Record this week: 3-3. Overall: 42-31, tied for first with Toledo (DET).
6/12: Justin Mallett up against Pawtucket’s young knuckleballin’ phenom Charlie Zink (he’s 28). Justin pitched pretty well, with only a three-run homer by the PawSox’ Joe Thurston a blemish on his line (3.31, 5.2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K). Zink, who’s having a great year after a couple of bad ones, permitted just six hits and one unearned run in 7.2 innings, however, so instead the BATS BACK! fell on reliever Jose Vaquedano. 2B Andy Green walked with two outs and the bases loaded in the ninth to drive in one, then LF Drew T. Anderson’s bunt single scored SS Adam Rosales to tie it up! The Bats bullpen was fine on this night, with Todd Coffey (3.72, 1.1 IP, 2 K), Jon Adkins (2.25, 2 IP, 3 K), Josh Roenicke (1.13, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K), and Tyler Pelland (5.40, 2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 4 K) holding Pawtucket scoreless for six-plus innings. However, in the 13th, temporary Bat Camilo Vazquez was overrun by a fistful of singles and served up the winning run. 4-3 Pawtucket win. 3B Luis Bolivar punched five singles in six at-bats (.257), but scored no runs and drove in zero more. He also stole two bases.
6/13: Bolivar kept it going, slamming a three-run homer in the eighth inning that left the Bats on top of another seesaw matchup, 9-7. That was Luis’ first AAA homer (2-for-4, .266, 5 RBI total). 1B Kevin Barker hit a three-run bomb of his own in the first (#8). Louisville actually got just five hits on the night, although Pawtucket’s pitching staff issued eight walks. Winner was Matt Belisle (W 3-0, 4.50, 1.1 IP, 1 BB), in relief of Matt Maloney (4.92, 5 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 2 HR)- who suffered through another mediocre start. Todd Coffey allowed a single run in the ninth but got save #1.
6/14: Daryl Thompson might have punched his ticket to Cincinnati between this start (W 3-0, 3.25, 8.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) and Our Man Homer’s struggles. Louisville got a two-run homer from C Ryan Hanigan (#2, 2-for-4, .284) and won it easily, 4-1. Josh Roenicke got the final out for save #2.
6/15: Rochester (MIN) got a strong start from still-rehabbing/readjusting phenom Francisco Liriano and beat Adam Pettyjohn and the Bats, 5-2. Pettyjohn gave up a few too many line shots this time around (L 7-2, 4.84, 7.1 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 K). Rehabbin’ Scrappy was 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Rehabbin’ Kepp picked up two singles and a RBI.
6/16: The Red Wings popped the Bats worse this time, 9-1. Starter Ramon Ramirez escaped five shaky innings with only two earned runs (L 2-2, 5.88, 5 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 7 BB, 5 K) but the bullpen- Belisle (6.14, 0.2 IP, 3 ER), Pelland (6.04, 0.1 IP, 2 ER, 1 BB) and Adkins (2.68, 1 IP, 2 ER, 1 HR) all took beatings. Only Marcus McBeth (12.54, 1 IP, 1 BB, 1 K) escaped. Kepp got two more hits and a walk (.556). 2B Andy Green tripled in Bolivar for the Bats’ only run.
6/17: A familiar face on the mound for Rochester in this day game- none other than Danny F. Graves, currently enjoying something of a resurgence as a starter with an ERA of 3.89 in eight AAA outings. So Louisville promptly whupped him like a government rule, scoring five in the first inning due mostly to a Kevin Barker grand-slam homer, his ninth (back-to-back Es by Graves’ infield helped). Keppinger homered in the second, making it 6-2, and although the Red Wings did the same thing to Bats starter Justin Mallett (4.72, 1.2 IP, 6 ER), Danny was gone three batters into the third with nine runs- seven earned-in two-plus. RF Mike Griffin drove in two of the three third-inning runs with a base hit. LF Drew T. Anderson made it 10-6 in the fourth by homering off Carmen Cali (#4). This extended Anderson’s hitting streak to 12 games. Matt Belisle turned in a solid 2.1 scoreless innings in relief of Mallett (5.29, 2 H, 2 K) but Coffey came on to serve up some line shots (4.37, 1.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K). On came Danny Herrera, fresh off the yo-yo, to give up an infield hit- although he bounced back to stop the Wings from getting closer than 10-8 by whiffing ex-Red and ex-steroid suspendee Ryan Jorgensen. Danny then survived a Bolivar throwing error and a walk in the seventh to hold the lead (2.25, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K). Meanwhile, Rochester’s Ricky Barrett was retiring nine straight Bats on just 27 pitches- five via strikeout. On came Roenicke for the eight to get two men out before surrendering hits to the next two. Denard Span singled to make it 10-9, but Josh escaped by getting Jason Pridie to ground out. Kepp slapped a single to center to lead off the ninth and break the stalemate against Barrett. Anderson singled as well (2-for-5, .274). On came Bobby Korecky, the Rochester closer, to strike out Ryan Hanigan and get Barker to bounce into an inning-ending double play. Interestingly, manager Rick Sweet left Roenicke in to pitch the ninth with his pitch count already at 22. Josh whiffed Darnell McDonald and won an epic ten-pitch battle with Garrett Jones that nearly ended in disaster- if Hopper hadn’t gloved the long drive more than 400 feet from home plate. (Good thing Frontier Field in Rochester has a giant notch in left-center field, or it’s a tie game.) Wisely, Sweet went to Adkins for the next man, veteran slugger and ex-Reds farmhand Randy Ruiz. He got ahead of Ruiz 0-2, but Randy slapped a base hit to bring the winning run to the plate. But Jon got .225-hitting Sergio Santos to pop up to short and end an epic 10-9 Bats win. Belisle got the win (4-0) and Adkins save #14.
