The Bats go on a tear- they could catch first-place Columbus any week now. That Louisville lineup could seriously compete with a couple of big-league teams, I'm convinced. Not that Zack Cozart deserves to remain in it. There isn't much you can say about Carolina until they win a series; the Reds are frantically importing out-of-work and Island of Misfit Toys-type minor-league veterans to get the club some stability, but they still have yet to achieve it. Bakersfield and Dayton continue to hover around .500. The Blaze still retain a few players worth watching after the promotions of Eric Campbell and Pedro Villareal. Look for a few of the older Dragons doing well, such as Josh Smith, Blaine Howell, and Drew Hayes, to get promotions very soon. (No, I don't think Billy Hamilton, Yorman Rodriguez, or Juan Duran are going anywhere, regardless of what they do in 2011.)
AAA Louisville Bats
This week: 6-2.
Overall: 36-25, second place, three behind Columbus (CLE) . Up three from last week.
6/2: Edinson Volquez walked four and struck out only two in his second AAA start, but he also permitted just five hits and one run over 6.2 innings (1.88, 112 pitches/69 strikes) in Louisville’s 5-1 victory over Syracuse (WAS). That’s a four-game series sweep for the Bats! Steven Jackson worked 1.1 innings of scoreless ball and Jerry Gil worked the ninth (6.20, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 K). CF Kris Negron hit homer #6, 3B Juan Francisco #3 (2-for-4, .319) and LF Yonder Alonso #6, a three-run bomb in the seventh that turned a close game into a cruise.
6/3: First-place Columbus (CLE) rolled into Louisville Slugger Field. But it was the Bats that did the rolling, as they scored six runs in the sixth to wipe out a 4-3 Clippers lead. Louisville takes game one of five straight against Columbus (two at LOU, three at COL), 10-4. SS Zach Cozart ripped four hits, one his fifth homer (.294, 3 R, 2B, 2 RBI). DH Devin Mesoraco was even better- he went 3-for-3 with two doubles,a hit-by-pitch, five RBI, and a three-run homer (#6, .315). LF Todd Frazier was 2-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored (.281). Starter Brandon Hynick worked five (7.55, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K) and newcomer Chris Mobley two for the win (1-0, 0.00, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K). Crafty Tom Cochran finished up the final two (3.82, 1 H, 2 K).
6/4: CF Brent Clevlen crushed a pair of homers, including the game-winner in the bottom of the 10th, as the Bats won their sixth straight 6-5. Clevlen finished 3-for-5 with four RBI overall (.232). His other blast put the Bats up 5-3 in the eighth, but the Clippers tied the score in the top of the ninth off Nick Christiani. Jerry Gil retired four straight, three by strikeout, for his first win (1-3, 5.88). Starter Matt Klinker worked 5.1 (6.33, 8 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K). Righty David Johnson set down six straight over the seventh and eighth (4.71, 3 K). Alonso reached base four times (2-for-3, 2 BB) but was left on each time. He’s now hitting .324. RF Jeremy Hermida raised his average to .360 with two hits.
6/5: The first game of this five-game stretch in Columbus was a Bats rout like game one. Scott Carroll won his third start in four, holding the Clippers to three hits over eight innings (W 4-2, 4.32, 2 ER, 5 BB, 2 K, 103 pitches/63 strikes). Jackson was whooped for three in the ninth, but the Bats already led 11-2 at the time. DH Danny Dorn had a grand-slam homer and five RBI (#8, 2-for-5, .309) and Alonso hit #7 (2-for-6, 2 R, .324). Mesoraco added a 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI (.322) and Francisco was 4-for-6 with three doubles (.330).
6/6: MAKEUP MADNESS! Dontrelle Willis left an out early to get the win (2.45, 4.2 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 7 K, 83 pitches/48 strikes) but Jerry Gil turned in 1.1 scoreless (W 2-3, 5.60, 1 BB, 1 K) and Christiani one (4.91, 2 H) to lock down a 5-0 shutout in game one. Cozart was 3-for-4 with a double, RBI, two runs scored, and steal #5. Mesoraco, DHing this one, was 2-for-4 with two RBI (.326).
