A fair week if you’re not the Carolina Mudcats; the Double-A squad cratered this week with losses in six of seven games- and only one of those six losses was even close. Everyone else is hanging in reasonably well, with Bakersfield putting together a winning week despite getting outscored 33-4 in back-to-back losses midway through.
AAA Louisville Bats
This week: 4-3.
Overall: 23-17, second place, four behind Columbus (CLE) and +2 games from last week.
5/12: Day gamin’ it in Rochester (MIN) as the Bats try to salvage a series split. The one blue-chip prospect on the Red Wings, Kyle Gibson, started against Crafty Tom Cochran. Louisville started fast, as SS Zach Cozart led off the game with a double and scored a couple of outs later on 3B Todd Frazier’s eighth home run of the season. Cochran allowed a leadoff triple in the bottom of the first but stranded that runner right there. 1B Eric Eymann led off the third with a solo homer, #2, and CF Brent Clevlen got 1B Danny Dorn, who’d doubled, home in the fourth with an infield single. Rochester struck back for two in the bottom of the fourth on a bloop single and a sacrifice fly after Cochran walked back-to-back hitters with one out. Gibson was pulled after five innings trailing 4-2 when he walked Dorn to begin the Louisville sixth. After Tom retired the Red Wings in order in the sixth, Cozart led off the Bats seventh with a bunt single, then moved to second on 2B Mike Griffin’s sacrifice. LF Yonder Alonso was intentionally walked, then Frazier drew a free pass to load the bases. Dorn blooped a RBI hit to make it 5-2 Bats, although Mesoraco popped out and Clevlen struck out to end the inning. Jerry Gil took over for the seventh (Crafty T: 1.66 ERA, 6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 93 pitches/53 strikes). He looked good in the seventh, recording three straight outs after the first man singled and stole second. Jerry then set Rochester down 1-2-3 in the eighth (3.68, 2 IP, 1 H, 1 K). Clevlen struck out again with the bases loaded in the ninth; he finished 1-for-5 with four strikeouts and seven men left on base. Jordan Smith got three outs for save #2, enabling Cochran’s record to run to 5-0. Alonso made just one out, going 2-for-3 with two walks (.322, 8-game hitting streak). Frazier added a double to the two-run homer (.283, 9-game hitting streak). Cozart got up to .255 with a 2-for-5 and Dorn was 2-for-4 (.275, R, RBI).
5/13: The Bats issue some payback, hammering Buffalo starter Casey Fossum for seven runs in the first inning and fifteen overall. The Bisons got their licks in on Matt Maloney (W 2-0, 2.96, 8 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 3 HR, 93 pitches/65 strikes) but never got particularly close in the 15-7 Louisville rout. Homers by RF Jeremy Hermida (#3, 2-for-5, 2 R, .338), Frazier (#9, 2-for-4, 2 R, .290), and 3B Rehabbin’ Juan Francisco (#1, 3 RBI) highlighted an 18-hit attack. C Devin Mesoraco was 4-for-5 with two doubles, two runs, and a RBI (.295), 2B Kris Negron 2-for-5 with four RBI on a double and triple (.200) and Cozart 3-for-4 with three runs scored, a double, and RBI (.270). Alonso kept his streak going (2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, BB, .328).
5/14: Again Louisville bursts out of the gate, beating on Buffalo’s Brian Sweeney for four runs in the first then putting him away for good with four more in the fourth. They win their fourth straight, 8-3. Dontrelle Willis was hittable but got through 5.1 innings (W 3-1, 2.63, 9 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 93 pitches/60 strikes). Dave Johnson pitched 2.2 hitless frames (4.24, 1 BB, 1 K) and Carlos Fisher finished up (4.66, 1 IP, 1 H). Three of those four runs came on a bomb by Mesoraco, his fifth of the season (2-for-4, 4 RBI total, .303). Cozart added two more hits (.274) and Dorn two hits and two RBI (.283).
