Louisville makes it a second straight week below .500 as they fall ten-plus games out of first. Carolina dropped five of seven, although they seem to be doing it with less blowouts and more one-run shaves. That’s mildly encouraging. The depleted Blaze also lost five of their seven ballgames. It was a Dragons week, though, as Dayton not only broke the professional sports streak of 814 consecutive sellouts (beating the record set by my beloved Portland Trail Blazers from 1977 to 1995) but also took six of seven to move into first place in their division with a 9-3 second-half record. Billings was steady for a second straight week; they lead their division by a game. The AZL Reds are still taking shape, of course; they’re generally win one, lose one at this point.
AAA Louisville Bats
This week: 3-4.
Overall: 47-40, second place, 10.5 games behind Columbus (CLE) . Down one from last week.
6/29: Lefty Jeremy Horst has struggled some since the Reds sent him back down. He’s now allowed four earned runs in 3.2 innings and acquired two losses- the second coming in this game after Gwinnett (ATL) broke a 1-1 tie in the ninth and beat Louisville 3-1. Horst’s overall IL era rose to 2.73 (L 0-3, 2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K). Starter Dontrelle Willis did well (2.63, 6.1 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 93 pitches/67 strikes) and Brad Boxberger’s AAA debut saw him retire both of the men he faced. SS Zack Cozart (.321, RBI) and 3B Juan Francisco (.292) were each 2-for-4. Cozart did commit a throwing error, his tenth.
6/30: Cozart led off the Bats’ first inning with a walk. LF Yonder Alonso followed with a single, and a resulting throwing error on Gwinnett RF Jeff Fiorentino allowed Cozart to score all the way from first. Little did we know, but that was it for the Louisville offensive output in this one. The Braves got to Chad Reineke for two in the second and one in the third (L 6-5, 3.16, 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HR) and won 3-1. Phenom Julio Teheran wasn’t exactly dominant, but he permitted only that run over five innings despite walking four Bats and whiffing only two. Didn’t matter- he’s now 9-1 with a 1.79 ERA. The Bats went 0-for-12 with men in scoring position and stranded eleven. Alonso (2-for-3, 2B, 2 BB, .302) and CF Dave Sappelt (.321, 2-for-4, 2B) had multiple hits. Crafty Tom Cochran punched out five Braves (!) over three scoreless (3.42, 2 H, 1 BB) and Jerry Gil ran his scoreless innings streak to 13 (4.17, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 K). The Bats turned five double plays (!), keeping it close.
7/1: Finally the Bats beat the Braves, salvaging the finale of this four-game set 4-2. Travis Wood was much better this time around, holding Gwinnett to four hits in seven innings (W 1-1, 3.75, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 91 pitches/61 strikes). Carlos Fisher (4.50, 1 IP) and Nick Christiani (4.91, save #6, 1 IP, 1 K) finished up. 3B Juan Francisco was 2-for-2 with homer #10 and 1B Todd Frazier 2-for-3 with homer #15. Sappelt had two hits again (.325, R).
7/2: Remember what happened with Jeremy Horst a couple games back? Well, it happened again. Columbus (CLE)’s Luis Valbuena led off the home tenth with a game-winning homer off the lefthander, propelling the Clippers past the Bats 6-5. Horst had pitched a scoreless ninth prior; he is now 0-4 with a 2.93 ERA. Brad Boxberger preceded him with two excellent hitless innings (2 BB, 3 K, 35 pitches/19 strikes). Starter Daryl Thompson was chased in the fifth (3.00, 4.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR, 99 pitches/66 strikes). Alonso hit homer #10 in the first (.302, 1-for-3, 2 BB) and RF Jeremy Hermida’s three-run bomb (#8) highlighted a four-run sixth that saw the Bats come back from a 5-1 deficit to tie. Alas, they produced all of two singles and an intentional walk in the next four innings. C Devin Mesoraco was 2-for-5 with a run scored, RBI, and double to raise his average to .311; incredibly, that was his 30th double of 2011 (five more than he had all of his breakout 2010 season). He’s done this in just 75 games. With Devin being just 22, you have to wonder how many of those will turn into homers a couple of years down the line. Anyway, the 30 figure leads the International League.
