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Around the Minors: The week of Sept. 6

Sights and sounds from action across Minor League Baseball
September 12, 2021

Sept. 12

Sept. 12

Power dial set to max
The recent surge at the plate continued for Andy Pages with a pair of home runs for High-A Great Lakes. It was the third straight game with a long ball for the fifth-ranked Dodgers prospect who finished 2-for-4 with four RBIs. Pages has notched five hits over his last three games with four of those knocks finding the seats. The 20-year-old became the sixth player in the Minor Leagues to notch 30 home runs this season and the first to hit them all with one club.

Joining elite company
With his solo shot in the eighth inning for Double-A Bowie, Zach Watson joined the 20/20 club -- connecting with 20 long balls and successfully stealing 20 bases in the Minors this season. The Orioles prospect smacked his 11th dinger with the Baysox in his 43rd game with the club. Watson has swiped 23 bags in 29 total attempts this year.

Electric encore
After twirling one of the best performances of his career in his Double-A debut for Portland last time out, Jay Groome found a way to outdo himself again. The No. 8 Red Sox prospect tossed six scoreless frames while fanning nine and scattering a pair of hits and a walk. Groome has yet to allow a run since joining the Sea Dogs. The left-hander has gone at least five innings in seven straight starts this season and racked up 19 punchouts over 11 innings through his first two Double-A starts.

Walk this way
You can put it on the board. Third-ranked Cardinals prospect Jordan Walker notched his first career two-homer game and finished with three RBIs for High-A Peoria. The 19-year-old found the seats in consecutive games and has gone yard 15 times in his first professional season -- launching six with Low-A Palm Beach to open the year. Walker is batting .300 with an .836 OPS, 26 RBIs, two triples and 13 doubles across 51 games with the Chiefs.

All signs showing Green(e)
Hitting must be contagious because Riley Greene has been right in the middle of Triple-A Toldedo's offensive outburst of late. The No. 7 overall prospect found the seats for the 22nd time this season with an opposite field two-run shot in the first inning. It was the second-ranked Tigers' prospect sixth dinger with the Mud Hens, and was part of his second straight multihit game. Greene has notched six multi-knock efforts over his past eight contests with four home runs over that span.

You never forget your first
In his 17th professional game, Aaron Zavala connected with his first career home run. The second-round selection in this year's Draft crushed a ball 101 mph to right to give Low-A Down East a lead. The 19th-ranked Rangers prospect is batting .305/.431/.441 with 15 runs scored and eight RBIs across two levels of the Minors this season.

Flexing to the top
After a back and forth between being tied at the top or trailing by a lone dinger, it is MJ Melendez who now has sole possession of the Minor League home run leaderboard. The fourth-ranked Royals prospect mashed his 37th long ball of the year -- a solo blast in the second inning for Triple-A Omaha -- to right field to pass Miami's Griffin Conine in the thrilling tater race. The roundtripper was Melendez's ninth with the Storm Chasers.

Sept. 11

Four by four
In a 20-12 slugfest, you'd probably expect a certain number of crooked numbers. In Saturday's contest between Double-A Amarillo and visiting Tulsa, one of them was even more crooked than usual. The Sod Poodles smacked four straight homers in the third inning. After a leadoff homer by Ryder Jones and two consecutive plunkings, it was tee-off time. Stone Garrett went to left-center field, then Buddy Kennedy to center, Dominic Fletcher to right-center and Dominic Canzone. All of them (including Jones' solo shot) came off right-hander Melvin Jimenez.

California dreamin'
The playoff picture in the Low-A West came into focus when San Jose clinched its postseason berth with a 9-2 victory over the visiting Ports. As he's done all season, Luis Matos led the way. The third-ranked San Francisco prospect was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate, finishing a triple short of the cycle while cranking his 13th homer of the season. The Giants will meet the Fresno Grizzlies, also from the circuit's North Division in the best-of-5 championship series starting Sept. 21.

You'll believe a man can fly
Let's file this under the dictionary definition of "web gem." It was only the first inning, but Tyler Reichenborn was laser-focused in center field for the High-A Chiefs. River Bandits leadoff batter Maikel Garcia sent a liner into what appeared to be the gap in left-center field at Modern Woodmen Park. But the Cardinals prospect covered the ground by foot, then dove for and came up with the ball.

Wesneski's world
The Double-A Patriots couldn't ask for much more from Hayden Wesneski in the nightcap of their doubleheader sweep of the Yard Goats. The Yankees' No. 15 prospect went the distance, striking out a career-high 14 without a walk while allowing one hit over seven innings. His lone flaw was a solo homer given up to Sean Bouchard in the second.

