednesday. The right-hander blanked the visiting Dash for seven dominant frames, allowing two hits while striking out a career-high 11. In a league of just eight teams, familiarity with the opposition leads to a season-long series of adjustments and counter-adjustments. The 21-year-old Lopez seems to be ending the campaign on a high note.
Florida State League
Nick Travieso, Daytona (CIN)
(2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 10 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 4 BB, 6 K)
After winning 14 games for Dayton last season, big things were expected this year from Travieso, a first-round pick in 2012. Injuries have limited him to 16 starts for the Tortugas, but they've been of a high quality, leading to a 2.63 ERA. With a pair of scoreless starts last week -- including five hitless innings against Dunedin on Tuesday -- the Florida native has allowed just two earned runs in his last 29 innings.
Wyatt Strahan, Dayton (CIN)
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 4 K)
With Travieso departed no longer in Dayton, the Dragons have gotten a strong performance from 2014 third-round pick Strahan, who snapped a three-decision skid with seven scoreless innings against Burlington on Friday. The two-hit performance gave the 22-year-old right-hander just his second win in his last 10 starts despite a 2.08 ERA over that stretch. Strahan ranks fifth in the Reds system in both ERA and strikeouts.
South Atlantic League
Stephen Tarpley, West Virginia (PIT)
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 0 BB, 2 K)
In January Pirates fans wondered why the team would deal Travis Snider, a useful outfielder coming off a career year, to the Orioles for a pitcher who had yet to reach full-season ball. Seven months later, Tarpley is 10-2 with a 2.14 ERA for West Virginia and Snider has been designated for assignment. The 22-year-old earned his 10th win with eight scoreless innings at Hickory on Sunday, a performance in which he recorded 16 groundouts against one flyout.
New York-Penn League
Brett Lilek, Batavia (MIA)
(1-0, 0.90 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 10 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 1 BB, 12 K)
A second-round pick in the June Draft, Lilek's first six pro innings went very smoothly: no runs, two hits, seven strikeouts. The next 5 2/3 innings saw him yield 11 earned runs on 13 hits, sending his ERA to 8.49. The left-hander rapidly rebounded for the Muckdogs, however, and after a pair of strong outings last week, has now surrendered just two earned runs in his last 21 innings. Lilek, an Arizona State product, owns a 1.01 WHIP despite the two tough starts and has now fanned 41 in 32 2/3 pro frames.
Brett Shankin, Hillsboro (ARI)
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 1 BB, 7 K)
Shankin spent four seasons in the Mariners organization before beginning this year in the independent leagues. He's returned to affiliated ball with a flourish, making a pair of strong starts for Hillsboro, including eight two-hit frames against Vancouver on Thursday. The 25-year-old right-hander has held Northwest League hitters to a .130 average in his first 14 innings with the Hops.
Onesimo Hernandez, Elizabethton (MIN)
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 0 BB, 8 K)
A reliever earlier in the Appy League campaign, Hernandez's last four outings have been starts. He's risen to the occasion, going 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA, and had his best outing of the season at Bristol on Friday. Seven scoreless innings and eight strikeouts -- both season-highs -- ensued, with the 23-year-old right-hander lowering his E-Twins ERA to 3.23.
Michael Boyle, Ogden (LAD)
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 0 BB, 6 K)
Boyle's pro career has gotten off to a dominant start with the Raptors, first as a reliever and now as a starter. The 13th-round pick out of Radford University in Virginia lowered his ERA to 1.24 after five dominant innings at Helena last week and has had only one bad outing in his first 11 appearances. Boyle has 31 strikeouts against just six walks in 29 Pioneer League innings.