7/3: Jerry Gil’s scoreless-appearance streak ended with a thud at 13, as the Clippers popped him for three in the bottom of the eighth to grab a 4-2 lead. Columbus righty Justin Germano (a former Red; remember the Joe Randa trade?) struck out the side in the ninth to end it. Sappelt hit a two-run homer (#6) to account for both Louisville runs; the Bats collected just three other hits. Scott Carroll pitched an excellent game (4.36, 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 101 pitches/64 strikes). Gil fell to 3-4 and his ERA climbed to 4.54.
7/4: After two games in Columbus, the two squads moved to Louisville- where the Bats picked up a 5-4 win in 13 innings. Todd Frazier’s grounder scored Mesoraco, who’d tripled with one out, for the winning run. Devin hit homer #9 earlier in the game and finished 2-for-5 with two runs scored (.308). Cozart tripled as well and walked in six trips (.316). Crafty Tom Cochran lasted just 4.1 innings (3.47, 5 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K) but Fisher (3.86, 2.2 IP, 1 H, 3 K), Boxberger (1 IP, 2 K), Christiani (4.15, 2 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 K) and David Johnson (W 5-1, 4.06, 3 IP, 2 K) shut the Clippers down after the fifth inning.
7/5: Three runs in the fifth and strong bullpen work from Horst (2.70, 2.2 IP, 3 K) and Gil (save #5, 4.42, 1 IP, 1 H) helped the Bats take game two, 4-2. Chad Reineke (W 7-5, 3.17, 5.1 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) got the duke. Alonso was 3-for-4 with two RBI (.300) and Sappelt 2-for-4 with homer #7 and two RBI (.317).
Transactnotes: Four players were selected as Triple-A All-Stars: 1B-LF Yonder Alonso, RF Jeremy Hermida, SS Zack Cozart, and C Devin Mesoraco. Game is July 13th in Salt Lake City. Here's Mesoraco picking a man off second base on June 28th. He's good.
Around the league: Minnesota activated OF Brandon Roberts. Roberts, 26, was the Reds’ 7th-round pick out of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo in 2005. Cincinnati traded him for Juan Castro in mid-2006. Roberts made it to Triple-A last year after batting over .300 at three levels, but injuries have held him to a .189 average with Rochester so far in 2011. Aside from this season and an injury-plagued 2008, the left-handed batter has hit at least .287 each of his pro seasons. However, he’s also got all of twenty home runs across seven years. Philadelphia outrighted C Dane Sardinha to Triple-A for the 15678th time. Sardinha added 43 more at-bats to his total in 2011 so far- he’s got 171 now across 59 games spanning six seasons. The slash line: .166/.243/.265 with three homers, all coming last year with the Phillies. Pittsburgh acquired C Miguel Perez from Washington for “future considerations”. The Pirates had the next Johnny Bench in 2008 and 2009 at Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis (after leaving the Reds organization as a six-year free agent). He spent 2010 at Double-A Akron with Cleveland as well. Toronto optioned out RHS Zach Stewart after he made three big-league starts.
AA Carolina Mudcats
This week: 2-5
Overall: 5-8, second place, 3 games behind three teams. Overall 28-55.
6/29: Carolina went 0-for-10 with men in scoring position, stranding nine baserunners and losing 3-1 to Tennessee (CHC). The Smokies also tried to help with three errors. James Avery pitched decently but lost (L 4-8, 4.50, 6.1 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K) and Travis Webb continued his run of relief dominance (5.07, 1.2 IP, 3 K, now 1.88 in 14 relief appearances, 45 K and 9 BB in 28.2 IP). 1B Neftali Soto keeps hitting- while he was held homerless after going yard five times in six games, he did get a single and double in four trips (.286).