5/15: The Bisons got to Danny Herrera for three in the eighth (L 0-4, 4.41, 1.2 IP, 3 H) and Jordan Smith (0.1 IP, 1 H, 2-2 IRS) to grab a 4-3 lead. Then their bullpen got through a second-and-third, one-out jam to escape the eighth as well as a leadoff single by Alonso in the ninth to hang on to the one-run victory. Scott Carroll’s quality start was wasted (4.63, 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K). A fifth straight two-hit game for Cozart (.278) and a fourth straight for Alonso (.331). Dorn didn’t make an out, going 2-for-2 with two walks (.296) but no runs scored. This was because the Bats went 1-for-10 with men in scoring position, stranding eleven total.
5/16: The Bats still couldn’t hit Buffalo’s Chris Schwinden; the 24-year-old righthander in his first AAA stint made it thirteen straight shutout innings against Louisville spanning two starts. Buffalo wins the Schoolkid Special, 6-1, to earn a split. Chad Reineke’s quality start got him the L (4-2, 2.89, 6.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 92 pitches/61 strikes). The two unearned runs came in the fourth as a direct result of 2B Chris Valaika’s two-out fielding error. Alonso’s hitting streak made it to 11 games when he singled in three at-bats.
5/17: Louisville kicked off an eight-game road trip with the first of four in Durham (TB) and Crafty Tom Cochran (5-0, 1.66, but 12 BB and 11 K in 21.1 IP). The Bulls, unlike the rest of the IL so far, had little trouble figuring out Crafty T early on. After Alonso ripped homer #5 in the top of the first, Durham got three in the bottom of the inning, then added another in the third before a rain delay allowed Cochran a quick escape (3.04, 2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K). CF Brent Clevlen smacked a two-run single in the fourth to cut the Bulls lead to 4-3. Jeremy Horst came on and stymied the Bulls on one hit through four shutout innings (1.27, 1 H, 1 BB, 4 K). But Durham blasted Jerry Gil for a four-spot in the seventh, blowing out a 4-3 game to 8-3 (5.40, 1 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 43 pitches for nine batters). But the BATS BATTED BACK! Dorn’s fourth homer, a two-run blast, came in the eighth to make it 8-5 (Dorn: .306, 3-for-5, 3 RBI; six-game hit streak,16-for-40 over his last ten). Cozart then led off the ninth with a double, moved to third an out later on Francisco’s base hit, then scored on Frazier’s grounder. Hermida walked and Mesoraco singled to drive in run #7. Dorn then singled off Durham 2B Felipe Lopez’ glove to tie it up! Carlos Fisher took care of the bottom of the ninth, and so we headed to extras. Clevlen led off the tenth with his first Bats homer! Cozart doubled again, then scored on Alonso’s double. Francisco singled again, and Frazier made it 11-8 with a sacrifice fly. A 1-2-3 tenth for Fisher (W 1-0, 3.86, 2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K) and Louisville had an impressive comeback win. Mesoraco was 5-for-6 (!) with a double and two runs scored, raising his average to .319. Alonso (3-for-5, .341, 2B, 2 RBI, 12-game-hit streak) and Francisco (.361) added three hits apiece.
5/18: Mike Leake opposed Durham’s Alex Cobb (4-0, 1.31) in the former’s very first minor-league appearance. Leake made just one really bad pitch- but said pitch was crushed for a grand slam in the second inning by the Bulls’ Jose Lobaton to give Durham a 4-1 lead (a Francisco first-inning homer provided the one); they’d hold that all the way through the sixth. Another homer, a solo shot, made it 5-1 and immediately preceded Leake’s exit (L 0-1, 5.1 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 2 HR, 85 pitches/63 strikes). Dave Johnson took over and finished the inning. Cobb got stronger as he went along, retiring the Bats in order in the seventh after they collected seven hits (and six men left on base) through his first six. He also struck out Alonso in the eighth to complete an 0-for-4 for Yonder- thus ending his hitting streak at 12 games. OR WOULD IT? Francisco and Frazier immediately followed that whiff with walks, then Hermida stepped up and golfed a three-run homer (#4) to cut the Durham lead to 5-4! Mesoraco and C Corky Miller went down quietly, but it set up a ninth inning where Alonso would be the fourth man to bat. Alas, it wouldn’t happen- the Bulls got two insurance runs off Johnson and Danny Herrera to make it 7-4, then Louisville went down 1-2-3 in the ninth.