The stage is set
It'll be all West Division in the Low-A Southeast postseason. Pittsburgh's No. 19 prospect Endy Rodriguez belted his 14th homer on a three-hit night as Bradenton (69-43) punched its ticket for the best-of-5 championship series. The Marauders will face off against the Tarpons, the Yankees affiliate standing atop the division standings, beginning on Sept. 21.

Welcome to the club
It's been a scorching week for Josh Lester. The Detroit infield prospect racked up his fourth homer in his past four games for Triple-A Toledo in the first inning, becoming the fifth Minor Leaguer to collect 30 long balls this season. Then he added his 31st of the season in the fifth as part of the Mud Hens' 21-4 rout of the Cubs.

Never forget
Teams around Minor League Baseball -- like Double-A Somerset, Triple-A Round Rock and Double-A Corpus Christi -- did their part to remember and honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks that occurred 20 years ago. From local heroes to first responders, clubs and ballparks across the Minors paid tribute to those lost on that fateful day.

Sept. 10

Finding his power stroke
For the second time in his career -- and first time stateside -- Julio Rodriguez found the seats twice as part of a four-knock game for Double-A Arkansas. The top Mariners prospect clubbed a pair of solo shots, laced a two-run single the other way in the fifth and added another base hit and a walk to reach base five times. The 20-year-old has reached base safely in 21 of his past 22 games for the Travelers.

She said yes!
The fans at Atrium Health Ballpark on Friday night got more than just a baseball game between Low-A Kannapolis and Fayetteville. In-between innings, during a couple's balloon race game, two Cannon Ballers fans took things to the next level. Jorden and Jose became engaged on the field.

Can't touch this
It was a career night for Freddy Tarnok, who twirled 6 1/3 hitless frames while fanning eight for Double-A Mississippi. The 12th-ranked Braves prospect issued a seven-pitch walk to Chris Betts in the third inning before retiring the final 12 batters he faced. The right-hander sports a 2.41 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over eight starts with the M-Braves this season.

Sliding into the weekend like...
This was not an easy play, but Tyrone Taylor made it look like one. The Brewers outfield farmhand came charging in on a sinking bloop hit and slid to complete the backhanded play for Triple-A Nashville. The 27-year-old even tosses the back to himself before popping up and looking as cool as can be. Definitely a 10 across the board on style points.

Locked-in and loaded
It appeared that everything was working for Tommy Romero on Friday night. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 13 over a career-long 7 2/3 scoreless frames for Triple-A Durham. The 18th-ranked Rays prospect scattered a pair of hits and a walk and was taken out of the game after tossing 71 of his 100 pitches for strikes. Romero posted five hitless innings his last time out on September 4.

Now it's a pattern
For the third straight game, Bobby Witt Jr. launched a home run in the first inning for Triple-A Omaha. The top Royals prospect found the high grass in left-center for his 31st long ball of the season. The 21-year-old extended his hitting streak to seven straight games and has six extra-base knocks over that span.

Just like they used to do it
There was something going on in the outfield at Peoples Natural Gas Field during the third inning. A pair of misplays by Bowie outfielders Cal Mitchell in right and Canaan Smith-Njigba in left led to a pair of little league home runs for Double-A Erie. First, Daniel Cabrera sent a laser off the wall in right for a triple and came around to score on an error, and then Drew Ward sent a ground ball single to left that snuck under the glove of a charging Smith-Njigba, and the first baseman motored around the bases to slide home safely.

Pacing the circuit
The Mississippi Braves became the first Double-A club to clinch a spot in the postseason. The team's 64-40 (.615) record is the best in the Double-A South and provided the club with an 11-game cushion atop the South Division standings. The effort of second-ranked Braves prospect Shea Langeliers has paced Mississippi's success as the 23-year-old leads the team in average (.256), slugging (.482), home runs (20), is second in runs (52) and third in hits (79) and RBIs (46).

Sept. 9

Out with the old, in with the new
In the now-defunct Northwest League, two players -- Gary Johnson of Tri-City (1962) and Anthony Laurenzi of Medford (1982) -- put together 26-game hitting streaks. That mark has been passed on the new High-A West circuit by Spencer Horwitz of Vancouver. The Toronto infield prospect has hit safely in 27 straight games after singling in the fifth inning. He added an RBI single in the sixth for good measure and scored three times against Spokane.

