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“I thought it was a popup, and I thought, ‘Oh shoot, I gotta get down the line,” Oaks told MiLB.com. “And then I saw it landed over the fence. I was stunned.
“Honestly, I was just trying to make contact, because I strike out all the time,” he said. “First pitch was a fastball in, I swung through it, and then he tried to come in again. I don’t think he got in as much as he wanted and the ball just hit my bat, I didn’t really hit the ball. At first, I didn’t see it go up in the air.”
Oaks’ season-long outing was the big story, however, as the 24-year-old right-hander allowed one-out singles in the first and second innings before retiring the final 15 batters in Oklahoma City’s 11-1 victory. He recorded seven strikeouts and nine ground-ball outs, throwing 59 of his 85 pitches for strikes.
“The seven innings is really nice, just because I had a hard time in the beginning of this season getting the ground balls and had some bad luck, but I was really happy to finally get that outing in and see that hard work pay off,” said Oaks. “I was just using my sinker down — I haven’t really had that consistent movement this year, and my catcher, Kyle Farmer, did a good job staying underneath the ball. He called a great game.”
Backing Oaks were two-run homers by Verdugo (Dodgers’ No. 3, No. 54 overall) and Calhoun (Dodgers’ No. 4, No. 74 overall) who combined to go 5-for-10 with seven RBIs.
It was the first home run of the season for the 21-year-old Verdugo, who finished 3-for-5 with five RBIs. He’s hitting .317/.396/.398 on the season, with more walks (22) than strikeouts (21) through 44 games. Calhoun, meanwhile, is up to 10 home runs with a .301/.353/.538 slash line.
The rest of the best performances from top prospects Monday
• No. 5 overall prospect Victor Robles’ two-run homer in the fifth inning was the difference in Class A Advanced Potomac’s 3-2 win over Wilmington. The Nationals’ No. 1 prospect has hit five of his six homers during the month of May, putting him on track to blow past the career-high nine he hit in 110 games last season.
• No. 30 overall prospect Kyle Tucker (Astros’ No. 2) connected on a solo homer, stole a base and reached base four times in Class A Advanced Buies Creek’s win against Frederick. He finished 2-for-4 at the plate, with two walks and two runs scored, in his 14th multihit performance of the season. The 20-year-old outfielder is putting together a big year in the Carolina League, with a .288/.379/.554 slash line, nine home runs, 25 extra-base hits, 43 RBIs and 13 steals through 48 games.
• No. 61 overall prospect Luke Weaver matched his season highs with nine strikeouts in seven innings en route to his fifth win in seven starts for Triple-A Memphis. The Cardinals’ No. 3 prospect allowed two earned runs on four hits — including two solo homers — and two walks in the performance, while throwing 70 of his 101 pitches for strikes. For the season, Weaver owns a 2.08 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP, with 38 strikeouts and six walks in 39 innings.
• No. 75 overall prospect Derek Fisher hit a three-run homer as part of a perfect day at the plate to help power Triple-A Fresno past Albuquerque, 10-3. The Astros’ No. 4 prospect reached base in each of his five plate appearances, going 3-for-3 with two walks, and is now hitting .337/.399/.592 with 12 home runs on the season.
• Make it 29 straight frames without allowing an earned run for D-backs No. 8 prospect Jon Duplantier. The 22-year-old righty retired the final 15 batters he faced on Monday en route to completing six innings of one-hit ball with six strikeouts for Class A Kane County. He leads all Minor League hurlers in ERA (0.50), WHIP (0.66) and opponents’ average (.139) this season, and he’s now compiled 62 strikeouts against 11 walks in 54 1/3 innings.
“It’s been pretty nuts,” Duplantier told MiLB.com. “I don’t think anybody saw this coming. Those are some crazy numbers, no matter what league you’re in. Stats like those aren’t really goals for me. I’m not trying to have an ERA below 3.00 or something like that. My goals are more like strike percentage, amount of first-pitch strikes, strikes in 2-2 counts. I knew if I could execute in those goals, then stuff like this could happen.”
• Giants’ No. 5 prospect Chris Shaw hit his first Triple-A homer and later added a double in a 2-for-5 effort for Sacramento. He’s started each of his five games in left field for the River Cats after making the move from first base to the outfield earlier this month at Double-A Richmond, where he hit .301/.390/.511 with six homers and 29 RBIs in 37 games.
• Marlins’ No. 9 prospect James Nelson upped his hitting streak to 15 games for Class A Greensboro with a 3-for-5 showing that included his third homer. A 15th-round round pick by Miami nearly a year ago, he’s currently third in the Midwest League in both average (.348) and on-base percentage (.408), thanks largely to his 46 hits in 34 games.
• Phillies’ No. 11 prospect Scott Kingery led off Double-A Reading’s win over New Hampshire with his Minor League-leading 16th home run. It marked the eighth road homer for the 23-year-old second baseman, who’s posted a robust .313/.391/.676 batting line, with 57 hits, 48 runs scored and 12 steals, in 45 games.
“Everyone keeps asking me if I’m a home-run hitter and I keep telling them no,” Kingery told MiLB.com. “I’m honestly just trying to put a good line-drive swing on the ball, and for some reason I’m hitting them in the air and they’re getting some carry on them. … I wasn’t thinking about home runs coming into the season and I’m still not thinking about home runs.”
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