Transactnotes: 5/13: INF Chris Valaika optioned to Louisville by the Reds. He was activated the next day. 5/14: INF Frank Pfister sent back to Dayton. RHS Mike Leake optioned from Cincinnati as the Reds decided to take a spin with RHR Jose Arredondo. 5/16: RHR Jordan Smith called up to the Reds to replace the DL’d Aroldis Chapman. 5/17: Leake activated. Francisco removed from rehab and optioned to Louisville officially.
Leading off BA’s Prospects Hot Sheet: Todd Frazier, who batted .419/.472/.903 between May 6 and May 12 (13-for-31, 3 HR, 6 2B). Yonder Alonso (.394/.459/.727, 13-for-33, 6 2B, 1 HR) joined him. Dontrelle Willis was the featured player in the “Blast from the Past” section. Lots of interesting info in this week’s edition.
BA points this out about the Bats’ outfield: “With the signing of Brent Clevlen, the Reds' Triple-A Louisville affiliate could roll out an outfield featuring Brian Barton (’07), Jeremy Hermida (’04, ’05, ’06) and Clevlen (’04), a trio of former Top 100 Prospects who for one reason or another have not established themselves in the big leagues.”
Said prospect blog said some nice things (and some not-so-nice things) about Yonder Alonso after his hot streak over the first couple of weeks of the month. It’s an important point that if the Reds were okay with Jonny Gomes’ defense in left field, they should be okay with Alonso’s. I heard this sentiment echoed on the Reds radio broadcasts in a discussion between Mark Sheldon and Marty Brennaman. (Of course, Marty had to work in a thing about Jonny Gomes tried hard and Adam Dunn was lazy and that that was a big difference. I don’t really agree.)
More speculation from John Sickels’ Minor League Ball blog about Alonso, complete with opinion from the Enquirer’s John Fay. I really wish John Fay would retire.
Around the league: Baltimore put C Craig Tatum on the minor-league DL. The Reds’ third-round pick in 2004 has appeared in sixty-nine games between 2009 and 2010 with the Orioles. Boston activated LHR Dennys Reyes from the inactive list. Minnesota placed OF Brandon Roberts on the 7-day DL. St. Louis released 2B Matt Valaika, the younger brother of Chris. Matt was taken in the 34th round last season out of UC Santa Barbara, the same school as his elder brother. He batted .186 in short-season ball after signing. Tampa outrighted INF Felipe Lopez to AAA.
Nice to see LHP Ben Jukich (LG Twins, Korea) and OF Wladimir Balentien (Yakult Swallows, Japan) succeeding. Both players have talent, they just lacked timing.
And finally: I can specifically remember listening to the 2006 draft broadcast at MLB.com and when the Reds picked Justin Turner in the seventh-round, the color commentator said: "You just know this guy will make the big leagues!" in reference to Turner's scrappiness and baseball IQ. Wouldn't you know it.
AA Carolina Mudcats
This week: 1-6.
Overall: 11-29, last place, thirteen games behind Huntsville (MIL)- down 3.5 games from last week.
5/12: Not much to note in this one, as Birmingham (CHW) starter Justin Edwards shut Carolina down on three singles and a walk over seven innings of a 4-0 shutout win. James Avery started and lost (L 3-4, 4.74, 5 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K). The Barons will win this series (they lead it 3-1) and keep Carolina without a single series win for 2011. The Mudcats, at 10-24, are four games worse than the next-least-successful team in the Southern League (Mississippi, at 14-20).
5/13: The Mudcat comeback falls just short, as they score two in the sixth and one in the seventh to cut the Barons’ lead to 5-4- then collected just Jose Castro’s single over the next two innings. Dallas Buck gave up one run in each of five different innings (L 1-4, 6.29, 5.1 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 91 pitches/54 strikes). Justin Freeman made it four straight scoreless outings (6.88, 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 K, 1-1 IRS) and Brad Boxberger continues to dominate (1.62, 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K). 3B Cody Puckett drove in three of the four Carolina runs with a single and sacrifice fly.
