Saturdays best: White Sox dominate across the Minors

Saturdays best: White Sox dominate across the Minors

The next wave of White Sox starting pitchers showcased their high ceilings throughout the Minor Leagues on Saturday, with Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito and Alec Hansen all turning in dominant performances at their respective levels.

Kopech, MLB Pipeline's No. 12 overall prospect, continued his post-Futures Game brilliance by recording 11 strikeouts over seven innings to lead Double-A Birmingham to a 2-1 win over Jacksonville. He allowed one unearned run on four hits and one walk while throwing 63 of his 93 pitches for strikes.

The White Sox No. 3 prospect has been lights-out in his five starts since the Futures Game, going 4-1 with a 0.79 ERA. More importantly, the 21-year-old right-hander has allowed just four walks while striking out 44 over 34 innings in that span.

"The thing that's impressed me the most has been how he's been able to stay in control of his body, his emotions and everything on the mound," Barons pitching coach Jose Bautista told MiLB.com. "Now, when he's overthrowing or something, he'll step back and think and go back to doing it the right way.

"For a guy like him, at 21 years old, it's completely different and not easy to get his mind to do that."

Overall, Kopech owns a 3.04 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 21 starts this year, while his 145 strikeouts in 112 1/3 innings (11.6 strikeouts-per-nine) gives him a share of fourth place on the Minor League leaderboard.

At the Triple-A level, Giolito, the No. 60 overall prospect (White Sox No. 7), allowed four hits over five scoreless frames in a no-decision for Charlotte. It was another encouraging performance for the 23-year-old righty, who walked two, struck out seven and induced five ground-ball outs. He lowered his ERA to 4.73 with the performance, the lowest it has been in 2017.

As for Hansen, the White Sox No. 9 prospect struck out 12 batters for a second straight start to pace Class A Kannapolis in a 6-0 shutout over Potomac. Working six innings, the 22-year-old right-hander allowed just two hits and two walks while finding the zone with 67 of his 89 pitches.

"Honestly, I feel like I've been pitching pretty well the entire season," Hansen told MiLB.com. "But over these last few outings, I've had great command of my fastball and my changeup, which has been the difference-maker. My fastball is my primary pitch, followed by my change, especially lately. My breaking balls had been shaky earlier in the season, but I've been able to throw some really good ones the last two outings, which has obviously helped."

He's been excellent in eight starts with the Dash, posting a 2.38 ERA with 58 strikeouts and a .199 batting average against over 41 2/3 innings. That success follows a strong first half in the South Atlantic League in which he logged a 2.48 ERA with 92 strikeouts in 72 2/3 innings (13 starts) with Class A Kannapolis.

Meanwhile, after his outing Saturday, Hansen now ranks second in the Minor Leagues with his 150 strikeouts in 114 1/3 innings (12.5 K/9).

The rest of the best performances from top prospects Saturday

• No. 6 overall prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays' No. 1) connected on his first Florida State League homer in a 2-for-4 performance for Class A Advanced Dunedin. The homer, a solo shot in the third inning, was the eighth this season for the 18-year-old third baseman, who's slashing .311/.412/.458 with 34 extra-base hits and more walks (57) than strikeouts (48) through 93 games across two levels.

• Playing in a rehab game for Pittsburgh's Rookie-level Gulf Coast League affiliate, No. 20 overall prospect Austin Meadows (Pirates' No. 1) went 4-for-5 with a home run, four RBIs and two runs scored. The 22-year-old outfielder has swung the bat well in four GCL contests, posting a .538 average (7-for-13) with four extra-base hits and seven RBIs.

• No. 37 overall prospect Franklin Barreto (A's No. 1), Yairo Munoz (A's No. 14), Matt Olson (No. 16) and Renato Nunez (No. 24) all hit home runs during the first two innings of Triple-A Nashville's win against Reno. Nunez's homer was his Minor League-leading 29th this season, while Barreto, Munoz and Olson connected on home runs Nos. 13, 12 and 23, respectively.

• After tossing three scoreless frames in the Rookie-level Arizona League, A's No. 7 prospect Jesus Luzardo has now allowed one or fewer earned runs in all seven appearances to begin his pro career. The 19-year-old lefty, acquired from Washington last month in the deal for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson, allowed two hits, struck out three and induced three ground-ball outs. Overall, Luzardo has pitched to a 1.54 ERA while striking out 28 and walking just one in 25 1/3 innings.

Braves No. 9 prospect Joey Wentz added to his impressive full-season debut as he matched his career high with nine strikeouts over seven innings in a win for Class A Rome. Throwing a career-high 102 pitches (66 strikes), the 19-year-old lefty allowed one earned run on two hits and one walk. He hasn't given up more than two earned runs in 10 straight starts, during which he owns a 5-0 record, with a 1.52 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings.

Brewers No. 8 prospect Tristen Lutz tallied multiple hits for the third time in as many games since his promotion to Rookie-level Helena, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs, two runs scored and two walks. One of the 18-year-old's two hits was a two-run homer, his first in the Pioneer League and fourth this season. Through his first 18 games, the No. 34 overall pick from the 2017 Draft is hitting .329 with 12 extra-base hits.

Orioles No. 18 prospect D.J. Stewart hit a grand slam and set a career high with six RBIs to help lead Double-A Bowie past Portland, 13-7. It was the 15th home run this season for the 2015 first-rounder and his second in as many games for the Baysox. The 23-year-old outfielder has resuscitated his prospect stock in 2017 by slashing .268/.359/.452 with 35 extra-base hits and 16 steals in his first Double-A campaign.

"[I did not know] at the time," Stewart told MiLB.com. "I knew earlier in the game I had a sac fly and I got a hit, but when you hit the home run it doesn't instantly go to your head that you have six RBIs. As I calmed down and cooled off a little bit, I did realize it."

Royals No. 14 prospect Samir Duenez went 3-for-6 with three RBIs and a pair of home runs, though it wasn't enough to keep Double-A Northwest Arkansas from falling to Springfield, 8-7, in 12 innings. The two-homer performance, the first of Duenez's season, helped the 21-year-old first baseman establish a new career high with 15 home runs.

Padres No. 13 prospect Enyel De Los Santos was dominant in a no-decision for Double-A San Antonio, tossing seven scoreless frames of six-hit ball with eight strikeouts and one walk. It marked the second scoreless performance in three turns for the 21-year-old right-hander, who owns a 4.02 ERA with 114 strikeouts in 123 innings this season.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.