36-28, second place
Top hitter: SS Eduardo Nunez leads the team in hits, batting average, stolen bases and runs. He’s also second in RBI, and I’ve heard his defense has been pretty good this season, which seemed to be a concern after his 33 errors last year.
Top pitcher: Closer Jonathan Albaladejo leads the league in saves and has a 1.17 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 30.2 innings. My guess is that he’s leaped over Mark Melancon in the call-up pecking order.
Top prospect: No doubt C Jesus Montero is struggling in his first Triple-A season. He’s only 20 years old, so it’s still far too early to give up on him, but he’s hitting just .230 with three home runs.
Noteworthy: 1B/3B Jorge Vazquez was just promoted from Double-A. He’ll play both infield corners… Lefty relievers Boone Logan and Royce Ring are each pitching well with a sub-1.00 WHIP… RHP Ivan Nova has won two straight starts… OF Colin Curtis is back from a high ankle sprain… OF David Winfree leads the team in HR and RBI… RHP Zach McAllister had a five-game winning streak snapped on Friday. He has a 4.57 ERA and Triple-A hitters are batting .291 against him.
38-23, first place
Top hitter: 3B Brandon Laird is a legitimate MVP candidate with the league lead in RBI. He’s also top five in slugging percentage, home runs, hits and runs. He’s primarily played third with some time at first.
Top pitcher: The Thunder have a few relievers with big numbers, but it’s hard to overlook starter David Phelps who’s 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA and a team-high 60 strikeouts. This is only his second full season of pro ball.
Top prospect: Laird might be the team’s top hitter, but C Austin Romine isn’t far behind. Even with a June slump he’s hitting .293 with a .429 slugging and a .360 on-base.
Noteworthy: Former New York OF Justin Christian was signed after spring training and has been a Trenton regular… RHP Hector Noesi won three of his first four Double-A starts after a call-up from Tampa. He has 24 strikeotus, five walks and a 2.57 ERA… 2B David Adams, LHP Jeremy Bleich and CF Damon Sublett are significant prospects on the Trenton disabled list… Relievers Grant Duff, Eric Wordekemper, Josh Schmidt and Wilkins Arias have pitched well, but they pitched well in Double-A last year. They’ve simply been crowded out of Scranton.
32-27, third place
Top hitter: 2B Corban Joseph continues to establish himself as a legitimate infield prospect. Getting time at second and third base, he’s hit .309 with a .441 slugging percentage and a team-high 15 doubles and 37 RBI. He’s made 10 errors.
Top pitcher: With Noesi called up to Trenton, RHP Adam Warren is probably the top starter with a 2.44 ERA. He’s induced more than twice as many ground outs as fly outs. He was drafted just last year, so he’s definitely worth watching.
Top prospect: RHP Andrew Brackman had an awful April, a solid May and he’s so far had a good June. In his past four starts Brackman has a 1.56 ERA with four walks and 23 strikeouts. He’s getting further removed from Tommy John surgery, and it seems to be making a difference.
Noteworthy: Everyone’s favorite switch-pitcher Pat Venditte has 38 strikeouts and nine walks through 31.1 innings. He’s been slightly better against lefties than righties… RHP Dellin Betances came off the DL to allow just three hits through six innings on Thursday. RHP Manny Banuelos remains on the disabled list… If you don’t know it already, remember the name Graham Stoneburner. The right-hander was drafted last year and he’s arleady been promoted from Charleston to Tampa. He’s dominated both levels… 3B Bradley Suttle missed all of last season after shoulder surgery… LHP Shaeffer Hall is a Missouri kid, so of course I like him, and he’s earned a call-up to Tampa after a 1.85 ERA through 10 Charleston starts.
29-33, fifth place
Top hitter: 1B Luke Murton leads the team 23 doubles and 37 RBI, and he’s tied for the team lead with eight home runs. In 10 fewer games than he played last season, he’s already topped his doubles and RBI totals and matched his home runs from last season in Staten Island.
Top pitcher: The top starters have already been promoted, but RHP Jose Ramirez is still in the rotation and pitching pretty well with a 3.31 ERA, 61 strikeouts and 20 walks. He just just 20 in January.
Top prospect: After opening the season in extended spring training, last year’s No. 1 draft pick CF Slade Heathcott is hitting .351/.419/.432 through his first nine games of full-season ball.
Noteworthy: Reliever Ryan Flannery is having a nice year with 25 strikeouts, seven walks and a 0.92 WHIP… One month after his 19th birthday, C J.R. Murphy is hitting just .221 with one home run. He joined the team in mid-May… Last year’s seventh-round pick RHP Sean Black has a 4.53 ERA for the year, but he had a 2.78 in May and has a 3.18 in June… C Kyle Higashioka was the youngest player in big league camp this spring. He’s hitting .201 with three home runs. He’s thrown out 34.5 percent of base runners.