July 21, 2024

Spring Training began yesterday. I swear it happened yesterday. Nonetheless, it appears that the Minor League season has been cut in half overnight.

Full-season Minor League circuits concluded the first half of their 2024 season last week, with clubs celebrating a first-half division championship. Catch up on the Minor League playoff picture here.

That halfway point helps to explain why so many outstanding prospects are moving up a level around this time of year, and the new obstacles provide us with something new to look at as we enter the second half. Of course, there’s much more to come, with the All-Star Futures Game, MLB Draft, and Trade Deadline all scheduled for July.

But, while we have this opportunity to reflect, let’s take a look back at the first few months of the regular season by awarding a first-half MVP in each of the 11 full-season minor league circuits. (Note: We apologize to certain players who were promoted so swiftly that they did not have enough playing experience in a specific circuit to be included.)

TRIPLE-A

International League: James Wood, OF, Rochester (WSH No. 1, MLB No. 4).
Wood, who returned to the Red Wings’ lineup last week after missing time with a right hamstring injury, currently leads the IL in average (.348), OBP (.463), and OPS (1.053). He has gone deep ten times and stolen ten bases in 49 games, living up to his reputation as a power-speed threat.

Adrian Del Castillo, C, Reno (Arizona No. 27)
Del Castillo, who was selected as a hit-first catcher out of Miami in 2021, leads the Minors with 44 extra-base hits (all with Reno), and his 87 total hits and.991 OPS are first in the PCL. Sure, playing in Reno has its advantages, but his above-average exit velocity and good in-zone contact help boost his total averages.

Adrian Del Castillo, C, Reno (Arizona No. 27)
Del Castillo, who was selected as a hit-first catcher out of Miami in 2021, leads the Minors with 44 extra-base hits (all with Reno), and his 87 total hits and.991 OPS are first in the PCL. Sure, playing in Reno has its advantages, but his above-average exit velocity and good in-zone contact help boost his total averages.

DOUBLE-A

Eastern League: Agustin Ramirez, C/1B, Somerset (NYY No. 20)
Prior to his promotion to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last week, Ramirez hit 16 home runs for Somerset, two more than everyone else in Double-A. He also led the league with a.570 slugging percentage and a.942 OPS, and his proclivity for making strong contact outweighs his defensive issues behind the plate.

Carson Williams, shortstop, Montgomery (TB No. 2, MLB No. 15).
Williams’ power-speed combination was well known entering 2024, and with 11 home runs and 19 steals in 55 games, he’s on track for a third consecutive 20-20 season. His overall hitting ability is also improving, as he now leads the Southern League with 29 extra-base hits and 114 total bases.

Texas League: Deyvison De Los Santos, 1B/3B, Amarillo (AZ No. 14).
De Los Santos’ promotion to Triple-A on May 21 prevents him from achieving the Texas League qualifying mark, but there’s little doubt he was the most impactful hitter in the first half. His 14 home runs are still tied for the most in the circuit, and his 205 wRC+ led all of Double-A (minimum of 160 plate appearances).

HIGH-A

Midwest League: Luke Keaschall, 2B/OF, Cedar Rapids (MIN No. 9).
The 2023 second-rounder claimed the MWL slash-line Triple Crown with a.335/.457/.544 line in 44 games, and he was the only qualifier on the circuit with an OPS above 1.000 (albeit just barely at 1.001). He hit seven home runs while walking more (30) than striking out (29).

Northwest League: Andrew Pintar, OF, Hillsboro (AZ No. 30).
Pintar, who was plagued by injuries at BYU and in his first full season last year, got out to a strong start in the pitcher-friendly NWL this spring, leading the league with a.304 average,.516 SLG, and nine home runs in 57 games before being promoted to Double-A Amarillo.

South Atlantic League: Charles McAdoo, OF, Greensboro (Pit No. 30).
The difference between McAdoo (.336/.415/.561, 9 HR, 14 SB, 167 wRC+) and Xavier Isaac (.310/.395/.579, 12 HR, 13 SB, 165 wRC+) is razor thin. But we’ll give the nod to McAdoo for striking out six percentage points fewer (21.7 vs. 27.6) before being promoted to Double-A Altoona.

SINGLE-A

California League: Lazaro Montes, OF, Modesto (SEA No. 4, MLB No. 82).
The 19-year-old had a quick and productive season in the California League last year and is back to dominating in 2024, leading the circuit in slugging (.527), OPS (.938), hits (79), home runs (13), extra-base hits (28) and total bases (135) over 65 games.

Carolina League: Angel Genao, INF, Lynchburg (CLE No. 11).
Genao’s.341 average and.553 slugging percentage remain the best among all Single-A qualifiers, despite spending his last 15 games with High-A Lake County. He had 23 extra-base hits and 12 steals in 44 games at the lowest full-season level.

 

Águilas del Zulia on X: "#A Miguel Villarroel SS-3B #Cardinals 5-2, CA, 2H,  BR. (.324) Omar Martinez 1B #Yankees 4-0 (.221) Nerwiliam Cedeño 2B #Padres  4-2, CA, 2 CE (3) (.193) Estibenzon
Miguel Villarroel

 

Miguel Villarroel, infielder with Palm Beach in the Florida State League (Not listed in the STL Top 30)
Villarroel, who was selected by St. Louis in the Minor League phase of last year’s Rule 5 Draft, leads the FSL with a.335 average and has 20 more hits than anybody else on the circuit (86 total). His 24 stolen bases in 25 attempts over 64 games pushed him to the top spot here.

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