Notes: 6/14: Rehabbin’ Scrappy and Rehabbin’ Kepp join up from Sarasota. LHR Danny Herrera returned from Cincinnati. 6/16: LHR Camilo Vazquez went back to Sarasota. Also, Jay Bruce was named the Topps Player of the Month for May after he hit over .400 for the Bats and made his big-league debut the 27th. Good job, Topps- only halfway through the next month. 6/17: Scrappy left, Kepp stayed.
Record this week: 2-4. Overall: 37-35 (first half), 0-2 (second half).
6/12: Chattanooga staked Sam Lecure to a three-run first-inning lead, and Sam never looked back –shutting down the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx (SEA) for seven innings and notching the victory, 5-1 (W 5-3, 4.13, 7 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 6 K). Robert Manuel struck out the side in the ninth (1.57)- will he start getting higher-leverage innings? CF Shaun Cumberland sprayed four singles in five trips (.305, SB #8) and 3B Eric Eymann continued his hot streak (.302, 2-for-5, 2 R, 2 RBI). Ex-Red Travis Chick pitched two innings of relief for the DJs- he’s got a 3.70 ERA in his first year of (mostly) full-time bullpen work- but you’ll notice that he’s still where the Reds left him, several years later, in AA.
6/13: Even though the game ended an inning early due to rain, West Tenn still had no trouble piling eleven runs on starter Travis Wood (L 1-2, 7.50, 2.1 IP, 10 H, 7 ER) and Sean Watson (10.38, 1.2 IP, 4 ER) and won easy, 12-4. 2B Michael DeJesus kept the scrappiness going with two hits and two RBI (.464).
6/14: James Avery was TKOed in the third (L 3-4, 5.56, 2.1 IP, 4 ER) and the Diamond Jaxx went on to another easy victory, 8-2. The bullpen wasn’t a heck of a lot better, although Derrik Lutz again managed scoreless frames (6.59, 2 IP, 2 H). LF Sean Henry was 2-for-4 (.280) with stolen base #8 and 3B Eric Eymann kept it going (.299, 2-for-5).
6/15: Lookouts built a 5-0 lead by the fifth, then hung on for dear life, 5-4. RF Thomas Collaro slammed a three-run homer off Chick (#3), DeJesus doubled twice (.405), CF Shaun Cumberland was 2-for-4 with a run scored, RBI, and walk (.308) and Eymann added two more singles and two runs scored (.302). Starter Ben Jukich got really hittable in his final couple innings (W 7-2, 2.82, 6.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 8 K). Robert Manuel let one inherited runner in, but prevented the tie (1.51, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 2 K) and Carlos Fisher went 1-2-3 in the ninth for save #5 (3.96, 2 K).
6/16: Off. This ended the first half of the Southern League season, with the Lookouts finishing four games out of first at 37-33.
6/17: More bullpen issues with Viola (6.37, 1 IP, 1 ER) and Watson (16.20, 0.2 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 1 BB) turned a close game against Carolina (FLA) into an 8-2 rout. Sam Lecure started and pitched well (L 5-4, 4.04, 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 K).
6/18: Carolina shut out Chattanooga, 7-0. Jordan Smith (L 1-3, 5.88, 6 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 7 K) has proven eminently more hittable at this higher level. CF Shaun Cumberland had two hits and a walk; the 23-year-old has maintained what could be a breakout season this far, batting .314/.412/.500 in 64 games.
Notes: 6/17: INF Justin Turner activated from the DL; UT Drew M. Anderson placed on it.
