The best pitcher in Minor League Baseball right now just might reside in one of the minors toughest pitching leagues, the Pacific Coast League, and in one of baseball’s weakest farm systems, the Milwaukee Brewers. Jimmy Nelson is thought to be the Brewers best prospect, and even got a brief taste of the big leagues in 2013 plus 5 2/3 scoreless this year.
In the PCL this year, Nelson is 7-1 with an ERA of 1.51, but his past week may have been as good a stretch as any for him this year. He has gotten two starts in the past seven days, went six innings in each and a combined one run on six hits. He did walk two batters in each start, but 17 of the 36 outs he recorded were via the strikeout.
The most recent PCL Pitcher of the Week was Clayton Mortensen. I got a good look at Mortensen in multiple starts in Extended Spring Training, and was underwhelmed by him, but he has turned things around at Triple-A. Mortensen has made three appearances with Omaha this season, two starts and a five inning relief outing, and has yet to allow a run over 16 innings. He is striking out a batter per inning and four times the number of batters he walks. If he continues to pitch well in Triple-A, he could get a call up to the Kansas City Royals and be a solid long relief/spot starter arm for them down the stretch.
At the plate, the most recent Player of the Week was an easy call, Juan Ciriaco. He has gone 0-4 in his past two games played, dropping his 10 game batting average to .515. Over the past ten games he has four home runs and a slugging percentage f 1.061. The 30-year old utility man has played over 900 games in the minor leagues, but has yet to play a single game in the big leagues. He is not currently on the San Francisco Giants 40-man roster, but if he continues to hit like he has lately, he will almost certainly get the chance to realize the dream at some point this season.
Ciriaco’s teammate with the Fresno Grizzlies, Adam Duvall, is currently leading the PCL in home runs. He has five long balls over his past ten games, giving him 20 on the season. He is also hitting an even .300 and 58 RBIs as a third baseman. Life is good for the Giants as they currently hold an eight game lead in the NL West, and have two of the hottest bats in the PCL.
A bat that was not so hot belongs to Travis d’Arnaud, the New York Mets backstop of the futre. d’Arnaud recently earned himself a demotion down to Triple-A thanks in large part to his .180 batting average, but in just three games since the demotion, his is 6-10 at the plate, including a two home run day on Wednesday.