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Offensive Players of the Week

For the week ending April 27
April 28, 2008
International League
Mike Hessman, Toledo
.348 (8-23), 8 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 4 BB, 8 SO, 1 SB, .870 SLG
Now in his fourth season with the Toledo Mud Hens, Hessman is proving to be in 2008 exactly what he has been in his first three seasons: a go-big-or-go-home slugger. With eight home runs on the season, Hessman now has 91 with the Mud Hens -- 100 career homers for Toledo is in sight. He also has struck out 25 times this season, putting himself just 38 strikeouts away from 500 career whiffs with Toledo. If the book is out on Hessman, it hasn't stopped pitchers from giving him pitches to drive as the 30-year-old now has six home runs in his last seven games, including a three-homer game to end the week.

Pacific Coast League
Brett Carroll, Albuquerque
.500 (10-20), 10 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 5 BB, 5 SO, 0 SB, 1.150 SLG
After opening the season in the Major Leagues playing four games with the Florida Marlins, Brett Carroll has made up for lost time since returning to the friendly confines of Albuquerque. It was last season, for example, that Carroll hit .366 at Isotopes Park, more than 110 points better than on the road. This season, Carroll is already hitting .441 at home, but he earned Player of the Week honors by proving to be no slouch on the road. Carroll arrived in Oklahoma last Thursday with a five-game hitting streak and three home runs in his previous four games. In his first contest on the road, he collected two hits -- both home runs. In his next game he had another hit, which also landed beyond the fence. On Sunday, Carroll kept his nine-game hitting streak running with three hits, giving him 10 on the week.

Eastern League
Luke Hughes, New Britain
.394 (13-33), 5 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 6 HR, 10 RBI, 2 BB, 7 SO, 0 SB, 1.000 SLG
Last season, in 92 games with the Rock Cats, Hughes hit nine home runs en route to a .438 slugging percentage. It's a safe bet the Australian passes that mark this season, as six home runs in seven games puts Hughes just one behind last year's total before we're even out of April. The power streak began at the start of the week in a series against Reading. Hughes homered in each of three games against the Phillies, including twice in the 15-6 series-clinching victory Wednesday. While Hughes collected a hit in each of his four road games in Trenton, the power supply slowed down -- with home runs coming just every other game to end his fabulous week.

Southern League
Mat Gamel, Huntsville
.517 (15-29), 8 R, 2 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 3 BB, 5 SO, 1 SB, .931 SLG
At the end of April last season with Brevard County, Gamel was hitting just .230, and made his 11th error at third base in the month's final game. Of course, Gamel would go on his own hot streaks last season, ending with an .850 OPS on the good side, and 53 errors on the bad. This season has been a far different story, as Gamel's April has been good with the bat and shown much improvement with the glove -- an error Thursday was just his fifth of the season, and first since April 12. More important, Gamel collected three hits in three of Huntsville's four games with Jacksonville over the weekend, and his hitting streak now stands at 13 games.

Texas League
Jesus Guzman, Midland
.452 (14-31), 7 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 3 BB, 8 SO, 0 SB, .742 SLG
Guzman went just 2-for-12 against San Antonio over the weekend, which highlights how dominating he was entering the span. Guzman collected 12 hits in a four-game set against Corpus Christi, collecting all of his extra-base hits on the week, including his two home runs in the series' first two games. By posting a multi-hit effort in all four contests, Guzman reached 15 multi-hit games for the season in just 23 games played, helping him exit the week with a .412 average, despite the weekend blip. On the season, Guzman has a 1.123 OPS against right-handed pitching, and a 1.163 OPS on the road.

California League
Ricardo Sosa, Visalia
.500 (10-20), 7 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 4 BB, 1 SO, 0 SB, .900 SLG
In a meaningless 6-1 loss on April 20, Ricardo Sosa singled to right field in the ninth inning and was stranded when the next batter bounced into a doubleplay. While seemingly insignificant, it started a rather amazing streak for the 23-year-old Cuban. In the Oaks' next game, on Tuesday, Sosa would go a perfect 5-for-5, hitting two home runs and one double en route to a seven-RBI game that dominates his statistics for the week. Still, in his next game, Sosa would walk once and collect three hits in his other three plate appearances, giving him nine straight at-bats in which he hit safely. On April 24, his streak was halted at nine -- just one shy of the California League record -- but Sosa locked up Player of the Week honors.

Carolina League
Brandon Hicks, Myrtle Beach
.368 (7-19), 5 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 7 SO, 1 SB, .842 SLG
On April 11, Hicks left a game against Frederick early after injuring his quadriceps muscle, and missed about 10 days of baseball activity as a result. The injury actually could not have come at a better time, as it ended a four-game stretch in which Hicks was 0-for-12 with seven strikeouts. He has clearly started to turn things around since returning. In each of his first three games back with the Pelicans, Hicks collected two hits, homering twice in that span. He is now hitting .350 at home in Myrtle Beach, but with a still anemic .167 on the road. Hicks also continued to be far more dangerous with the bases empty (.750 SLG) than with runners on (.389 SLG).

Florida State League
Justin Justice, Lakeland
.435 (10-23), 5 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 2 BB, 5 SO, 1 SB, .913 SLG
Armed with the name of a superhero, Justice was just that for the Flying Tigers last week, collecting a hit in every game he played. Justice's week started and ended with two-game sets against Fort Myers, and he collected four hits in both series. In the first two, at Fort Myers, Justice hit a home run in each game, including his three-hit effort Tuesday. Sandwiched between the four games against the Miracle was a set with Dunedin, where even a day off on Thursday couldn't slow down the red-hot outfielder, who would homer in his first at-bat Friday. On the week, Justice hit half as many home runs week as he managed all last season in 112 games with Lakeland.

Midwest League
Jason Taylor, Burlington
.471 (8-17), 8 R, 0 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 6 BB, 3 SO, 4 SB, 1.118 SLG
A big week was precisely what the doctor ordered for Taylor, as the former second-round pick was mired at .167 eight days ago. As the temperature heated up in Iowa, though, so did Taylor's bat, with his OPS jumping 300 points on the week. Taylor came out smoking as he homered twice, stole two bases and scored three runs in a 5-2 win to open a road series with Quad Cities. He would reach base at least once in every game on the week, homering again on Saturday, and adding a triple in the Bees' 2-0 win over South Bend. With the climate having cooled in the Midwest, it will be interesting to see if the Virginia Beach native can keep his bat warm.

South Atlantic League
Michael Burgess, Hagerstown
.310 (9-29), 8 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 2 BB, 7 SO, 0 SB, .897 SLG
In a sense, this Player of the Week award is probably more of a 10-game achievement award for Burgess, as the right fielder's hot streak began with his first two-hit outing of the season on April 17. It must have felt comfortable, as Burgess has collected five more multi-hit games since then. On April 19, he hit his first home run in two weeks. That also must have been a good fit, as he would follow that up with another long ball April 21, then hammer four more during the week, including a two-homer effort in Saturday's 8-6 victory against Greensboro. A first-round pick last June, Burgess has not been a gracious guest in the SAL, collecting seven of his eight home runs this year away from Municipal Stadium.

Bryan Smith is an associate reporter for