Louisville’s done like its parent club, so we basically have a few players to watch for progress. I’d keep my eye on OFs Felix Perez and Denis Phipps, 3B Juan Francisco, C Devin Mesoraco (who’s a lock to be called up September 1st if not before), and pitchers Brad Boxberger, Jordan Smith, and Daryl Thompson. You might see a couple of other callups, but several current Bats are almost certain to be on the free-agent market come the end of the year. I’ll do a more elaborate piece on that as we near the end of the season. Carolina is likely done (6 GB), but the Southern League’s halves system and the chance of a timely winning streak keep them alive (which I know is hard to believe given that the team has had one of the five or ten worst overall records in organized baseball all year). They have a veteran-for-the-level club that’s basically playing for free-agent jobs in 2012, so there is motivation there too. Bakersfield’s in the same spot as the Mudcats as a team (5 GB). The big hope for playoff excitement is in Dayton, where the Dragons lead their division by two and a half games and should earn a berth in the Midwest League postseason if they can just maintain consistency (eight-game winning streak, losing six of seven, now winning five of six this week). I believe Dayton’s got the horses to contend for the league title- and the Reds seem to agree, keeping the squad together and granting very few promotions to High-A. Only starting pitchers Tim Crabbe and Dan Renken have moved up to the Cal League for good in the past couple of months. Both rookie-ball teams are only a couple of games out, so either could go to the playoffs with a timely rally. The AZL squad got to the league championship game last season, while Billings has missed the PL playoffs the last two years. They won league titles in 1997, 2001, and 2003 and went to the postseason in 2004-2006 and 2008. One of the best players on the last Mustangs playoff team? Dave Sappelt, who’s in the big leagues three years later. Impressive.

AAA Louisville Bats

This week: 3-3.
Overall: 61-57, tied for second place, 13.5 games behind Columbus (CLE) . Down two from last week.

8/3: Off.

8/4: Matt Maloney to the hill in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (NYY) for game one of four. After he gave up a two-run homer in the first, the lefty settled down to cruise through the next five innings (3.80, 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, just 65 pitches total). The Bats got 3B Mike Costanzo’s RBI single in the second and 2B Chris Valaika’s third homer in five games (#5 overall) to tie it up in the third. In the eighth, CF Denis Phipps punched his second hit of the game with one out. He went to second on a passed ball charged to Yankee uber-prospect Jesus Montero, then to third on RF Jeremy Hermida’s groundout. Up stepped 1B Danny Dorn with the tiebreaking RBI single. Jeremy Horst pitched the eighth and Jordan Smith the ninth (save #5) to wrap up a 3-2 Bats win. Smith put two runners on base in his inning and had ex-Red Chris Dickerson standing at third with one out, but he got a popup and groundout to end the game. Victory to Nick Christiani, who pitched the seventh (W 1-0, 5.91, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 K). Phipps’ 2-for-4 gives him a .362 average in 11 AAA contests.

8/5: If you’re wondering why Travis Wood isn’t headed back to Cincinnati any time soon, it’s because he’s not missing enough bats. The Yankees popped the lefthander for eleven hits and six runs in five innings (L 2-2, 4.17, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 98 pitches/56 strikes) in an 8-4 win over the Bats. Louisville got its licks in, with Phipps smashing two doubles and a homer (#1 in AAA) and 3B Juan Francisco going 3-for-5 with homer #11 and two RBI (.302). C Devin Mesoraco also homered, #11, and both Dorn and RF Felix Perez had a pair of hits.

8/6: Rained out.

8/7: MAKEUP MADNESS! This turned out to be a closely-played split, as the Bats came from behind late to win game one 5-4 but allowed SWB to erase a 3-0 lead and take the nightcap 4-3. Valaika, at third base in game one, homered yet again (#6, 3 RBI total) to tie the game at 4 in the top of the seventh. SS Kris Negron then came up with a clutch double to score Mesoraco in the eighth (extra innings in Makeupland) to give Louisville the lead. Jordan Smith then tore through the Yankees 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning for save #6. Winning pitcher was Carlos Fisher (3-1, 3.18, 1 IP, 1 K). Starter Edinson Volquez worked five (2.19, 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K). 2B Jose Castro was 2-for-2 with two runs scored and two sacrifice bunts. Hermida had two hits (.312) and RF Mike Griffin added two (.204). Daryl Thompson shut out the Dunder-Mifflins through the first four innings of game two before they got him for three in the fifth (3.19, 5 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K). Jerry Gil (L 5-6, 4.18, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB) and Jeremy Horst (2 batters, 2 hits) conspired to blow the tie in the bottom of the seventh. Phipps hit a two-run homer, #2.