Keeping pace in the home run race
The home run race is knotted up yet again. MJ Melendez cracked his 36th long ball of the year -- his eighth with the Triple-A Storm Chasers -- to catch up to buddy Griffin Conine once more. The fourth-ranked Royals prospect teed off on a long solo shot to right-center field in the fourth against the Saints.

'Easy swing, easy power'
Another day, another home run for Bobby Witt Jr. A milestone one, in fact, as it was the top Royals prospect's 30th long ball of the season. A night after showing off his speed with an inside-the-parker, Witt was more conventional in launching his 14th for the Triple-A Storm Chasers over the fence in left-center field against the Saints. He also belted 16 at Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

Talk about a team player
Left-hander Ian Seymour didn't just take one for the team, he road-tripped to do it. When top Rays prospect Shane Baz was scratched from his start for the Triple-A Bulls due to illness, Seymour left his High-A Bowling Green squad in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to make the ultimate spot start. It wound up being a rather impressive one too. Seymour gave up an unearned run on one hit and one walk while striking out six over five frames against Norfolk.

Never too young
Fifth-ranked Washington prospect Andry Lara became just the 11th teenager to be added to the ranks of the Fredericksburg Nationals since 2005. The 18-year-old joined such notable names as Juan Soto and Luis Garcia in the process. After going 3-2 with a 4.54 ERA and 47 strikeouts over 39 2/3 innings in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League, Lara gave up four runs on three hits and five walks while fanning three over 4 2/3 frames in his first outing for the Low-A club.

A whole new ballgame
High-A Bowling Green punched its ticket to the postseason by edging Winston Salem, 3-2, in their doubleheader opener. The Rays affiliate is quite familiar with the playoffs, having reached them for five seasons in a row and winning the Midwest League championship in 2018. This year, though, it'll be a completely different playoff picture in the High-A East with an opponent to be determined.

Sept. 8

A little razzle dazzle
This season, Delvin Zinn has done a little bit of everything between High-A South Bend and Double-A Tennessee. Although the 24-year-old has played most of his games at short, he's also seen time at second, third, center and left. Zinn got to show his range at his native shortstop against Chattanooga with a three-pronged defensive web gem of slide, stop and sling.

Some grand playoff aspirations
Quad Cities made use of a patented well-balanced attack as well as a grand slam for some breathing room to sew up the top seed in the High-A Central. After backing into a postseason spot despite a loss on Tuesday, Gavin Stupienski smacked his first career slam to help the Kansas City affiliate clinch the circuit's top seed with a 9-3 victory over visiting Peoria on Wednesday.

Coming up Aces
Some quick off-day math shows that Ildemaro Vargas has amassed 500 hits over parts of five seasons with the D-backs' Triple-A affiliate. The 30-year-old infielder's third-inning single Tuesday was his 61st knock of the season for Reno. Vargas amassed 70 over 46 games in his first stint with the club in 2016. He added 152 in 2017, 167 in 2018 and 50 in 2019.

How do you spell relief? M-o-r-e-t-a
Talk about an ultimate closer. Dauri Moreta has not allowed an earned run over the course of 20 appearances for Triple-A Louisville. The 25-year-old righty was promoted on July 6, and in the ensuing 22 2/3 frames, he's racked up six saves in seven opportunities. The opposition has batted .136 against Cincinnati's No. 28 prospect, scoring two unearned runs on 11 hits. Moreta has struck out 18 while walking four.

Shouldering the responsibility
Seattle has decided to shut down fourth-ranked prospect Emerson Hancock for the remainder of the season due to an ongoing shoulder issue. The Mariners don't expect the 2020 sixth overall pick to need surgery. Hancock, who posted a 3-1 record with a 2.62 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 12 games will head to the club's Arizona facility to work on strengthening the shoulder.

'Witt Jr. can fly'
We know Bobby Witt Jr. can handle the demands of playing of shortstop. We've seen video of Witt's power -- 29 homers this season. And now we have more evidence of the top Royals prospect's speed -- he raced around the bases for his second inside-the-park homer of the season for the Triple-A Storm Chasers. His first served as the 21-year-old's first Triple-A long ball.

Sept. 7

A grand moment
What appeared to be a snoozer early on turned into a thriller thanks to Matt Wallner and the grand slam he mashed for High-A Cedar Rapids in the third inning. After falling behind 6-0 in the first and getting nothing going through two, it was the 14th-ranked Twins prospect who brought a pulse back to his club and the game with a monster grand slam to right to cut the Kernels' deficit to just two. The 23-year-old finished with three hits -- falling a triple shy of a cycle.