5/14: Part two of this roadtrip took Carolina through Mobile (ARI). Game one was a mess, as the BayBears shut out the Mudcats 8-0. Carolina made three errors and generally just didn’t do much right. Matt Klinker did have a decent start (L 1-2, 2.86, 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K) but Donnie Joseph was hammered for five runs in the seventh (8.80, 5 H, 2 HR). SS Miguel Rojas (.248) and RF Felix Perez (.207) both had two hits.
5/15: The Mudcats enjoyed a four-run seventh to break open a 3-2 game en route to a 7-3 win. Puckett’s two-run double accounted for half of that. Perez had another 2-for-4 (2B, R, BB, .216) as he is finally showing signs of shaking his season-long slump for good. CF Quintin Berry had a two-run double and a walk; the veteran has put up a .492 OBP and eight stolen bases in eight attempts through fifteen games. Sixteen walks have helped considerably. Daryl Thompson got his first win of 2011 (W 1-3, 4.76, 5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 88 pitches/53 strikes). Freeman wasn’t charged with any runs but he let in both of those charged to Thompson (0.2 IP, 2 H, 6.62). Boxberger (1.53, 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K) and Nick Christiani (2.41, 2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 K) did a nice job closing out the back third.
5/16: Mobile starter Wes Roemer no-hit the Mudcats until the eighth, when newly-signed C James Skelton lined a one-out double to score Castro (who’d been hit by a pitch for the second time in the game). This tied the score at 1. Starter Kyle McCulloch (6.00, 4 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 3 K) and lefty Travis Webb (8.33, 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) had shut the BayBears down nearly as effectively. Lee Tabor went out to pitch the bottom of the eighth, and things asploded:
Mobile Bottom of the 8th
• Pitcher Change: Lee Tabor replaces Travis Webb, batting 9th.
• A. J. Pollock doubles (14) on a line drive to center fielder Quintin Berry.
• Ollie Linton out on a sacrifice bunt, pitcher Lee Tabor to first baseman Mike Costanzo. A. J. Pollock to 3rd.
• Lee Tabor intentionally walks Paul Goldschmidt.
• Ryan Wheeler singles on a fly ball to left fielder David Cook. A. J. Pollock scores. Paul Goldschmidt to 2nd.
• Taylor Harbin flies out to center fielder Quintin Berry.
• Marc Krauss walks. Paul Goldschmidt to 3rd. Ryan Wheeler to 2nd.
• Ed Easley doubles (2) on a fly ball to right fielder Felix Perez. Paul Goldschmidt scores. Ryan Wheeler scores. Marc Krauss scores.
• Jacob Elmore doubles (4) on a ground ball to left fielder David Cook. Ed Easley scores.
• Bryan Shaw called out on strikes.
Tabor fell to 0-2 with a 8.84 ERA with the defeat. Mobile led the series 2-1 with the 6-1 win.
5/17: James Avery tried to turn it around for Carolina in game four of this set against the first-place BayBears. Unfortunately, things seem to be getting worse. Mobile shut out Carolina, 5-0. Four of those runs were unearned thanks to two Mudcats errors. Avery fell to 3-5 (4.40, 5 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K). Justin Lehr made his first non-rehab appearance since 2009 (5.40, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB) and Justin Freeman pitched well again (5.95, 2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K).
5/18: This one started off promisingly enough, as Carolina tallied three in the first thanks to an error, a wild pitch, and a Castro RBI single. But Dallas Buck couldn’t get anyone out, permitting six runs in the bottom of the inning and five more in the second before manager David Bell mercifully called for the bullpen (1.2 IP, 8 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 4 HB, 68 pitches/41 strikes). Tabor couldn’t do much, either, and his ERA ascended from 8.84 to 9.61 as Mobile made it 14-3 in the third. He did chop it back down to 9.15 with some slightly better work later on (3.1 IP, 5 H, 4 ER). Carolina put its first four batters in the fifth aboard, cutting the deficit by a run on 1B Jake Kahauleilo’s RBI single. An out later, CF Denis Phipps singled to make it 14-5. C Kevin Coddington’s hit made it 14-6, although Castro was thrown out at the plate. Tabor, batting for the second time (?) then struck out to end the rally. That was pretty much it for the highlights, as it ended 16-6 Mobile. Donnie Joseph gave up three more hits and another run in one inning (8.82, 3 K) but Christiani (2.29, 1 IP, 2 H, 1 K) and Boxberger (1.45, 1 IP) got out unscathed. Rojas did go 3-for-4 with two runs scored and steal #5 (.261) while Perez was 2-for-4 with two runs (.212).
