Hitter of the Night: Micah Johnson, 2B, White Sox (Charlotte, AAA): 4-4, 2 R, HR, SB.
While he’s not stealing bases at nearly the rate or effectiveness of his 84-steal 2013 campaign, he is still getting on base at a good clip and is doing it against better competition, or at least he was until a promotion to Triple-A. The minors’ highest level had given him some troubles until Wednesday, when he entered the night hitting just .218. He’s been moved along aggressively despite questions about his defense and whether his hit tool will allow him to get on base enough to use his legs, but a patient-enough approach at the plate has helped to combat the latter thus far.
Pitcher of the Night: Nick Kingham, RHP, Pirates (Indianapolis, AAA): 7 IP, 4 H, R, 0 BB, 2 K.
The Pirates sure do love drafting and developing tall, prep right-handers and perhaps no one fits the mold better than the 6-foot-5 Kingham. He’s been excellent at every level and stellar in his first two Triple-A starts, providing the Pirates with additional depth in a season that has seen them tear through starting pitching. The ceiling isn’t the highest on Kingham—it’s that of a mid-rotation starter—but he should give them a better shot to win games than Vance Worley, Jeff Locke, or Brandon Cumpton.
Best of the Rest
Gioskar Amaya, 2B, Cubs (Daytona, A+): 3-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, K. Amaya showed some power in short-season ball a few years ago but hasn’t been able to carry it over into the full-season leagues over the past year and a half. He does have good contact ability and plays all over the infield, giving him a utility profile for the future.
Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians (Akron, AA): 1-4, R, HR. The comp most often made for Lindor is Elvis Andrus, but while Lindor will probably never even get to league-average power, he should hit for more than Andrus does.
Jhoan Urena, 3B, Mets (Brooklyn, SS): 2-4, R, HR. Urena is already well-developed for his age (19), which may be a problem down the road, but for now it means that he has some strength to go with his natural bat speed.
Jorge Bonifacio, OF, Royals (Northwest Arkansas, AA): 2-5, 2 R, 2B, HR, K. The power production simply has not shown up for Bonifacio, but for the first time, neither has the hit tool. While Wilmington was an excuse for him last year, there’s no reason for Bonifacio to be having his worst season as a professional in 2014.
Michael Taylor, OF, Nationals (Harrisburg, AA): 2-4, R, HR. If we’re going to make exceptions for high strikeout totals for prospects like George Springer, we should probably consider doing the same thing for Taylor. His strikeout totals border on the outrageous, but this season we’re finally seeing his doubles power clear the fence, perhaps making the eventual damage he’s going to do when he makes contact worth the damage he does when he doesn’t. He’ll have to continue to prove he can either hit or lay off of breaking pitches from right-handed pitchers.
Fight Another Night
Franklin Barreto, SS, Blue Jays (Vancouver, SS): 0-3, 3 K. Baseball is a fickle game when you’re 18 years old, and it’s even more fickle when you’ve invested millions of dollars in players the same age. Barreto has a high ceiling, though likely not as a shortstop, and he tore up the GCL last year. He was hitting .571 through five Northwest League games before Wednesday night’s stinker. Baseball is cruel sometimes, and that’s why it’s great.
Franchy Cordero, SS, Padres (Eugene, SS): 0-5, 3 K. After severe contact issues during his short stint in the Midwest League to start the season, Cordero had not seen them resurface early in the Northwest League season until Wednesday night.
Adam Walker, OF, Twins (Fort Myers, A+): 0-4, 3 K. As impressive as Walker can look on some nights (especially when he’s winning the FSL home run derby), he can look equally as bad on other nights swinging through average breaking pitches.
Notable Pitching Performances
- Daniel Norris, LHP, Blue Jays (New Hampshire, AA): 5 2/3 IP, 4 H, 4 R, BB, 9 K.
- Marco Gonzales, LHP, Cardinals (Springfield, AA): 5 1/3 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K.
- Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, Orioles (Bowie, AA): 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K.
- Jesse Biddle, LHP, Phillies (Reading, AA): 7 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K.