Russell Branyan, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
(.389/.522/1.222, 5 G, 7-for-18, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 7 R, 5 BB, 5 K)
The veteran Branyan missed the first two months of the season with a back injury, but showed no signs of rust in his first week with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The 36-year-old slugger torched Durham with two homers and six RBIs on Tuesday and added three more blasts in his next four games. Five home runs and 12 RBIs in nine games is a nice way to kick off a campaign.
Yanks' Branyan homers again vs. Bulls
Pacific Coast League
Irving Falu, Omaha
(.526/.571/.947, 6 G, 10-for-19, 2 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 5 R, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 SB)
Now in his 10th pro season -- all in the Royals system -- Falu finally made his big league debut on May 6 (tripling off Phil Hughes in his first at-bat) and performed admirably in limited action, going 14-for-43 (.326) in 12 games. His bat remained hot upon his return to Omaha on June 2, as Falu picked up a hit in each of his first eight games back in the PCL. After celebrating his 29th birthday on Wednesday, a rare day off, Falu delivered a pinch-hit two-run homer on Thursday, went 3-for-5 with four RBIs on Friday and homered, doubled and scored three times on Saturday. The switch-hitter is now batting .406 against PCL right-handers this season.
Falu adds to Storm Chasers' lead with a homer
Matt Den Dekker, Binghamton
(.630/.643/.852, 6 G, 17-for-27, 4 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 9 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 3 SB)
The Mets' No. 15 prospect reeled off six consecutive multi-hit games this week -- including a 5-for-5 performance at first-place Trenton on Friday -- to take over the Eastern League batting lead at .340. The 23-year-old outfielder has been steady all season, posting a .290 average in April and a .315 mark in May before going 20-for-37 (.541) in his first nine June games. Den Dekker also leads the league in hits (81), slugging (.563) and runs scored (47) while his .397 on-base percentage ranks fourth.
Mets' Den Dekker caps a 5-for-5 night with base-hit
Top prospects: Matt Den Dekker
Alfredo Marte, Mobile
(.556/.636/1.000, 6 G, 10-for-18, 6 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 7 R, 1 K)
Marte has provided power for the BayBears all season -- he leads the league in slugging (.561) and ranks second in both home runs (13) and RBIs (44) -- but garnered Player of the Week honors without going deep. Riding a 12-game hitting streak, the 23-year-old outfielder has scored in nine straight games and doubled in each of his last five contests. Though he failed to draw a walk this week, Marte fanned just once. Having already surpassed his previous career mark of nine longballs in a season, Marte has been tabbed to join teammate Matt Davidson at the Southern League All-Star Game in Tennessee on June 19.
BayBears' Marte smacks solo homer
Oscar Taveras, Springfield
(.500/.548/.821, 6 G, 14-for-28, 3 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 11 R, 2 BB, 4 K)
Taveras, MLB.com's No. 93 prospect, kicked off his week with a 5-for-5, four-run performance against Corpus Christi on Monday, then wrapped it up by going 4-for-5 in the Cardinals' record-setting rout of Arkansas Sunday evening. The outfielder, who turns 20 next week, added five more hits during a four-game set at first-place Tulsa in between and scored in each of his six games this week. Taveras leads the league with a .323 average, ranks second in slugging with a .581 mark and is fifth in home runs with 12.
Springfield's Taveras hits a two-run homer
Top prospects: Oscar Taveras
C.J. Retherford, Rancho Cucamonga
(.464/.500/1.107, 7 G, 13-for-28, 6 HR, 11 RBI, 8 R, 3 K, 2 SB)
After a couple of rough seasons -- he hit .200/.253/.291 in 2010 and .203/.275/.289 last year -- the 26-year-old Retherford is having his finest campaign at the plate and currently ranks fifth in the Cal League with a .337 average and second with 14 longballs. Having slugged three homers in two games at Lancaster last weekend, Retherford added another on Monday, singled twice at Stockton on Tuesday, then homered in each of his next three games before going deep twice in a 4-for-5 effort Sunday. Retherford, who has never hit more than 16 homers in a season, has blasted nine in his last nine games.
Trayce Thompson, Winston-Salem
(.400/.407/.840, 7 G, 10-for-25, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 5 R, 0 BB, 8 K, 1 SB)
Thompson was second in the White Sox system with 24 homers last season and entered the 2012 campaign as the club's No. 3 prospect. The son of former NBA player Mychal (his older brothers Mychel and Klay also play pro basketball), Trayce has struggled in his first season at Class A Advanced, hitting .223/.316/.442 in his first 60 games. Things started to turn around this week, however, as the 21-year-old outfielder had hits in six of seven games and fell just a single shy of the cycle against Wilmington on Friday night. Despite his struggles at the plate -- his 80 strikeouts are the most in the league and fifth-most in the Minors -- Thompson is just two off the league lead with 43 RBIs.
Thompson looking to impress
Top prospects: Trayce Thompson
Florida State League
Kevin Ahrens, Dunedin
(.471/.500/.882, 5 G, 8-for-17, 1 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 6 R, 2 BB, 5 K)
A first-round pick (16th overall) in the 2007 Draft, Ahrens is in his fourth Florida State League season. After slugging a career-high 14 longballs last year, the 23-year-old third basemen went homerless in his first two months of the campaign before breaking the seal with a solo shot at Charlotte last Sunday. Ahrens homered again on Monday and added a third blast in a 3-for-3 effort against Clearwater on Saturday. He capped his week by driving in a pair of runs on Sunday as Dunedin clinched the first-half title in the FSL's North Division.
Tyler Rahmatulla, Quad Cities
(.417/.423/.833, 6 G, 10-for-24, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 6 R, 1 BB, 3 K)
Rahmatulla began the weekend's action just 4-for-28 in his previous eight games. The 22-year-old infielder turned the corner on Saturday with a triple and a single before erupting Sunday afternoon in Quad Cities' 16-15 loss at Burlington. Rahmatulla went 6-for-6 with two homers, two doubles and seven RBIs in the 11-inning affair, tying the Midwest League record for hits in one game. The UCLA product raised his batting average 26 points with the performance to take over the Midwest League lead at .327 -- four points ahead of Lansing's Kevin Pillar, who collected six hits on May 12. The two are the only Midwest League players to accomplish the feat since 2003.
South Atlantic League
Drew Robinson, Hickory
(.440/.563/.760, 7 G, 11-for-25, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 9 R, 7 BB, 5 K, 2 SB)
Robinson has quietly been extremely effective for the Crawdads this season. Though his .291 batting average and six home runs don't jump out, the 20-year-old third baseman leads the Rangers organization (and is fourth in the Sally League) with a .422 on-base percentage and is fifth in the system with 36 RBIs. Robinson collected multiple hits in four games this week and went 7-for-12 with five runs scored as Hickory took two of three against visiting Greenville over the weekend.