Transactnotes: 5/14: C James Skelton activated. RHR Ruben Medina sent to Bakersfield. 5/15: RHS Justin Lehr activated from the DL. LHR James Adkins assigned to the AZL Reds (temporary). 5/18: OF Denis Phipps activated from the DL; C Chris McMurray to Billings.
Someone, in this case John Sickels, finally noticed the fine work Brad Boxberger has done in the Carolina bullpen this season.
High-A Bakersfield Blaze
This week: 4-3.
Overall: 21-19, third place, four games behind San Jose (SF)- unchanged from last week.
There’s been a lot of stuff that’s been published about what a supposedly terrible place to play Sam Lynn Stadium is (much by Baseball America; the links are in previous roundups). A Redleg Nation podcast interview with Blaze broadcaster Dan Besbris provides something of a counterpoint; he says that the playing field has been re-leveled, among other things. He also claims some of the Blaze players have said that the Sam Lynn playing surface is better than the one in Lynchburg last year. The interviewer also asks Besbris about Stephen Hunt, Yasmani Grandal, Eric Campbell, Josh Fellhauer, Andrew “AJ” Means, Brodie Greene, Mark Fleury, Clayton Shunick, Pedro Villareal, and Josh Ravin. A lot of effusive praise for Ravin, especially- that’s a guy that’s been in the organization for quite a while but hasn’t ever really been talked up as a real prospect. It’s an interesting listen:
5/12: Bakersfield salvages one from this three-game set in Visalia, whooping the Rawhide 11-4. They wiped out a 2-0 deficit with a run in the third, five in the fourth and four more in the fifth. 3B Eric Campbell again led the Blaze attack, going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and homer #9 (.411). SS Brodie Greene was 3-for-6 with four RBI (.331), DH Yasmani Grandal 2-for-4 with a double, RBI, and run scored (.287) and RF Stephen Hunt slumped again (that’s a joke; 1-for-3, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, HBP, .492). JC Sulbaran returned from the DL but ran out of steam after four decent innings (6.00, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K). Tyree Hayes struggled a bit (5.00, 1.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER) but Mace Thurman survived some control issues to rack up his first win of 2011 (W 1-1, 3.18, 2 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 1 K). Scott Gaffney finished up (5.74, 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB). Visalia starter Eric Smith, a second-round college pick in 2009, had a start that’s the stuff of nightmares (4.1 IP, 10 H, 10 ER, 3 HBs).
5/13: Another victory earns the Blaze a split, as Lance Janke (W 3-1, 6.16, 6 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 7 K) and Clayton Shunick (save #2, 1.69, 3 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 3 K) held the Rawhide to three hits in a 7-3 Bakersfield win. Campbell… yep (3-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI, .422). DH Mark Fleury had a double and triple (.224, RBI, BB) and Greene , LF Josh Fellhauer, CF Andrew Means, and Grandal each collected two hits. Means, who entered midgame for Ryan LaMarre, also got steal #21. LaMarre wasn’t hurt seriously.
5/14: Modesto (COL) rolled into Sam Lynn Stadium and over the helpless Blaze, 11-2. Four errors made some of those runs unearned. Josh Ravin (L 1-3, 3.79, 3 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 K) was off. For the second time this month (!), manager Ken Griffey Jr. chose to run not one, but two position players to the mount- Stephen Hunt (1 IP, 1 BB, 1 K) and Welinton Ramirez (1 IP, 2 H, 2 K). Both pitched scoreless ball.
5/15: This time Modesto cranked it up several notches. They win 22-2. Ten of those runs came in the ninth, nine charged to Double-A import Ruben Medina.
But Brodie Greene hit his first home run of the year…? That’s about it for the positivity.