6/30: Tennessee detonated the efforts of Chris Mobley (L 0-1, 6.75, BS #1, 1 IP, 3 ER) to preserve a 5-4 Mudcat lead in the eighth, scoring three times and beating Carolina 7-5. The winning pitcher was former Reds 6th-round pick (2005) Jeff Stevens, who has been recently demoted all the way to Double-A after pitching in the big leagues each of the last three seasons. Stevens is also notable for being the payment the Reds sent to Cleveland for Brandon Phillips in 2006. Anyway, Tim Gustafson is causing issues for the Mudcats bullpen (5.46, 4 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR). Eric Campbell’s pinch-hit two-run double highlighted a three-run Carolina seventh that gave them the short-lived lead. 2B Henry Rodriguez continues to hold his own (2-for-5, 2 RBI, .270), CF Denis Phipps keeps hitting (.293, 2-for-4, 3B) and C James Skelton has been a solid pickup (2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, .274). RF Felix Perez has had a very forgettable season to date, but his average continues to sloooowly climb; two more hits put him up to .241. The Cuban hit .190 in April, .223 in May, and .313 in June.
7/1: RF Denis Phipps crushed his second home run of the season, a three-run shot, in the top of the tenth to propel Carolina to a 6-3 win. Soto hit #11 (a two-run homer) in the first inning and C Yasmani Grandal connected for his first Double-A bomb in the seventh (2-for-4, .367). Kyle McCulloch worked six (5.54, 8 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR) and then Donnie Joseph (8.29, 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K), Tim Hamulack (W 1-1, 1.64, 2 IP, 1 K) and Travis Webb (4.97, save #1, 1 IP, 2 K) shut down the Smokies.
7/2: After pitching so well in relief over the last month and change, Travis Webb let one get away. Tennessee got to him for the winning run in the bottom of the tenth and took it 5-4. Webb fell to 1-6 with a 5.08 ERA overall, although he’s still at 2.08 out of the bullpen. Starter Pedro Villareal scattered eleven hits over 6.1 (4.45, 4 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HR). RF David Cook was 2-for-3 with homer #5 (.255) and LF Eric Campbell sent the game to extras with homer #4 in the top of the ninth.
7/3: A second straight bottom-of-the-tenth loss, as Tennessee victimized Hamulack with a game-winning double after the veteran lefty had hit the first two batters he faced. Smokies win, 6-5. Soto crushed a three-run homer (#12) and finished 2-for-5 (.281, 2B, 2 R). LF Quintin Berry had three hits (.282). Rodriguez had a triple, single, and walk (.261, R) and Perez had two singles (.243). Starter Matt Klinker kept his team in it (4.30, 5.2 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) but Joseph blew a two-run lead after he came on in the sixth to strand Klinker’s runner (8.49, BS #4, 1.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K).
7/4: This contest with Jacksonville (FLA) was suspended in a 5-5 tie after ten innings. The Suns had gotten two off Hamulack in the top of the inning, but Rodriguez ripped a two-run single in the bottom of the inning to tie the game back up. A wild pitch put the winning runs in scoring position for Felix Perez, but the Cuban struck out swinging. The game was set to be completed the next day prior to the two teams’ regularly scheduled game.
7/5: Jacksonville put an end to the suspended game in a hurry, scoring four in the top of the 11th off Chris Mobley (L 0-2, 8.59) to win 9-5.
Carolina thought about blowing the day’s full game as well, as the Suns got three in the seventh off Donnie Joseph (9.00, BS #4, 1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 WP, 1 HR) and one in the eighth off Justin Freeman to take a 5-4 lead. But the Mudcats got Phipps’ fourth homer to tie it with two outs in the bottom of the ninth! David Cook followed with a double off the center-field fence, then both Rodriguez and pitcher Pat Doyle (!) walked. That brought up Eric Campbell, who singled sharply to win it 6-5. Phipps went over .300 with three hits (.304, R, 2 RBI). Rodriguez hit his second Double-A homer (2-for-4, .268) and Soto connected for #13 as well as a double (.283, 2 R). Starter Brandon Hynick was excellent (4.26, 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 10 K). Doyle, a temporary fill-in called up from the Dragons, ended up getting the victory (1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 K).
Transactnotes: 6/29: OF Quintin Berry activated after the minimum seven-day stay. SS Miguel Rojas disabled for the third or fourth time this season; this time it’s his right shoulder. 7/5: RHS James Avery made temporarily inactive. RHR Pat Doyle up from Dayton.
1B Neftali Soto made the Prospect Hot Sheet’s Team Photo- he hit .393/.429/.969 with four homers, three doubles, nine RBI, and a ten-game hitting streak in the last week of June. He was also named the Southern League Batter of the Week for June 27 to July 3, going 11-for-29 (.379) with four home runs, four doubles, and ten RBI.