8/8: Scott Carroll to the hill against the first-place Columbus Clippers (CLE). The Clips lead the Bats and Indians by 13.5 games in the division, so this race is over. Still, PRIDE! (And the chance to get called up.) Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to celebrate in this one. Carroll was blasted for ten hits and eight earned runs in 3.1 innings (L 6-8, 5.55) as the Clips rolled 11-3. Carroll is now 0-4 with a 10.80 ERA in his five starts since the All-Star break. Phipps did hit homer #3 off Columbus starter David Huff.

8/9: The Bats go nickel ‘n dime, lofting four sacrifice flies over the first few innings to build to a 5-2 victory. Hermida got the fifth Louisville run with homer #14 in the sixth (.314, 2-for-4, 2 R). Matt Maloney worked six for the win (W 4-1, 3.71, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 80 pitches/53 strikes). Two of those run-scoring flies came from Negron. Carlos Fisher, Jeremy Horst (2.34, 1.2 IP, 3 K, 0-3 IRS) and Jordan Smith (save #7, 3.31, 1 IP, 1 H) finished up.

Transactnotes: 8/5: INF Mike Costanzo sent back to Carolina to make room for the healthy Juan Francisco. Costanzo batted .222/.264/.321 with one homer and 12 RBI in 24 games with Louisville. 8/7: OF Dave Sappelt called up to Cincinnati to replace injured OF Chris Heisey. OF David Cook promoted from Carolina. 8/9: A few days after I point out Travis Wood’s problems, the Reds called him up to replace the DL’d Logan Ondrusek.

Article on RHR Brad Boxberger, who’s been up and down since dominating the Southern League in the first half.

Around the league: The White Sox effectively promoted RHS Zach Stewart to Triple-A Charlotte after acquiring him from Toronto. (The Jays liked to keep their better pitching prospects out of the launching pad that is Las Vegas.) Miami University graduate RHP Connor Graham was released by Cleveland; he’d originally signed with Colorado after being selected in the fifth round in 2007. He was traded from the Rockies to the Indians in July 2009 for Rafael Betancourt. Graham was 3-6, 3.43 in 43 appearances (four starts) for Double-A Akron but walked 50 in 78 IP. Colorado signed 1B Jorge Cantu, released after 57 games with the Padres earlier this year. He fell off quick after a pair of productive years with Florida in 2008-2009, batting just .256/.307/.392 for Florida and Texas in 2010 and just .194/.232/.285 for San Diego. The 29-year-old was then 0-for-11 to start with Triple-A Colorado Springs. Milwaukee purchased INF Felipe Lopez from Tampa Bay; Lopez has become a journeyman due to his jaw-dropping inconsistency (Check it .) The Brewers are just using him as a temp fill-in for the injured Rickie Weeks because they have the barest minor-league cupboard in all of Major League Baseball. Although I’m not sure why they apparently hate this guy. Seattle signed DH Wily Mo Pena. Wily Mo predictably smashed three homers in his first six games with Triple-A Tacoma; he unpredictably drew four walks after pulling zero in his 46 at-bats with the Diamondbacks earlier this year. His overall PCL line? .364/.444/.736. Kevin Howard was the Reds’ fifth-round selection in 2002 out of Miami (FL); he hit well for three years in the Cincy system before becoming the payment to the New York Yankees for Tony Womack (sad trumpet). Howard’s become quite the minor-league vagabond; he worked his way through the Dodgers, Phillies, Mariners, Padres, Blue Jays, and Cardinals systems before landing back with Toronto for this year. He’s also basically played everywhere but catcher and center field after being drafted as a 2B. He boasts a career line of .283/.349/.416 as well as .283/.351/.438 in Triple-A, including 33 games this year with Las Vegas (.298/.336/.438). Will he make it to the big-leagues as a thirty-year-old rookie? We’ll see.

AA Carolina Mudcats

This week: 3-3.
Overall: 20-24, third place, 7 games behind Chattanooga (LAD). Overall 43-71.

