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Offensive Players of the Week

For the week ending May 4
May 5, 2008
International League
Darnell McDonald, Rochester
.448 (13-29), 7 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 1 BB, 4 SO, 3 SB, .862 SLG
McDonald is back in Rochester this season after 61 games last year, and 195 split between the 2001 and 2002 seasons. The outfielder, who's played in the International League in every season since 2001, is one of the league's longest-standing veterans. After a brief cup of coffee in the Major Leagues to end last season with the Minnesota Twins, McDonald looks to be a man on a mission this year, doing everything for the Red Wings. He has six multi-hit games in his last nine, and three times this week collected two extra-base hits in the same game. McDonald moved from right field to left in the middle of the week, but it didn't slow him down, as he rebounded from an 0-for-4 outing on Wednesday to collect eight hits over the week's final four games.

Pacific Coast League
Jody Gerut, Portland
.462 (12-26), 13 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 5 BB, 3 SO, 1 SB, 1.000 SLG
It's not good when you're known more for your injury history than for your play, but that's how the last few years have been for Gerut, who was selected in the second round of the 1998 Draft by Colorado. His rookie season in the Majors (2004) ended with a torn ACL. The 2005 season also proved difficult as he would irritate the patella, causing DL stints that year and in 2006. The knee cost Gerut each of the last two seasons, but he was signed by the Padres on the strength of a .390 average in Venezuela this winter. Gerut made the Major League Opening Day roster, but was sent to Triple-A after just four games. The outfielder is just beginning to look comfortable, as he raised his season average fifty points with five multi-hit games this week. Gerut's biggest game came Monday, when the right fielder went 2-for-4 with two home runs in Portland's 5-4 win over Oklahoma.

Eastern League
Ben Copeland, Connecticut
.480 (12-25), 11 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 3 SO, 1 SB, .920 SLG
Copeland was the San Francisco Giants' first selection in the June 2005 First-Year Player Draft, taken in the fourth round out of the University of Pittsburgh. Copeland's Double-A debut looked hopeless in April as he scuffled to a .173 showing, and hardly looked like a Player of the Week after starting out 1-for-7. However, the changing of the calendar seemed to flick a switch for Copeland, who was 11-for-18 in his last four games. The left-handed hitting outfielder had struggled severely at Dodd Stadium, so a weekend road series was just what the doctor ordered. Copeland was the driving force in the Defenders' series victory in Binghamton, banging out two doubles and a home run in Saturday's 19-5 win, and another two singles and a homer in Sunday's 14-3 victory. In all, Copeland scored more runs in the series against Binghamton than he had in the preceding 24 games.

<%-- POLL --%>

Who was the top hitter in the Minors this week?
Darnell McDonald
Jody Gerut
Ben Copeland
Matt LaPorta
Max Ramirez
Jed Morris
Ernesto Mejia
Chris Valaika
Engel Beltre
Renny Osuna
Bill Rhinehart
<%-- END POLL --%> Southern League
Matt LaPorta, Huntsville
.526 (10-19), 9 R, 4 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 3 BB, 5 SO, 0 SB, 1.211 SLG
It took LaPorta all of a month to establish himself as one of the Southern League's most prolific hitters. Though this represents his first full season in the Minors, even veterans are finding it hard to stop the Stars' outfielder. LaPorta appears to like Southern hospitality as he made himself entirely at home in Montgomery's Riverwalk Stadium during Huntsville's five-game set with the Biscuits. LaPorta quickly grabbed the spotlight, hitting three home runs in the first two games, including two in Thursday's 4-2 win, collecting four RBIs in each contest. The Biscuits would battle back to win the next two games, holding LaPorta hitless on Saturday. However, the first round selection doubled twice Friday driving in two, and scored following each of his three singles Sunday to lead the charge in Huntsville's 11-3 win.

Texas League
Max Ramirez, Frisco
.552 (16-29), 5 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 4 BB, 3 SO, 0 SB, .862 SLG
Since April 14, Max Ramirez has a hit in every game he's played except one -- including six multi-hit efforts. Ramirez reached base at least three times in five of those contests, and hit his lone home run of the week Sunday. Over three weeks, Ramirez has raised his batting average 160 points and his slugging percentage more than 300 points. Now that he's got the bat humming, Ramirez can work on his defense as he's thrown out just seven of 29 baserunners this season.

