Daily minor league curtain call: Joey Gallo sets AZL HR record

Counting down the top-10 performances from around the minor leagues for Sunday, August 12:

Lance McCullers, Jr. has been dominant in his first year of pro ball. (Marc Estrada/Max Preps)

10. Brady Rodgers, a third-round pick by the Astros this year out of Arizona State, has been displaying the superb command that made him one of the best pitchers in college this past year. He tossed five innings for Tri-City of the New York-Penn league on Sunday, allowing one run on three hits with three strikeouts to one walk. On the season, the 6’-2”, right-hander is now 6-2 over nine starts with a 2.32 ERA and 46 K/8 BB over 50.1 innings.

9. Twins prospect, Liam Hendricks, continued his dominant season, throwing seven shutout innings for triple-A Rochester, allowing four hits while striking out four to one walk. Over 15 starts in the minors, the 6’-1”, right-hander is now 9-2 with a 1.99 ERA and 76 K/25 BB over 99.1 innings. Hendricks had five starts for the Twins in June and was rocked around going 0-5 with a 7.04 ERA and 57 hits allowed over 38.1 innings.

8. If anyone is deserving of a promotion, Mike Zunino is it. The third overall selection by the Mariners in this year’s draft out of Florida, the Golden Spikes Award winner has been absolutely ridiculous at the plate for short-season Everett of the Northwest League. He went 1-for-3 on Sunday with a three-run home run, and has now knocked in a run in nine consecutive games. Over his last six he is 14-for-23 (.609) with three doubles, three home runs and 16 RBI. On the season, the 21-year-old is now hitting .376 with 29 runs, 10 doubles, 10 home runs, 35 RBI with a .743 SLG over 29 games. The 6’-2”, 220-pound right-hander is also a gold-glove caliber defender behind the plate.

7. The Washington Nationals have been one of the best teams in baseball this year thanks in large part to their starting pitching. Alex Meyer, the team’s first-round selection (22-overall) in the 2011 draft, should be able to further bolster that rotation as early as next season. The 6’-9”, 220-pound right-hander went seven innings on Sunday, allowing one run on four hits while striking out seven to no walks. Since his promotion to class-A advanced Potomac, the 21-year-old is 2-1 with a 0.93 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 26 K/6 BB over 29 innings. On the season, he is 9-5 with a 2.57 ERA and 133 K/40 BB over 119 innings.

6. Astros top prospect, Jonathan Singleton, went 2-for-5 with a pair of home runs and four RBI for double-A Corpus Christi. The 6’-2”, 235-pound left-hander is now hitting .279 over 113 games with 17 home runs and 72 RBI. The 20-year-old has a great approach at the plate as he has drawn 74 walks for a .389 OBP.

5. The Houston Astros 2012 draft may go down as the best in team history, mostly because of their second overall selection, Lance McCullers. The 2012 National Gatorade Player of the Year fell to the Astros at the 41st pick, and the 6’-1”, power-righty has been proving every other team in baseball wrong all year. Now pitching for Greeneville of the Appalachian League, he tossed four innings on Sunday, allowing one run on two hits while striking out one. On the season, he has a 1.42 ERA with 17 K/7 BB over 19 innings, while allowing just 13 hits. McCullers fastball has been clocked at 100 mph, and his curveball is a plus pitch already.

4. Royals top prospect, Wil Myers, put on a clinic for triple-A Omaha going 5-for-7 with four runs, a double, home run, and three RBI as the Storm Chasers routed Tucson 20-3 and totaled 33 hits. The five hits were a career high for Myers, and on the season, the 21-year-old is now hitting .314 over 113 games with 25 doubles, 34 home runs, 96 RBI and a 1.017 OPS.

3. The chase for the single-season stolen base record may actually be costing Reds prospect Billy Hamilton some major league at-bats. It’s hard to imagine him having anything left to prove down in the minors except for his assault on the record books. After going 3-for-4 with a triple, 3 RBI and three more swipes on Sunday for double-A Pensacola, Hamilton upped his total to 139, just six away from Vince Coleman’s 1983 record of 145. On the season, the 21-year old is now hitting .315 over 113 games with 20 doubles, 13 triples, two home runs, 41 RBI, 73 walks and a .412 OBP. This is your 2013 NL Rookie of the Year favorite and future fantasy baseball superstar.

2. Giants prospect, Chris Heston, came oh-so-close to tossing a no-hitter on Sunday before Bowie’s Zelous Wheeler broke it up with a single with two outs in the top of the eighth inning. Heston ended up going 7.2 innings, allowing just the one hit while striking out 11 to three walks in picking up the win for double-A Richmond of the Eastern League. The 6’-4”, right-hander improved to 8-5 on the season with a 2.20 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 114 K/30 BB over 123 innings. The 24-year-old Heston is a workhorse pitcher who induces tons of groundballs with his heavy sinker.

1. The Arizona League has been around since 1989, and when Rangers’ 2012 first-round pick, Joey Gallo, launched his 17th home run in his first at-bat in the second inning on Sunday, he became the all-time, single-season record holder, surpassing Wladimir Balentien’s 16 set in 2003 with the Mariners. The 6’-5”, 205-pound left-hander finished 4-for-5 with the home run and two RBI and is now hitting .300 with nine doubles, 17 home runs, 41 RBI, six stolen bases, and has drawn 37 walks over 41 games for a slash line of .448/.743/1.191.


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