Week 2 observations: Only Dayton's really burst out of the gate, but nobody is really crapping the bed (yet), either. I have concerns about Carolina's ability to score runs; only Yonder Alonso possesses what you'd call significant power. Also, Louisville's still stacked; it's just that half the starting lineup needs a slumpbuster.
AAA Louisville Bats
Record this week: 3-4.
Overall: 6-8, third place, three games behind Columbus (CLE).
4/15: The Matt Maloney express continues; could he get a chance here soon if several members of the Redsí rotation continue to struggle? Maloney worked six innings (87 pitches, 52 strikes, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 8-2 GB/FB) to get his second 2010 victory in a 4-2 decision over Indianapolis (PIT). Another start where Matt was able to get mostly grounders; this is good indeed considering his homer rate in í09. Carlos Fisher kept his ERA perfect by setting down six straight on just 18 pitches and Jon Adkins got save #3. 3B Todd Frazier, still just 3-for-25 so far in 2010, did slam a two-run homer off Indians starter Donald Veal. He also picked up a pair of walks. LF Juan Francisco, also flailing badly, socked a triple in four at-bats and 2B Chris Valaika had a triple and single (2-for-4, R, .333).
4/16: Aroldis Chapman back for an encoreÖ. well, tomorrow.
4/17: Aroldis Chapman back for an encore. This time he made it through five innings, throwing 87 pitches. The lefty walked four and struck out just one, but also permitted the Clippers just one hit. But Columbus starter Yohan Pino allowed no runs in seven innings and Chapman was saddled with the tough loss, 3-1. Frazier had two of the four Bats hits (.179).
4/18: MAKEUP MADNESS! This didnít go well for the Bats, as they drop a pair, 6-4 and 3-0. Justin Lehr turned in another subpar outing in game one (L 0-2, 7.20, 5 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 K) and Louisville got just five hits (albeit two homers- Chris Heiseyís second and Danny Dornís fourth). Francisco went 0-for-3 with a strikeout; heís now 1-for-22 on the season in AAA so far.
Game two saw the Bats get eight hits, but seven were singles. LF Chris Burke, Dorn, Heisey, and SS Zach Cozart (.286) each had two. Chad Reineke started and lost (0-1, 2.79, 4 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K). Fisher turned in two hitless innings, striking out four.
4/19: Sam Lecure hasnít gotten hit hard in his two starts so far, but he hasnít really gotten himself much notice either- UNTIL NOW. Sam blitzed through eight innings of two-hit, shutout ball, striking out nine Clippers and propelling Louisville to the easy 8-2 win. Columbus has a pretty good lineup as AAA clubs go, too. Anyway, heís now 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA. Heisey hit a three-run homer (#3) and drove in four total. Cozart was 2-for-3 with two RBI and a double (.311). Valaika and C Corky Miller were each 2-for-4 (.303/.300). Incidentally, Wladimir Balentien hasnít taken well to Batdom- heís 0-for-9 with a walk through three games.
4/20: Toledo (DET) hit three homers off Travis Wood- who suddenly got hittable after being generally unhittable-yet-wild in his first two starts- and beat the Bats 4-1. Wood (L 0-3, 3.50, 7.1 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 3 HR, 103 pitches/69 strikes) did do a better job of working deeper into the ballgame. Valaika was 2-for-3 with a triple and run scored (.333) as Louisville recorded just five hits.
4/21: A blister caused an early exit for Matt Maloney, but he still ran his record to 3-0 (2.16, 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 76 pitches/48 strikes) with some help from Del Rosario (2.16, 2 IP, 2 H), Fisher (0.00, 1 IP, 2 K) and Adkins (save #4, 1 IP, 1 K). Louisville took it, 3-1. Valaika was 3-for-4 with a double and RBI (.375) and Heisey added two hits and a RBI (.231). LF Chris Burke still isnít hitting (.167, 0-for-2) but he did draw two walks and steal a pair of bags (4) to provide some help from the leadoff slot. Francisco also managed a 1-for-4 to raise (yes, raise) his average to .077. Oh, and Balentien is now 0-for-16.
Transactions & Notes: 4/15: Aroldis Chapman made the first BA Prospect Hot Sheet.
AA Carolina Mudcats
Record this week: 2-4.