8/3: Well, righthander Curtis Partch’s Double-A debut didn’t go particularly well (4.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 1 HR), but 1B Neftali Soto’s second homer of the game, a three-run bomb, cut the Huntsville (MIL) lead from 6-2 to 6-5 in the sixth. Travis Webb (4.81, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K, 0/3 IRS) , Chris Mobley (W 2-4, 6.97, 2 IP, 3 K) and Donnie Joseph (save #3, 7.52, 1 IP, 1 K) did a fantastic job keeping the Stars in check. In the top of the ninth, 3B Jake Kahauleilo doubled with one out. He scored on SS Didi Gregorius’ game-tying double. The Stars opted to intentionally walk pinch-hitter Bill Rhinehart, but CF Quintin Berry stepped up and grounded a single to center, scoring the go-ahead run. Joseph then turned in a 1-2-3 ninth to end it. Tough 7-6 win! Soto now has 24 homers and 60 RBI as he raised his overall line to .282/.337/.609. Fourteen of those homers have come since July 1st; nineteen of them in the 39 games since the All-Star break. Berry was 3-for-4 with two RBI (.284).

8/4: Rained out.

8/5: James Avery was treated roughly by the Mississippi Braves; they chased him in the fourth inning (L 5-10, 4.32, 3.1 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 K). The Mudcats stayed one step behind throughout, eventually falling 6-3. Soto did hit homer #25 and both C Yasmani Grandal (.278, 2B, R) and Gregorius (.278, RBI) were 2-for-4.

8/6: Grandal popped a two-run pinch-hit homer (#4) in the eighth to turn a 4-3 Braves lead into a 5-4 Carolina one. Justin Freeman (5.10, 1 IP) and Donnie Joseph (save #4, 7.36, 1 IP) retired the last six Mississippi batters in order to finalize the win for Tim Gustafson (W 3-7, 5.31, 2 IP, 1 BB, 4 K). Starter Josh Ravin, making his Southern League debut, lasted five innings (4 H, 4 ER, 5 BB, 5 K). Rhinehart hit homer #3 (#24 overall) and added a RBI double. 3B Mike Costanzo had a pair of doubles (.277).

8/7: The bullpen reverted to its usual self in this one, with Carolina taking a 3-2 lead to the game’s final third- but Chris Mobley allowed a seventh-inning tie (BS #5, 2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER) and James Adkins (L 0-1, 5.74, 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB) and Freeman permitting the 4-3 walk-off Mississippi win. Justin Lehr worked four as the starter (3.74, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K) and Travis Webb followed him with two strong (4.65, 1 H, 1 K). The Reds should re-sign the 27-year-old six-year-free-agent-to-be Webb and put him in the bullpen full time in Louisville next season; he’s got a 2.08 ERA in 23 relief appearances this year with 58 Ks and just 13 BB in 39 IP. Anyway, CF Quintin Berry reached base three of four times (.287, 2-for-3, R, BB) and stole four bases in five attempts (27). Rhinehart keeps raking; he had a single, double, and two more RBI to raise his Reds organization line to .406/.472/.781 in 10 games (13-for-32, 3 HR, 11 RBI). He also threw out a runner at second base from right field. Gregorius also picked up two more hits to raise his SL average to .289. Not bad for a 21-year-old.

8/8: Four errors and six earned runs off Pedro Villareal in the first three innings (L 5-3, 5.15, 2.2 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 K) led to an easy 7-3 Braves win. LF Cody Puckett returned to the starting lineup with two hits and a run scored (.249) and again Gregorius poked a pair of base hits (.306, RBI). Kyle McCulloch pitched 2.1 innings of solid relief (4.82, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER); that’s his second straight appearance as the long man. Tim Hamulack retired six straight (2.66, 2 K) and Donnie Joseph turned a fifth straight scoreless outing (7.21, 1 IP, 1 H).

8/9: Three runs in the seventh, punctuated by Puckett’s two-run, two-out single, broke a 1-1 tie for Carolina. Curtis Partch allowed Mississippi to get two of those back in the bottom of the inning, but Justin Freeman got the third out of the inning (4.96, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1-2 IRS) when Rhinehart threw out the tying run at the plate from right field to preserve the 4-3 lead. Freeman then turned in a scoreless eighth and Joseph the ninth (save #5, 7.07, 1 IP, 1 BB, 1 K). So that means Partch got his first Double-A win (W 1-0, 6.35, 6.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HR).

