Theme of the nightNL East rivals: Sunday's real theme was Mother's Day, so to paraphrase Ralph Kiner, to all the mothers out there, happy belated birthday. But in the Minors, a National League East rivalry grabbed everyone's attention. Mets prospect Jeff McNeil's cycle for Double-A Binghamton would have been the
Theme of the nightNL East rivals:
Sunday's real theme was Mother's Day, so to paraphrase Ralph Kiner, to all the mothers out there, happy belated birthday. But in the Minors, a National League East rivalry grabbed everyone's attention. Mets prospect Jeff McNeil's cycle
for Double-A Binghamton would have been the story of any normal day, but Braves prospect Austin Riley
made sure it wasn't a normal day. MLB.com's No. 77 overall prospecthomered three times
and drove in eight runs for Triple-A Gwinnett on his way to becoming the story of the day. New York fans can use the good news McNeil delivered, but it must hurt to be overshadowed by a player in the Braves system, whose big league club owns the best record in the National League.
Who stayed hotBlue Jays 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Double-A New Hampshire: 4-for-7, 2 R --
MLB.com's No. 2 overall prospect saw a 16-game hitting streak come to an end Friday. After a rainout Saturday in Harrisburg, he picked right up where he left off in Sunday's twin bill against the Senators. Guerrero collected two hits in both ends of the doubleheader to push his season average to .397, best in the Eastern League and third-best in the Minors.
Who needed this oneBrewers OF Corey Ray, Double-A Biloxi: 3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, K --
This was Ray's third three-hit game of the season but his first since April 16. Since a run of four straight multi-hit games concluded on April 17, he's had multiple hits in just four of his next 24 contests, hitting .188. The Brewers' No. 6 prospect has seen some modest improvements across the board with a .250/.331/.426 line, three homers, six steals and a 110 wRC+ over 36 games, but Sunday could be a sign that he's finally making the necessary adjustments to deal with Double-A pitching.
The unexpectedPadres RHP Pedro Avila, Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore: 7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 97 pitches, 66 strikes --
MiLB.com's Josh Jackson did a story last week
on the Storm's loaded rotation, featuring the Padres' No. 25 prospect in Avila. The 21-year-old right-hander hadn't struck out more than six in any of his six previous outings before fanning nine in an impressive outing at Modesto. Avila now owns a 3.82 ERA and 1.41 WHIP with 32 strikeouts and 17 walks in 37 2/3 innings. The Venezuela native, who receives above-average grades on his curveball and changeup, is capable of some eye-popping strikeout totals. He punched out 170 in 129 innings between Lake Elsinore and Class A Fort Wayne last season and even struck out 17 on Aug. 8 with the TinCaps. But he hadn't carried that whiff rate to 2018 yet, thus making Sunday's performance stand out.
Best matchupT.J. Zeuch vs. Juan Soto:
The Nationals' No. 2 prospect got off to a hot start in his Double-A Harrisburg debut Thursday with a homer and a double against New Hampshire but has cooled off since then. Soto struck out against the 6-foot-7 right-handed Zeuch in the first inning, grounded out to second in the third and flew out to left in the fifth. The 19-year-old outfielder is now 0-for-9 in his last three games with the Senators -- his longest hitless stretch of an otherwise fantastic season. Zeuch, meanwhile, gave up just one earned run on six hits and two walks over six frames in his second New Hampshire start. He's been very hittable early on in the Eastern League with a 1.80 WHIP and .326 average-against through 10 innings, but Sunday was a promising step against a good Harrisburg lineup.
Who strengthened their promotion caseCardinals OF Tyler O'Neill, Triple-A Memphis: 2-for-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, R --
O'Neill hit his fifth homer in his last nine games with the Redbirds and moved into a three-way tie for second in the Pacific Coast League with his 11th homer of the season -- despite the fact he was up in the Majors from April 19-28. The problem is the Cardinals couldn't get the right-handed slugger much playing time; O'Neill was left out of a crowded St. Louis outfield and went 0-for-7 with three strikeouts while getting only one start during that trip to The Show. With Marcell Ozuna
, Tommy Pham
and Dexter Fowler roaming the grass and Harrison Bader
backing them up, the Cards have no clear route to get O'Neill consistent at-bats in the Majors. With every homer he hits for Memphis, he might be improving his trade stock for the current NL Central co-leaders..
Others of noteRockies INF Brendan Rodgers, Double-A Hartford: 2-for-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, 3 R, BB --
The Rockies' top prospect continues to be dependable in his return to Double-A. Rodgers is hitting .289/.331/.516 with seven homers, eight doubles and 26 RBIs in 33 games.White Sox OF Luis González, Class A Kannapolis: 3-for-4, HR, 2 2B, 2 RBI, R --
Chicago's 2017 third-round pick is heating up in his first full season. Gonzalez is 23-for-54 (.423) with eight extra-base hits in his 12 games for the Intimidators, pushing his season line up to .339/.403/.542 overall.
Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.