Overall: 6-6, third place, four back of Tennessee (CHC).
4/15: Dallas Buck was great in his first start, but did a 180 in this one (L 1-1, 8.31, 2.2 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR) as Carolina was beaten 8-4 by Montgomery (TB). Joe Krebs (5.79, 2.1 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 4 K), Ruben Medina (2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB) and Phil Valiquette (0.00, 2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K) did well in relief but the Mudcats could muster just two runs in the latter half of the contest. 2B Jake Kahauleilo was 2-for-3 with a walk and RBI (.353) and SS Kris Negron 2-for-3 with two runs scored, a double, and walk (.250).
4/16: Everything clicked for the Mudcats in this one, from Tom Cochranís start (W 2-0, 0.75, 6 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 6 K) to the much-maligned (well, by me) offense. Carolina wins an 8-0 shutout. 1B Yonder Alonso showed signs of coming around (2-for-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2B), RF Mike Griffin socked a two-run homer, and Negron drove in two and scored two. Jerry Gil pitched two scoreless in relief of Cochran and Sean Watson made his 2010 debut with a runless ninth.
4/17: Daryl Thompson struck out seven in four innings, but he also gave up four runs (including a three-run homer) and even Alonsoís first homer of the year couldnít erase the deficit as Carolina fell to Montgomery, 5-3. C Chris Denove was 3-for-3 with two doubles and a walk. Yonder also recorded an assist from LF, throwing out a Biscuit runner at home.
4/18: Mudcats snatch victory from the jaws of defeat! Down 7-5 going into the ninth, Carolina parlayed a leadoff double by DH Sean Danielson, a walk to Negron, an Alonso RBI single, a Rudy to RF Sean Henry (3-for-4, .294, two outfield assists), a run-scoring wild pitch, an intentional walk, and 1B Eric Eymannís game-winning base hit into three runs! Phil Valiquette got the victory with a scoreless ninth (still 0.00, 5 IP and 4 K in 2010). Alonso is definitely coming around at the plate; he homered for the second straight game and finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored (.270). C Brandon Yarbrough also had three hits (.294). 2B Jose Castro drove in three with a two-run single and a groundout. Starter Alex Smit struggled (6.10, 5 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 3 HB, including the first two he faced).
4/19: Carolina gets buzzsawed by Tennessee (CHC) starter Andrew Cashner on two hits and an unearned run over seven innings as the Smokies win, 2-1. Matt Klinker fired seven innings of five-hit ball himself (2.04, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 87 pitches/58 strikes). The game was tied until the top of the ninth, when Tennessee scored the decisive run off Jordan Smith (0-1).
4/20: Early game sees Dallas Buck look a little better than he did last time out (2.2 IP, 8 H, 7 ER), but the Smokies still led 6-1 after five. Dallasí own throwing error led directly to two Tennessee runs (L 1-2, 7.90, 5 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 82 pitches/50 strikes). Daryl Harang took over for the sixth and went 1-2-3. Kahauleilo and RF Luis Terrero both doubled off to cut the lead to 6-2 with one out in the bottom of the sixth. Sean Henry then smashed a two-run homer (#2) to make it 6-4! Phipps then doubled, but Eymann grounded out. Griffin doubled (6-5) before the inning ended. Harang set down three more Smokies, cutting his ERA to 0.93. Negron doubled with one out in the seventh, but was immediately picked off. Jerry Gil took over in the eighth and managed to hold the Smokies. The Mudcats went down in order in the eighth, but in the ninth (after Gil retired the Smokies in order to cut his ERA to 2.57), Griffin blooped a base hit to center with one out. C Chris Denove did the same to right, putting men on first and second. Alonso stung a base hit to right- but Griffin was thrown out at home trying to score the tying run! This left things to Negron. He took a pitch in the dirt, then swung at the second and cracked a line drive up the middle!... that was gloved by top Cubs prospect Starlin Castro. Tough loss after the long comeback.
4/21: Rained out in Carolina, lest its team become the Lakecats.
Transactions & Notes: 4/15: OF Carson Kainer released; RHR Sean Watson activated from the DL. 4/18: 1B-OF Logan Parker released; OF Luis Terrero added from Louisville.
High-A Lynchburg Hillcats
Record this week: 2-5.