Columbus salvaged the nightcap to end Louisville’s seven-game streak, 6-2. David Johnson started and lost (3-1, 5.12, 3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2 HR). Righty Pat Doyle, up from Dayton on a temporary basis, worked two innings and gave up three hits and two runs while striking out three. Mesoraco hit homer #7 and Cozart led off the Bats’ first with a homer (#6) off former Red Justin Germano; he finished 2-for-3 to give him five hits on the doubleheader and a .308/.348/.488 line. Hello, Walt! Over here!
6/7: This time Louisville traveled to Syracuse to try and continue its run of success against the Skychiefs. Crafty Tom Cochran drew the start and performed in classic Crafty T style, rolling through six innings of four-hit ball (W 6-1, 3.44, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 82 pitches/53 strikes). He left leading 3-1. After Justin Lehr pitched a scoreless seventh (still struggling with his post-Tommy John control, he walked two), the Bats exploded for six runs in the eighth to make this a rout. They win easy, 9-2. Cozart continues to rake (and continues to be ignored), going 3-for-5 with three RBI thanks to a three-run triple in said eighth. Dorn hit homer #9, a three-run bomb. Mesoraco climbed to .330 with a single, double, and two runs scored.
6/8: The Skychiefs finally beat the Bats on their sixth try in 2011, 2-1. Brandon Hynick held Syracuse to three hits, but took the tough loss (L 1-5, 6.91, 7 IP, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 101 pitches/68 strikes). Francisco hit homer #4 for the lone Louisville run (2-for-3, 2B, BB, .328). Cozart (LOOK AT HIMMMMMMM) was 2-for-3 as well (.320).
Transactnotes: 6/2: OF Brian Barton released. The 29-year-old former St. Louis Rule 5 pick struggled badly in purple pinstripes, hitting just .129 in 47 at-bats. LHP Tom Cochran outrighted off the Reds’ 40-man. 6/6: RHS Matt Klinker placed on the temporarily inactive list. LHS Dontrelle Willis activated from the DL. RHR Pat Doyle up from Dayton temporarily. RHS Chad Reineke optioned from Cincinnati. RHS Daryl Thompson called up to Cincinnati. 6/7: Doyle back to Dayton. LHR Aroldis Chapman down to Carolina for more rehab. RHS Edinson Volquez back to Cincinnati. RHS Daryl Thompson back down to Louisville.
Ask a Bat Volume 1 with Devin Mesoraco. Host: Todd Frazier. I think Frazier is deadpanning most of this. Entertaining video.
Yonder Alonso probably deserves a callup. Almost as much as Zack Cozart.
The Bats acquired RHR Chris Mobley from the Texas organization at the end of May. The 27-year-old, a North Carolina native, was a 22nd-round pick by Florida out of Middle Tennessee State in 2004. He dominated Low-A in his first year and jumped to Double-A for 2006. Chris was named a Southern League All-Star in 2008, saving 28 games with a 2.93 ERA that season. He didn’t make it to AAA to stay until 2009, though, when he put up a respectable 4.37 ERA for New Orleans in the hitter-friendly PCL over 42 appearances. Let go as a free agent after that year, he signed with Texas and pitched in just 14 games with Double-A Frisco in 2010 due to injury. He had an 8.53 ERA in six games for Frisco and a 3.48 mark in nine games with AAA Round Rock this year.
Bats notes from the BA Daily Dish blog.
Around the league: Entertaining article about LHR Danny Ray Herrera, now a member of the Brewers organization.
Baltimore called up LHR Pedro Viola, who’s struggled basically since the day the Orioles claimed him on waivers from the Reds. They also called up C Craig Tatum again. Chicago designated RHR Jeff Stevens for assignment, eventually outrighting him to AAA. The Dodgers activated LHP Randy Keisler from the DL. Milwaukee activated INF Anderson Machado. Washington DL’ed C Miguel Perez.
AA Carolina Mudcats
This week: 2-5.
Overall: 18-42, last place, 19 games behind Tennessee (CHC). Down 1.5 games from last week.
