Evan Gattis, Jackie Bradley among top performers in the minors

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Here’s a minor league leaderboard for you: top hitters by OPS:

Brad Eldred (Det, AAA, 31, 1B) – .348/.408/.857 – 1.265
Evan Gattis (Atl, A+/AA, 25, C/OF) – .361/.441/.770 – 1.211
Wil Myers (KC, AA, 21, OF) – .344/.420/.712 – 1.132
Jackie Bradley (Bos, A+, 22, OF) – .389/.507/.575 – 1.082
Steve Pearce (NYY, AAA, 29, 1B) – .361/.444/.631 – 1.075
Anthony Rizzo (ChC, AAA, 22, 1B) – .351/.416/.657 – 1.073
Matt LaPorta (Cle, AAA, 27, 1B) – .336/.413/.645 – 1.058
Nathan Freiman (SD, AA,  25, 1B) – .324/.374/.684 – 1.058
Ronnie Welty (Bal, A+/AA, 24, OF) – .352/.381/.667 – 1.047
Oscar Taveras (StL, AA, 20, OF) – .328/.375/.672 – 1.047
Brady Shoemaker (CWS, A+,  25, OF) – .357/.426/.611 – 1.037
Scott Van Slyke (LAD, AAA, 25, OF) – .336/.411/.623 – 1.034
Darin Ruf (Phi, AA,  25, 1B) – .383/.438/.595 – 1.032

I was going to take out the older players and just list the youngsters, but it wasn’t necessarily: most of these guys are on the young side. The starts by Myers, Rizzo and Taveras have gotten plenty of attention already, and those three are the best prospects on this list. Gattis’ story is also one everybody should know. He’s played 15 games at catcher and nine in left field this year as the Braves try to figure out how he might fit in.

Bradley is another worthy of notice; a disappointing junior year at South Carolina caused him to slip in the draft and the Red Sox took him with their third pick, which was 40th overall. He’s putting up his numbers in a pitcher’s league and has 11 steals to boot. The Red Sox will probably want to test him with Double-A soon. If he keeps this up, it’ll take some of the pressure off the need to re-sign Jacoby Ellsbury prior to free agency.

And then there’s LaPorta, who might be due another look in Cleveland with Casey Kotchman floundering. The Indians could really use another power right-handed bat to complement all of their left-handers. LaPorta, though, has a history of reverse platoon splits: he’s hit righties much better than lefties as a major leaguer. The same thing is going on in Triple-A this year, too.

Victor Martinez played his final major league game on Saturday

Victor Martinez
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After 16 years in the majors, longtime Tigers DH Victor Martinez capped his career with one final start at Comerica Park. Although there are seven games remaining in the club’s regular season schedule, Martinez said he felt he owed it to the fans to record his final at-bat at home. He’ll still cheer the rest of the team on from the dugout when they hit the road for their last six-game stretch on Monday, though he’s not expected to slot into the lineup at any point during their back-to-back away series against the Twins and Brewers.

In order to commemorate the occasion, the Tigers arranged a pregame ceremony to celebrate the veteran infielder’s seven years with the team, during which they presented him with Topps baseball cards, a recliner, a pair of boots, and a saddle, among other honors. Martinez also put in a special request to play first base, a position he hadn’t manned in over two years.

The 39-year-old didn’t waste a single minute of his final start in the majors. He deftly handled an inning-ending out in the top of the first, then laced a rare infield single to short in his first and final at-bat of the afternoon, beating the throw to first and advancing Nicholas Castellanos to second base in order to set up the Tigers’ first run: a two-out RBI single from Niko Goodrum that brought Castellanos home to score.

“I think that at-bat was the perfect at-bat to describe my career,” Martinez told reporters after the Tigers wrapped a 5-4 win over the Royals. “I had to sweat it out. I had to sweat it out the whole way. I had to grind it. That was my whole career.”

Following the hit — and the standing ovation that greeted it — the switch-hitter was promptly replaced by pinch-runner Ronny Rodriguez, who subbed in at second base in the top of the second while Goodrum shifted from second to first base. Taking Saturday’s performance into account, Martinez polished off his big league career with a lifetime .295/.360/.455 batting line, 423 doubles, 246 home runs, 1,178 RBI, and 28.4 fWAR across 1,973 games and three separate stints for the Indians, Red Sox, and Tigers. His accomplishments at the plate have been decorated with five All-Star nominations, two Silver Slugger Awards, and the designated hitter-exclusive Edgar Martinez Award following a career-best campaign in 2014.