5/16: Could the Blaze, outscored 33-4 in the first two games of this series, restore some dignity to their name in front of the home crowd? I mean, Modesto is still a game behind Bakersfield in the standings! The Nuts were also starting top-flight pitching prospect Tyler Matzek, the Rockies’ first-round pick in 2009. Matzek has struggled this year in the California League but pitched very well in his initial pro exposure in 2010. Things didn’t start off terribly well, as Alex Buchholz committed an error on the first play of the game. That runner scored on a double two batters later, but starter Curtis Partch got out without further damage. The Blaze then went right to work on the phenom, getting a two-run double in the bottom of the first from Henry Rodriguez (.306) and a two-run homer from Hunt (#4, still .449 after a 1-for-4) in the fourth. Partch let the Nuts close it to 4-3 in the fourth, but Buchholz atoned for his earlier mistake with a three-run homer in the fifth! Partch departed with two outs in the seventh and a three-run lead (W 2-4, 6.70, 6.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K). Clayton Shunick got out of that inning and then added a scoreless eighth (1.59, 1.1 IP, 1 BB, 2 K) and then Scott Gaffney, who has a 2.45 ERA over his last ten appearances, set down the Nuts in order in the ninth for save #2 (5.82, 2 K). The Blaze win 7-4 despite collecting only five hits in total. Drawing five walks from the wild Matzek helped considerably.
5/17: Stockton (OAK) rolled into town to face the Blaze and JC Sulbaran. Sulbaran had a crazy five innings- he got only two outs on balls hit to fielders. The other 13 outs? Strikeouts. He departed a 3-3 tie (5 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 13 K). Tim Crabbe, in his High-A debut, pitched excellently for four innings (3 H, 1 BB, 4 K). In the eighth, more craziness: Campbell reached on an error by the shortstop, then ended up coming all the way around to score on a subsequent throwing error by the left fielder! I’m attempting to imagine this- and having some trouble. Anyway, that broke the tie, and when Crabbe managed to strand the tying run on third with one out in the ninth, he got the W in his Cal League bow. Bakersfield wins, 4-3. DH Chris Richburg was 2-for-3 with a solo homer, his first (.209).
5/18: The Ports bounced back strong, shutting the Blaze out 7-0. Three of Bakersfield’s seven hits were collected by Fellhauer (.354). Buchholz also had two (.308). Starter Lance Janke showed unusual trouble with the strike zone (L 3-2, 6.21, 4 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 6 BB, 4 K). Janke has walked just a shade over 2.6 batters per nine over his pro career, now in its fourth season.
Transactnotes: 5/12: RHS JC Sulbaran activated from the DL. 5/14: RHR Ruben Medina down from Carolina; LHR Tzu-Kai Chiu and his 8.82 ERA assigned to extended spring training. 5/17: RHR Tim Crabbe up from Dayton; RHR Jamie Walczak down to the Dragons. INF Carlos Mendez activated from the DL.
Low-A Dayton Dragons
This week: 3-2.
Overall: 20-19, fourth place, four games behind Great Lakes (LAD)- unchanged from last week.
5/12: I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise how streaky this team is, given the level- they win again over Lake County (CLE), 3-2, sweeping the series. Directly prior to this they dropped nine of ten, and prior to that they’d won twelve of thirteen. Tanner Robles gave up single runs in the first and second, but he recovered nicely to pitch well thereafter- he just ran out of steam one out short (5.40, 4.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 1 HR). Tim Crabbe took over (W 2-2, 3.65, 3.1 IP, 2 H, 2 K), shutting down the Captains and opening the door for 2B Devin Lohman’s RBI single in the seventh, scoring 3B David Vidal. But the decisive blow belonged to LF Juan Duran. The teenage phenom flared a two-run single with two outs and the bases full of Dragons in the bottom of the eighth. (The 2-for-3 night pushed his line to .253/.369/.437; sure, 38 Ks in 28 games are rough, but 16 walks balance it a bit. He’s hit .323 with four doubles over his last ten games.) Crabbe yielded to Drew Hayes for the ninth, and the 23-year-old out of Vanderbilt (2010, 11th-round) whiffed two over a perfect frame for save #4 (1.20, 2 ER in 15 IP with 23 K and 7 BB for the season).
