No offense has been hotter than Triple-A Memphis' to begin the 2018 season. Led by Tyler O'Neill and Max Schrock on Friday, the Red Birds used a 12-run seventh inning to defeat Round Rock, 17-4, giving the club 25 runs through its first two games.
O'Neill, MLB Pipeline's No. 94 overall prospect (Cardinals' No. 4), showcased his tremendous power as he hit a pair of two-run home runs and later added a double to finish 3-for-6 with five RBIs and three runs scored. The big performance came one day after O'Neill went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in Memphis' season opener.
MILB Video - Title: O'Neill hits first homer of season - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1911336083
Acquired from the Mariners for left-hander Marco Gonzales last July, O'Neill, 22, hammered 12 home runs in just 37 games after joining the Red Birds. He finished the season with 31 Triple-A home runs between the two organizations, one shy of the career-best total he posted in 2015 with Class A Advanced Bakersfield.
Schrock, meanwhile, paced the Red Birds' offense as he collected four hits, all singles, in six at-bats. The Cardinals' No. 10 prospect also scored three runs, one of three Memphis players to do so in the game.
The Cardinals netted Schrock, a career .325/.373/.442 hitter in 283 games spanning four professional seasons, and Yairo Munoz in the December trade that sent Stephen Piscotty to Oakland.
The rest of the best performances from top prospects Friday
• After going hitless in his Double-A debut Thursday, No. 13 overall prospect Bo Bichette (Blue Jays' No. 2) opened Friday's contest against Hartford with hits in his first two at-bats. He finished the game 2-for-5, also tallying a run and a stolen base for a second straight night, as New Hampshire edged the Yard Goats, 4-3, in 11 innings.
MILB Video - Title: Bichette's first Double-A hit - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1910893783
• No. 14 overall prospect Brendan Rodgers (Rockies' No. 1) hit a solo home run, his first of the season, and a double before finishing 3-for-5 with two RBIs. Outfielder Sam Hilliard (Rockies' No. 12) also had a big game, going 2-for-4 with his first 2018 homer, a fourth-inning solo shot, two walks and three stolen bases. To add further context to Hilliard's performance, only nine times in MLB history has a player posted at least two hits, one homer, two walks and three steals in a game. In 2017, Hilliard slugged 21 homers with 37 steals over 133 games in the Class A Advanced California League.
MILB Video - Title: Rodgers slugs first homer of 2018 - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1910923283
• No. 16 overall prospect Kyle Tucker (Astros' No. 2) connected on his first Triple-A home run as Fresno fell to Reno, 8-4. The Grizzlies' three-hole hitter on Friday, the 21-year-old outfielder launched a two-run homer in the sixth inning to finish 2-for-4 for a second straight game. Tucker's hot start comes on the heels of a strong big league camp in which he batted .409 with five home runs and 21 RBIs in 20 games.
• No. 22 overall prospect Willy Adames (Rays' No. 2) and Jake Bauers (No. 64 overall, Rays' No. 5) paced Triple-A Durham's offense on Friday, as they each tallied multiple hits, including a double, an RBI and at least one run scored. Bauers' double was already his third this season, while Adames was one of three Durham hitters to score two runs in its 11-1 win over Charlotte. Leading the Bulls on the mound was offseason trade acquisition Anthony Banda (Rays' No. 16), who scattered four hits while striking out eight in five scoreless innings to record the win.
• No. 31 overall prospect Mike Soroka (Braves' No. 3) pitched brilliantly in his Triple-A Gwinnett debut, yielding just three hits and one walk while striking out five in five scoreless innings. It was a continuation of what's been an impressive career to date for the 20-year-old right-hander, who now boasts a 2.87 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 292-to-72 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 335 2/3 career innings after Friday's performance.
MILB Video - Title: Soroka's fifth strikeout - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1911005883
• No. 59 overall prospect Alex Faedo (Tigers' No. 3) retired the final 13 batters he faced en route to completing five innings of two-run ball is his professional debut for Class A Advanced Lakeland. Detroit's first-round Draft pick in 2017 (No. 18 overall), Faedo struck out four and allowed just two hits, a pair of first-inning solo home runs, while throwing 52 of his 73 pitches for strikes in a no-decision against Tampa.
• No. 86 overall prospect Adonis Medina (Phillies' No. 4) fired on all cylinders in his Class A Advanced Clearwater debut, tossing 5 1/3 scoreless innings with five strikeouts and six ground-ball outs to lead the Threshers in a shutout of Dunedin. The 21-year-old right-hander scattered five hits and walked one in the outing, throwing 55 of his 85 pitches for strikes.
• Braves No. 29 prospect Jasseel De La Cruz struck out eight on just 59 pitches (37 strikes) over five hitless innings as Class A Rome carried a combined no-hit bid into the eighth inning in its 3-1 win over Hagerstown. Making his full-season debut, the 20-year-old righty issued one walk and faced two batters over the minimum in the performance.
• Marlins No. 14 prospect Zac Gallen worked six scoreless innings in his organizational debut with Triple-A New Orleans. Throwing 58 of his 83 pitches for strikes, Gallen, acquired from the Cardinals in the offseason Marcell Ozuna trade, breezed through a dangerous Nashville offense, allowing just four hits and striking out four. The 22-year-old right-hander broke out in his first full season, posting a 2.93 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 35 walks in 147 2/3 innings across three levels in the Cardinals' system.
• A trio of Pirates prospects put on a pitching clinic, as Nick Kingham (Pirates' No. 13 prospect), Travis MacGregor (No. 25) and Dario Agrazal (No. 30) combined for 24 strikeouts while allowing one earned run over 16 1/3 innings. MacGregor, 20, set a career high with 12 strikeouts for Class A West Virginia while Kingham, starting Triple-A Indianapolis' season opener, matched his personal best with 10. Agrazal, meanwhile, tossed six hitless frames in his debut for Double-A Altoona.
• Padres No. 15 prospect Tirso Ornelas, the second-youngest Midwest League regular on Opening Day, hit a two-run homer, and fellow 18-year-old Gabriel Arias (No. 11) went 2-for-2 with a double as Class A Fort Wayne scored six runs in the first two innings before snow led to a suspended game after three frames.
• A pair of 19-year-old hitters powered Class A Lexington to its second win in as many days, as Royals No. 2 prospect Nick Pratto and Seuly Matias (No. 3) combined for five hits and three runs. Fresh off of a two-homer performance on Opening Day, Matias connected on a three-run shot in the fifth inning Friday that proved the difference in the Legends' 5-2 victory over Charleston. Pratto, the Royals' first-round pick last June, finished 3-for-5 with two runs scored out of the three-hole for Lexington.