Minor League Hitter of the Week:
Josh Elander, OF, Lynchburg: 8-for-25, 5 2B, 1 HR, 6 R, 7 RBI, 3 BB, 8 K, .320/.414/.640
Elander and Mississippi third baseman Kyle Kubitza were in a dead heat for this week's hitter of the week award, but given that Kubitza will likely be profiled later in the week in another feature we will be running, Elander will take home this week's distinction. This does not mean that Elander is any less deserving, however, as Lynchburg's left fielder smashed five doubles and a home run in seven games this week en route to a .320/.414/.640 line. This week's performance comes on the heels of a stint on the disabled list for tightness in his left shoulder, a condition that Damien Sordelett, the Hillcat's fine beat writer for the Lynchburg News Advance, notes could be partially to blame for his depressed cumulative statistics thus far this year, as the 23-year-old tried to play through the pain but failed to produce.
Elander spent his collegiate years at Texas Christian University, and while he had some first-round buzz coming into the season, the Braves popped him in the sixth round due to teams' concerns that he could not stick behind the plate as a catcher. This turned out to be true after a brief stint behind the plate in his professional debut, but Elander's bat has proven to be a worthwhile investment thus far, especially considering the round in which he was taken. In his full-season debut, Elander tore up the South Atlantic League but struggled in the Carolina League after a mid-season promotion, tallying an .828 OPS between the two leagues. He was sent back to Lynchburg to begin his season in an attempt to give him another shot at Carolina League pitching, but the depressed production thus far can at least be partially blamed on the shoulder injury, as noted above. This week's performance is a step in the right direction for the Texan, a step that will hopefully lead to an appearance in Double-A Mississippi by season's end.
Honorable Mentions: Josh Elander, OF, Lynchburg; Johan Camargo, SS, Rome; Jose Peraza, 2B, Lynchburg; Kyle Wren, CF, Lynchburg; Cedric Hunter, OF, Mississippi; Seth Loman, 1B, Mississippi; Joey Meneses, 1B/OF, Rome
Minor League Pitcher of the Week:
Greg Ross, RHP, Lynchburg: 1 GS, 8.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 76 Game Score
In a week bereft of many notable pitching performances in the system, Ross' performance on Sunday earns him a resounding nod for this week's award. The right-hander twirled a gem against Winston-Salem, going eight scoreless innings and allowing only five hits and one walk while collecting five strikeouts. As noted in this morning's MiLB recap, Ross is flying under the radar slightly in terms of Braves prospects to keep an eye on and has been sneaky good all season, posting a 2.33 ERA/2.74 FIP and a 50:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 58 innings of work, which includes seven starts.
The Frostburg State product was taken in the 18th round of the 2011 draft and has seen fairly decent results at every stop thus far, highlighted by a 3.01 ERA in 19 starts (30 total appearances) between Lynchburg and Rome last season. Having not seen Ross pitch, I spoke with Sordelett to determine what kind of arsenal Ross possesses. Sordelett stated that the 6-foot-3, 200-pound righty utilizes a classic four-pitch mix, including a fastball that sits in the upper-80s and touches 92 with movement lower in the zone, a low-80s slider that can induce whiffs and has plenty of late movement, and a usable changeup and curveball. Read Sordelett's full write-up here. With continued dominance in the Carolina League, Ross seems like a good bet to make an appearance in Double-A Mississippi as the season progresses. He is doing exactly what a 24-year-old should be doing in the Carolina League, and while his age versus his level of competition has always been a slight knock against him, a pitcher who can see this type of success while limiting walks and missing bats is always an intriguing name to follow.
Honorable Mentions: Williams Perez, RHP, Mississippi; Navery Moore, RHP, Lynchburg; Alex Wilson, RHP, Lynchburg; John Cornely, RHP; Hector Daniel Rodriguez, LHP, Gwinnett Braves; Pete Perez, RHP, Rome Braves