5/13: A tough 2-1, 10-inning loss to Fort Wayne (SD). Dayton made five errors, which equaled the number of hits they collected. SS Billy Hamilton was 0-for-5 with four strikeouts and his 15th error, dropping his average to .195. The pitching was decent, as Dan Renken threw six solid (3.43, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) and Jason Braun added three shutout innings (4.76, 1 H, 2 BB, 2 K). The loss was pinned on Ezequiel Infante (L 0-2, 2.00, 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB).
5/14: Both the bats and the gloves bounced back nicely, as the Dragons got six runs in the fourth and played errorless ball in a 7-2 victory. Hamilton didn’t bounce back, though, going 0-for-4 with three more strikeouts (.189). Josh Smith pitched five for the win (3-3, 1.91, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K). 2B Devin Lohman was 2-for-4 with his first homer of the year, an inside-the-parker (.189) and LF Juan Duran ripped a three-run triple (.242).
5/15: Rained out.
5/16: Off day as the Dragons traveled home.
5/17: The Dragons kicked off a seven-game homestand with the 23-14 first-place Great Lakes Loons (LAD). Daniel Corcino (5-2, 3.31, five straight Ws, 1.30 ERA over those five games) headed to the hill. Home is a good place to be for the Dragons, who have won 13 of their last 15 to this point at Fifth Third Field.
Oops, rained out.
5/18: The Dragons kicked off a seven-game homestand with the 23-14 first-place Great Lakes Loons (LAD). Daniel Corcino (5-2, 3.31, five straight Ws, 1.30 ERA over those five games) headed to the hill. Home is a good place to be for the Dragons, who have won 13 of their last 15 to this point at Fifth Third Field. Oh, and it’s MAKEUP MADNESS! Indeed, Corcino would keep it rolling with an exclamation point in game one, as he dominated the Loons through six innings (W 6-2, 2.83, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 11 K). This earned him headlining honors in the Baseball America Prospect Blog’s Daily Dish! Dayton wins game one easily, 7-1. Vidal hit homer #4 and Juan Duran’s tape-measure three-run blast in the sixth, also #4, broke the game open (.255, 2-for-3). Unfortunately, the Dragons’ bats vanished in game two, as they again committed as many errors as they collected hits (three) for the second time in the week and lost, 4-2. Dan Tuttle was competitive (L 3-1, 4.50, 6 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) but took his first L of the year. DH Jaren Matthews’ fourth homer (.225) provided one of the runs. Good news for Billy Hamilton in this doubleheader: he picked up three hits in six at-bats with a walk, two runs scored, and a RBI between both games. He also swiped five more bases, catching second twice in game one and once in game two plus a second/third/scored on WP combo in the third inning of the latter game. That’s now 29 steals, which continues to lead all of organized baseball despite Billy’s .203/.281/.283 slash lines.
Transactnotes: 5/12: LHR Blaine Howell placed on the 7-day DL. 5/14: INF Frank Pfister back from Louisville. 5/17: RHR Tim Crabbe up to Bakersfield; RHR Jamie Walczak down from Bakersfield.
I don’t mean to overstate the struggles of one Billy Hamilton, but the speedster made Baseball Prospectus’ Monday Morning Ten Pack list on 5/16… for his futility. “The Dragons were rained out on Sunday, which might have been the best thing for Hamilton. Coming off a huge season in the Pioneer League last year, Hamilton brought his easy 80 speed to the Midwest League. One of the most anticipated full-season debuts in the game, Hamilton has been a complete bust, batting .189/.267/.258 in 34 games including an 0-for-9 weekend with seven strikeouts. That gave him 43 whiffs in 132 at-bats. All he is right now is a burner, as he's reached base just 39 times, yet attempted 29 stolen bases. The old cliché about being unable to steal first base applies to no player more than Hamilton right now.” In the comments, Goldstein also commented that scouts do not like Hamilton’s swing at the moment and that his hitting mechanics are way off. We say this because we care, remember.
To bring it back to the positive with Hamilton, here’s an article from MLB.com that talks a little about Billy’s exploits in high school as well as a neat comparison between his current struggles and those of Dragons manager Delino DeShields when the latter was in A-ball. Very nice.