High-A Bakersfield Blaze
This week: 2-5
Overall: 5-8 second half, fourth place, seven games behind Stockton (OAK). 40-43 overall.
6/29: Down 4-2, the Blaze got a RBI single from CF Ryan LaMarre (.283, 2-for-4, 2 RBI) in the top of the ninth, scoring 3B Alex Buchholz (.316, 2-for-4, 3 R) and putting the tying run in DH Chris Richburg (2-for-4, .267) on second base. But C Mark Fleury, a perfect 3-for-3 on the night to that point, grounded into a double play to end the game (.264, RBI). Stockton (OAK) hangs on, 4-3. Big-leaguer Brandon McCarthy started this game as a rehab assignment- and he allowed Bakersfield just four hits and an unearned run over six innings. Curt Partch pitched decently but was a little too hittable (L 4-8, 5.74, 7 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 3 HR).
6/30: Stockton takes this one by the same 4-3 score, as Bakersfield’s comeback from a 4-0 deficit was a bit late and a run short. Buchholz grounded out to end the Blaze eighth with Josh Fellhauer at third, then Bakersfield went in order in the ninth. LaMarre (#4) and Richburg (#5) each homered in the seventh; both finished 2-for-4. LaMarre, last year’s second-round pick out of Michigan, is up to .287/.361/.383- while the slugging Richburg is 6-for-15 since returning from his concussion the 27th. The 23rd-rounder from Texas Tech (2009) is up to .273/.332/.432 but has a ratio of six walks to 49 strikeouts in 48 games. Last year he managed 19 homers in 109 games between both levels of A-ball- but drew just 25 walks while whiffing 100 times. Fellhauer’s name hasn’t appeared much in this space in the past few weeks; after a .394 April, he dropped to .286 for May and .180 in June. He’s 2-for-21 since the California League’s All-Star break and is down to a .288/.362/.387 line.
7/1: Tim Crabbe turned in his longest professional outing to date, seven innings, as Bakersfield whipped Inland Empire (LAA) 4-2. Crabbe is now 2-3 (3.12, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HR). Clayton Shunick worked the final two for save #4 (1.83, 2 H, 1 ER, 4 K). 1B Stephen Hunt had a pair of doubles (.333, 2 R) and Buchholz drove in two (2-for-4, .313).
7/2: Another tough loss, as the Blaze got two in the fifth to cut IE’s lead to 4-3 but then stranded men in scoring position each of the next two innings. The 66er bullpen mowed ‘em down over the final two to finish the game off. SS Didi Gregorius lashed three hits (.295, R, 2B) and both 2B Brodie Greene and LF Josh Fellhauer added two (.276 and .291, respectively). Greene also stole two more bases to run his total to 20. Josh Ravin started and lost (L 1-5, 4.66, 5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 3 HR).
7/3: Inland Empire wins the rubber match for the three-game series, 4-1. The Blaze outhit the 66ers eleven to nine. 1B Carlos Mendez had three of those (.253) and Greene had two as well as bag #21. Mark Serrano turned in his fourth quality start in six, but lost (2-3, 4.14, 6.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K). I must link this overheated game recap, which apparently was hot enough to the touch to cause this budding Grantland Rice to pull an Alan Smithee.
7/4: Both of the alleged best hitters’ parks in organized baseball are in the California League- High Desert (SEA) and Clear Channel Stadium in Lancaster, CA, home of the JetHawks (HOU). Unfortunately for the Blaze, the park only worked that way for the home team. Lancaster rolled, 10-1, holding Bakersfield to all of three hits. Partch got the loss (4-9, 5.80, 3.2 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K). Drew Bowman walked three and gave up the other three runs (6.03, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 3 K).
7/5: Juan Carlos Sulbaran doesn’t seem to think there’s much to this “launching pad” either. He held the Jethawks to three hits and zero walks over six shutout innings (W 5-2, 4.61, 7 K) as Bakersfield got the 3-0 shutout victory. Shunick worked two (1.74, 3 H, 3 K) and Doug Salinas (save #7, 5.67) took care of the ninth. Utility infielder Jose Gualdron drew a rare start and made the most of it, poking a pair of doubles and driving in one (.238). Hunt (.328) and Fleury (.269) each had two hits.
