NOTES

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - MINOR LEAGUES -

Look at the num­bers:

St. Louis Car­di­nals left-handed pitch­ing prospect Austin Gomber spent the first two months of Class AA ball in Spring­field, Mo., try­ing to fo­cus on de­vel­op­ment, not num­bers.

It was a time for ex­per­i­ments, tweak­ing and search­ing and dis­cov­er­ing who he is go­ing to be as a pitcher. He was 2-6 at the end of June.

Now look. Gomber, the 15th-rated prospect in the St. Louis sys­tem ac­cord­ing to MLB.com, is 8-1 in his last 11 starts for Spring­field. In three starts be­tween Aug. 4 and Aug. 15, he pitched 20

in­nings and did not give up an earned run. The score­less streak came to an end Sun­day when Gomber al­lowed a two-run homer to Cor­pus Christi’s Ryne Birk, but Gomber won his fifth con­sec­u­tive game. He gave up two runs in 6 2⁄3 in­nings and struck out seven.

The big lefty (6-5, 235 pounds) is on an up­ward arc. Gomber, 23, is one of the few left-han­ders among the top Car­di­nals’ top pitch­ing prospects. He has turned the cor­ner from pure de­vel­op­ment to a point of track­ing num­bers.

He en­tered the week 9-7 with a 3.53 ERA and 120 strike­outs in 130 in­nings. His WHIP (walks plus hits per in­ning pitched) sat at 1.20.

On the move:

The Chicago White Sox made a cou­ple of key moves with their best prospects last week. Pitcher Michael Kopech was pro­moted from Class AA Birm­ing­ham (Ala.) to Class AAA Charlotte. Out­fielder Eloy Jimenez moved from high Class A Win­ston-Salem (N.C.) to Birm­ing­ham.

Kopech, ac­quired from the Bos­ton Red Sox in an off­sea­son trade for Chris Sale, was 8-7 with a 2.87 ERA and 155 strike­outs in 119 1⁄3 in­nings for the Barons. But it was the work in the six starts since July 4 that took him to AAA: 4-1, 0.66 ERA with 54 strike­outs in 41 in­nings.

Kopech, 21, walked seven in his last 41 in­nings in Birm­ing­ham. In

his first 42 1⁄3 in­nings of the sea­son for the Barons, he walked 23. Com­mand and con­trol. Jimenez, 20, made his sec­ond change of ad­dress this sea­son. He started in high-A ball with Myr­tle Beach (S.C.), hit­ting .271, be­fore he was traded from the Chicago Cubs to the White Sox in the All-Star break deal for Jose Quin­tana and joined Carolina League ri­val Win­ston-Salem. There, he hit .345 in 29 games. Jimenez was pro­moted Aug. 15 to Birm­ing­ham in the Class AA South­ern League, where he had seven hits in first 20 at bats for the Barons through Aug. 20.

Tips, story ideas? Email rayglier@att.net

DAVID J. PHILLIP, AP

Prospect Austin Gomber is turn­ing heads at Spring­field.

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