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Prospect Roundup: Games of July 4

Padres' Urias, Dodgers' Verdugo continue to take off in PCL
Luis Urias is a career .304 hitter over five Minor League seasons in the Padres system. (Ivan Pierre Aguirre/El Paso Chihuahuas)
July 5, 2018

Theme of the dayGo Midwest, young man (or bird): The Class A Midwest League was the place to see some of the Minors' best performances, both in the traditional and wacky senses. Padres No. 2 prospectMacKenzie Gore turned in his best start as a pro with six scoreless innings for

Theme of the day

Go Midwest, young man (or bird): The Class A Midwest League was the place to see some of the Minors' best performances, both in the traditional and wacky senses. Padres No. 2 prospectMacKenzie Gore turned in his best start as a pro with six scoreless innings for Fort Wayne. Tigers 2018 picks Brock Deatherage and Kody Clemens put together strong nights at the plate for West Michigan, with the former going 5-for-5 and the latter clubbing his first two professional homers. But the funniest story of the night came in Peoria's 13-4 win over Burlington, where Chiefs starter Jesus Cruzgrabbed a bird out of the air, picked it up off the ground, placed it into his glove and had the bird fly onto the top of his head. The bird later flew off without an apparent injury. Good pitching, good hitting, good ornithological care.

Who stayed hot

Padres INF Luis Urías, Triple-A El Paso: 4-for-5, 3B, 2 RBI, 3 R, BB -- The Padres' No. 3 prospect picked up four hits and reached base five times, and it pushed his season average and OPS up to .279 and .800 -- their highest marks since late May. Over his last 10 games, Urias is 16-for-41 (.390) with eight walks. Only two of those hits have gone for extra bases, but power has never been the 5-foot-9 infielder's bread and butter. After struggling in May and early June, the 21-year-old is back to doing what he does best -- picking up hits by the bunches and reaching base at a solid clip (.388 OBP on the season). Recently named a Pacific Coast League All-Star, Urias has played primarily at second base this year but has experience at shortstop and third base.

Who needed this one

Braves OF Drew Waters, Class A Rome: 3-for-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB -- Call it the fatigue that comes during a player's first full Minor League season or just a rough patch, but Waters had hit a wall before this performance. He was 2-for-17 in his previous four games and was batting just .183 dating back to June 15. A trip to Asheville's McCormick Field helped change that. Waters collected multiple extra-base hits for the first time since May 30 and reached base four times in a game for the first time since June 3. Despite the downturn, it's been a mighty impressive season for the 2017 second-rounder. Waters is tied for second among Class A hitters with 38 extra-base hits and has hit .295/.344/.527 with 11 steals in 63 games. 

The unexpected

Padres INF Jordy Barley, Rookie-level AZL Padres 2: 4-for-6, HR, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 3 R, SB -- Signed for $1 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2016, the Padres' No. 30 prospect, who has plus speed, could one day take up the mantle behind Urias and Fernando Tatis Jr. as the Padres' top middle-infield prospect. But before Wednesday, his potential hadn't quite come through in the Minors. The right-handed hitter produced a .242/.292/.434 line with 65 strikeouts in 49 games as a 17-year-old in the Arizona League last season and began the day with a .167/.310/.375 line through his first dozen contests this summer. Then he collected a career-high four hits and three extra-base knocks in a 9-8, 11-inning loss to the Dodgers' AZL affiliate. Even when the hits aren't coming, Barley has shown pop in his age-18 season, with nine of his 12 hits going for extra bases.

Best matchup

Peter Lambert vs. Daniel VogelbachThe Rockies' No. 3 prospect made his Triple-A Albuquerque debut and was thrown right into the fire. Not only did his first start come on a warm day with the wind blowing out at hitter-friendly Isotopes Park, but he also had to face Vogelbach, a left-handed hitter with 102 Major League at-bats under his belt. The 21-year-old right-hander held his own against Tacoma's No. 3 hitter, getting him to bounce into a 4-6-3 double play in the first inning and ground out back to the mound in the fourth. Vogelbach did manage a single off Lambert in the sixth, but that was it. Lambert, who posted a 2.23 ERA in 92 2/3 innings at Double-A, notched a quality start in his Isotopes debut, giving up two earned runs on seven hits while fanning two and walking none in six frames. 

Who strengthened their promotion case

Dodgers OF Alex Verdugo, Triple-A Oklahoma City: 3-for-5, RBI, R -- This was the top Dodgers prospect's second straight three-hit game and fourth straight start with multiple hits. He's picked up 10 hits in his last 16 at-bats with a home run, a double and just one strikeout. His .351 average over 56 games with Oklahoma City now leads all Triple-A batters and ranks fifth among all full-season Minor League qualifiers. Dating back to his time with OKC last season, Verdugo has hit .327 with an .855 OPS in 173 career games at Triple-A. Yes, there has been little power to speak of -- Verdugo's seven homers this season already trump his 2017 total of six in the PCL -- but it's still clear that Verdugo has one of the better hit tools in the Minors. The offensive improvements of Matt Kemp and Joc Pederson and the emergence of Max Muncy (which has pushed Cody Bellinger to the outfield at times) have meant opportunities in Los Angeles have been limited for Verdugo; he got in nine games during a brief callup from April 28 to May 9.

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