Transactnotes: 7/1: RHR Jamie Walczak (2-0, 1.89, 24 K in 19 IP) promoted from Dayton. INF Frank Pfister back to Dayton.
Low-A Dayton Dragons
This week: 6-1
Overall: 9-3, first place, two ahead of West Michigan (DET). Overall 44-38.
6/29: The last couple of times through I’d talked about how RHS Dan Renken had struggled pretty badly in the month of June after a good first two months. Well, change that- Renken punched out 14 Lansing Lugnuts over six shutout innings (W 3-8, 3.95, 1 BB), including the first 13 outs he recorded. He also struck out ten straight at one point, matching a 45-year-old Midwest League record (h/t: Jamie Ramsey). That’s 106 Ks in 84.1 IP for the almost-22-year-old. Dayton won easily, 7-1. DH Derrik Lutz hit homer #11, LF Juan Duran was 3-for-4 with a double (.256) and RF Yorman Rodriguez also had three hits (.239, 2 RBI). 2B Ronald Torreyes has hit safely in seven of the eight games he’s appeared in- with more than one hit in six (2-for-5, .412, 2 R, 2B, RBI).
6/30: The Dragons came back from an early 3-0 deficit with three in the sixth; Rodriguez doubled and scored on Frank Pfister’s single, then C Tucker Barnhart hammered homer #2. But the Hot Rods got Luca Panerati for three in the eighth on a three-run single (yes, that’s right). CF Jefry Sierra singled in a run and SS Billy Hamilton (0-for-5, now 0-for-his-last-15) grounded out to make it 6-5, but Torreyes grounded out to end the inning and the Dragons went in order in the ninth. Starter Kyle Lotzkar was excellent (5.66, 7 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K); aside from one bad inning, he was dominant. Panerati fell to 1-1 with the loss.
7/1: Josh Smith returned to form with seven strong innings as Dayton beat Bowling Green, 7-3. Smith ran his record to 8-3 (1.91, 7 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K). Duran smashed two homers and drove in five of those runs (.263, now 7 HR and 35 RBI). Torreyes had three hits (.429, R) and 3B David Vidal (.287, 2 R, BB) and Sierra (.221, RBI) each had two. RF Yorman Rodriguez went 0-for-3, but threw out a runner at home plate.
7/2: After Rodriguez carried the team offensively through most of the game (3-for-3 overall, 2B, R, steal #18, a two-run homer in the fourth), Hamilton got on board in the bottom of the eighth of a 2-2 game after forcing Barnhart (who’d singled) at second. He proceeded to steal his 56th base of the season, then score from second on a E-6 off Torreyes’ bat for the decisive run. Drew Hayes gave up a double to start the ninth, but got a batch of grounders to end the game (save #11, 1.06, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB). Starter Daniel Corcino scattered eight hits over six (2.57, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) and Blaine Howell worked the next two for the win (1-1, 2.29, 1 K). Yorman’s 12-for-40 stretch raised his triple-slashes to .245/.311/.378.
7/3: Dayton kicked off its road trip with a win in South Bend (ARI), 6-1. Torreyes (.392, 2-for-5, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI), Barnhart (.288, 2-for-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI), Hamilton (.226, 2-for-5, 2 RBI, R, steal #57) and Duran (.264, 2-for-4, HR #8) paced a 12-hit Dragons attack. Stalin Gerson, back from Billings, made it three excellent Low-A starts (W 2-0, 1.02, 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K).
7/4: Don’t look now, but the Dragons are now a division-leading 8-3 since the All-Star break. They scored four runs in the top of the ninth to steal one from the TinCaps, 5-4! After RF Jaren Matthews reached on a wild pitch with one out following a swinging strikeout, Duran singled, Barnhart walked, and Jefry Sierra cleared the bases with a triple to tie the score. Hamilton followed with a grounder up the middle for the decisive RBI single. Hayes came on for the bottom of the ninth and hit the first batter he saw, but caught the second batter looking. Barnhart threw out the runner stealing and a 6-3 grounder ended the game and gave Drew his 12th save. Dan Wolford got the final out of the eighth for the win (3-1, 1.93) despite allowing both of his inherited runners to score. Starter Renken worked five (3.93, 5 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 6 K) and Panerati turned in two scoreless (5.06, 1 H, 1 K). Hamilton finished 2-for-5 with steal #58 (.229). Duran was 2-for-4 and added an outfield assist at home, one that ended the South Bend eighth and prevented a fifth run from scoring. Juan now has four multi-hit games in six and has hit .306 in June and .400 (6-for-15) so far in July. Overall he’s at .269/.359/.489 despite 83 strikeouts in 56 games.
