Lubanski hit .406 last week
Each Friday this season, Royals Corner will release the weekly Hot List, identifying the organization's 10 hottest prospects. In the season's first week, Omaha outfielder Chris Lubanski stood out, setting the pace for an O-Royals offense that leads the Pacific Coast League in nearly every offensive category. Who else turned in the week's top performances? Click inside to find out.
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1. Chris Lubanski
Nobody in the organization was hotter than Chris Lubanski during the season’s first week – a very encouraging sign. Lubanski showed up to camp this spring in much leaner shape, and he got the Royals’ attention by hitting .321 with a pair of home runs in 28 spring training at bats before being reassigned to minor league camp. The 24-year-old outfielder carried his hot bat to Omaha, where he’s hitting .406/.486/.688 with two home runs in 32 at bats. Lubanski has hit safely in all eight of the O-Royals’ games thus far.
2. Danny Duffy
Through rookie ball and Low-A, Duffy struck out an incredible 165 batters in 119 innings of work, but this year figured to be a test for the 20-year-old southpaw as he faced more advanced Carolina League hitters. So far, so good. Duffy has made two starts thus far, striking out 12 batters in 9.2 innings while surrendering just one run on five hits and two walks (0.72 WHIP). Duffy (1-0) sports a 0.93 ERA, and opponents are hitting just .152 against him.
3. Alex Caldera
Also looking to build upon impressive numbers in Burlington is Alex Caldera, who was arguably the Bees’ most consistent pitcher last season. He too has fared quite well despite the jump to the more advanced Carolina League. Caldera, 23, has made two starts thus far, compiling a 2.00 ERA in nine innings pitched while holding opposing batters to a .161 average.
4. Tug Hulett
Second baseman Tug Hulett, whom the Royals claimed off waivers from the Mariners in February, is a big reason the O-Royals’ offense has been the best in the Pacific Coast League (PCL) so far this season. Hulett hit safely in Omaha’s first seven games, including a 4-for-5, 5 RBI effort against Albuquerque on Sunday. The 26-year old is hitting .394/.417/.667 with a club-best 12 RBIs.
5. Brian McFall
Repeating Double-A, McFall is characteristically a slow starter. Not so this year, as the 25-year-old slugger is hitting .333/.414/.792 with a pair of home runs through the Naturals’ first seven games. McFall’s 10 RBIs lead the Texas League.
6. Jose Duarte
Duarte is also repeating Double-A this season, and he too is off to a much better start in 2009. Hitting atop the Naturals’ lineup, Duarte has done a nice job setting the table for the offense, hitting .364/.444/.364 with four walks in 22 at bats. The speedy centerfielder has already swiped a Texas League-leading five bases without being caught.
7. Clint Robinson
While the Blue Rocks’ offense sputtered through the first week of the season, first baseman/DH Clint Robinson hit .346 with three doubles and five RBIs. The 24-year-old Troy product has hit safely in every game thus far, carrying a seven-game hitting streak into this weekend’s home opener in Wilmington.
8. Nick Francis
The Burlington Bees have struggled tremendously in the season’s first week, but it certainly is not Nick Francis’ fault. The 23-year-old outfielder hit .318/.444/.636 last week with five walks, two stolen bases, and four extra base hits, including the Bees’ only home run thus far.
9. Luis Cota
Cota lost his first start of the season, but the 23-year old had one of the organization’s most impressive outings in the season’s first week. Against Clinton on Saturday, Cota scattered three hits and two walks over five innings, surrendering just one run while striking out eight batters.
10. Derrick Robinson
The season’s first week was an encouraging one for Robinson, who’s showing improved plate discipline after logging a disappointing .316 OBP in 2008. Robinson has hit safely in all but one game thus far, compiling a line of .267/.353/.267 with six runs scored. The 21-year-old burner led the Carolina League in stolen bases last year, and he’s on pace to do that again, swiping a league-best five bags last week.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK:
On Monday evening, Blue Rocks second baseman Johnny Giavotella had the best night of his young career, going 3-for-4 with two home runs – including a grand slam – and seven RBIs in Wilmington’s 9-1 victory over Kinston.
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