Record this week: 2-2. Overall: 33-37, fifth place, 12.5 games out.
6/12: Sarasota rallied for four in the sixth and three more in the seventh to nip Jupiter (FLA), 8-7. Starter Alex Smit left after 2.1 innings (3.60, 3 ER)- need to check if that’s some sort of an injury. Ruben Medina pitched the next 1.2 (2.78), then Scott Carroll took the next three. He wasn’t great (W 3-1, 5.75, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K), but he was pitching when the rally happened. Ramon Geronimo took the last two for save #7. FSL All-Star RF Chris Heisey lashed four hits, scored three times, and drove in one (.282). CF Drew Stubbs was just 1-for-4 with a single (and steal #21), but got three RBI. 3B Juan Francisco was 3-for-4 with a RBI (.286) and SS Todd Frazier 2-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI (.304).
6/13: Off- All-Star break.
6/14: CF Drew Stubbs was named Star of Stars for his second-inning two-run homer that helped push the West past the East, 9-3. Beyond that, Stubbs walked, struck out twice, and flied out. DH Juan Francisco singled in three trips, LF Chris Heisey was 0-for-2, and RHR Ramon Geronimo pitched two-thirds of an inning in seven pitches without incident. West starter Rick Porcello, the Detroit Tiger phenom, got the victory. The other two Sarasota players selected, RHS Jordan Smith and SS Chris Valaika, didn’t play because they are already in Double-A.
6/15: Off- All-Star break.
6/16: Lakeland (DET) got to Logan Ondrusek (L 0-4, 4.91, 1 IP, 2 H, 2 BB) for the decisive run in the top of the eleventh to beat the Reds, 3-2. Rehabbin’ Josh Fogg started and allowed six hits and two earned runs in 5.1 innings. Good ‘pen work by Ruben Medina (2.65, 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 K), Phil Valiquette (5.40, 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB), and Geronimo (1.1 IP, 0.87). 2B Jose Castro was 3-for-5 (.236).
6/17: Rehabbin’ Gary Sheffield socked a homer off Spot Startin’ Misael DeJesus (L 0-2, 5.60, 4.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K) and Lakeland held Sarasota scoreless until the ninth in a 5-2 victory. Stubbs ended up with two doubles and a single, knocking in two runs with the second two-bagger (.262). Rafael Gonzalez finished the game with four scoreless innings of relief (7.36, 2 H, 3 BB, 1 K).
6/18: 3B Juan Francisco slammed homer #10 in the second inning of this one, but two runs for the Flying Tigers off starter Enerio Del Rosario (7.64, 5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 4 K) gave them the lead… until the bottom of the seventh. Stubbs singled and went to second as Carson Kainer reached on catcher’s interference. Yuber Rodriguez popped up a bunt, but Justin Tordi got the runners over with a groundout. 2B Jacob Kahauleilo followed with a two-run double! The Reds added another run in the bottom of the eighth after Chris Heisey walked and Todd Frazier tripled. Frazier then scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-2. Stubbs walked and stole second while Kainer was reaching again (yes, again) on the nefarious interference of Lakeland catcher Devin Thomas. Rodriguez singled (6-2), Tordi walked, and Kahauleilo made it four RBIs for the day with a two-run single (8-2). Camilo Vazquez pitched 2.2 scoreless in his first outing back from temping in Louisville (W 4-2, 4.47, 1 H, 2 K) and Valiquette struck out a man to strand a runner in the eighth. Phil then got a well-timed double play in the ninth to stop a rally (save #1, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K, 4.66) and win it for the Reds, 8-2.
Notes: 6/12: LHR Aguido Gonzalez was sent to Billings. 6/17: RHR Juan Rafael promoted from Dayton (not on merit); RHR Terrell Young made temporarily inactive.
Record this week: 1-3. Overall: 28-40, last place- ten back of Lansing (TOR).
6/12: 1B Logan Parker’s first-inning three-run homer staked Curtis Partch and the Dragons to a four-zip lead after a half-inning. But Partch couldn’t hold it (6.20, 2 IP, 5 ER) and Dayton found themselves down 7-5 before a three-run rally in the sixth. Then Juan Rafael coughed it up, thanks in part to some bad defense (L 0-1, 6.23, 3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 4 K) and Fort Wayne ended up taking it, 12-8. 3 RBI for 3B Brandon Waring (.260) and three hits for LF Keltavious Jones (.273). Interestingly, Parker was ejected in the sixth after striking out in his previous at-bat and his replacement, C Humberto Sosa, almost immediately made an error that led to two Wizards runs.
