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Prospect Roundup: Games of Aug. 7

Mejia sets career mark for homers; Baez continues to baffle
Francisco Mejia ranks third in the Eastern League with a .316 average and fourth with an .897 OPS. (Andy Grosh/
August 8, 2017

D-backs 1B/3B/OF Christian Walker, Triple-A Reno: 3-for-4, 2 2B, RBI, 2 R, BB -- There's been little stopping the D-backs' No. 27 prospect at the plate in 2017. The 26-year-old slugger extended his Minor League lead in extra-base hits with his 63rd and 64th of the season Monday in a 9-4

D-backs 1B/3B/OF Christian Walker, Triple-A Reno: 3-for-4, 2 2B, RBI, 2 R, BB -- There's been little stopping the D-backs' No. 27 prospect at the plate in 2017. The 26-year-old slugger extended his Minor League lead in extra-base hits with his 63rd and 64th of the season Monday in a 9-4 win at Las Vegas. He also increased his OPS to .987 through 109 games -- third-best in the Pacific Coast League and its highest level since May 21. Yes, his numbers have received a bump from playing home games at Greater Nevada Field, where he owns a .344/.410/.710 line with 41 extra-base hits in 55 games compared to .271/.346/.492 line with 23 extra-base hits in 54 games on the road. But this is still an impressive turnaround for a 2012 fourth-rounder who had been passed around on the waiver wire before landing with the D-backs last offseason. He's primarily played first base this season but is woefully blocked by Paul Goldschmidt. He's gotten some looks in left field and has played third here and there since the end of June. Arizona, which finds itself 5 1/2 games ahead of the Brewers for the second National League Wild Card spot, might try to find a spot for Walker's bat when rosters expand in September, but that'd require being readded to the 40-man roster after he was outrighted in March. 

Marlins 3B Brian Anderson, Triple-A New Orleans: 3-for-6, HR, RBI, 2 R, 2 K -- The Marlins' No. 3 prospect continues to catch fire with the Baby Cakes since being promoted July 15. He had his first three-hit game in the Pacific Coast League on Monday and clubbed his third home run in his last six contests. Over 20 games at Triple-A, the 24-year-old third baseman is hitting .310/.375/.563 with five homers, three doubles and 15 RBIs. While that seems like a big jump from his .251/.341/.450 line at Double-A Jacksonville, it's important to note that his wRC+, which takes into account the offensive environments of both circuits, hasn't taken a similar leap (129 in the Southern League compared to 138 in the PCL). The 2014 third-rounder is a solid defender and continues to show that his bat can be above-average as well. His 19 home runs this season easily trump his previous high of 11. Anderson is the best position player prospect in a rough Miami system, and he'll be an easy 40-man addition when he's Rule 5 eligible this November, assuming he doesn't force a Major League look before then.
Indians C Francisco Mejía, Double-A Akron: 2-for-5, HR, 2 RBI, R, K -- Anyone who's followed the prospect scene the past two seasons knows that Mejia can hit. But the game's top catching prospect is also showing more power this campaign. Mejia's home run Monday afternoon was his 12th of the season, a career high. He's also reached that mark in 74 games, 28 fewer than it took him to hit 11 last year between Class A Lake County and Class A Advanced Lynchburg. The 21-year-old switch-hitter continues to churn out hits with a .316 average that ranks third in the Eastern League and an .897 OPS that places fourth. The Indians have maintained he has some work to do defensively, although he does rank 24th among 130 Double-A catchers in framing runs, per Baseball Prospectus. He's the only catcher among the three on the Indians' 40-man roster not currently with the big club, so a debut could be coming when rosters expand in September. Despite the fact that he's yet to play above Double-A, few doubt that Mejia's bat would translate well to the Majors. With Indians catchers collectively ranking 22nd in baseball with a 0.6 WAR, per FanGraphs, the job is still very much his for the future.

Padres RHP Michel Baez, Class A Fort Wayne: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K, 100 pitches, 65 strikes -- The Baez bandwagon is getting bigger by the start. The Padres' No. 7 prospect has yet to allow more than one earned run in any of his six starts since joining the Fort Wayne rotation on July 4, posting a 0.74 ERA over 36 2/3 innings. He's struck out 56 and walked only four over that span as well, while his 42.1 percent strikeout rate ranks second among all Class A pitchers with at least 30 innings. Standing at 6-foot-8 with a 70-grade fastball, Baez can be an intimidating presence on the mound, and with his near pinpoint control, Midwest League batters are learning they have to swing, though they are doing so with little success. Between Baez and No. 5 prospect Adrian Morejon, the TinCaps have two exciting Cuban arms in their rotation, and the possibility that they will continue to climb the ladder together should be exciting for San Diego fans.

Red Sox LHP Jay Groome, Class A Greenville: 5 IP, 3 H, 0R, 2 BB, 6 K, 90 pitches, 56 strikes -- On the same day he was named South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week, the No. 2 Red Sox prospect set out to defend his title with a second straight gem, silencing Kannapolis for five innings in a 6-1 win on the road. After a four-start stretch in which he posted a 9.00 ERA with 10 walks in 15 innings, Groome has settled down nicely over his last two outings, striking out 14 and walking only three over 11 scoreless frames. It hasn't been an ideal first full season for the 2016 first-rounder, who missed two months with an oblique injury and has battled control woes. But the 18-year-old southpaw has the most exciting package of pitches in the Red Sox system with a plus fastball and a devestating curve when it's working.

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