Taillon, Benintendi among top prospect performers Thursday

Pirates prospect continues to impress while Boston outfielder stays hot at the plate

Taillon, Benintendi among top prospect performers Thursday

With Jameson Taillon's impressive start to the 2016 season, you would never suspect that he hadn't pitched competitively since '13.

The Pirates' No. 4 prospect (No. 51 overall) improved to 2-0 on Thursday, firing seven innings of one-run ball for Triple-A Indianapolis in a win against Norfolk. Taillon scattered five hits and issued two walks in the outing, which was his longest of the season for the Indians.

It seemed as though Taillon, the No. 2 overall pick of the Draft in 2010, was destined to join Gerrit Cole in the Pirates' big league rotation in 2014 after he had finished the previous year at Indianapolis. But injuries derailed the right-hander's progress up the ladder, as Tommy John surgery and then surgery for an inguinal hernia wiped out his '14 and '15 seasons, respectively. Now 24, Taillon finally is healthy and making up for the lost time in a hurry with a lights-out start to the season in Triple-A.

Taillon has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his four starts for the Indians, and he's pitched to a stellar 1.54 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in 23 1/3 innings in that span. The right-hander's command has really stood out, as the two free passes he permitted on Thursday were his first of the season, giving him an overall K/BB ratio of 23/2.

The rest of the best performances from top prospects Thursday

No. 22 overall prospect Andrew Benintendi (Red Sox's No. 3) hit a go-ahead, bases-clearing double with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning to lead Class A Advanced Salem past Frederick, 7-4. He drove in four runs in the game, giving him 18 RBIs in 20 games this season, while his 2-for-4 performance at the plate extended his hitting streak to 17 games. Overall, the 2015 No. 7 overall Draft pick is batting .346/.407/.642 with 17 runs scored, 16 extra-base hits and four steals.

No. 31 overall prospect Jesse Winker (Reds' No. 1) and No. 68 Jose Peraza (Reds' No. 5) went a combined 6-for-8 with four extra-base hits to power Triple-A Louisville in a win against Durham. Peraza collected three of the four extra-base knocks, going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and his first home run of the season, while Winker doubled as part of a 3-for-4 effort.

No. 37 overall prospect A.J. Reed (Astros' No. 2) connected on his fifth home run of the season in Triple-A Fresno's win against El Paso. The 22-year-old first baseman has collected hits in five straight games for the Grizzlies, with two home runs and six RBIs in the span.

No. 40 overall prospect Brent Honeywell (Rays' No. 3) picked up his second win of the season for Class A Advanced Charlotte with 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball against St. Lucie. The right-hander scattered five hits, walked two and struck out five in the outing, with 62 of his 97 pitches going for strikes. Honeywell, 21, has been outstanding in his five starts for Charlotte this season, posting a 0.89 ERA, a 0.79 WHIP and 31/4 K/BB in 30 1/3 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .187 average.

No. 83 overall prospect Albert Almora (Cubs' No. 5) collected three hits for the fourth time in his past nine games as Triple-A Iowa doubled up Colorado Springs, 10-5. One of those three knocks was Almora's third home run of the season -- a three-run shot that padded the I-Cubs' lead in the bottom of the eighth inning -- and he also picked up his second steal in the contest. The 22-year-old center fielder has opened his first Triple-A campaign on a tear, batting .362/.403/.551 with 15 runs scored in 18 games.

• After allowing a combined 15 earned runs over his first three starts for Class A Rome, Braves No. 6 prospect Touki Toussaint got back on track -- and picked up his first win -- Thursday by tossing five innings of one-run ball against West Virginia. The 19-year-old righty allowed two hits and struck out three while finding the zone with 36 of his 58 pitches, and he also induced six groundball outs in the outing.

Giants No. 9 prospect Andrew Suarez struck out a career-high 10 hitters in 6 2/3 innings as Class A Advanced defeated Stockton in 11 innings, 3-2. The 2015 second-rounder allowed one run on five hits and did not issue a walk in the outing. He's piled up 19 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings between his past two starts, notching 30 strikeouts (against just three walks) in 22 2/3 innings on the season.

Cardinals No. 10 prospect Harrison Bader's solo home run accounted for Double-A Springfield's only run in a loss to Northwest Arkansas. The 21-year-old outfielder has homered in back-to-back games for Springfield and has three in his past four contests. The Cardinals assigned Bader to Double-A for his first full pro season, having him bypass the Class A Advanced level entirely, and he's responded to the challenge by batting .342/.398/.539 with four homers and 12 RBIs in his first 19 games.

White Sox No. 11 prospect Tyler Danish fired a nine-inning shutout for Double-A Birmingham against Pensacola in what was the best start of his Minor League career. The right-hander yielded three hits and walked two in the gem, which he needed 105 pitches (71 strikes) to complete, and he generated 14 groundball outs while striking out six hitters.

Braves No. 12 prospect Lucas Sims was dominant in his second Triple-A start, striking out a season-high 11 hitters in seven innings as Gwinnett outlasted Toledo in 15 innings, 4-3. The 21-year-old righty, a first-round Draft pick in 2012, has been impressive this season in five starts between Double-A Mississippi and Gwinnett, posting a 2.03 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings (14.2 K/9).

Royals No. 16 prospect Jorge Bonifacio extended his hitting streak to nine games in Triple-A Omaha's rout of Oklahoma City, going 3-for-5 with three RBIs and three runs scored. After back-to-back years in Double-A, Bonifacio, 22, is batting .346/.354/.603 with four home runs and 17 RBIs through 20 games this season in his first taste of the Triple-A level.

Indians No. 21 prospect Willi Castro filled out the stat sheet in Class A Lake County's win against Burlington, going 4-for-5 with his first home run of the season, a triple, four RBIs and two runs scored. After an 0-for-17 stretch at the plate, the 19-year-old switch-hitter has collected six hits in 10 at-bats in his past two games for the Captains.

Rangers No. 21 prospect Travis Demeritte slugged his eighth home of the season and second in as many days to retake the Minor League lead as Class A Advanced High Desert beat Lake Elsinore, 6-4. The second baseman has torn the cover off the ball so far this season, with a .288 average and a 1.116 OPS through 18 games, though his 33 strikeouts in that span suggests he could be in store for regression.

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.