Overall: 5-8, third place, 3.5 behind Frederick (BAL).
4/15: Salem (BOS) never let Lynchburg in it, building a 7-0 lead and winning it 7-2. Curtis Partch was hurt by some subpar defense; a fielding error on 1B Carlos Mendez was immediately followed by a two-out, two-run homer in the first. 3B Alex Buchholz threw away a bunt with two men on in the fifth, scoring another. Partch fell to 1-1 (1.80, 5 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K). Scott Gaffney gave up a three-run homer in the seventh (15.00, 2 IP, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) although Jeff Jeffords turned in two scoreless (7.71). DH Neftali Soto knocked in one of the Hillcatsí two runs with an eighth-inning fielderís choice; he then later scored on a passed ball. CF Dave Sappelt and SS Miguel Rojas each had a pair of hits. Mendez did manage to extend his hitting streak to seven games.
4/16: Justin Freeman bailed out Mace Thurman by striking out the last Frederick batter in the bottom of the ninth to preserve a 5-4 Lynchburg win. Thurman walked three in two-thirds of an inning (1 H, 2 ER). Otherwise the bullpen was fine, holding up another excellent outing from Brad Boxberger (5 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 8 GO/0 FO) with two innings from Jordan Hotchkiss and one from Jeremy Horst. The Keys actually got just three hits the whole game. RF Josh Fellhauer homered leading off the game (#2), 2B Alex Buchholz doubled twice and singled in five trips (.281, RBI) and C Devin Mesoraco continued his promising start with a fine game (3-for-4, 2 RBI, 2B, R, .348). Rojas had three singles and two runs scored (.375, steal #1).
4/17: Lefty Travis Webb wasnít sharp, getting beat up for five runs, four earned, in four innings. Lynchburg came back, but the 5-0 deficit was too much and the Keys win it, 6-4. Rojas was 3-for-3 with a walk, steal (#2) and RBI to raise his average to .474. 1B Carlos Mendez had two hits and two RBI (.324).
4/18: A seesaw matchup ended in a 7-6 defeat when the Keys got the decisive run in the bottom of the eighth off Lance Janke (L 0-2, 3.60, 4 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K). Lynchburg got a pair of two-out singles from Buchholz and Soto in the top of the ninth, but Mesoraco popped out to end the game. Devin did get a pair of hits, including his second homer of the season. DH Kyle Day hit a two-run shot and finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Soto was 3-for-5 with a double (.265) and 2B Cody Puckett 3-for-4 with a double, RBI, and run scored (.261). Righty Mark Serrano struggled a bit in his first 2010 outing (4 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K).
4/19: Impressive offensive game for the Hillcats; they bang out 17 hits and whoop Salem (BOS), 9-5. Matt Fairel struggled a bit this time around (2.35, 4 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HR) but Jordan Hotchkiss pitched two hitless innings in relief for the win (1-0, 0.00). Mace Thurman turned in two more and Horst finished up. No homers from Lynchburg, but 3B Jose Gualdron (RBI, .375), Sappelt (2 R, 2 RBI, 2B, .300), and Fellhauer (R, RBI, steal #1, .250) each had three hits. Puckett added a pair of doubles, two runs scored, and a RBI. Neftali Soto contributed a pair of singles and a RBI- and he played catcher. A throwing error did contribute to a Red Sox run, but otherwise it wasnít a bad debut behind the dish for the 21-year-old.
4/20: Rained out.
4/21:MAKEUP MADNESS! Game one didnít start well, as Salem grabbed a 5-1 lead off starter Curtis Partch and a porous Hillcats defense. Mesoracoís sacrifice fly drove in Fellhauer for the only Lynchburg run. Partch departed after four (L 1-2, 3.21, 5 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) in favor of Scott Gaffney. Salem piled on two more runs, making it 7-1 after five (Sox starter Fabian Williamson permitted just one hit in his five-inning stint). It was 9-1 after Salem got done with Jeff Jeffords in the sixth- and thatís how it ended.
Game two was a little more competitive, but Lynchburg committed four more errors (two by C Chris McMurray) that led to three unearned runs. Salem wins it and takes the sweep, 5-3. Boxberger lasted four innings (L 1-1, 1.93, 7 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K). The Hillcats also got just five hits.
