Todd Cunningham, Lynchburg Hillcats - 14-25, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 0 K, 2 SB - The Braves second round pick from 2010 had a slow start in professional baseball after posting a .679 OPS last year and then just a .553 OPS in the first month of 2011. Something clicked at the start of May with him hitting over .500 since the start of the month with good patience. He still isn't hitting with tons of power but if he can rack up some doubles the extra homers will just be gravy.
Randall Delgado, Mississippi Braves - 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 3 K - Delgado hasn't blown the doors off this season but he has been consistently good and this week's start was one of his most effective without being dominant. He pitched for the win and allowed just two hits. I just want to see him get his walks under control and I will be very happy with his season.
- Andrelton Simmons, Lynchburg Hillcats - 11-24, 2B, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K, 2 SB, 2 CS - Simmons quest to be a full time shortstop in professional baseball has been well documented, as has been the likelihood that he will end up on the mound because he won't be able to hit enough to be a position player. Well so far this season Simmons doesn't appear to be slowing down with the bat. He is hitting .343 for the year with a .791 OPS. Unfortunately he has collected jut five walks and five extra base hits during that span so his OPS is fairly empty though has struck out just eight times. His ability to make contact has been a nice surprise and if he doesn't he still has a fantastic arm to fall back on. Must be nice.
- Chris Masters, Lynchburg Hillcats - 12.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 14 K - Chris Masters is doing his best impersonation of himself when he started last year hot in the Sally League and eventually started the All Star game. Let's hope he doesn't give us the second half version as well that saw his ERA shoot from the 1s up to 4.30 by season's end. He is currently second in the Carolina League in ERA.
Honorable Mention: Gwinnett Braves - Jordan Schafer, Mike Minor, Rodrigo Lopez; Mississippi Braves - Tyler Pastornicky, Ernesto Mejia, Paul Clemens; Lynchburg Hillcats - L.V. Ware, Braeden Schlehuber, Dimaster Delgado; Rome - Caleb Brewer, Ronan Pacheco, David Filak
Carlos Perez, Rome Braves - 7 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 4 K - Even though I said his start this week was a lot of bad dumb luck Perez hasn't been great lately giving up 18 runs (14 ER) in that last 18 innings. I will be seeing Perez tonight in Augusta and hopefully he will know I am in the crowd and be on his A game.
Matt Lipka, Rome Braves - 2-21, BB, 2 K, CS - Things haven't been as good for our top pick from last year as they have been for our second pick (Cunningham). Lipka has posted a .545 OPS for the year and has yet to collect an extra base hit on the year. He has flashed some ability to steal bases so far (10/14) but his performance has been underwhelming so far.
- Zeke Spruill, Lynchburg Hillcats - 6 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 8 K - Zeke has pitched like the 2009 version for most of 2011 but his lone start this week was his worst of the season and the only start in which he has allowed more than three runs. Hopefully this was more a blip in the radar than a portent of a future demise.
- Elmer Reyes, Rome Braves - 2-17, 2B, 4 K - The Rome offense has not been what I would call...good. And having the two guys who sit at the top of the lineup posting OPSs under .600 is just exacerbating the problem. Both Lipka and Reyes appeared to have solid bats coming into the season but their performance has been much worse than anticipated. Both guys are young so there is still plenty of time for improvement.
Dishonorable Mention: Gwinnett - Wilkin Ramirez, Jake Thompson; Mississippi Braves - Mycal Jones, Willie Cabrera, Brett Oberholtzer, Lynchburg Hillcats - Joe Leonard, Riann Spanjer-Furstenburg, Arodys Vizcaino, Cory Rasmus; Rome Braves- David Rohm, Christian Bethancourt, Steven Kent.
Prospect Purgatory: Edward Salcedo - While Salcedo has not been tearing the cover off the ball he has been getting on base. In fact, he has gotten on base in 23 consecutive games now.. He appears to have rediscovered his patience that he showed in the Appalachian League but lost once he was promoted to Rome last season. This is obviously an excellent sign for such a young player.