6/13: South Bend takes another one, 6-3. 2007 supplemental first-round pick Kyle Lotzkar made his ’08 debut (L 0-1, 6.75, 4 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K). SS Zach Cozart (#6, 2-for-3, .236) and CF Denis Phipps (#5) homered. C Devin Mesoraco had a pair of hits (.296).
6/14: Again the Silverhawks took it, nipping the hapless Dragons 9-7. Jamie Arneson, who’s going to be headed back to Billings for the Pioneer League season opener, allowed five runs in three innings (9.22, 6 H, 3 BB, 1 K, 2 HR). Loss to Tyler Rhoden (L 2-1, 4.37, 2 IP, 3 ER). Cozart got three more hits (.250), 3B Brandon Waring drove in three, RF Jeremy Reed scored three (.254, 2-for-3) and DH Michael McKennon hit homer #2.
6/15: DRAGONS WIN! Devin Mesoraco’s tenth-inning single drove in Denis Phipps to snap a 7-7 tie. Joe Krebs then struck out the side in the bottom of the inning to cement the Dayton win (save #5, 2.45). 1B Logan Parker (#7) and Phipps (#6) both homered and the Dragons infield turned three double plays. Matt Klinker was hit hard (3.86, 3.1 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 1 K) but Derrick Conatser fired three innings of hitless relief for his first win (2.25, 1 BB, 2 K).
6/16: Off- All-Star break.
6/17: All-Star Game! After a long rain delay and a bunch of deadlocked scoreless innings, the West beat the Dragons and the East, 5-4. 3B Brandon Waring started and recorded a strikeout and walk in his two trips. RF Denis Phipps entered late and was 0-for-2 with a strikeout. LHR Joe Krebs (1 IP, 1 H), RHS Luis Montano (1 IP, 2 K), and RHR Jeff Jeffords (0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 K) all turned in scoreless work.
6/18: Off. Dayton finished the first half 28-40 and in last place.
Notes: 6/12: RHS Kyle Lotzkar added to the roster along with RHR Henry Arias, who was acquired from Kansas City as the payment for Brad Salmon. 6/18: Newly-signed third-round draft pick Zach Stewart added to the roster. He’s a 21-year-old right-handed reliever out of Texas Tech. The Reds rarely start draft picks in full-season ball (Zach Cozart is the only one I can recall recently, and he’s been unable to hit his way out of the MWL so far), so it’s one to watch.
Record this week: 2-0. Overall: 2-0, tied for first with Great Falls (CHW).
6/17: Billings is victorious in its 2008 opener, nipping Missoula (ARI), 6-5. C Jordan Wideman was 4-for-4 with two RBI and LF Tony Brown finished 3-for-4. RF Tyler Stovall got two hits and scored two runs in his pro debut. Starter Leonardo Astorga, a 22-year-old out of Venezuela who missed 2007 due to injury, pitched five innings to get the victory. (4 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K). 2007 NDFA Dan Zeffiro threw two scoreless of relief and righty Jordan Hotchkiss (31st round, 2007) threw a hitless ninth while surviving some defensive adventures to pick up the save.
6/18: Make it two in a row on the road, as Billings beat Missoula (ARI), 10-3, behind two homers from 3B Neftali Soto (four RBI) and two-run blasts from LF Tony Brown and 1B Mike Konstanty (pro debut). Brown finished 3-for-4. 2B Alex Buchholz’ pro debut also went well, as he singled twice and doubled in five trips. Starter Oscar Castro, a 19-year-old Mexican making his US debut after two appearances last year with the DSL Reds, pitched six innings of four-hit ball for the win (3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K). Steve Otterness pitched the seventh, lefty Brandon Rice the eighth, and righty Randall Linebaugh the ninth.
Notes: Here’s the link to the roster of YOUR Billings Mustangs. Good move on kicking lefties Jamie Arneson and Steve Otterness down from Dayton; both have struggled badly there in 2008. INF Neftali Soto has moved up from the GCL, and you’ll see the usual fistful of fresh 2008 draftees on the list as well. Fifth-rounder Clayton Shunick, just signed a few days ago, is the highest 2008 draftee. No blue-chip prospects (Soto is probably the closest thing)… yet. Billings also has a completely new coaching staff- manager Julio Garcia, batting coach Tony Jaramillo, and pitching coach Tom Browning. This is Browning’s first full-time coaching role with the Reds, although he’s kicked around at spring training, etc. for several years.
Notes: The complete roster’s not up yet (as of 6/19) for the GCL Reds. Can they avoid finishing last for the fourth consecutive year? Or is it the fifth? I can't remember, but I can tell you that the Baby Reds have finished last every year since I started closely following minor-league ball.