Former Crowder standout Elvis Peralta did not wait long to make an impact at the professional level.
Leading off the game in his debut, the Arizona League Athletics Gold (Oakland) shortstop hit a home run on the first pitch from AZL Cubs 2 starter Jose Miguel Gonzalez.
Peralta and the Athletics came away with a 4-1 victory.
On the day, Peralta finished 1 for 5 with that home run and three strikeouts. Peralta fielded cleanly his only chance in the field.
The Athletics selected the 5-foot-9, 160-pound Peralta in the 26th round in June, one round before his former Crowder teammate Kyle MacDonald was selected by the New York Yankees.
Peralta won Region 16 player of the year and most outstanding hitter at the JUCO World Series, and earned All-America first team in his final season at Crowder. Peralta batted .381 with 11 home runs, 74 RBI, and 30 stolen bases.
— Baseball America rated former Crowder and current Single-A Advanced Carolina Mudcats (Milwaukee) pitcher Aaron Ashby at No. 5 in its 10 hottest prospects last week list.
Ashby followed Double-A Mississippi Braves (Atlanta) center fielder Drew Waters, Single-A Charleston RiverDogs (New York Yankees) pitcher Luis Gil, Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas (San Diego) third baseman Ty France, and Triple-A Columbus Clippers (Cleveland) first baseman Bobby Bradley and preceded Double-A Harrison Senators (Washington) pitcher Ben Braymer, Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes (Colorado) left fielder Yonathan Daza, Single-A Advanced Stockton Ports (Oakland) shortstop Nick Allen, Double-A Mississippi pitcher Ian Anderson, and Triple-A Round Rock Express (Houston) right fielder Kyle Tucker.
Making his Carolina League debut last week, Ashby struck out the first three batters he faced en route to eight strikeouts and one hit allowed over seven shutout innings. The Mudcats came away with a 1-0 victory, scoring the lone run in the bottom of the ninth.
On the season, Ashby owns a 3-4 overall record with a 3.18 ERA and 88 strikeouts and 28 walks over 68 innings. Opponents are hitting .200 against the 6-foot-2, 181-pound southpaw from suburban Kansas City (Missouri).
Ashby racked up the vast majority of his seasonal numbers pitching for Single-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in the Midwest League.
In fact, Ashby entered the all-star break tied for the Midwest League lead in strikeouts with 80.
Ashby earned a selection to the Midwest League midseason classic, but he was promoted before he could play in the all-star game.
The Brewers picked Ashby in the fourth round (125th overall) of the 2018 MLB Draft and he’s already ranked the No. 9 overall prospect in the Brewers system.
— Former Crowder and current Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds pitcher Zach Matson had his first opportunity to pitch in an all-star game.
Matson represented the Northern Division against the Southern Division in the South Atlantic League midseason classic Tuesday at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston, West Virginia. A sellout crowd — 6,237 fans strong — packed into Power Park.
Matson pitched one scoreless inning and only surrendered a walk. The North came away with a 6-2 victory and broke a tie in the all-star game since the South Atlantic played two divisions. The North now leads 19-18-3 overall.
In the first half of the season, Matson put together a 4-0 record with a 2.70 ERA, four saves in four opportunities, and 57 strikeouts and 18 walks over 33 1/3 innings. Opponents are hitting .162 this season against the 6-foot-3, 225-pound southpaw from Fayetteville.
Matson leads all relievers in strikeouts.
The Orioles selected Matson in the 24th round of the 2016 MLB Draft, not long after he completed his career at Crowder.
Matson is not the only former Crowder player from the 2015 and 2016 teams to be having success as a reliever this season in the South Atlantic.
Former Neosho High standout and current Hagerstown Suns (Washington) reliever Trey Turner only surrendered one run in the first half of the season.
Turner allowed one run (earned) over 13 1/3 innings of work and he struck out 24 and walked four en route to a 1-0 record and a 0.68 ERA.
Turner entered the midseason break with seven consecutive appearances without surrendering a run.
In fact, on the season, Turner has surrendered a meager five hits and opponents are batting .111 against the 6-foot-1, 195-pound righty born just over 23 years ago in Fort Scott, Kansas.
The Nationals picked Turner in the 10th round of the 2017 MLB Draft and he missed the 2017 season because of injury.
— It has been a very good season for Triple-A Albuquerque (Colorado) right fielder Sam Hilliard.
Entering Thursday’s series opener against Reno, Hilliard led the Isotopes in the major statistical categories of runs scored (59), home runs (20), RBI (57), and stolen bases (14). Batting average is the only major category not featuring Hilliard in the lead.
In his first 69 games this season, Hilliard hit .263 (73 for 278) with 59 runs scored, 17 doubles, four triples, 20 homers, 57 RBI, 28 walks and 94 strikeouts, and 14 stolen bases in 16 attempts.
Hilliard ranks fourth in the Pacific Coast League in homers, third in RBI, tied for first in runs scored, tied for fourth in triples, second in strikeouts, and tied for seventh in stolen bases.
It seems that Hilliard is well on his way to his fourth consecutive midseason all-star berth, following on the Eastern League last season, the California League two seasons ago, and the South Atlantic in 2016. Both Hilliard and New Orleans Baby Cakes (Miami) reliever Mike Kickham are on the ballot to represent the Pacific Coast League against the International League on July 10.
The Rockies’ 15th round pick in 2015 ranks No. 9 overall in the Rockies system.
We might end up seeing Hilliard getting a shot at the majors this season. The Rockies are second in the National League West.
— By contrast with how most of his Crowder peers have fared this season, it’s been rough on Single-A Advanced St. Lucie Mets (New York) pitcher Kyle Wilson.
On the season, Wilson owns a 4-7 record with a 3.88 ERA and 40 strikeouts and 24 walks over 62 2/3 innings in the Florida State League.
Opponents are hitting .297 this season against the 6-foot-1, 185-pound righty.
Wilson gave one of his best outings, though, Monday against the Lakeland Flying Tigers (Detroit), pitching six scoreless innings and allowing just four hits with four strikeouts and one walk. Wilson earned his first victory since May 26, also against Lakeland.
Wilson’s ERA numbers are similar for the past two seasons, but he went 4-4 with a 3.86 ERA and 59 strikeouts and 14 walks over 53 2/3 innings last season for the Brooklyn Cyclones in the New York-Penn League.
The Mets selected Wilson in the 35th round of the 2017 MLB Draft, not long after Wilson pitched in the JUCO World Series for Crowder.
— Single-A Advanced Salem Red Sox (Boston) reliever Andrew Schwaab earned his first save of the season recently before the all-star break.
Schwaab pitched a scoreless inning of relief against the Frederick Keys (Baltimore) and then followed it up two nights later with another scoreless ninth inning against the Keys.
On the season, Schwaab owns a 2-1 record overall with a 4.55 ERA, two saves in three opportunities, and 35 strikeouts and 19 walks over 29 2/3 innings.
Schwaab started the season at Double-A Portland, but a couple bad outings saw a promising start go sour and earn the 6-foot-1, 205-pound righty a demotion to Salem in the Carolina League.
The Red Sox signed Schwaab last winter in the hopes that he would regain the form that he showed during his first three seasons in the minors with the Yankees organization.
Schwaab earned midseason all-star honors in back-to-back seasons in the South Atlantic and Florida State leagues. He recorded 21 saves in 2016 and seven in 2017.
The Yankees signed Schwaab as an undrafted free agent in 2015 and he finished up the 2018 season in the Detroit Tigers system after Tampa released the reliever last August.