Former Crowder and current Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes (Colorado) right fielder Sam Hilliard proved his bite with the bat Friday night against the El Paso Chihuahuas (San Diego).
Hilliard hit a pair of home runs and drove in six runs during a 13-1 victory, and he finished with three hits and three runs scored. Hilliard knocked a grand slam in the second inning and a two-run shot in the eighth.
Hilliard’s big Friday night, his first game of the second half of the season, brought his totals to 26 homers, 75 RBI, and 71 runs scored after 87 games.
Hilliard homered in two straight and five of his last eight games entering Saturday’s contest against the Chihuahuas.
The 6-foot-5, 238-pound slugger entered the day Saturday second in the Pacific Coast League in homers and RBI, first in runs scored, second in strikeouts, and eighth in stolen bases.
The Rockies drafted the four-time midseason all-star selection in the 15th round in 2015.
Hilliard made No. 11 on the recent top 20 MLB Prospects hot sheet in Baseball America: “Even though Hilliard has always been known for his combination of power and speed, he’s been the beneficiary (like many other players) of the introduction of the major league baseball at Triple-A. Combine that with the already hitter-friendly atmosphere at Albuquerque, and you get a player who, in just 86 games, has already eclipsed his previous career high for home runs. With 56 games remaining, it will be fascinating to see how far Hilliard can climb.”
Other notables on the top prospects list are shortstop Bo Bichette and outfielder Griffin Conine, both in the Toronto organization and both the sons of former MLB players.
Hilliard split time in right field in the recent Triple-A All-Star Game with Bubba Starling, who received his call-up to the Kansas City Royals after playing that night last week in El Paso.
— Former Crowder and current Single-A Advanced Salem Red Sox (Boston) closer Andrew Schwaab earned his sixth save with Salem, his seventh overall this season, and his fifth in his last 10 outings with a scoreless inning Saturday night against the Frederick Keys (Baltimore).
On the season, Schwaab owns a 3-1 record and a 3.54 ERA with seven saves in eight opportunities and 45 strikeouts and 23 walks over 40 2/3 innings. He’s 2-0 with a 1.99 ERA, six saves in seven opportunities, and 23 strikeouts and nine walks over 22 2/3 innings since his demotion from Double-A Portland, where fellow former Crowder pitcher Jalen Beeks enjoyed success en route to reaching the majors. Schwaab ranks in the top 10 in the Carolina League in saves.
Schwaab was originally signed as an undrafted free agent in 2015 by the New York Yankees and he’s been in three organizations since last August with New York and Detroit preceding Boston. The Red Sox picked up Schwaab in December.
— The Single-A Advanced Carolina Mudcats (Milwaukee) staked former Crowder pitcher Aaron Ashby to an early 4-0 lead during their Carolina League game Friday night against Frederick.
Unfortunately, for Ashby and the Mudcats, the 6-foot-2, 181-pound southpaw had likely his worst professional outing as he surrendered six earned runs on eight hits over 4 1/3 innings. Ashby issued three walks, continuing his recent trend of a high number of free passes — over his last five starts, Ashby has walked 18 walks.
In a rarity for the former NJCAA Division I strikeouts leader, Ashby did not strike out a single batter Friday night.
The rough outing bumped Ashby’s ERA 1.25 points from 2.32 to 3.57 and he stands at 2-3 with a 3.57 ERA and 26 strikeouts and 18 walks over 35 1/3 innings and six starts for Carolina.
Overall, Ashby’s 5-7 with a 3.55 ERA and 106 strikeouts and 46 walks over 96 1/3 innings between stints at Carolina and Wisconsin. Ashby left Wisconsin as the strikeouts leader in the Midwest League. He earned midseason all-star honors for the Timber Rattlers.
The Brewers picked Ashby in the fourth round (125th overall pick) last summer and he’s ranked No. 9 overall prospect in the Brewers system.
— Entering the week, former Crowder and current AZL Athletics Gold shortstop Elvis Peralta owned a .269 average (21 for 78) with 21 runs scored, four doubles, two home runs, six RBI, 16 walks and 18 strikeouts, and five stolen bases in six attempts.
Peralta ranked third in the Arizona League in runs scored and fourth in walks.
The Athletics drafted Peralta in the 26th round in June and his early pro career has been highlighted by a nine-game hitting streak and a run scored in eight straight games.