Return of Buxton, Sano highlights Minor League Opening Day
Thursday was Opening Day in the Minor Leagues, as all the full-season leagues got underway. The return of the Minor Leagues also means the top prospects are back in action and they did not disappoint on Opening Day.
Outfielder Byron Buxton, baseball's No. 1 prospect, took the field for Double-A Chattanooga and began to put his injury-marred 2014 season behind him. The Twins' top prospect went 1-for-4 with a walk, while third baseman Miguel Sano, the club's No. 2 prospect, went 1-for-4 with a solo home run and a walk in his first game since the end of the 2013 season. Sano, ranked No. 12 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, missed all of last year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March. Despite Buxton and Sano's efforts, it wasn't enough to deliver a victory in Chattanooga's first game as a Twins' affiliate, as Montgomery won, 4-3.
Another dynamic prospect duo took the field for Iowa, the Cubs' Triple-A affiliate. Third baseman Kris Bryant , ranked No. 2 on the Top 100, and shortstop Addison Russell , ranked No. 5, hit back-to-back in the lineup and combined for three hits, two runs and two RBIs. But they too fell on Opening Day, as Memphis defeated Iowa, 7-4.
Shortstops Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor, ranked Nos. 3 and 4 on the Top 100, had a bit more luck Thursday. Correa, the Astros' top prospect, played in an official game for the first time since breaking his leg last June and made his Double-A debut for Corpus Christi. He went 1-for-4 with a double, a run, a walk and helped Corpus Christi defeat Springfield, 9-4. Lindor, the Indians' top prospect, went 1-for-4 with a triple, a run and an RBI to help lead Triple-A Columbus to a 4-0 victory against Indianapolis.
Top performances from Top 100 prospects on Opening Night:
• Catcher J.T. Realmuto , the Marlins' No. 2 prospect and No. 71 overall, went 4-for-6 with two runs and a stolen base in his Triple-A debut. It wasn't enough, however, as New Orleans lost to Omaha, 10-6, in 10 innings.
• First baseman Matt Olson, the A's top prospect and No. 74 overall, homered in his Double-A debut and Midland defeated Northwest Arkansas, 10-5. He finished the night 2-for-3 with three runs, two walks and two RBIs. Olson ranked third in the Minor Leagues with 37 home runs last year.
• Shortstop Orlando Arcia, the Brewers' top prospect and No. 89 overall, accounted for all four of Double-A Biloxi's runs in its 4-0 victory at Pensacola. The 20-year old went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a walk, scored a run and drove in three more.
• Outfielder Manuel Margot, the Red Sox's No. 6 prospect and No. 100 overall, went 3-for-3 with two stolen bases for Class A Advanced Salem in a rain-shortened, 2-0 victory at Carolina. Second baseman Wendell Rijo, the club's No. 17 prospect, drove in both runs with a second-inning homer and right-hander Jacob Dahlstrand threw six hitless innings to earn the win and get credit for an Opening Day no-hitter.
Other notable performances from around the Minor Leagues
• Outfielder Braxton Davidson, the Braves' first-round pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, hit his first professional home run. The Braves' No. 9 prospect finished the night 1-for-3 with a walk, but Class A Rome lost, 4-3, to Asheville.
• Outfielder Ramon Flores, the Yankees' No. 25 prospect, hit for the cycle as Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre defeated Syracuse, 8-3. He hit a solo home run in the first, singled in the next inning, tripled in the fifth and completed the cycle with an eighth-inning double. Flores finished the night 4-for-4 with three runs, two RBIs and a walk.
• With Drew Smyly making a rehab start for Class A Advanced Charlotte, left-hander Blake Snell, the Rays' No. 12 prospect, came out of the bullpen Thursday. He struck out 10 batters in six scoreless innings and held opponents to three hits to earn the victory, as Charlotte defeated Fort Myers, 2-0.
• Pitching for Double-A Jacksonville, right-hander Trevor Williams, the Marlins' No. 7 prospect, struck out nine batters in six scoreless innings and allowed just one hit. But the reigning Southern League champions fell on Opening Day, 2-0, to Jackson.