Transactnotes: 8/3: RHS Brandon Hynick placed on the 7-day DL with elbow soreness. 8/5: INF Mike Costanzo down from Louisville; OF Josh Fellhauer back to Bakersfield, somewhat surprising considering Fellhauer is 23, has already spent almost all of the last two years at High-A, and was 6-for-20 with a .440 OBP in nine games with the Mudcats. RHS Josh Ravin up from Bakersfield. 8/6: C Chris Denove retired. This was a surprise, as the 28-year-old was just making it back to rehab action in Arizona after missing the entire season with injuries. I guess with Grandal and Mesoraco out there he didn’t see a place. 8/7: 2B-OF Cody Puckett activated from the DL; OF David Cook promoted to Louisville. Puckett had missed the last six weeks with a broken hand suffered June 24th. 8/9: C Yasmani Grandal placed on the 7-day DL for a concussion suffered on a foul tip. Ouch. C Kevin Coddington back from Bakersfield.

1B Neftali Soto made the BA Prospect Hot Sheet for July 29-August 4. He was 8-for-24 with five home runs and eleven RBI. He was also named the Southern League Batter of the Week for the second time this year (8/1-8/7), slamming five homers over that stretch.

High-A Bakersfield Blaze

This week: 4-3.
Overall: 22-23 second half, fourth place, five games behind Stockton (OAK) and Modesto (COL). 57-58 overall.

8/3: Righty Tim Crabbe dueled Lake Elsinore (SD) lefty Nick Schmidt to a scoreless standstill for seven innings. Clayton Shunick turned in two more (1.90, 2 IP, 2 H), but the Storm got a two-run homer off Derrik Lutz in the top of the tenth for the game’s only runs (L 1-1, 1.64, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR). Bakersfield started the home tenth with back-to-back singles by 2B Brodie Greene and 3B Alex Buchholz, but three groundouts later the game ended. The Blaze got just five hits and one walk on the night. Crabbe struck out eight in his seven innings (3.70, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB) and now has 86 Ks in 75.1 High-A innings this year. CF Ryan LaMarre threw out two runners on the bases, one at home in the top of the first inning.

8/4: Lefty Matt Fairel breezed through the lower rungs of the Reds’ system in his first two years out of Florida State, going 11-8, 3.02 with Dayton and Sarasota in 2009 and 10-4, 3.53 with Lynchburg and Carolina last year before succumbing to Tommy John surgery. He did fine in several AZL rehab appearances, but the AZL ain’t the Cal League. Fairel was knocked out in the first inning by the Storm (0.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB) as they built a 9-1 lead after three. Mace Thurman came on to strand his two inherited runners but was hit hard in the second and third (5.29, 2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER). Drew Bowman stabilized the situation with 2.2 scoreless (4.61, 1 H, 4 K) and Scott Gaffney, Doug Salinas, and Chris Manno all did their jobs- but Bakersfield could get no closer than four and lost 9-5. LF Dayne Read had a pair of doubles and RBI (.345). C Kevin Coddington was 3-for-3 with a walk and RBI (.364). SS Devin Lohman (.313) and Buchholz (.305) were each 2-for-4.

8/5: Mark Serrano did some bat-missing (W 4-7, 4.60, 6.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K) as Bakersfield spanked Lake Elsinore, 6-0. LF Josh Fellhauer had two doubles and two runs scored (.284) while CF Ryan LaMarre was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a RBI, and steal #41 (.284). 1B Carlos Mendez drove in two with a pair of hits. Derrik Lutz finished the seventh and eighth (1.46, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 K) and Chris Manno struck out the side in the ninth (four straight appearances in the Reds system with no earned runs, 10 Ks).

8/6: Five Storm pitchers stymied the Blaze on five hits, 3-1. JC Sulbaran turned in another quality start (L 8-3, 4.09, 6 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 2 WP, BK) and Clayton Shunick dominated the final three (1.79, 1 H, 4 K) but Bakersfield could muster nothing more than Dayne Read’s fifth-inning RBI triple.

8/7: After losing 13 of 14 to San Jose (SFG) to start the year, the Blaze have taken four straight- including this series opener, 4-3. Drew Bowman (W 4-2, 4.67, 1.1 IP, 0 H, 1 ER, 1 BB) and Doug Salinas (save #10, 5.40, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 K) allowed the Giants a ninth-inning run but managed to get through it and close out the win. Dan Renken pitched even better in his second High-A start, going six innings of four-hit ball (1.64, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K). C Kevin Coddington had a two-run homer (#2), a RBI double, and two runs scored (.357). DH Jorge Jimenez was 2-for-3 (.237).