7/5: Dayton leaped out to a fast start in this day game, scoring two in the first when Hamilton led off with a single, stole second (59) and scored on Torreyes’ triple. 1B Dominic D’Anna grounded out to score the diminutive second baseman. Starter Kyle Lotzkar did not allow a hit or a walk through four innings (7 K) but he hit two batters. A double play wiped out one right away. He seemed to get stronger as he went along, getting the entire side in the fourth on strikes. Then the fifth:
South Bend Bottom of the 5th
• Raywilly Gomez singles on a line drive to center fielder Jefry Sierra.
• Roberto Rodriguez walks. Raywilly Gomez to 2nd.
• Gerson Montilla pops out to first baseman Donald Lutz on the infield fly rule.
• Chris Jarrett hit by pitch. Raywilly Gomez to 3rd. Roberto Rodriguez to 2nd.
• Jhoan Pimentel flies into a force out, left fielder Juan Duran to third baseman Frank Pfister. Raywilly Gomez scores. Roberto Rodriguez out at 3rd. Chris Jarrett to 2nd. Jhoan Pimentel to 1st.
• Ender Inciarte hit by pitch. Chris Jarrett to 3rd. Jhoan Pimentel to 2nd.
• South Bend Silver Hawks Manager Mark Haley ejected by HP umpire Dustin Klinghagen.
• Niko Gallego hit by pitch. Chris Jarrett scores. Jhoan Pimentel to 3rd. Ender Inciarte to 2nd.
• Zachary Walters doubles (21) on a fly ball to center fielder Jefry Sierra. Jhoan Pimentel scores. Ender Inciarte scores. Niko Gallego scores.
• Pitcher Change: Chad Rogers replaces Kyle Lotzkar.
• Yazy Arbelo pops out to third baseman Frank Pfister in foul territory.
Ah, A-ball. For all of his brilliant first four innings, Lotzkar’s final line read 4.2 IP, 2 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. And five hit batters. Luckily Dayton took the lead back for good with three in the seventh. Hamilton would do a little more with his branded Havoc ™ by walking to open the ninth, stealing second again (#60) moving to third on Torreyes’ sacrifice bunt and scoring on D’Anna’s sacrifice fly. Hamilton ended up reaching in four of his five at-bats (2-for-3, 2 BB, .233). D’Anna would go 1-for-3 overall… with four RBI (a groundout, catcher’s interference, a RBI single, and sacrifice fly). Torreyes was 2-for-2 with two runs scored, a walk, a RBI, the triple, and steal #5 (.379). And Sierra had two hits for the third straight game, raising his average to .230. Chad Rogers (W 2-3, 3.13, 2.1 IP, 1 K) and Blaine Howell (save #8, 2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 3 K) stabilized the whole run-prevention thing to close out a wild 7-5 Dragons victory.
Transactnotes: 6/30: LHS Tanner Robles to the AZL Reds. 7/1: RHR Jamie Walczak up to Bakersfield; INF Frank Pfister to the Dragons. RHS Stalin Gerson back from Billings, rightfully. 7/5: RHR Pat Doyle to Carolina; RHR Brian Pearl up from Billings.
RHS Dan Renken was given Helium in the BA Prospect Hot Sheet- here’s the text of the very interesting note BA had: “Low Class A Dayton RHP Daniel Renken's delivery isn't pretty, but the same herky-jerkiness that leads to concerns about his command and his long-term future also makes him deceptive. Lansing's hitters found that out this week, as Renken struck out 14 while walking one and allowed two hits in six scoreless innings. Renken now has 106 strikeouts in 84 innings. He does it with an 89-92 mph fastball and a hard breaking ball, but it's the deception that does as much work as the stuff. Renken may end up having to move to the pen, but it's hard to ignore the results.” Renken was also named the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week for June 27-July 3 based on the big start.
