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Not quite what we expected

Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pirates (High-A Lynchburg)

Sunday’s stats: 0-for-4, 4 K

Everything was looking so good. The second overall pick in the 2008 draft, and the top college hitter on the board by a mile, Alvarez seemed to be past last year’s signing shenanigans after an excellent spring and a 3-for-4 opening night that included a home run and four RBIs. Since then, he’s just 10-for-56, including a 1-for-12 weekend that including eight whiffs. The hope was that he’d be ready for Double-A soon and the big leagues by next spring, now people just seems to be hoping that he’ll start hitting Carolina League pitching.

Fire in the sky

Justin Smoak, 1B, Rangers (Double-A Frisco)

Sunday’s stats: 3-for-4, 2B, HR (3), 2 R, 2 RBI, BB

The Rangers are still baffled as to how Smoak fell to them with the 11th overall pick in last year’s draft, but they’re not complaining. After a slow start at Double-A, the former South Carolina star is 9-for-18 in his last four contests and .323/.427/.516 overall. One scout who saw him this spring said he’ll easily be better than incumbent first baseman Chris Davis, while another called him, “A switch-hitting Justin Morneau with Gold Glove defense.” .

Power to spare

Ryan Strieby, 1B, Tigers (Double-A Erie)

Sunday’s Stats2-for-4, HR (5), 2 R, 4 RBI, BB

Despite leading the Florida State League with 29 home runs last year and needing just 112 games to do it, Strieby has fallen a bit under the radar. After going deep twice on Opening Day, Strieby went 12 games with a home run, but he went deep Friday, Saturday and Sunday to make up for it. Too bad he’s get one of the biggest roadblocks around as Miguel Cabrera isn’t going anywhere.

Sleeper alert!

Alex Liddi, 3B, Mariners (High-A High Desert)

Sunday’s stats: 2-for-5, 2 HR (6), 2 R, 3 RBI

Baseball is more of an international game than ever, but it’s still rare to find talents in Italy. It was little surprise to see Liddi struggle during the first two years of his professional career against real pitching, but the Mariners kept their faith in Liddi’s athleticism and tools, and their patience is starting to pay off as the 20-year-old native of San Remo has amassed 52 total bases in his first 17 games. There is plenty to be excited about here, but as a word of warning, remember that the California League is the best hitting circuit in the minors, and High Desert is the best hitting park in that league.

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