8/8: The Blaze were unfazed by rehabbing big-leaguer Barry Zito, as he was outdueled by Tim Crabbe (W 4-3, 3.43, 6 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 8 K) in a 4-2 Bakersfield win. Five straight over the Giants. Manno worked the final two for save #2 (still 0.00, 1 H, 1 BB, 3 K). Greene hit homer #12 and Read #4.

8/9: Fairel looked much, much better in his second comeback start. He scattered seven singles over six shutout innings (4.26, 0 BB, 4 K) but was denied a win when the Blaze were shut out through that span as well. Bakersfield did manage to break the stalemate with the game’s only three runs in the eighth. Mace Thurman, struggling a bit as of late, worked the seventh and eighth for the victory (W 4-3, 5.09, 2 IP, 1 H, 1 K). Doug Salinas turned in a 1-2-3 ninth for save #11. Again Greene contributed with the bat, driving in two runs with a single and triple (.293). LaMarre, Fellhauer, and 1B Stephen Hunt each had two hits.

Transactnotes: 8/3: RHR Jamie Walczak to the AZL Reds. 8/4: LHS Matt Fairel activated. 8/5: OF Josh Fellhauer back from Carolina; RHS Josh Ravin to the Mudcats. 1B Chris Richburg placed on the 7-day DL, retroactive to 8/3. 8/9: C Mark Fleury activated; C Kevin Coddington up to Carolina to cover for Yasmani Grandal.

Low-A Dayton Dragons

This week: 5-1.
Overall: 28-15, lead by two and a half games over Lansing (TOR). Overall 63-50.

8/3: All-Star closer Drew Hayes came on the eighth for Blaine Howell to strike out a man and leave the bases loaded, preserving a 3-2 Dayton advantage over West Michigan (DET). He then fought through a couple of walks in the ninth for the save (#17, 1.53, 1.1 IP, 2 BB, 3 K) of Mitchell Clarke’s second victory (W 2-1, 1.88, 5.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K). DH Juan Duran hit homer #11 and 3B David Vidal continued his hot hitting (2-for-4, R, .298). CF Jefry Sierra threw out the Whitecaps’ Ryan Hamme at home in the eighth, preserving the one-run lead prior to Hayes’ entry.

8/4: 1B Donald Lutz hit a grand slam homer (#17) in the seventh, turning a relatively competitive game into a rout. Dayton ended up with the easy 10-1 win. Lutz drove in six runs total, having already singled in two runs earlier (.272). 2B Ronald Torreyes was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a walk (.394) and SS Billy Hamilton 1-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored, and steal #76, his first in a week. Vidal was hit by a pitch in his second at-bat and was removed from the game in favor of Frank Pfister (who went 2-for-2 with a RBI in his absence), so we’ll see if this interrupts his quest for .300. Starter Kyle Lotzkar was excellent, whiffing eight Whitecaps and permitting just two hits in four innings (5.12). Stalin Gerson picked up the win (4-1, 3.45, 3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR).

8/5: The Dragons outhit the Whitecaps nine to seven but went 2-for-11 with men in scoring position, falling 3-2. Daniel Corcino pitched well, although two homers were among the seven hits he allowed (L 9-6, 3.47, 6 IP, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 K). Luca Panerati pitched three hitless innings after him (4.09, 2 BB, 3 K). C Tucker Barnhart smoked three hits (.278, RBI) and Vidal continued to sit on the verge of .300 (.299, 2-for-4). Hamilton dropped his average to .255 with a 1-for-5 but he did pick up steal #77.

8/6: After splitting four against WM, the Dragons headed to Lake County to take on the Captains (CLE). Game one wasn’t even a contest, as Dayton mauled LC 12-0. Hamilton led the way with four hits, including a double and triple (.260, 2 R, RBI, steal #78). RF Drew Poulk drove in four with a single and double (.250). Everyone in the Dragons lineup reached base. Josh Smith had his best post-All-Star-break start (W 10-6, 2.94, 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K).

