UK Baseball

Ex-Cat Cowgill has chance to be minor league MVP, manager says

Former Henry Clay and University of Kentucky star Collin Cowgill has taken the Pacific Coast League by storm in his first season at Triple-A Reno.

The 25-year-old Diamondbacks prospect entered Sunday's game second in the league in hitting, first in hits, first in runs, second in total bases, second in stolen bases and sixth in on-base percentage.

"It's pretty special what he's doing," veteran infielder Andy Tracy told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "He could lead the league in most offensive categories, he's unbelievable defensively and he works every single day."

Cowgill has had a franchise-record 17-game hit streak, hit for the cycle two weeks ago, has 12 home runs and is third in the league with seven outfield assists.

"He's got a good head on his shoulders, a good idea about the game and loves to play. It's fun to watch somebody come to the field every day and play that hard," teammate Cody Ransom told the newspaper. "He wants to learn, he wants to get better. It's fun to watch and kind of takes us back to when we were his age."

Cowgill's effort is what has impressed his manager and teammates the most.

"One of the best feelings in baseball, for me, is making a big catch in the field and having the pitcher thank you for it. That means a lot," Cowgill said. "You can help your team win in more than one way and I take a lot of pride in defense. I like to run the ball down and if I don't, it bothers me. ... That's another part of the game that I really love. It's one of those things that really fires me up."

Reno Manager Brett Butler said Cowgill's aggressiveness is a positive but that he must continue to harness it.

"His worst enemy is himself," Butler told the newspaper. "The only thing he's going to have to deal with, which we've talked about, is not getting too high or too low. ...

"The kid has a chance to be the MVP of this league."

■ Cowgill got his 100th hit of the season when he went 4-for-6 with a pair of doubles and four RBI in Reno's come-from-behind 12-9 victory at Las Vegas on Sunday.

Cowgill improved his batting average to .370 and stole a base to give him 23 this season. He has 17 doubles and 49 RBI.

12 strikeouts for Marks

Former Owensboro Catholic and University of Louisville standout Justin Marks struck out a career-high 12 batters over 61⁄3 innings for his first win in a month in Class A Advanced Wilmington's 7-2 victory against Winston-Salem on Saturday night.

The Royals prospect allowed two runs on four hits. He improved to 3-5 and lowered his ERA from 5.12 to 4.91.

"Keeping the ball down, that's been my problem all year," Marks said in a report on "Getting ahead of guys, whether it's a first-pitch curveball, slider or changeup."

A third-round pick in 2009 by the A's, Marks struggled in his previous two starts, surrendering nine earned runs on 17 hits over 11 innings.

While the 23-year-old left-hander has two complete games, he's also made five relief appearances.

"It's tough. They want me to come out of the 'pen, that's what I'll do, but it's going to take a toll out there when I'm starting," Marks said.