6/2: Three straight losses to Jacksonville (FLA), as the Suns clinched a series win with a 4-3 victory. Carolina got the deficit down to one with a run in the eighth when Jake Kahauleilo hit his fourth homer. 2B Cody Puckett followed with a base hit, but the next three Mudcats made outs. C James Skelton walked with one out in the ninth but Suns closer Sandy Rosario struck out CF Quintin Berry and LF David Cook to end the game. James Avery fell to 3-7 (4.75, 5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 2 HR). James Adkins worked two hitless (3.86, 2 BB, 2 K) and new acquisition Tim Hamulack (see below) a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts. LF Denis Phipps was 2-for-4 with a triple to get out of Mendoza territory (.206).
6/3: Suns finish ‘em off, 1-0. Tim Gustafson allowed the game’s only run in the first, but his teammates mustered only four hits and a pair of walks. Gustafson lasted five (1-4, 6.45 overall, 5 H, 1 BB, 3 K). Clayton Shunick worked the sixth (6.00, 1 BB), Justin Freeman the seventh (6.33, 1 H) and Brad Boxberger the eighth (1.38, 2 K).
6/4: Carolina rallied from three down to score four in the sixth, then hung on for a 7-6 win over Chattanooga (LAD)! With two outs and nobody on, SS Jose Castro singled (2-for-4, RBI, .289), then scored on C Kevin Coddington’s double. Pinch-hitter David Cook walked, with Coddington going to third on a wild pitch. Berry singled in run #2. Both runners moved up on a balk, then Kahauleilo walked (brief interlude for the umpire to eject Chattanooga’s manager). 3B Eric Campbell then stepped up and smacked the decisive two-run double. Travis Webb worked two, surviving a two-out triple in the seventh (6.57, 1 H, 2 K). Donnie Joseph walked one but made it through the eighth (9.62) and Boxberger locked down save #3 (1.33, 1 BB, 2 K). Coddington finished 3-for-4 with two doubles (.216) and Phipps 3-for-5 (.221).
6/5: The Lookouts survive four errors with ease, routing the Mudcats 10-4. Lee Tabor started and had major control issues (L 0-4, 8.47, 2 IP, 2 H, 5 ER, 5 BB). Just five hits for Carolina, two doubles from Puckett (.270). Skelton was also 2-for-4 (RBI, .265).
6/6: The Mudcats moved within one of their very first series win of 2011, nipping Chattanooga 6-5 by rallying from four runs down in the last three innings! 3B Mike Costanzo’s sixth homer broke the tie in the top of the ninth, then Tim Hamulack worked a scoreless bottom of the ninth for the save. Freeman (W 1-2, 5.90, 2 K) turned in a perfect eighth for the victory. Webb struck out five in two innings of relief of Kyle McCulloch (5.67, 4 IP, 7 H, 4 ER), who wasn’t particularly effective. Kahauleilo had a huge three-run triple in the eighth to tie the game at 5 (.211) and RF Felix Perez, back to struggling, was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a triple (.211).
6/7: Series win? Maybe! The Mudcats looked good early, building leads of 2-1 and 4-2 in the first few innings. 1B Neftali Soto crushed homer #4, a two-run shot, in the second. But Chattanooga tied the score in the fifth off starter James Avery (4.93, 5 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 HR) and then beat up Rehabbin’ Aroldis Chapman for the three tiebreaking runs in the eighth. They win it, 7-4. Chapman gave up three hits and three runs, including a homer, while retiring just two of five hitters. He didn’t walk anyone, but he was very hittable. He got one of those outs via pickoff. Mike Costanzo was 4-for-4 with two runs scored (.284) and Perez 2-for-3 with a RBI and steal #4 (.218).
6/8: Poor defense leading to four unearned runs doomed the Mudcats to remain winless in series play for the season, 5-3. Tim Gustafson gave up just three hits in five innings, but he walked five and watched his teammates make three errors (L 1-5, 5.91, 5 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 3 K, 1 HR). Clayton Shunick (5.87, 2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB) and Brad Boxberger (1.29, 1 IP, 1 K) pitched well in relief but Carolina got just two hits and one walk after losing a 3-3 tie in the fifth. Costanzo hit homer #7 and went 2-for-4 (.289) while Castro had a pair of doubles (.291, RBI).