Rookie-Pioneer Billings Mustangs
This week: 4-3.
Overall: 9-7, first place, one game ahead of Helena (MIL) and Missoula (ARI).
6/29: Again Ismael Guillon fought his control, walking six Helena Brewers in four innings of work (L 0-1, 8.53, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 K). He’s now walked twelve in 6.1 PL innings after permitting just 23 in 57 AZL innings last year. He left down 2-0, and El’Hajj Muhammad came on to hold the bad guys for three innings (2.25, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 K). Billings got a run in the seventh and another in the ninth, but Helena got two unearned runs of their own late and won it, 4-2. Muhammad was a 49th-round draft choice last year out of a New Jersey community college, and I’ve watched the almost-20-year-old come in and chew up two or three innings every time out for more than a season now (2.03 in 40 IP mostly in the AZL last year, 2 ER in 8 IP in 2011, 58 K in 48 IP as a pro). I wonder if the Reds will ever give him a starting shot? SS Devin Lohman’s third homer accounted for one of the two Mustangs runs. RF Kyle Waldrop was 2-for-4 with a triple (.256).
6/30: Billings pulled out the only organizational win of the day, hanging on to win 8-7 after building and blowing a 6-3 lead. 1B Nick O’Shea’s second home run accounted for one of the two decisive runs the Mustangs got in the sixth (2-for-4, .286). 2B Adam Muenster also homered, his first in more than a hundred pro at-bats. LF Dayne Read continues hitting well (2-for-5, 2 RBI, .395). Starter Wes Mugarian had a tough time (6.91, 4.1 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 7 K), but the 19-year-old is ahead of schedule just by being here. Carlos Contreras (W 2-0, 0.00, 2.2 IP, 2 H, 3 K, no runs in 7 IP) picked up the win in relief, while James Allen worked two more innings for the save (1 ER in 7 IP overall so far).
7/1: Billings picked up its fifth win in six, getting a game-tying RBI double from LF Drew Poulk in the ninth and a game-winning RBI single from 2B Sammy Diaz in the tenth to beat Helena, 4-3. Poulk didn’t make an out, finishing 3-for-3 with two walks and two RBI (.385). Lohman (.298, two steals), C Danny Vicioso (.188, 2B), CF Kurtis Muller (.359, 2 BB, steal #5) and Waldrop (.271) each notched two hits. Third-rounder Tony Cingrani pitched very well in his pro debut, whiffing four in two scoreless innings. Brooks Pinckard struck out the side in the top of the tenth for the win (1-0, 1.80). Righty Erik Miller duplicated that feat in his pro debut.
7/2: Missoula got two runs in the top of the ninth to tie the score off Pat Quinn (4.91, W 1-1, BS #1, 1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) but the righty managed to leave the bases full of Osprey. In the bottom of the ninth, 1B Nick O’Shea doubled with one out. A wild pitch moved pinch-runner Muller to third, then Vicioso singled in the winning run! Billings ran its record to 8-5 with a 4-3 victory. Read drove in each of the other three runs with a triple and solo homer (#3, 2-for-4, .405). Starter Radhames Quezada pitched excellently (3.14, 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K).
7/3: Billings went 2-for-15 with men in scoring position, dooming them to a 4-1 defeat. Read (.413, 2B) and Waldrop (.294, R, 2B, BB) each had two hits. Mitchell Clarke (L 0-1, 2.45, 4 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1 HR) took the defeat. Righthander Nick Fleece made his pro debut with a scoreless fifth.
7/4: Muhammad struck out six more batters in 2.2 innings of relief of Ismael Guillon (8.44, 4.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 2 HR, 4 WP, BK, HB, whew) but he was charged with the loss when the two runs scored off him (L 0-1, 3.38) turned out to be the decisive ones in Billings’ 9-7 loss to Missoula. Maddox hit a three-run homer (#3) and Sean Buckley was 2-for-5 with a double and steal #2 (.244). Billings did most of its damage in the third, when the Mustangs scored six times.
