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Prospect Roundup: Games of May 16

Fernandez homers twice; Helsley pushes for Memphis return
Vince Fernandez has a career .504 slugging percentage over 187 games in the Minor Leagues. (Lancaster JetHawks)
May 17, 2018

Theme of the dayAll eyes on New Hampshire: Before most people were even done finishing their first cup of coffee, No. 2 overall prospectVladimir Guerrero Jr. had already doubled twice for the Fisher Cats in Hartford. Then, he singled. Then, he homered. By the end of his 4-for-5 day, the 19-year-old

Theme of the day

All eyes on New Hampshire: Before most people were even done finishing their first cup of coffee, No. 2 overall prospectVladimir Guerrero Jr. had already doubled twice for the Fisher Cats in Hartford. Then, he singled. Then, he homered. By the end of his 4-for-5 day, the 19-year-old third baseman was hitting .415 with a 1.155 OPS. If that wasn't enough, he did all that while teammate Jordan Romano was throwing a no-hitter that lasted into the seventh inning. There are so many games happening in the Minor Leagues on any given day that it's difficult to get too wrapped up in any single contest, but there was no doubt that, for a time Wednesday morning, the baseball world was focused on New Hampshire's 7-1 win over Hartford. Read more about it in Tyler Maun's writeup here.

Who stayed hot

Rockies OF Vince Fernandez, Class A Advanced Lancaster: 2-for-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 K --  The No. 29 Rockies prospect's first two-homer game of the season gave him five long balls in his last eight games. He's reached base in 16 straight games, hitting .385/.529/.769 with nine extra-base hits, 15 RBIs and an even 14/14 K/BB ratio over that stretch. His 1.034 OPS on the season ranks second in the California League. That's not unexpected for a Lancaster slugger -- indeed, teammate Roberto Ramos is in the top spot at 1.062. Nor is it surprising that five of Fernandez's seven homers this season have come at The Hangar, where he's slugging .695, compared to .492 on the road. But Fernandez's .311/.427/.492 line in 18 away games is also impressive. There's no doubt the 2016 10th-rounder has benefited from hitter-friendly parks in stops at Lancaster, Class A Asheville and Rookie-level Grand Junction, but he's well-rounded enough to stand out in the Colorado system.

Who needed this one

Cardinals OF Randy Arozarena, Double-A Springfield: 3-for-4, HR, RBI, R, CS -- The No. 8 St. Louis prospect should perhaps be in the category above -- Wednesday marked his second straight game with a homer and extended his hitting streak to eight games, during which he's gone 13-for-31 (.419) with three homers and two doubles. That's staying hot. Unfortunately, it's all come in the Texas League, to which Arozarena received a demotion two weeks ago. The 23-year-old wasn't terrible at Triple-A Memphis, with a .260/.368/.329 line and seven steals in 22 games, but a crunch for playing time ensued when Tyler O'Neill returned to the Pacific Coast League. Arozarena needs this sort of hot streak to stand out again. He's gone deep four times since joining Springfield after not homering at all for Memphis. Those four homers also surpass the three he hit in the Texas League last season in 39 fewer games.

The unexpected

Reds 2B/SS Jeter Downs, Class A Dayton: 2-for-4, HR, 2B, RBI, R -- Downs' performance wasn't outlandish, but it's part of an interesting trend involving the Reds' No. 6 prospect. With his homer and double in Lansing, Downs now has five extra-base hits (two homers, a triple and two doubles) in his last four games. It took him his previous 17 games to collect five extra-base hits. Listed at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, the 19-year-old middle infielder was expected to gain power as he matured, and this could be a sign that it's arriving. Downs is hitting .288/.358/.466 with five homers, two triples and seven doubles in 35 games and had previously stood out most for his 13 steals, tied for second-most in the Midwest League.

Best matchup

Beau Burrows vs. Peter Alonso: The Erie-Binghamton game featured the second-highest ranked pitching prospect in the Eastern League and one of the circuit's best hitters, but was largely devoid of fireworks. Alonso walked against Burrows in the first inning, struck out looking in the third and popped up in the sixth. Erie took the contest, 10-3, thanks in large part to a quality start from Burrows, who allowed just one earned run on five hits and a walk while fanning three in six innings. Alonso didn't get a hit but did walk twice in his four plate appearances, pushing his OBP to .478. The two could cross paths again when the SeaWolves host the Rumble Ponies from May 29-31.

Who strengthened their promotion case

Cardinals RHP Ryan Helsley, Double-A Springfield: 7 2/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 104 pitches, 68 strikes -- Helsley can sympathize with his Springfield teammate Arozarena. The Cardinals' No. 5 prospect made a spot start with Memphis on April 29 and dominated, striking out nine while allowing one run on four hits in seven innings. But he was sent down shortly and hasn't had the same success in the Texas League. Helsley, who has a mid-90s fastball and an impressive curve, entered Wednesday's start with a 5.40 ERA in six Double-A starts but chopped it down to 4.39 with a gem in Tulsa. The outing matched the longest of his career and marked the fourth time in eight outings that he's eclipsed 100 pitches. Helsley has had issues with control, but he's also fanned 25.3 percent of the Double-A batters he's faced this season -- the sixth-highest rate among qualified Texas League pitchers. With Jack Flaherty back up in St. Louis, Helsley is a strong candidate to return to Memphis.

Others of note

Twins 1B/OF Brent Rooker, Double-A Chattanooga: 2-for-3, HR, RBI, 2 R, K -- The Twins got aggressive by sending last year's 35th overall pick to Double-A, and although it's taken time, he's settling in nicely. Rooker went deep for the third time in his last five games and extended his hitting streak to eight games. The Mississippi State product is hitting .245/.272/.396 with four homers in 36 games.
Astros RHP Hector Perez, Class A Advanced Buies Creek: 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 58 pitches, 34 strikes -- The Astros' No. 11 prospect had allowed 14 earned runs over 10 innings in his previous three starts but found his groove as a piggybacking reliever against Winston-Salem. The 21-year-old right-hander now owns a 5.64 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 21 walks in 30 1/3 innings.

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