D-backs minor-league report: Haniger blazing hot at Reno

Mitch Haniger

Sarah Sachs

A strange thing happened Monday night as the Reno Aces defeated Las Vegas 3-2 for their ninth win in 10 games.

Strange because Aces outfielder Mitch Haniger was not involved in the scoring.

Haniger might have been the hottest hitter in all of baseball before going 1 for 4 in Monday night’s victory. Consider his four previous games:

Sunday: 3 for 4 with a pair of home runs in a 7-4 win over Las Vegas

Saturday: 3 for 4 with a pair of home runs, 3 runs scored, 3 RBI and a walk in a 7-6 loss to Las Vegas.

Friday: 2 for 5 with a home run, a double and 2 RBI in an 8-4 win over Las Vegas.

Thursday: 4 for 5 with 2 RBI in a 7-2 win over Colorado Springs.

If you’re counting, that 12 for 18 with 5 home runs, 8 runs scored and 9 RBI over a four-game stretch.

Not surprisingly, Haniger was named the PCL Player of the Week for July 18-24.

Haniger, a 25-year-old outfielder who was acquired by the Diamondbacks by Milwaukee two years in a deal that sent Gerardo Parra to the Brewers, has 18 home runs, 45 RBI, a .387 batting average and a .798 slugging percentage in just 43 games since being promoted to Reno on June 10. He had 5 homers at Double-A Mobile prior to being promoted.

He previous high for home runs in a season is 13.

"I changed my mechanics a lot this winter," Haniger told milb.com. "I opened up my power to all fields and I’m generating bat speed deeper in the zone. I’ve also been able to stay in the zone longer and, so far, I’ve been really happy with how things are going.

"I’m really just trying to swing at good pitches. That’s what it comes down to: hit the ball hard and keep it simple. I work hard every day in the cage on swinging at pitches I can drive and, hopefully, I can stay locked in."

–The Aces’ recent hot streak has improved their record to 56-46, 3 1/2 games behind first-place Tacoma. Haniger’s been the primary driving force, but not the only one.

First baseman Kyle Jensen hit a pair of solo home runs in Monday’s win over Las Vegas — including a game-deciding blast in the ninth inning — to give him 22 home runs for the season and a league-leading 88 RBI.

Outfielder Peter O’Brien has five hits in his last three games and is hitting .312 with 21 homers.

Reliever Jimmie Sherfy had back-to-back saves on Sunday and Monday and has a 0.90 ERA in 10 appearances since being promoted from Mobile. Sherfy’s season total for three levels (Reno, Mobile, Visalia) are astounding: 37 games, 42 innings, 14 hits, 16 walks, 2 runs, 65 strikeouts, 22 saves, 0.43 ERA.

Shelby Miller struggled Sunday in his second start for the Aces since being demoted from the D-backs. He gave up nine hits and four runs (three earned) while pitching five innings and left trailing 4-2, though he came away with no decision. He struck out six and walked one.

The Bay Bears swept double-headers from Jacksonville on Saturday and Sunday and are 17-13 in the second half of the Southern League season — tied for first place in the South Division with Mississippi.

Infielders Domingo Leyba and Dawel Lugo, both recently promoted from Visalia, have made impressives debuts at the Double-A level.

Leyba was 3 for 6 in Sunday’s two games and is hitting .350 in his first seven games with the Bay Bears. Lugo hit his first home run on Sunday and is hitting .381 in 11 games.

First baseman Kevin Cron had a pair of home runs and six RBI in Saturday’s sweep. He is third in the league in both home runs (16) and RBI (65), although his batting average is a modest .220.

Third baseman Henry Castillo homered, singled and drove in five runs in the Rawhide’s 10-4 win over Modesto on Monday.

Castillo, a 21-year-old who has split his time between second and third base, is hitting .289 for the season with nine homers, 48 RBI and a league-leading 33 doubles.

–Right-handed pitcher Brad Keller was named the California League Pitcher of the Week for July 18-25.

Keller, an eighth-round draft pick in 2013, was 2-0 for the week, giving up one run and nine hits in 12 2/3 innings, striking out 13 and walking two. Keller is 8-6 with a 4.18 ERA in 19 starts for the Rawhide.

Outfielder Marcus Wilson, 19, a competitive-balance round selection in 2014, is only hitting .250 in 37 games for the Hops, but he leads the Northwest League in walks (31) and stolen bases (16 for 18) and is fourth in on-base percentage (.411). Wilson tied a league record by drawing six walks in an 8-2 win over Eugene on July 19.

"Normally, I’m pretty selective when it comes to hitting," Wilson told milb.com. "If they are not giving me anything, I’m not going to fish for it. I had to learn that last year in the Pioneer League because I used to chase at everything. But now I let the pitchers come to me, and if they don’t give me anything, I just take my walks."

First baseman Eudy Ramos went 5 for 5 with a home run, two doubles, three runs and two RBI in the Osprey’s 13-3 win over Ogden on Sunday.

Ramos, a 20-year-old from the Dominican Republic, has a league-leading nine home runs with a .319 average and 26 RBI in 29 games.