Transactnotes: 6/2: SS Miguel Rojas placed on the DL for the second time this year, this time with a right rotator cuff injury. LHR Tim Hamulack signed as a free agent and activated. RHR Jason Braun back to Dayton. 6/3: INF Mike Costanzo activated from the DL. 6/7: LHR Aroldis Chapman down from Louisville for rehab.
RHR Brad Boxberger was named to the Southern League All-Stars. RHPs Matt Klinker and Nick Christiani were honorable mentions but neither remain in the league as of 6/8.
LHR Tim Hamulack, 34, was picked up after working indy ball for Lancaster of the Atlantic League in 2010. He had a 2.35 ERA in 55 appearances with eleven saves for the Barnstomers. Hamulack was drafted all the way back in 1995 by Houston in the 32nd-round out of Montgomery Community College. Kansas City took him out of High-A in 2000 in the minor-league Rule 5 draft, then sold his contract to Houston. He then worked his way through Seattle (2003) and Boston (2004) before hitting the jackpot with the Mets in 2005. After dominating Double-A Binghamton (1.26 ERA, 21 G) and Triple-A Norfolk (1.02 ERA, 28 G), he made the big leagues for six games as a 28-year-old rookie. He then spent much of 2006 in the big leagues with the Dodgers (0-3, 6.35, 33 G) after more strong work in AAA (1.42, 28 G). He missed most of 2007 with injuries and went back to Kansas City for 2008 and 2009. After a 5.01 ERA in 41 games with AAA Omaha in 2009, he was let go. Quite a journey- even though it appears unlikely he’ll ever get that big-league victory.
High-A Bakersfield Blaze
This week: 3-3.
Overall: 31-28, second place, 10.5 games behind San Jose (SF). Down 4.5 games from last week.
6/2: Stockton (OAK) got some revenge for the Blaze taking three of four in Bakersfield the week before as well as the first game of this series. They whooped on Lance Janke early, chasing him after two innings (L 3-4, 6.75). They also scored off the next three Blaze pitchers to appear as they won easily, 7-3. 2B Henry Rodriguez did connect for homer #7 and 1B Chris Richburg for #3.
6/3: Two in the eighth off Tim Crabbe (L 1-1, 4.60, 4.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 9 K)-who had dominated to that point- ended up giving the Ports a 6-4 win. Josh Ravin left early (4.40, 3.1 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 4 K). Rodriguez stole three bases (12) while going 1-for-3 with a walk (.338). DH Mark Fleury was 2-for-4 with two RBI (.263) and LF Josh Fellhauer 2-for-4 as well (.329).
6/4: Mark Serrano dominated the Ports over 6.1 shutout innings (W 1-0, 3.18, 3 H, 1 BB, 5 K) as Bakersfield earned a split, 5-1. Rodriguez whacked homer #8, a two-run blast (3-for-5, .344). C Yasmani Grandal was also 3-for-5 (.288).
6/5: The Blaze got their first look at Rancho Cucamonga (LAD). The Quakes won the first game of the series easily, 6-1. Curtis Partch gave up four homers in eight innings (L 3-6, 6.06, 9 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 6 K).
6/6: Bakersfield evened it up at one game apiece by scoring all six of its runs in the eighth, winning 6-3. Doug Salinas worked the final two (W 2-1, 7.45, 1 BB, 3 K). Starter JC Sulbaran followed up his dominance from the previous week with a solid outing (4.79, 5.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, HB). The Blaze survived three runners being picked off bases. Rodriguez ran his hitting streak to 13 games; he had a 17-game streak earlier in the year.
6/7: Lance Janke and three relievers made the three-spot their teammates put up in the third stand up, as Bakersfield won 3-2 and took the series from the Quakes 2-1. Janke tiptoed through five despite worse-than-average control (W 4-4, 6.49, 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 6 K). Lefty Tzu-Kai Chiu turned in two (6.65), Drew Bowman one (6.04, 1 BB, 2 K, just 1 ER over his last 8.2 innings) and Scott Gaffney one (save #3, 6.29, 1 BB, 2 K). SS Brodie Greene was 2-for-4 with a run scored, steal #10, and a RBI (.295).
6/8: Off. A rare day off in the middle of a homestand. Stockton is back at Sam Lynn Stadium beginning Thursday.
