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Prospect Roundup: Games of April 23

Blue Jays' Biggio stealing spotlight; Whalen giving M's options
Cavan Biggio leads Double-A New Hampshire with four homers in 13 games. (Carl Kline/
April 24, 2018

Theme of the dayNice to see you again: At least in terms of hitting, Monday in the Minors was dominated by those in familiar surroundings. No. 2 Rays prospectWilly Adames, back in Durham after spending all of 2017 there, hit for the Bulls' first cycle since they became a Triple-A

Theme of the day

Nice to see you again: At least in terms of hitting, Monday in the Minors was dominated by those in familiar surroundings. No. 2 Rays prospectWilly Adames, back in Durham after spending all of 2017 there, hit for the Bulls' first cycle since they became a Triple-A affiliate. Top White Sox prospect Eloy Jiménezbelted two homers for Double-A Birmingham in a resumption of Sunday's game in Pensacola. Those were the first two hits of the season for the 21-year-old slugger, who returned to the Barons last Thursday after a left pectoral injury held him back to begin the season. (Jimenez homered three times in 18 games with Birmingham in 2017.) Even Braves No. 3 prospect Mike Soroka fits this category. Unlike the other two, Soroka is relatively new to Triple-A Gwinnett -- Monday marked his fourth start -- but he's already repeating opponents and putting that knowledge to good use. The 20-year-old right-hander shut out Rochester over seven innings in his second career start against the Red Wings. The saying might go that familiarity breeds contempt, but these three had nothing but love for places and faces they'd seen before.

Who stayed hot

Twins SS Nick Gordon, Double-A Chattanooga: 4-for-7, 2B, RBI, R, 2 K, SB in doubleheader -- Ho hum, just another strong day at the plate for the Twins' No. 4 prospect in his return to Chattanooga. The 22-year-old doubled in his first game against Jackson on Monday and then went 3-for-4 with an RBI, a run scored and a stolen base in the nightcap. His average this season has yet to dip below .333 at the end of any day, and his OPS hasn't gone below .824. Gordon is hitting .375/.382/.578 with seven extra-base hits and three steals in his second trip to the Southern League, and with each passing day, he does something more to prove he shouldn't be in the circuit anymore. 

Who needed this one

Mariners RHP Rob Whalen, Triple-A Tacoma: 6 2/3 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 96 pitches, 62 strikes -- The "who" involved here might not be the pitcher so much as the organization. The Mariners are in OK shape in the Majors with an 11-10 record, but that's despite their starting pitching. Seattle starters rank 29th in the Majors with a collective 5.77 ERA, and no hurler who's made at least four starts has a mark below 5.06. It's not expected to get much smoother either; this offseason ranked the M's as having the worst farm system for arms. That said, Whalen is giving the organization some much-needed hope. After posting a 6.58 ERA for Tacoma last season and then taking much of the year off to deal with mental-health issues, Seattle's No. 20 prospect is showing positive signs in his return to the Pacific Coast League. The 24-year-old's nine strikeouts Monday were his highest total since July 6, 2016 with the Braves' Double-A affiliate in Mississippi. He's also improved to 3-0 with a 3.09 ERA, 22 strikeouts and five walks in his first four starts (23 1/3 innings). Already on the 40-man with seven Major League appearances, Whalen is giving Seattle hope it could find starting pitching help internally.

The unexpected

Blue Jays INF Cavan Biggio, Double-A New Hampshire: 2-for-5, HR, RBI, R, 3 K -- The Toronto triumvirate of Major League sons is starting to get national attention, having been featured in The New York Times last week, and since then, it's the unranked prospect of the three whose star might be shining brightest. Biggio homered in his third straight game Monday and now has hits in seven straight. The 23-year-old infielder -- who has played first, second and third to make room in a crowded Fisher Cats infield -- slugged just .363 with 11 homers in 127 games at Class A Advanced Dunedin last season, but he's now leading the Eastern League with a .703 slugging percentage through 13 games and ranks second in the Double-A circuit with four round-trippers. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are handling themselves just fine in their jumps to the Minors' second-highest level, but Biggio is doing plenty to make sure folks don' get his name lost in the shuffle.

Best matchup

Beau Burrows vs. Cole TuckerThe Tigers' No. 4 prospect had a rough assignment, taking on an Altoona lineup filled with legitimate Pirates prospects, and he found no one tougher than the Curve leadoff man and Pittsburgh's No. 5 prospect. Tucker, a switch-hitter, doubled, walked and scored twice in his three plate appearances against the Erie right-hander Monday night to lead Altoona to a 7-0 win at home. The 21-year-old shortstop is now hitting .321/.415/.446 with a triple, five doubles and seven walks in his first 15 games. Burrows, meanwhile, suffered his worst start of the season, giving up four earned runs on six hits and three walks in just 4 1/3 frames and dropping to 1-2 with a 3.95 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in three outings (13 2/3 innings).'s No. 78 overall prospect was off to a promising start but looked more like his 2017 Double-A self Monday night (4.72 ERA in 76 1/3 innings). Facing Tucker, Will Craig, Ke'Bryan Hayes, Jason Martin and Stephen Alemais will do that.

Who strengthened their promotion case

Cardinals INF Yairo Muñoz, Triple-A Memphis: 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, R -- The Cardinals' No. 12 prospect won the final Major League bench spot with a strong spring, having hit .323 with three homers in 23 games after coming over from the A's in the Stephen Piscotty deal. That didn't carry over to the regular season, however, as he went just 2-for-18 (.111) with a double and 11 strikeouts in limited playing time before being sent down April 16. Now with more regular at-bats, Munoz is beginning to find his stroke again. He hit his first regular-season home run in a Cards-affiliated uniform Monday and is now hitting .318/.400/.455 in his first seven games with Memphis following the demotion. Though not a slugger, the infielder's hitting ability is what's going to push him back to the Majors if and when a roster spot opens up, so it's good he's showing St. Louis that his bat hasn't lost a step. The promotion of Tyler O'Neill as a right-handed bench option created a roadblock, however, so it'll take more than just Monday's performance to push Munoz back to The Show.

Others of note

Dodgers C Keibert Ruiz, Double-A Tulsa: 2-for-4, HR, 3 RBI, R -- After an understandable dry spell given the level and his age, the 19-year-old catcher has three homers in his last five games and is hitting .286/.333/.446 through 13 contests.
Dodgers OF Alex Verdugo, Triple-A Oklahoma City: 1-for-4, HR, RBI, BB, 2 K -- As noted by OKC broadcaster Alex Freedman on Twitter, this was Verdugo's fourth homer of the season, and it took him until July 25 to reach that mark in 2017.
Twins OF Alex Kirilloff, Class A Cedar Rapids: 3-for-5, HR, 3 RBI, R -- The Twins' 2016 first-rounder isn't showing much rust after missing all of last season due to Tommy John surgery. His homer Monday was his third of the season, and he's collected multiple hits in four of his first 11 games with Cedar Rapids.
D-backs RHP Taylor Widener, Double-A Jackson: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 72 pitches, 48 strikes -- That's three straight starts with at least eight strikeouts for the D-backs' No. 4 prospect. He leads the Southern League with 30 punchouts in only 16 innings.

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