Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
2014 stats (63 games): .357/.460/.722, 57 R, 18 2B, 22 HR, 55 RBI, 8 SB, 39 BB, 72 K
What’s there left to say about Kris Bryant? The 22-year-old slugger continues to put up otherworldly numbers this season in his first taste of the Southern League, as he currently leads all Double-A hitters in batting average (.357), on-base percentage (.460), slugging (.722), home runs (22), OPS (1.182), total bases (166), runs scored (57), hits (82) and RBI (55).
Michael Taylor, OF, Washington Nationals
2014 stats (59 games): .323/.409/.595, 28 XBH (15 HR), 46 RBI, 17 SB, 30 BB, 82 K
The 23-year-old has been one of the more productive hitters in the minors, as he’s doing a little bit of everything offensively while offering his usual plus defense in center field. Taylor’s game still features too much swing-and-miss, evidenced by his 82-30 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 255 plate appearances, but his contact rate is still trending up, and he’s already established a new career high with 15 home runs.
Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers
2014 stats (60 games): .327/.467/.760, 56 R, 36 XBH (23 HR), 56 RBI, 53 BB, 67 K
Gallo led all minor league hitters last season with 40 home runs (38 of which came while playing for Low-A Hickory), and he’s on pace to shatter that mark this year after making an adjustment to his swing, which you can read more about here courtesy of Ryan Parker of Baseball Prospectus (subscription required).
Gallo was moved up to Double-A Frisco on Sunday after the Rangers placed first baseman Mitch Moreland on the disabled list (ankle), a challenge that the 20-year-old responded to by going 3-for-7 with six RBI and a home run in each of his first two games.
Tyler Naquin, OF, Cleveland Indians
2014 stats (62 games): .329/.382/.454, 48 R, 18 XBH (4 HR), 14 SB, 22 BB, 58 K
Naquin, 23, began the season by batting .267 through his first 23 games, but since then, he’s been one of the more consistent hitters in the Eastern League with a .362 average, 36 runs scored, 11 extra-base hits and nine steals over his last 39 games. At the moment, Naquin is riding a 13-game hitting streak during which he’s batting .482 with five extra-base hits.
Jake Lamb, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks
2014 stats (62 games): .314/.386/.568, 36 XBH (9 HR), 47 RBI, 22 BB, 56 K
Lamb has been a hitting machine over the last six-plus weeks, with the 23-year-old third baseman batting .367/.439/.646 with 20 doubles, six home runs and 33 RBI in 41 games during that span. Lamb currently ranks among the Southern League leaders in most offensive categories, as he’s first in doubles (23) and second in hits (72), slugging (.568), OPS (.954) and total bases (130). He’s also fourth in batting with a .314 average.
Devon Travis, 2B, Detroit Tigers
2014 stats (25 games): .286/.315/.476, 11 XBH (3 HR), 3 SB, 4 BB, 11 K
Travis struggled to get going after returning from nearly six weeks on the disabled list, but the 23-year-old has finally found his stroke at Double-A Erie and is batting .407 with 11 extra-base hits in the last 14 games.
He’ll never put up the kind of gaudy numbers he did in his eye-opening 2013 full-season debut (.351/.418/.518, 48 XBH, 22 SB in 132 games), but the right-handed hitter’s feel for the strike zone and knack for making hard contact should give him the chance to be a successful big leaguer.
Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
2014 stats (14 starts): 66 IP, 3.82 ERA, .222 BAA, 40 BB, 57 K
Sanchez hasn’t taken the step forward this season that many expected following his impressive showing in last year’s Arizona Fall League and then this spring in major league camp. In his first taste of Double-A, the 21-year-old right-hander has seen his strikeout (7.8 K/9) and walk (5.5 BB/9) rates move in opposite directions, though he’s still managed to hold opposing hitters to a .222 average over 66 innings.
However, he’s shown more consistency over his last two starts with a 2.32 ERA and 14-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 11.2 innings.
Michael Lorenzen, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
2014 stats (13 starts): 71 IP, 2.41 ERA, .240 BAA, 21 BB, 47 K
Lorenzen has been one of the biggest surprises this season, as the 22-year old has drawn rave reviews for his improved command and general domination of the Southern League—wait for it—in his first season as a starter. The right-hander allowed a career-high six earned runs on seven hits on May 30 in what was easily his worst outing of the season, but he’s since bounced back nicely with back-to-back scoreless starts.
Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees
2014 stats (53 games): .251/.328/.414, 19 XBH (7 HR), 36 RBI, 23 BB, 39 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. However, the 21-year-old backstop has struggled since then with a .212 batting average and 26 strikeouts in his last 34 games.
Patrick Wisdom, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals
2014 stats (60 games): .223/.274/.374, 20 XBH (6 HR), 27 RBI, 14 BB, 72 K
The Cardinals handed Wisdom an aggressive promotion to Double-A Springfield this season after he batted .235 with 137 strikeouts last year across both Class-A levels. Unsurprisingly, the 22-year-old’s long swing and lack of pitch recognition have been exploited this season, as he’s batting just .211 with 43 strikeouts and five walks since the start of May.
Jesse Biddle, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
2014 stats (12 starts): 65.1 IP, 3.99 ERA, .239 BAA (7 HR), 28 BB, 66 K
Back in the Eastern League for a second tour, Biddle hasn’t taken a step forward this season as hoped with his command—though his 3.9 BB/9 still looks good on paper compared to last year’s 5.3 BB/9—and has already yielded seven home runs (three off his 2013 total). However, the 22-year-old is still missing more than a bat per inning (9.1 K/9) while holding opposing hitters to a .234 batting average.