Here's a look at the best pitchers in each league for the week ending May 25:
Taylor Hill, Syracuse
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 1 GS, 11 IP, 11 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 1 BB, 6 K)
You won't find the 25-year-old right-hander on many prospect lists, but he's been one of the more consistent pitchers in the Nationals system since the beginning of last season. He started last week with four scoreless innings Monday in relief of the rehabbing Ross Ohlendorf and tacked on seven more zeros Saturday, allowing five hits and no walks in that one. The former Vanderbilt hurler ranks third in the International League with a 1.63 ERA and second with a 0.96 WHIP across 60 2/3 innings, which also ranks second.
Pacific Coast League
Dan Straily, Sacramento
(2-0, 0.64 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 14 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 HR, 0 HBP, 6 BB, 15 K)
If you were to ask Straily, he'd tell you he'd much rather be in Oakland. That doesn't mean he's not making the most of his time with Triple-A Sacramento, though. The 25-year-old right-hander lasted seven innings in each of his two starts with the River Cats last week, allowing three hits or fewer and striking out seven or more in both gems. Since moving back to the PCL two weeks ago, Straily owns a 3.32 ERA, has held opponents to a .169 average and has struck out 20 in 19 innings.
Jeremy Bleich, Trenton
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 2 BB, 10 K)
It's been a long road back to the Trenton rotation for the southpaw. The 2008 first-rounder out of Stanford was a full-time starter with the Thunder in 2010 but needed surgery for a torn labrum in his left shoulder that kept him out most of that season and all of 2011. He was limited to a combined 98 innings mostly in relief between 2012 and 2013 before returning full-time to the Trenton rotation this season. On Friday at Richmond, his 10 strikeouts were a career high, and the effort was his first completely scoreless one of the season. The 26-year-old is 4-4 with a 3.47 ERA, 49 strikeouts and 16 walks in 57 innings this season. "I think I've been working really hard coming back from the shoulder injury," Bleich told MiLB.com. "So tonight was a very good one. But I think that it's a long season. ... I'm going to enjoy this one, but I think more importantly I have to just get ready for my next start and make sure my body's good to go. Just try to help this team win."
Dylan Floro, Montgomery
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 8 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 4 K)
Despite Floro making only four starts above the Class A level entering 2014, the Rays aggressively sent him to Double-A Montgomery to start the season. The move looked like it had initially backfired -- Floro gave up 15 runs in his first three starts (13 2/3 innings) -- but the 23-year-old right-hander has settled in nicely since, culminating in his eight-inning performance Friday against Huntsville. While the other numbers have been in flux, Floro's control has been impressive all season as he's issued only nine walks in 60 innings.
Thomas Shirley, Corpus Christi
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 0 BB, 5 K)
The top five in the Texas League for ERA consists of the Tulsa trio (top prospects Eddie Butler and Jon Gray along with Daniel Winkler), Rangers No. 7 prospect Luke Jackson and the unexpected man of the bunch Shirley, who has a 1.51 mark through 10 outings (47 2/3 innings) -- good enough for second in the circuit. He allowed only one double and tied a season high with six scoreless innings Wednesday in a 7-2 win over Arkansas. Interestingly, Shirley's ERA in seven games as a starter (1.51) is almost exactly the same as the one he's put up as a reliever (1.50) under the Astros' Minor League pitching management system.
Zach Neal, Stockton
(0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 8 2/3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 0 BB, 11 K)
Neal has received a pretty good tour of the A's system through the first month-and-a-half of the season. After beginning at Double-A Midland, he moved up to Triple-A Sacramento, but with a 4.86 ERA in six starts in the PCL, the A's decided to give him his next start with Stockton. Neal responded with an outing representative of a hurler who wants to get back to Triple-A ball ASAP. His 11 strikeouts, which came with zero walks, were by far a season high, beating out the eight he notched with Sacramento on April 28.
Francellis Montas, Winston-Salem
(1-0, 1.13 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 8 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 11 K)
Montas was set to start his first full season in the White Sox system after he was acquired in the deal that sent Jake Peavy to Boston last summer before knee surgery kept him out all April. Chicago's No. 16 prospect has been impressive, though, since returning May 5. He carried a no-hitter into the seventh frame Thursday before setting career highs in strikeouts (11) and innings (eight). He has given up four earned runs in 23 1/3 innings (1.54 ERA) through his first four starts and has struck out 26 while walking only four in that span.
Florida State League
Alex Burgos, Lakeland
(0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 7 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 10 K)
The 23-year-old right-hander is back in Lakeland for the third straight season and second since making the move to the bullpen. After giving up five runs in 2 2/3 innings during his first outing of 2014 on April 23, Burgos has surrendered only three tallies in 16 1/3 frames. He was especially fantastic last week when he tossed 3 2/3 one-hit frames Tuesday and followed it up with eight strikeouts in four perfect innings Friday. While command concerns haunted him entering the season, Burgos has averaged only 2.8 BB/9 in his last six outings.
Jonathon Crawford, West Michigan
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 9 K)
Crawford, the Tigers' first-round pick at 20th overall last June, has a lot to be pleased with in his first full campaign. The former University of Florida right-hander has given up one earned run or fewer in seven of his first eight starts with West Michigan and owns a 2.16 ERA with 41 strikeouts and 12 walks through 41 2/3 innings this season. Still, his outing Friday against Dayton, when he set career highs in strikeouts and innings, set his new standard for success. "I'll definitely be able to look back at this outing and when I'm struggling -- if I'm struggling -- just to kind of remember this game and mimic it later on down the road," he said.
South Atlantic League
Carlos Alvarado, Augusta
(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 5 K)
The 24-year-old right-hander was untouchable across two separate outings out of the bullpen for the GreenJackets last week. He didn't allow a baserunner in 1 1/3 innings Friday against Greenville and then held the Drive without a hit, while walking one and fanning three, for 4 2/3 innings Sunday. In his last four appearances, Alvarado has allowed one earned run on three hits and three walks and struck out nine over 9 1/3 frames.