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Prospect Roundup: Games of April 22

Angels' Jones showing solid bat; Orioles' Lowther racks up K's
Jahmai Jones has produced an .828 OPS over 51 career games with Class A Advanced Inland Empire. (Donn Parris/
April 23, 2018

Theme of the dayStand tall, shortstops: Shortstop prospects are always in the spotlight because of the tools necessary to play the position, and they did not disappoint Sunday. Top Rockies prospect Brendan Rodgers, who made his first career start at third base, led the way with a five-hit afternoon for Double-A

Theme of the day

Stand tall, shortstops: Shortstop prospects are always in the spotlight because of the tools necessary to play the position, and they did not disappoint Sunday. Top Rockies prospect Brendan Rodgers, who made his first career start at third base, led the way with a five-hit afternoon for Double-A Hartford. The Rays had two standout shortstops shine with No. 2 prospect Willy Adames hitting his first career grand slam for Triple-A Durham and No. 7 Lucius Fox tripling as part of a four-hit day for Class A Advanced Charlotte. And A's No. 3 prospect Franklin Barreto, who has moved over to second base to make room for Jorge Mateo, broke an 0-for-10 stretch since his return from the Majors by going 3-for-4 with a homer for Triple-A Nashville.

Who stayed hot

Orioles LHP Zac Lowther, Class A Delmarva: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 84 pitches, 54 strikes -- The Orioles' No. 17 prospect has made three starts for the Shorebirds and has hit double-digits in strikeouts in two of them. His 31 K's in 16 innings puts him in a tie with White Sox prospect Dane Dunning for the Minor League lead, but Dunning has thrown 8 1/3 more frames. His 56.4 percent strikeout rate is in its own category; A's prospect Jesus Luzardo ranks second in the Minors at 45.5 percent. This isn't completely unexpected. Lowther, the 74th overall pick in the 2017 Draft, struck out 123 over 83 innings in his final season at Xavier and fanned 75 in 54 innings with Class A Short Season Aberdeen last summer. Lowther doesn't have overpowering stuff -- only his curveball receives an above-average grade from -- but he's known for his command, deception and extension. Regardless, it's time for him to move up, because South Atlantic League hitters can barely touch him.

Who needed this one

Angels 2B Jahmai Jones, Class A Advanced Inland Empire: 2-for-6, HR, 2B, 4 RBI, R -- Much has been made about the No. 4 Angels prospect's move from the outfield to second base, where he's made four errors in nine games, but it's been rough going at the plate too. Jones was 5-for-30 (.167) in his first eight games with the 66ers before a back inflammation sidelined him for eight days. He bounced back Sunday, hitting his second homer (a three-run shot) and first double of the season in a 9-8, 11-inning loss to Lancaster. The right-handed slugger is now batting .200/.333/.375 with three extra-base hits and eight walks in 10 games. He has the skills to thrive in the hitter-friendly circuit, and the move to second is all about finding a way to keep his bat in the lineup.

The unexpected

Blue Jays OF Ryan Noda, Class A Lansing: 0-for-1, R, 3 BB, K, 3 SB -- The walks weren't unexpected -- Noda has drawn 22 walks and struck out only 10 times in his first 13 games with the Lugnuts. Noda has a comfortable lead in Minor League walk rate at 36.7 percent; Joey Curletta is second at 30.5 percent. The surprising part of Noda's performance was his three stolen bases. The Blue Jays' No. 18 prospect has now stolen seven bases on the season, tying his 2017 total in 53 fewer games. The 22-year-old isn't known for burning speed. He was given a 45 grade by for his run tool, and that's about expected for a player who has split his time between first base and the corner outfield spots. If he can steal just two more bases this summer, he'll break his collegiate high of nine steals -- he's a perfect 7-for-7 so far.

Best matchup

Sixto Sanchez vs. Estevan Florial: A heavyweight bout featuring two of's top 50 overall prospects, the Phillies' top prospect struck out the Yankees' No. 2 prospect on eight total pitches during his first two at-bats, but the left-handed slugger exacted revenge with a go-ahead RBI triple in the fifth inning of Tampa's 2-1 win over Clearwater. Despite the loss, Sanchez looked good in his second start of 2018, allowing two earned runs on six hits and a walk while fanning five in six innings. He threw 63 of his 83 pitches for strikes and hit triple-digits with his fastball multiple times, according to Jason Woodell of Baseball Prospectus. Florial continues to have contact issues -- he owns a 36.8 percent strikeout rate -- but Sunday's triple was a prime example of his combined power and speed.

Who's getting closer to his 'First Cup of Coffee'

Braves OF Ronald Acuña Jr., Triple-A Gwinnett: 3-for-6, R -- Acuña's .217/.299/.283 line through 14 games with Gwinnett doesn't demand a promotion to the Majors, but there are signs that's No. 2 overall prospect is getting closer. Sunday's contest at Pawtucket was his first three-hit game of the season and gave him hits in five straight games and in eight of his last nine. An outing with three singles doesn't mean he's banging down the door, but it's a positive step for a player who was hitting .138 just a week ago.

Others of note

Padres 2B Luis Urías, Triple-A El Paso: 2-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, 3 R, 2 BB -- Urias had two hits in each of his games over the weekend and starts this week riding a five-game hitting streak. By reaching base four times Sunday, he pushed his line to .269/.372/.373 in his first 16 games.
Braves LHP Luiz Gohara, Triple-A Gwinnett: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 58 pitches, 38 strikes -- Atlanta's No. 4 prospect was meant to open the season in the Major League rotation, but an ankle injury has him on rehab duty instead. He showed no issues Sunday in his first Stripers start and will stick with the club for the rest of his rehab.
Reds RHP Tony Santillan, Class A Advanced Daytona: 6 2/3 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 87 pitches, 57 strikes -- The No. 5 Reds prospect allowed his first run of the season but improved to 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA, 24 strikeouts and five walks in four starts (22 2/3 innings).

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.