Transactions & Notes: 4/18: RHP Mark Serrano activated from the 7-day DL.
Low-A Dayton Dragons
Record this week: 4-3.
Overall: 9-5, second place, three games behind Lake County (CLE).
4/15: Yet another last-at-bat thriller! This one didnít go to extras, though. Daytonís Andrew Means scored the tying run in the top of the ninth on 1B Chris Richburgís RBI single. Richburg then stole second, but C Kevin Coddington lined out and LF Efrain Contreras went down swinging; this proved significant because Fort Wayne (SD) got a walk, single, and a game-winning hit off Ezequiel Infante (L 1-1, 7.50, 3 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HR) in the bottom of the ninth. Good news for starter Brian Pearl despite the 5-4 loss- he improved on his first start, notching five innings (2.79, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K) and throwing more strikes and grounders (8/2 GB/FB). SS Didi Gregorius was 2-for-4 with a solo home run (.368), Means 3-for-5 with two runs scored (RBI, steal #2, .389), and four other players got multiple hits (LF Byron Wiley, Richburg, Coddington, and 3B Frank Pfister).
4/16: Dayton scored five runs in the third inning and added two more in the fifth on Wileyís second homer en route to a 10-5 cruise. Starter JC Sulbaran picked up the win (W 1-0, 5.40, 5 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 3 WP, HB, BK). C Jordan Wideman homered as well (#1).
4/17: South Bend (ARI) came into this game 0-9, but they scored four runs in the seventh off Justin Walker (L 0-2, 6.35, BS #1, 2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER) to pull ahead for good and get win #1, 6-3. Starter Jake Johnson scattered nine hits over five innings (6.00, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K). Wiley homered again, #3.
4/18: Dayton got a little revenge here, using Meansí RBI single in the bottom of the 11th to win it, 3-2. Gregorius had singled with one out; he moved to third when Henry Rodriguez reached on a throwing error resulting from a bunt attempt. Means finished 3-for-6 and is hitting .347 on the young season. Starter Josh Ravin had his best outing yet (1.84, 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K) and Doug Salinas fired 4.2 innings of shutout ball (4 H, 0 BB, 5 K, 0.84). Donnie Joseph struck out the only man he faced to pick up win #2. Heís now whiffed eleven and allowed just two hits and one walk in 6.2 innings.
4/19: Pedro Villareal shut the Silver Hawks out for four innings, but they pasted him for four in the fifth (L 0-1, 4.50, 2 BB, 1 K), wiping out a 2-0 Dragons lead. Dayton got one back late, but fell a run short- losing 4-3. Richburg had a pair of doubles (.279) and C Mark Fleury was 2-for-2 with a RBI and walk (.103).
4/20: Brian Pearl is getting the hang of this starting thing! He buzzsawed West Michigan (DET) on two hits and a walk in six innings (W 1-0, 1.72, 4 K, 10-3 GO/FO). Chase Ware pitched the seventh, Nick Christiani the eighth, and Donnie Joseph the ninth (striking out all three men he faced and grabbing save #3) to lock up a three-hit, 3-0 shutout. CF Efrain Contreras was 3-for-4 with a double and RBI (.200), Pfister doubled and tripled (.243, RBI) and Wideman doubled in a run with a pair of walks.
4/21: The Whitecaps got a quick run off Sulbaran in the first inning, although he came back by striking out the side in the second. Thatíd be all they got, as Juan Carlos worked the next four without incident to finish off a great start (W 2-0, 3.94, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K) and an eventual 5-2 Dragons win. He also avoided the wild pitches, balks, and hit batsmen heís prone to. Justin Walker worked the seventh and eighth (6.08, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K) and Christiani got the save (0.93, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 K). Wiley hit homer #4 early and Rodriguez popped #3 (a two-run blast) late. Pfister drove in the other two runs with a single and double (.268).
Transactions & Notes: On the BA Minor League Transactions for this week, it was noted that the Reds loaned RHP Oscar Castro to the Mexican League. Castro, 21, has spent two years in the Redsí system since being signed out of Mexico in 2005, most recently going 2-5, 7.56 in 25 games (16 starts) for Dayton in 2009 before finishing the year with Billings (1-1, 5.32, 5 GS). He did, however, pitch well in Billings as a teenager in 2008.