Breaking the sound barrier
You knew it was gone as soon as you heard it. The sound at the point of contact between the bat and ball on Riley Greene's 20th home run of the season may still be resonating around Principal Park. The second-ranked Tigers prospect continued his torrid streak at the plate with a towering blast to straightaway center for Triple-A Toledo. It's the 20-year-old's third long ball in the past two games -- his fourth with the Mud Hens -- and it came two innings after top Tigers prospect Spencer Torkelson crushed his 26th of the year.

OKC dealing aces
It was a sight to behold for Dodgers fans everywhere. L.A.'s ace Clayton Kershaw suited up for Triple-A Oklahoma City and took the hill for the first time since July 3. The southpaw did not disappoint either as he allowed a pair of runs on four hits and did not issue a walk while fanning three over three frames. The only blemish on his ledger was a two-run shot that he yielded in the second inning to Brian Serven.

Making em count
Talk about being locked and loaded. Rays' 29th-ranked prospect Tobias Myers had everything working for him on the hill with Triple-A Durham. The right-hander pitched into the sixth and whiffed 10 -- including getting MLB Pipeline's top overall prospect Adley Rutschman twice on punchouts. The 23-year-old has amassed 122 strikeouts over 97 1/3 innings pitched this year.

This one will last a lifetime
It's not everyday you get the chance to face a three-rime Cy Young winner, especially if you haven't made it to The Show yet. But that was exactly the case for Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday. The Isotopes saw Dodgers' ace Clayton Kershaw on rehab assignment with Oklahoma City, and Rockies prospect Brian Serven made the most of the opportunity. The 26-year-old unloaded on a 2-1 offering and crushed it into the concourse beyond left-center field. The blast not only gave the Isotopes a 2-0 lead, but also an awesome story that Serven can tell for the rest of his life.

The big top in the outfield
There was nothing ordinary about this play. Yankees outfield prospect Isiah Gilliam covers a lot of ground and makes an absolute circus catch in right for Double-A Somerset. The 25-year-old does all he can to avoid teammate Jesus Bastidas while still making the lunging dive forward and completing the play with the backhanded snag. Then the style points to pop right back up as if what he just did was routine -- 10's all around.

Gon' postseason fishin
The Low-A Tampa Tarpons are headed to the playoffs. The club clinched a spot in the Low-A Southeast Finals with a 70-36 (.660) record. Led by strong efforts from recently drafted players Anthony Volpe and Austin Wells, Tampa currently holds a five-game lead in the West Division. Volpe, the top Yankees prospect, leads the team in home runs (12), triples (5), doubles (18), and is second in runs (56). New York's No. 6 prospect Wells is tops in runs (61) and RBIs (54), second in homers (9), triples (4), doubles (17), and third in total hits (61).

Sept. 6

Keeping our eyes on Rookie
The beloved bat dog of the Trenton Thunder, who helped host the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons earlier this year, needed medical attention after getting stung by a bee. Love and best wishes immediately started pouring in from two- and four-legged fans across the Minor League landscape.

Laboring on Labor Day
Whether it was Triple-A West running its usual slate on Mondays or just Minor League clubs marking the first Monday in September, special attention was paid to MiLB teams, staffs and their fans for the holiday. There were fireworks on and off the field, and as always, some special and humorous insights delivered over social media.

Catch as catch can
Hope no one went for refreshments in the third inning of the Triple-A River Cats' game against the visiting Bees. Giants outfield prospect Bryce Johnson made a couple of dazzling diving catches back-to-back. (Oh well, if the plays were missed, they can be caught up on now) First, the 25-year-old made his way to right-center and went airborne to rob Michael Stefanic of a base hit. Then Johnson covered even more ground in left-center while diving to catch a sinking line drive by Matt Thaiss.

Padlo-ing the lead
The third extra-base hit of the game for Kevin Padlo was also his third long ball in the past two days for Triple-A Tacoma. The Mariners farmhand had already notched a pair of doubles before finding the seats with a monster shot to left-center that put the Rainiers up early. Then in the ninth, Padlo punched a game-tying RBI single to center, stole his first base with Tacoma and scampered home with an insurance run. The 25-year-old has eight hits with three homers, two doubles, six RBIs and six runs scored over his past two games.

The week that was
The season may be winding down with the turn of the calendar to September, but the Minor League home run race between Griffin Conine and MJ Melendez is still simmering. In fact, a lot of balls are leaving the yard at unbelievably fast velocities, but that didn't mean there wasn't room for a no-hitter or two ... or three. Plus, man's best friend enjoyed barking in the park and Double-A Erie hosted a Wonder-ful reunion. Review the action here.