After showing flashes of dominance during his first four starts, left-hander Cionel Perez put it all together on Monday for Class A Quad Cities with an unhittable performance.
The Astros' No. 16 prospect was electric in his best professional start, tossing seven hitless frames with 10 strikeouts, both career highs, as Quad Cities defeated Peoria, 5-1. He issued one walk en route to facing one over the minimum, while throwing 54 of his 87 pitches for strikes.
Perez (3-2) retired the first 10 batters he faced before issuing a one-out walk in the top of the fourth inning. He struck out the side on two occasions, in the third and the sixth, and tallied at least one strikeout in five of his seven frames.
MILB Video - Title: Perez's 10th strikeout - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1419156783
Perez, 21, originally landed a $5.15 million bonus from the Astros in September 2016, only to have the deal voided after a physical prompted concerns about his elbow. He officially signed for $2 million in December, and then was held back in extended spring training to build up arm strength ahead of an assignment to Quad Cities in late April.
Perez began his U.S. career unevenly, sandwiching a scoreless performance between two starts during which he allowed a combined 13 earned runs in just 4 1/3 innings. The southpaw made strides in his subsequent turn, however, giving up two runs in four innings, and then righted the ship in earnest on Monday.
Though his ERA sits at 6.43 for the season, Perez has posted strong peripherals, with a 22-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio, zero home runs allowed and a 1.19 WHIP in 21 innings (five appearances/four starts).
The rest of the best performances from top prospects Monday
• No. 16 overall prospect Mickey Moniak (Phillies' No. 2) connected on his first home run and reached base four times to help lead Class A Lakewood past Greensboro, 3-2. The 2016 No. 1 overall Draft pick also tripled in the contest before finishing 2-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored.
• No. 42 overall prospect Yadier Alvarez (Dodgers' No. 2) dominated over five scoreless innings for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga. The live-armed 21-year-old allowed one hit, walked one and struck out five in the performance, which saw 46 of his 74 pitches go for strikes. It was his second scoreless outing in seven appearances (six starts).
• No. 61 overall prospect A.J. Puk (A's No. 2) allowed one earned run despite throwing 5 1/3 hitless innings for Class A Advanced Stockton against Lake Elsinore. The 2016 No. 6 overall Draft pick fanned seven, but also walked four and hit one batter. In the fifth, he issued a leadoff walk and then induced a fielder's choice before departing the game with 94 pitches (57 strikes). The next batter for Lake Elsinore, Padres No. 26 prospect Austin Allen, greeted reliever Will Gilbert with a two-run home run.
• No. 87 overall prospect Jeimer Candelario's (Cubs' No. 4) two-run homer fueled a five-run first inning for Triple-A Iowa in a 7-6 win over Tacoma. It was the seventh homer of the season and third in as many games for the 23-year-old third baseman, who's hitting .325/.417/.675 through 32 games.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Candelario goes yard - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1419582783
• A's No. 5 prospect Daniel Gossett worked eight scoreless frames, allowing four hits with six strikeouts and 13 ground-ball outs, to lead Triple-A Nashville in a win over Sacramento. The 24-year-old right-handed retired the final 14 batters he faced before finishing with 91 pitches (62 strikes). He's allowed three or less earned runs in six straight starts for the Sounds.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Gossett finishes 8th - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1419495283
• Braves' No. 29 prospect Brett Cumberland belted a pair of two-run homers -- his first career multi-homer game -- and matched his season high with five RBIs as Class A Rome defeated Asheville, 7-3. The 21-year-old backstop has gone deep five times this season, including thrice in his last three games.
• Brewers' No. 25 prospect Jake Gatewood's three extra-base hits and six RBIs paced Class A Advanced Carolina in a 7-6 win over Winston-Salem. Gatewood started the scoring with his seventh home run, a three-run shot in the first inning, added a double in the sixth, and then came through with a bases-clearing double in the seventh to put the Mudcats ahead for good.
MILB Video - Title: Gatewood's go-ahead double - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1419088883
• Cardinals' No. 5 prospect Harrison Bader and Paul DeJong (No. 11) combined for seven hits and four runs scored as Triple-A Memphis shut out Fresno, 9-0. Bader paced the Redbirds with four hits, going 4-for-5 with a double, while DeJong connected on his 10th home run in a 3-for-5 performance. They're batting .299 and .300 this season.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Bader rips double - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1419582583
• Cardinals' No. 8 prospect Jack Flaherty became the first Minor League pitcher to record seven wins after tossing 7 2/3 scoreless frames to pace Double-A Springfield in a shutout against Northwest Arkansas. The 21-year-old righty tallied more walks (four) than strikeouts (three) in the outing, though he also allowed just three hits and generated 10 ground-ball outs. Flaherty is leading all Texas League hurlers in wins, innings pitched (57 1/3) and WHIP (0.92), and he ranks second in ERA (1.26) and strikeouts (55).
MILB Video - Title: Flaherty notches a strikeout - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1418712283
• Dodgers' No. 29 prospect A.J. Alexy struck out a career-high eight batters in 4 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run on one hit and one walk, in a no-decision for Class A Great Lakes. An 11th-round pick in 2016, Alexy, 19, has given up just 10 hits (.126 BAA) while fanning 33 in 25 2/3 innings (seven starts).
• Nationals' No. 25 prospect Jose Marmolejos launched a go-ahead grand slam in the top of the ninth inning as Double-A Harrisburg defeated Erie, 14-13, in a game that featured 34 hits. Five of those hits belonged to Marmolejos, who finished 5-for-6 with five RBIs and three runs scored. A member of the Nats' 40-man roster, the 24-year-old first baseman has hit .385 with two homers and 10 RBIs in nine games since making his season debut on May 12.
MILB Video - Title: Marmolejos' grand slam - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1419061783
• Phillies' No. 11 prospect Scott Kingery's power surge continued as he claimed the Minor League home run lead with his 14th, a solo shot in Double-A Reading's loss against Trenton. The 23-year-old second baseman has hit seven homers in his last eight games, including five in his last four contests.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Kingery goes yard - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1419574483
• Royals' No. 10 prospect A.J. Puckett hurled six hitless frames to pick up his fifth win for Class A Advanced Wilmington. Though he may have been difficult to barrel, Puckett, 21, struggled with his control in the outing as he recorded more walks (six) than strikeouts (four) while throwing just 43 of his 83 pitches for strikes. Overall, he's posted 40 strikeouts against 30 walks in 48 1/3 innings (nine starts) this season.
• Tigers' No. 2 prospect Christin Stewart hit a two-run homer and later added an RBI double to finish 2-for-4 with three RBIs in Double-A Erie's loss against Harrisburg. The 23-year-old slugger holds a share of second place in the Minors with 13 home runs.
MILB Video - Title: Stewart's 13th homer - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1418850083