Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Jose Contreras, RHP, White Sox (Triple-A Charlotte)
Monday’s stats: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K
Two weeks ago, could you have ever imagined Contreras throwing a one-hitter at any level? Yes, there he was Monday night, carrying a no-hitter into the eight and needing just 100 pitches to cruise to the shutout victory. True progress, or another indication of how massive the difference is between even the highest level of the minors and the big leagues?
As if Toronto needs more good news
J.P. Arencibia, C, Blue Jays (Triple-A Las Vegas)
Monday’s stats: 3-for-3, 2B, 2 HR (7), 2 R, 4 RBI, 2 BB
Like Baltimore uber-prospect Matt Wieters, Arenciba was a first-round pick in 2007, and like Wieters he hit 27 home runs in his full-season debut while splitting time between High- and Double-A. A free-swinging approach got him dinged by some, and the fear that he would be exposed by experienced Triple-A breaking ball specialists. That seemed to be a legitimate concern when he hit .224 without a home run in April, but May has been a different story, as Arencibia is slugging .697 with seven bombs in 66 at-bats, while also learning the value of a little patience with seven walks.
Finally warming up?
Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pirates (High-A Lynchburg)
Monday’s stats: 3-for-5, 2B, HR (8), 3 R, 2 RBI, BB
The second overall pick in last year’s draft, Alvarez has been one of the biggest disappointments is the prospect world this year, but he’s finally showing signs of life, with his first three-hit game since Opening Day, and a 7-for-16 mark in his last four that includes two home runs and seven RBIs. He’s still hitting just .229 on the season, but with plenty of power and patience, there’s little need to temper one’s enthusiasm.
And the No. 2 pick the year before Pedro . . .
Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals (High-A Wilmington)
Monday’s stats: 2-for-4, HR (7), R, 3 RBI
Moustakas was one of the Midwest League’s worst performers in April of last year, but by the time the second half came around, he was the most dangerous hitters on the circuit. This year, he’s taking far less time to heat up, as Monday’s performance extended his hitting streak to nine games, including home runs in three of his last four contests.
California, here he comes?
Mat Latos, RHP, Padres (Low-A Fort Wayne)
Monday’s stats:6.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K
San Diego’s top prospect missed the first three weeks of the season recovering from an ankle injury, but the decision to ease him into the year by sending him back to the Midwest League is proving to be far too conservative a move. Monday’s performance was his fourth dominant outing in four tries, as the six-foot-six righty has allowed just one run over 25 innings, while giving up only 10 hits, walking three and striking out 27. He should be heading for High-A Lake Elsinore soon.
He keeps hitting, so he keeps showing up here
Josh Vitters, 3B, Cubs (Low-A Peoria)
Monday’s stats: 3-for-5, 2B, HR (6), 3 RBIs
It’s like the best kind of broken record you can imagine if you are Vitters. On Saturday, he had three hits, including a home run; Sunday he had three hits, including a home run, and yesterday? You guessed it. Three hits, including a home run. Our data guru, William Burke crunched the number and found that the last time a big leaguer had three straight games with at least three hits and a home run was Rays third baseman Evan Longoria last June. However, it’s more rare than you think, as only 14 occurrences of such a streak have occurred in the majors over the last 40 years.