8/7: Tanner Robles has had a rough season, but this game was a highlight. The lefty out of Oregon State pitched six one-hit innings to get a rain-shortened 4-1 complete-game win (W 4-8, 6.16, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K). The Dragons turned three double plays to help him along. LF Jaren Matthews (#5, 2-for-3, 2 R, .220) and Torreyes (#3) each hit solo home runs.

8/8: With big-leaguer Shin Soo-Choo along for rehab, the Captains tried to turn it around and salvage one of this back half of the four-game set. Lake County proceeded to commit five errors while getting just two hits off Mitch Clarke (W 3-1, 1.33, 6 IP, 1 BB, 6 K) over six innings. In fact all three hits the Captains got were by the same guy, catcher Moises Montero (who raised his average to .195 with those safeties). Dayton makes it three in a row, 3-0. Choo was 0-for-2 with a strikeout against the 21-year-old Canadian, then left mid-game. Dan Wolford (1.41, 1 IP, 1 K, no earned runs since June), Blaine Howell (2.10, 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K), and Drew Hayes (save #18, 1.50, 1 IP, 1 BB, 2 K) finished up without incident. Vidal popped homer #16 and added a single (.301).

8/9: Dayton led this one 2-0 after three, but rain caused the game’s suspension. You’ll have to wait until next week’s report to find out if the Dragons get the sweep.


Thread on OF Yorman Rodriguez and his supposed struggles with maturity and injuries.

Rookie-Pioneer Billings Mustangs

This week: 4-3.
Overall: Finished first half at 20-18, second place, five games behind division champ Missoula (ARI). Second half 5-5, two games behind Great Falls (CHW). Overall 25-23.

8/3: First half champions Missoula whip the Mustangs, 6-2. Wes Mugarian deserves credit for pitching well after a rough previous outing (6.59, 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) but Dan Jensen (L 0-1, 7.27, 2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER) was hit hard in relief. 2B Ryan Wright is hitting just .158 since his promotion, but he did connect for homer #2. 1B Nick O’Shea continued his hot streak (2-for-4, .299).

8/4: Teenaged 3B Junior Arias hit a two-run homer, #4, in this game- but his throwing error in the ninth also led to a game-tying unearned run for the Osprey off Brooks Pinckard (W 3-1, 5.03, BS #4, 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K). But Billings got the winner in the top of the tenth when Wright walked, went to third on a E-3 and scored on Arias’ Single of Atonement. Junior keeps improving- after the 2-for-5 he is up to .233/.299/.422, but has also whiffed 41 times in 33 games with just nine walks as well as nine errors. Wright was 3-for-3 with a double and two stolen bases (.220) and CF Spencer Dickinson was 2-for-5 with his first Pioneer League homer and two RBI. Starter Tony Cingrani keeps pitching well but must be running his pitch counts high, as he is still not going for starter-length outings (2.11, 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K; now 2 BB and 30 K in 21.1 IP). Cole Green pitched three scoreless after Cingrani (6.30, 1 H, 3 K).

8/5: Radhames Quezada (L 1-3, 4.26, 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) held his own on the mound but Billings could get nothing off three Osprey pitchers- the Ponies lose a 4-0 shutout. 1B Robert Maddox had two of the five Billings hits (.252). Pat Quinn threw three innings of one-hit relief (2.84, 2 K).

8/6: Great Falls (CHW) stole six bases in seven attempts off the Billings pitching staff and college C/1B-turned-pro-C Nick O’Shea, helping the Voyagers to a 6-4 win. Ismael Guillon left after three (L 0-5, 7.50, 6 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 3 K). O’Shea did connect for two hits and a RBI at the plate (.311). Maddox hit homer #9 and SS Cristobal Rodriguez connected for #2. Four Mustangs errors didn’t help anyone.

8/7: Kyle McMyne not only put together back-to-back strong outings, he got his first pro win in his longest-ever outing (W 1-1, 6.87, 5 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 4 K) as Billings nipped Great Falls 1-0. El’Hajj Muhammad worked 2.2 of scoreless relief (4.66, 1 H) and James Allen knocked down the last four for save #6 (1.64, 2 K). DH Chris Buckley hit homer #11, good for second in the league (first-round-pick CJ Cron of Orem has 13, but he also just dislocated his kneecap). RF Kyle Waldrop had three hits (.258) and so did CF Kurtis Muller (.236, 3B, steal #21).

