Minor league home run leaders: Arizona’s Goldschmidt leads the way

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Here’s a list of everyone in the minor leagues with at least five homers headed into Monday’s action:

9 – Paul Goldschmidt (AA D’backs) – .345/.473/.845
8 – Jorge Vazquez (AAA Yankees) – .348/.361/.710
7 – Jaff Decker (AA Padres) – .359/.481/.859
7 – Ian Gac (A+ White Sox) – .300/.368/.700
7 – Kody Hinze (A+ Astros) – .323/.442/.710
7 – Chris Wallace (A Astros) – .419/.486/.903
6 – Michael Burgess (A+ Cubs) – .213/.262/.574
6 – Cody Decker (AA Padres) – .313/.323/.672
6 – Jonathan Garcia (A Dodgers) – .288/.354/.712
6 – Jeff Larish (AAA Phillies) – .279/.333/.639
6 – Bryce Massanari (A- Rockies) – .421/.492/.825
6 – Tommy Mendonca (AA Rangers) – .322/.349/.661
6 – Cody Overbeck (AA Phillies) – .350/.381/.717
6 – Marcell Ozuna (A Marlins) – .300/.394/.667
6 – Wily Mo Pena (AAA D’backs) – .420/.473/.820
6 – Anthony Rizzo (AAA Padres) – .420/.487/.768
6 – Clint Robinson (AAA Royals) – .397/.486/.778
6 – Joseph Terdoslavich (A+ Braves) – .245/.259/.642
5 – Denny Almonte (A+ Mariners) – .329/.329/.700
5 – Adam Bailey (A Astros) – .344/.359/.639
5 – Michael Bianucci (AA Rangers) – .300/.377/.567
5 – Alex Castellanos (AA Cardinals) – .276/.302/.621
5 – Andy Dirks (AAA Tigers) – .297/.370/.609
5 – Ryan Flaherty (AA Cubs) – .333/.394/.649
5 – Jacob Goebbert (A+ Astros) – .194/.278/.435
5 – Yasmani Grandal (A+ Reds) – .333/.458/.750
5 – Mike Jacobs (AAA Rockies) – .371/.467/.694
5 – Brendan Katin (AAA Brewers) – .209/.306/.628
5 – Donald Lutz (A Reds) – .345/.387/.690
5 – Jai Miller (AAA Royals) – .391/.491/.826
5 – Trevor Plouffe (AAA Twins) – .300/.367/.700
5 – Jerry Sands (AAA Dodgers) – .400/.422/.875
5 – Steven Souza (A+ Nationals) – .281/.305/.667
5 – Michael Spina (AA Athletics) – .327/.449/.691
5 – Trayce Thompson (A White Sox) – .239/.311/.493
5 – Tim Wheeler (AA Rockies) – .302/.392/.619

As one would expect, there aren’t a whole lot of top prospects in the group. Sands is, and he’s already been promoted to the majors. Grandal, a 2010 first-round pick many believed would open the season at Double-A, also qualifies. Wheeler may as well, if he keeps this up for a few more weeks. The 2009 first-round pick didn’t excel in his first year and a half in the minors, but if the power is for real, he could make Dexter Fowler expendable next winter. And then there’s Rizzo, the best prospect of all of them. For more about him, check out my Rotoworld column.

How about a sampling of what’s left…

– Goldschmidt, who was such a pleasant surprise for the Diamondbacks this spring, is showing that his March success was no fluke. The 23-year-old also put up big numbers in the California League last year, but his 35 homers for Visalia came with a 161/57 K/BB ratio. This year, he has a 12/15 K/BB ratio through 17 games. The Diamondbacks should test him with Triple-A soon, but they have to make room for him at Reno, possibly by promoting Brandon Allen or Pena to the majors.

– I didn’t mention Decker in the Rotoworld column, but I probably should have. With the Padres getting nothing from the outfield corners so far, perhaps they’ll consider jumping him to the majors in June. I think he’s less vulnerable to being rushed than Rizzo is.

– Keep a close eye on Jonathan Garcia. The 19-year-old already has 13 extra-base hits in 16 games in the Midwest League.

– The Royals are eventually going to turn first base over to Eric Hosmer, but Robinson, who hit 29 homers in Double-A last year, is making a case for a crack at Kila Ka’aihue’s job in the meantime.

– Dirks is another player who really emerged in spring training, and he probably would have made the Tigers had Brennan Boesch not suddenly returned to early-2010 form. Austin Jackson has shown signs of life the last few games, but if he resumes slumping, the Tigers could send him to Triple-A and give his at-bats to Dirks and Casper Wells.

Albert Pujols is eighth on the all-time home run list

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Albert Pujols kicked things off for the Angels in dramatic fashion on Friday night, cranking a two-RBI home run off of the Orioles’ Jeremy Hellickson to give the club an early lead in the first inning. The 350-footer was his 18th home run of the year and No. 609 in his 17-season career, tying Sammy Sosa on the all-time home run list for eighth overall and most home runs hit by a player born outside of the United States.

With the home run, Pujols sits just three homers shy of tying Jim Thome’s 612-home run record for seventh on the all-time list. That figures to be the last major milestone still ahead of the designated hitter this season, with Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630-home run mark still a distant 21 blasts away.

The Angels, meanwhile, ran with Pujols’ lead, collecting home runs from Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, Kaleb Cowart and Mike Trout. It wasn’t quite enough to quash the Orioles, however, who surged to a 9-7 finale after Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with three home runs and struck a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.

Nationals place Max Scherzer on 10-day disabled list with neck inflammation

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The Nationals placed right-hander Max Scherzer on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation, the team announced Friday. Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres and replaced by left-hander Matt Grace, though an official roster move has yet to be made to fill his spot on the roster. The assignment is retroactive to August 15.

Scherzer experienced a similar pain on the right side of his neck at the start of the month, though this is the first official stint he’ll serve on the disabled list in 2017. While comments from club manager Dusty Baker suggest that the injury wasn’t caused by any particular trauma, it seems likely that the ace right-hander will be sidelined for at least one more start.

It’s a terrible time to lose a star pitcher, especially with the Nationals positioned to make a deep run in the postseason, but their 14-game cushion in the NL East should buy them some time while Scherzer’s on the mend. Prior to his bout of inflammation, the 33-year-old looked remarkably healthy this season. He pitched through his fifth consecutive All-Star campaign and currently boasts a 12-5 record in 24 starts, complete with a 2.25 ERA (good for second-best among qualified starters), 2.2 BB/9 and 12.3 SO/9 in 160 1/3 innings.