Transactnotes: 6/2: LHP Matt Leonard activated. 6/3: RHS Josh Ravin activated from the DL. Leonard reassigned to Billings.
Nice article on Blaze manager Ken Griffey Jr.
INF Henry Rodriguez made the Team Photo for the BA Prospect Hot Sheet from 6/3.
Low-A Dayton Dragons
This week: 3-3.
Overall: 29-30, fifth place, 4 games behind Lansing (TOR). Down a half-game from last week.
6/2: The Dragons salvaged one from the three-game set with Beloit (MIN), 4-2. Josh Smith played stopper (W 5-3, 1.90, 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K). Blaine Howell retired the final five Hammerheads for save #7 (1.99, 1 K). DH Dominic D’Anna had two doubles, a run scored, and RBI (.285) and SS Billy Hamilton was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a triple, and stolen base #43 (.216). RF Yorman Rodriguez had a RBI triple, a walk, and steal #15 (.231).
6/3: Daniel Corcino laid down some flat-out dominance on the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL), 8-1. He struck out ten, walked none, and permitted just three hits in seven innings (W 7-3, 2.72). 3B David Vidal was 3-for-4 with three runs scored (.280). C Tucker Barnhart drove in three with a single and double (.311) and LF Theo Bowe drove in three of his own from the #9 slot (2-for-4, 2B, .281). Hamilton kept hitting; two more knocks, steal #44, and a RBI (.222).
6/4: The TRs turn the tables, 13-2. The Dragons got five hits- and committed five errors. Loss to Dan Tuttle (L 4-3, 4.99, 3.1 IP, 7 H, 7 ER). 2B Devin Lohman had two hits and both RBI (.202). He also had two of the errors. Hamilton made error #21.
6/5: Wisconsin took the series, 4-1. Tanner Robles was gone after two (L 3-5, 6.18, 5 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 2 K). Dan Wolford pitched three innings of one-hit relief (2.40, 4 BB, 3 K), Jason Braun two (3.51, 2 H, 2 K), Drew Hayes one (1.48, 1 K) and Howell one, but the Dragons couldn’t get the bats going. Hamilton did have two hits and steal #45 (.224); Billy’s rallied over his last ten (13-for-39, .333, 2 3B, 10 RBI, 6/7 stealing).
6/7: Dan Renken pitched excellently (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K) but he was outdueled by a trio of Clinton Lumberkings (SEA) pitchers, including 2010 Mariner first-round pick Taijuan Walker, in a 1-0 Dayton loss. The Dragons got just four hits and five walks.
6/8: Josh Smith is going to pitch himself into the California League, if he hasn’t already. Smith will be 24 in August, and it doesn’t seem like he has much more to prove. Here he cut his ERA to 1.73 by whitewashing the LumberKings for six innings (W 6-3, 2 H, 3 BB, 8 K) in Dayton’s 5-0 victory. Smith has 14 walks and 84 strikeouts in 67.2 innings. He’s given up just 47 hits and two home runs. Smith, Dan Renken (75 K) and Daniel Corcino (68 K) are 1-2-3 in the Midwest League in strikeouts! Chad Rogers (4.01, 2 K), Jamie Walczak (2.38, 2 K) and Drew Hayes (1.42, 1 H, 2 K) each dominated an inning over the game’s final third. Another fine game for Billy Hamilton, who lashed three hits, including a double (.229, R). Three more stolen bases give him 48. Yorman Rodriguez also had a great game; he was 3-for-3 with two runs scored, a hit-by-pitch, and steal #17 (.246). Fellow phenom Juan Duran, in his second game back, was 2-for-4 with a double, run scored, and RBI (.246).
Transactnotes: 6/2: RHR Jason Braun back from Carolina. LHR Ezequiel Infante placed on the Billings roster. 6/6: RHR Pat Doyle to Louisville temporarily. 6/7: OF Juan Duran activated from the DL. Doyle back from Louisville. OF Drew Poulk back to extended spring training. 6/8: LHR Ezequiel Infante activated; LHS Tanner Robles assigned to Billings.
Congratulations to the three Midwest League All-Stars from the Dragons: 1B Dominic D’Anna, RHS Josh Smith, and RHS Daniel Corcino. C Tucker Barnhart was indeed robbed!