8/8: Billings shut out Helena (MIL), 3-0, behind Wes Mugarian’s best outing of the year (W 3-4, 5.74, 6 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 9 K) and homers from Waldrop (#2, 2-for-4, .264) and Wright (#3, 2-for-4, 2B, .222). Muller added three more hits and steal #22 (.250). Arias had two to go with a pair of stolen bases (.228). Buckley had a single and double to get back over .300 (.303, RBI). Ryan Kemp worked the seventh and eighth (3.65, 2 IP, 1 H, 1 K) and Pinckard (save #4, 4.79) the ninth.

8/9: A third straight pitcher’s duel shutout! This is the Pioneer League, you know- this isn’t supposed to happen. Billings again got great pitching, this time from the Cingrani-Green tandem, as well as O’Shea’s seventh homer and an Arias RBI triple, to shut out the Brewers 2-0. Cingrani whiffed six over four one-hit innings (1.78) and Green worked the next three for the win (1-1, 4.85, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K). Erik Miller did the eighth (3.20, 1 IP, 1 H) and Allen the ninth for save #7.

Rookie-Arizona AZL Reds

This week: 2-3.
Overall: 21-19, tied for second, two games behind the Dodgers.

8/3: Reds roll the outmatched (8-25) Brewers, 15-1. Rehabbin’ SS Miguel Rojas led the way by going 3-for-3 with four runs scored, two walks, and two RBI. His rehabbin’ buddies C Chris Denove and DH Juan Francisco went 3-for-5 and 2-for-5, respectively, with a pair of RBI. SS Juan Perez had three hits and three RBI (.364). 2B Brandon Dailey was 2-for-5 with two runs scored, two stolen bases, and a RBI (.350). CF Bryson Smith, 22 and this year’s 34th-round pick out of the University of Florida, was 2-for-5 with a run scored in his pro debut. Carlos Gonzalez pitched four scoreless (W 1-1, 5.24, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K) in relief of starter Jose Amezcua, who worked just the first. Alejandro Chacin got back to form with a 1-2-3 ninth with two strikeouts (0.68, 26 K in 13.1 IP).

8/4: Lefty Joel Bender looked better this time out against the Boy Brew Crew, working six scoreless while striking out seven (4.02, 5 H, 0 BB). Francisco rehabbed a solo homer to give the Reds the early lead. Eric Alessio set down six straight (4.15, 3 K) as the Reds held the slim advantage. On came Chacin again for the ninth (interesting- pitchers rarely ever appear on back-to-back days in the low minors). The 18-year-old didn’t add to his K ratio, but he did make it through the inning for save #7 of Bender’s 1-0 victory.

8/5: The Rangers won easily, 9-1. Justice French took the loss (L 3-3, 3.46, 6 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 7 K). 1B-2B Juan Perez did have a single, double, and triple; he also scored the Reds’ only run and stole base #11. The 19-year-old is hitting .377. Rehabbin’ Miguel Rojas was 2-for-4 as the DH.

8/6: Rehabbin’ Cody Puckett homered and Eliezer Beard struck out seven Angels over five (W 3-1, 4.46, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB) as the Reds win 8-5. Recent signees RF Steve Selsky and CF Bryson Smith each had two hits. C Julio Morillo doubled twice; the 18-year-old Venezuelan is hitting a robust .323. Chacin again didn’t strike out anyone but he did get save #8.

8/7: Off.

8/8: Lucas O’Rear is struggling to fix his mechanics. The 6’7” college basketball star (Northern Iowa) was charged with nine runs, seven earned, in 1.1 innings of the Reds’ 9-6 loss to the Indians. O’Rear saw his ERA climb from 6.18 to 8.03 and he’s walked 26 in 29 IP. Cesar Caceres (5.82, 4.2 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 2 K) and Carlos Ramos (6.43, 2 IP, 2 H, 2 K) pitched scoreless ball thereafter, but the Reds fell a few short. Selsky hit a two-run homer, his first pro bomb, and Rojas had two hits and two RBI.

8/9: Carlos Gonzalez pitched well for the third straight outing (L 1-2, 4.94, 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) but the Padres beat up his relief to win it 7-3. 2B Brandon Dailey, who’s been quiet the last couple of weeks after a huge start, was 1-for-3 with a RBI double and walk and two stolen bases (.344, 11). 3B Gabriel Rosa, struggling overall, did have a RBI triple, a walk, and a stolen base (.172).

Transactnotes: 8/5: 2B Cody Puckett activated for rehab; he’d stay only two days in that capacity.