Rymer Liriano, OF, San Diego Padres
2014 Stats (43 G): .276/.350/.534, 20 XBH (10 HR), 28 RBI, 7 SB, 18 BB, 45 K
Liriano missed the entire 2013 season while recovering form Tommy John surgery, so it wasn’t surprising when he turned in a shaky first month of the season at Double-A San Antonio.
The 22-year-old has raked since the calendar turned to May, though, as he’s batting .347/.419/.667 with seven home runs, three doubles and 16 RBI in 20 games this month. The Padres’ big league offense is starved for production, so it’ll be interesting to see how aggressive they are with Liriano this summer.
Peter O’Brien, C/OF, New York Yankees
2014 Stats (41 G): .316/.339/.722, 29 XBH (17 HR), 35 RBI, 4 BB, 39 K
Peter O'Brien has put up monster numbers since his recent promotion to Double-A Trenton, as the 23-year-old owns a 1.109 OPS with seven home runs and 16 RBI through 11 games. However, his 39/4 K/BB between both levels also suggests that the right-handed slugger could be in store for a regression moving forward.
As was the case when he was at High-A Tampa, O'Brien is receiving most of his bats at catcher and designated hitter, but he continues to see occasional playing time in right field. Basically, the Yankees are exploring ways to expedite his arrival to the major leagues.
Shae Simmons, RHP, Atlanta Braves
2014 Stats (17 G): 12 SV, 20.0 IP, 0.90 ERA, .183 BAA, 4 BB, 26 K
A 22nd-round draft pick in 2012, Simmons has the potential to be the next great bullpen arm to emerge from the Braves system. The 5’11” right-hander has utterly dominated as Double-A Mississippi’s closer this season, as he’s already saved 12 games and fanned 26 batters (against four walks) in 20 innings.
Henry Owens, LHP, Boston Red Sox
2014 Stats (9 GS): 50.1 IP, 3.22 ERA, .190 BAA, 27 BB, 57 K
Owens hasn’t been particularly sharp or efficient in his past three starts for Double-A Portland, issuing a combined 14 walks in 15.2 innings. However, the 21-year-old southpaw has been difficult to barrel—as is usually the case when his secondary pitches are working—with three hits allowed and 22 strikeouts during that same span. Specifically, Owens has struck eight batters in exactly four innings in back-to-back starts.
Michael Lorenzen, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
2014 Stats (9 GS): 51.2 IP, 2.26 ERA, .225 BAA, 18 BB, 37 K
The Reds have remained steadfast in their development of Lorenzen—the No. 38 overall pick in the 2013 draft—as a starting pitcher, challenging the 22-year-old with an aggressive Opening Day assignment to Double-A Pensacola.
The right-hander has been better than expected in the role this year, as he’s now worked at least five innings in each of his nine starts. In his latest outing, Lorenzen fired five no-hit innings with four walks and six strikeouts against Jackson.
Arodys Vizcaino, RHP, Chicago Cubs
2014 Stats (14 G): 14.0 IP, 0.64 ERA, .167 BAA, 4 BB, 18 K
This season marks the first time since 2011 that Vizcaino has pitched in a professional game, as the right-hander missed the last two seasons while slowly recovering from Tommy John surgery. Now 23, the right-hander has the potential to be a late-inning weapon for the Cubs this season, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he is the closer for the big league club by August or September (if not sooner).
Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Los Angeles Angels
2014 Stats (42 G): .224/.297/.340, 6 2B, 4 HR, 24 RBI, 11 SB, 16 BB, 34 K
Coming off an impressive full-season debut at both A-ball levels, Cowart took a huge step backward last season in his first taste of Double-A, batting .221/.279/.301 with 27 extra-base hits and 124 strikeouts in 132 games.
Well, the 21-year-old is technically off to a better start this year while repeating the level, but he still struggles to make consistent hard contact, especially from the right side of the plate.
Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees
2014 Stats (38 G): .231/.309/.371, 12 XBH, 24 RBI, 16 BB, 30 K
Sanchez got off to a hot start this season in his return to Double-A Trenton, posting an .875 OPS with nine extra-base hits in 19 April games. The 21-year-old backstop has cooled off considerably in the season’s second month, as he’s batting just .134 with 17 strikeouts in his last 77 plate appearances (19 games).
Yorman Rodriguez, OF, Cincinnati Reds
2014 Stats (31 G): .262/.305/.361, 2 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 4 SB, 8 BB, 38 K
Rodriguez turned in a long-overdue breakout campaign in 2013, posting a .751 OPS with 35 doubles, 13 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 129 games between High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola. Back at Pensacola, the 21-year-old’s performance this season has been up and down, and he’s been slumping hard of late, with a .042 batting average (1-for-24) and 11 strikeouts over his last six games.