7/5: Wes Mugarian got his first win in three starts with 5.2 innings of four-hit ball (W 1-2, 5.85, 3 BB, 6 K) and Buckley was 3-for-4 with a two-run homer (#2, .286, 2 R, steals #3 and #4) as Billings beat Great Falls (CHW), 5-2. Maddox added a pair of doubles (.231). James Allen set down five straight (1.04, 2 K) and fellow collegian Brooks Pinckard got save #2 despite a pair of walks (1.50).
Transactnotes: 6/29: RHP Erik Miller (31st-round, 2011) activated. LHP Tony Cingrani (3rd-round, 2011) activated. 7/1: RHS Stalin Gerson back to Dayton. 7/2: Right-hander Nick Fleece activated. 7/5: RHR Brian Pearl to Dayton.
Interesting article about Devin Lohman, why he’s back in Billings again, and some of the other shortstops in the Reds’ system.
Rookie-Arizona AZL Reds
This week: 3-3
Overall: 6-7, second place, two and a half games behind the Dodgers.
6/29: The Reds’ bats boom! The AZLsters hammer the Royals, 14-6, with seven runs in the third. 2B Brandon Dailey was 3-for-4 with two walks, four RBI, two runs, and steal #4 from the leadoff slot (.364). Everyone else in the lineup contributed at least one hit save CF Spencer Dickinson, who still scored two runs and stole a base (.313). Dan Tuttle struck out eight over five innings (W 2-0, 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB). Lefty Chris Joyce, selected by Detroit in the 29th-round last year but unsigned, made his second appearance in relief and pitched a scoreless inning.
6/30: Four errors and some messy bullpen work made for a rough night, as the Mariners scored at least one run off each of four Reds pitchers en route to an 8-5 win. Justice French took the defeat (L 0-1, 4.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K). C Wagner Gomez hit his second homer, a two-run shot, and LF Brennan May was 2-for-4 with a triple and RBI (.333).
7/1: Reds beat their complexmates the Indians, 5-1. After Rehabbin’ Jordan Smith pitched a scoreless first, Lucas O’Rear struck out six over the next four (4.91, 3 H, 0 BB). Carlos Ramos got the win (1-0, 3.60, 2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER). 2B Brandon Dailey was 2-for-3 with a run scored, walk, RBI, and steal #5 (.375). C Julio Morillo drove in two runs and RF Jon Matthews was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a triple (.207).
7/3: The Reds outhit the Rangers twelve to nine but lost big on the scoreboard, 8-3. Dailey was 4-for-5 with a double and triple (.422, RBI). DH Phil Bauer added two hits (.200). Lefty Joel Bender started and lost (1-1, 6.57, 4 IP, 7 H, 5 ER). Cesar Caceres (3 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) and Chris Joyce (2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K) both pitched well in relief.
7/4: The Reds got the winning run in the bottom of the eleventh on a throwing error resulting from an attempted sacrifice bunt. Jon Matthews scored from second and the good guys won, 5-4 over the Diamondbacks. Matthews struck out but reached on a passed ball, then Fray Sosa singled him to second. The Reds got 14 hits, with Dailey again leading the charge (.440, 3-for-5, 2 R, 3B). The 19-year-old is off to the best start on the team. Morillo had two more hits, giving him four in two games (.250, 2B, RBI). Smith gave up a run in his second rehab outing, then Tuttle followed him with six innings of three-hit ball (3.94, 3 ER, 5 BB, 5 K). Win to Ryan Kemp (1-0, 2 IP, 3 K) after Alejandro Chacin turned in two more perfect innings. Chacin now has twelve strikeouts in 5.1 innings.
7/5: The Reds mounted a furious comeback, scoring two in the eighth and two more in the ninth to tie the Royals at 6- but the boys in blue got the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to win it. Abel de los Santos took the loss to fall to 0-2. Starter Eliezer Beard had a bit tougher time of it this go-round (4 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K). Dailey hit a two-run homer, his first, to produce that ninth-inning tie. Dickinson had a double, two walks, and a stolen base.
Transactnotes: OF Spencer Dickinson is a non-drafted free agent signee out of South Alabama. He’s the second NDFA to show up on the AZL Reds, joining Xavier’s Phil Bauer. 7/1: RHR Jordan Smith added for rehabbin’ purposes. 7/4: C Jordan Wideman activated. 7/5: Ninth-round pick Cole Green, a RHP from the University of Texas, was activated.