California League
Jed Morris, Stockton
.346 (9-26), 5 R, 1 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 2 BB, 4 SO, 0 SB, 1.000 SLG
Morris' assignment to Stockton this season likely stimulated some fond memories as he posted a .939 OPS in 75 games there in 2005, before moving up to the Texas and Pacific Coast Leagues. After being diagnosed with Leukemia and limited to just two games in 2007, the Oakland A's decided to reacquaint the catcher with everyday baseball in a familiar stomping ground. Morris certainly looks at home, with three multi-hit games this week, and four home runs over his last six games. The week did contain one negative, though, as Thursday's hitless day ended a 16-game hitting streak that stretched back to Morris' third game of the season. He made up for it on the weekend, however, homering in both of the Ports victories.

Carolina League
Ernesto Mejia, Myrtle Beach
.483 (14-29), 8 R, 6 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 1 BB, 6 SO, 0 SB, 1.069 SLG
Mejia possesses one of the more wiry frames in Minor League baseball, listed at 6-foot-6 but just 190 pounds. But the Pelicans outfielder proved he does possess some strength as he collected an extra-base hit in every game last week. On April 17, Mejia was hitting a measly .137 and slugging .196. However, he's hit safely in all but two games since then, and his current batting .268. All four of Mejia's home runs this season -- including three this week -- have come during night games on the road. Twice this week he doubled and homered in the same game, in Myrtle Beach's 6-2 win last Thursday, and in an 8-4 victory two days later.

Florida State League
Chris Valaika, Sarasota
.480 (12-25), 6 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 4 SO, 0 SB, .920 SLG
Valaika's lone walk of the week came on Saturday -- just his fifth of the season and first since April 16. You can't fault the shortstop, though, because why would he take pitches if he's hitting as well as he is. It's been that kind of span for Valaika, who's hit safely in every game this week to extend his streak to 13 games. Valaika began the week on the best possible note, as the DH was a perfect 5-for-5 with a home run and three runs scored. He added two more multi-hit games and two more home runs, so if Sarasota can't seem to win a game, you can hardly blame Valaika. All 16 of Valaika's extra-base hits and all five walks this season have come during night games.

Midwest League
Engel Beltre, Clinton
.429 (12-28), 6 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 2 SO, 1 SB, .750 SLG
The LumberKings were 5-1 this week as they pushed their way into first place in the Midwest League. If anything, Clinton won with their offense, scoring 41 runs in six games, and as a result, finds itself with a pair of co-Players of the Week. After all. it's hard to pat any one guy on the back after weeks like that. The junior half of the honored contingent is Engel Beltre, the 18-year-old sparkplug atop the order. Beltre collected a hit in every LumberKings game, but stood out in the weekend series against now second-place Kane County, including a home run and four hits in Sunday's 11-4 win. The lefty hitter has struggled against left-handed pitching (.493 OPS) and at home (.635 OPS), but more weeks like this will make the Rangers feel good about making Beltre the diamond of last year's Eric Gagne trade.

Renny Osuna, Clinton
.381 (8-19), 8 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 4 BB, 1 SO, 0 SB, .632 SLG
Osuna, who is nearly five years older than his Class A teammate, is just as valuable to the LumberKings, protecting Beltre in the two-hole while playing both middle infield positions. While Beltre's damage was done in the series win over Kane County, Osuna helped set the tone earlier in the week, collecting six hits in Clinton's three-game sweep of Great Lakes. Tuesday saw Osuna's first home run of the season -- his first since June 21 last year. The righty hitter has been dominant against left-handed pitching this season, posting a .633 OPS in 30 plate appearances against southpaws.

South Atlantic League
Bill Rhinehart, Hagerstown
.474 (9-19), 5 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 3 BB, 1 SO, 0 SB, .895 SLG
Drafted in the 11th round out of the University of Arizona last June, Rhinehart is enjoying a fantastic debut so far in full-season ball. The first baseman has hit safely in eight of his last 10 games, collecting multiple hits in seven of them. Rhinehart slugged .400 in each of his four seasons at Arizona, so the recent resurgence of power in his game comes as no surprise. A week's worth of home games may have helped Rhinehart claim this honor as the 23-year-old has been fantastic at Municipal Stadium all season, hitting .405. Rhinehart has been one of the best in the Minor with runners on base as he's now 16-for-29 (.552) with ducks on the pond.

Bryan Smith is an associate reporter for