Benjamin Hill is a contributor to]]> In the bigs

Two just-promoted outfielders made headlines on Sunday -- the Giants' Fred Lewis and the Mets' Carlos Gomez. While neither of these rookies arrived in the bigs with much fanfare, it looks like they'll be given the opportunity to prove themselves. All Lewis did on Mothers' Day was hit for the cycle, a memorable performance that immediately lifted him from the depths of obscurity. The 26-year-old received the call-up from Fresno after Dave Roberts went on the disabled list, a promotion that would have likely gone to Nate Schierholtz had he not injured himself running into a wall in Iowa (perhaps he mistook it for a cornfield leading to another dimension). Lewis figures to get a lot of playing time until Roberts returns, especially against righties (whom he hit .313 against while in Triple-A). The Mississippi native brings more speed to the table (three seasons of 30 or more steals in the Minors) than power (12 home runs for Fresno in 2006 were a career high).

Gomez, meanwhile, was called up to the Metropolitans after the underperforming Mike Pelfrey was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. The 21-year-old collected two hits, scored twice and stole a base in his Major League debut, and if he continues at that pace he will go on to become the greatest player in the history of baseball. More likely, Gomez will see semi-regular playing time (especially against lefties), at least until Moises Alou and his ailing left quad returns to the lineup. Gomez stole 64 bases in Class A in 2005 and 41 in Double-A last season. He hit .286 and stole 17 bases over 140 at-bats with Triple-A New Orleans prior to the call-up.

Meanwhile, over on the pitcher's mound, Justin Germano has been highly impressive in two starts with the Padres. The 24-year-old right-hander was called up to replace the injured Clay Hensley, and in two starts he's gone 1-0 with an 0.69 ERA (including seven shutout innings on Sunday). If Germano continues to reel off the quality starts, then the Friars will be loathe to send him back to Triple-A Portland when Hensley returns. His next start, scheduled for Saturday, should go a long way toward determining his fate. Keep an eye on him.

Speaking of being impressive over the course of two starts, the Yankees' Matt DeSalvo (1-0, 1.98 ERA) has come out of the gate like gangbusters (whatever they are). With the Bombers' rotation in a perpetual state of flux, the 26-year-old right-hander will be given every opportunity to stick around. That the Yankees have decided to hand DeSalvo the ball on Thursday (and not Darrell Rasner) is an encouraging sign. A negative regarding DeSalvo thus far: six walks and just two strikeouts over 13 2/3 innings pitched (he struck out 23 and walked 13 over 25 2/3 innings prior to his call-up).

Phone call away

Requisite Homer Bailey mention: he's still with Triple-A Louisville, despite the fact that Eric Milton went on the DL last week. Those hardy few who presumed Scott Livingston would get the call-up instead were indeed correct. As for Bailey? His time remains soon. As usual.

If you haven't been paying attention to Andy Sonnanstine...well, now's the time to start. The lanky right-hander has reeled off a win in each of his last four starts for Triple-A Durham, and he has struck out a Minor League-leading 57 batters over 52 2/3 innings pitched while compiling a stellar 2.05 ERA. The Devil Rays have not been tapping the Minor Leagues this season as often as they did in prior campaigns, but if Sonnanstine keeps performing at this level the club will have no choice but to give him an audition at baseball heaven (aka Tropicana Field). The Twins have given up on Sidney Ponson, and his spot on the roster was handed over to rookie outfielder Garret Jones (a well-rounded outfielder/first baseman, check him out). The club doesn't need a new fifth starter until Saturday, and it looks like the call will go to either Matt Garza, Kevin Slowey, or Scott Baker (all of whom are currently toiling for Triple-A Rochester). Slowey is the only one of these three with no Major League experience, but his numbers are extraordinary. The Texas native has a 1.51 ERA over six starts with Rochester, and he has struck out 38 batters while issuing just two walks.

Nathan Haynes, an Oakland A's first-round draft pick in 1997, has played in the Minor Leagues for the past decade (when not battling injuries). The former prospect and current Salt Lake outfielder is making up for lost time this season, as his .413 average is the best in the Minor Leagues. At 27, Haynes is still young enough to make a long-term impact. If the Angels give him a shot, he could join Oakland's Jack Cust as one of the best redemption stories of the young season.

A year away

Matt Esquivel's 2006 season with the Mississippi Braves came to an abrupt and embarrassing end in June, as he was suspended by the Atlanta organization for undisclosed reasons. The 24-year-old right-fielder is now making up for lost time, as he's leading the Double-A Southern League in home runs (nine) and RBIs (32). Across from Esquivel in the M-Braves outfield is the highly touted Brandon Jones (.286-8-27), an all-around athlete who sports an impressive mix of power and speed.

Also tearing up the Southern League is right-hander Mark Holliman, the Cubs' third-round draft pick in 2005. The 23-year-old is 5-0 with an 0.44 ERA over six starts for the Tennessee Smokies, with 30 strikeouts against eight walks. Holliman is in just his second pro season (he went 8-11 with a 4.38 ERA over 26 starts for Class A Advanced Daytona in 2006), but if he continues to overachieve he could work his way into the Cubs' plans sometime in 2008.

Down the road

Lake Olmstead Stadium, the home of the Class A Augusta GreenJackets, is a long way from San Francisco's AT&T Park (both geographically and in terms of the level of play). Nonetheless, the Giants have to be excited about the young arms they have developing down there in Georgia.

GreenJackets ace Adam Cowart leads the Minors with seven wins, but his 1.79 ERA is merely the fifth-best on the team. Other Augusta standouts include Henry Sosa (2-0, 0.59), Benjamin Snyder (3-1, 1.09), Clayton Tanner (4-1, 1.21 ERA) and Kevin Pucetas (4-0, 1.32 ERA). Granted, there are bound to be growing pains as this quintet attempts to make its way up the Minor League ladder, but pitching staffs this dominant are rare at any level. It's no wonder that the Cal Ripken-owned GreenJackets are 27-10 and in first place in the South Atlantic League's Southern Division.