AAA Louisville Bats

This week: 2-3.
Overall: 73-71, third place, 15 games behind Columbus (CLE).

8/31: The final game with Columbus (CLE) for 2011 ends with another Clippers rout, 12-4. They had no problem with Chad Reineke (L 8-7, 3.85, 5 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 2 HR) or Nick Christiani (4.93, 1.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER). Utilityman Mike Griffin pitched an inning and allowed two hits and an unearned run. RF Denis Phipps had two hits and two RBI (.366). 1B Danny Dorn hit homer #18.

9/1: Off.

9/2: Bats rebound to beat Indianapolis on the road, 5-2. Edinson Volquez finished his AAA season with an exclamation point, whiffing 12 Indians (W 4-2, 2.37, 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 106 pitches/65 strikes). Brad Boxberger struck out the side for save #6 (3.04).3B Jose Castro lashed three hits and drove in two (.308, 2B, 3B). Dorn had a single, double, and two runs scored (.251, RBI).

9/3: Castro came up with the Bats down by one, two runs in, and the bases loaded with two outs in the ninth- but grounded out to end the game. Indy hangs on, 8-7. Christiani was hit hard again (L 2-3, 5.30, 1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB). Travis Wood didn’t fool many either (5.33, 4 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K). SS Kris Negron appears to be finishing strong- he had three hits, including a double, and scored twice (.210). Phipps had two hits and two walks and C Yasmani Grandal also picked up a couple of free passes to go with a double.

9/4: Five Bats picked up two hits apiece, but Daryl Thompson struggled (L 3-4, 4.17, 4.1 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 8 K) and Louisville stranded 13 runners on base. Indy takes it, 5-3. New signee Clayton Tanner pitched three innings of one-hit ball, striking out four. Grandal had a single, double, walk, and run scored. Phipps had two more hits and two more walks (.368). 1B Neftali Soto also had two hits (.357). He got an “in the team photo” mention in the BA Prospect Hot Sheet for Aug. 26-Sept.1, incidentally.

9/5: Louisville takes the finale, 5-2. Reineke bounced back to pick up win #9 (3.84, 5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K). Tom Cochran fired three hitless innings (3.55, 1 BB, 2 K) and Boxberger got save #7 (2.93, 2 BB, 1 K). Soto hit a two-run homer, completing a successful cup of coffee at the level he’ll be at in 2012 (.412, 2-for-3). Phipps reached base five straight times, going 3-for-3 with two walks. His incredible Triple-A line: .380/.428/.576 in 40 games. Negron had two more hits to finish at .216. Grandal reached base four straight times- two hits and two walks. He went 6-for-12 with five freebies in his week of IL play.

Transactnotes: 8/30: OF Jeremy Hermida waived and claimed by San Diego. OF Fred Lewis outrighted from Cincinnati. 8/31: UT Mike Griffin activated. 9/1: LHR Travis Webb, C Yasmani Grandal, RHR Brandon Hynick, 1B Neftali Soto, and OF Quintin Berry up from Carolina. 3B Juan Francisco and LHR Matt Maloney recalled by Cincinnati. 9/2: LHR Clayton Tanner signed as a free agent. Tanner, 23, is a native of Australia. He was the Giants’ third-round pick in 2006 out of a California high school. After strong results at both levels of A-ball, Tanner then posted a 9-9, 3.68 mark in 27 starts at Double-A Richmond in 2010 despite 64 walks and 79 strikeouts in 149 IP. This year, repeating the level, he was 6-10 with a 4.29 ERA in 119.2 IP. His walks were down to 35 and strikeouts up to 90. He’s never really pitched in relief; it’s very possible the Reds will try to re-sign him for 2012 and keep him in the bullpen.

9/3: RHS Edinson Volquez recalled by Cincinnati. 9/6: LHP Travis Wood recalled by Cincinnati.

A video of manager Rick Sweet’s thoughts on 2011. Apparently the skipper is coming back for 2012.

Yonder Alonso: washing and going.

AA Carolina Mudcats

This week: 1-4
Overall: 30-39, third place behind Chattanooga (LAD). Overall 53-86.

8/31: Off.

9/1: Mississippi (ATL) got to the Mudcat bullpen for six of its nine runs; they cruise, 9-3. Josh Ravin had a decent start (7.07, 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR). Kyle McCulloch (L 6-7, 5.28, 1.2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER) took the defeat. 1B Eric Campbell was 2-for-4 with two RBI (.275) and SS Didi Gregorius had a double, triple, and run scored (.282).

9/2: Again the Braves mauled the ‘pen; James Avery allowed just four hits and one run in six innings (4.70, 1 BB, 5 K) but Justin Freeman (L 2-4, 5.37, BS #3, 1 IP, 3 H, 3 ER) got pasted in the seventh. Chris Mobley and Donnie Joseph weren’t much better; Mississippi won 7-2. 2B Brodie Greene had a single and double and 3B Miguel Rojas was 2-for-4 with a RBI (.259).

9/3: Carolina scored nine runs in the seventh inning to take a 10-7 lead, then Joseph almost blew the save in the ninth before Freeman came on to strike out the only batter he faced and close out a 10-9 win. Joseph’s ERA climbed to 6.94 (0.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER). Freeman’s save was his first of the season. Justin Lehr didn’t have much (5.44, 5 IP, 10 H, 7 ER). Tim Gustafson pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh for the W (4-7, 4.89, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 K). RF Bill Rhinehart homered (#7) and drove in three runs. CF Ryan LaMarre reached base four straight times with a double and three walks. LF Cody Puckett also homered, #14.

9/4: Carolina scored five in the eighth to cut the Braves’ lead to 8-7, but LaMarre struck out with two in scoring position to end the inning. In the ninth, Jake Kahauleilo reached on an error with one out and Campbell was hit by a pitch, but Puckett hit into a force play and Josh Fellhauer struck out to end the game. Pedro Villareal started and lost (L 7-4, 4.42, 6 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 2 HR). C Mark Fleury homered and Puckett got one as well for the second straight game (#15, 3-for-5, .249). The club picked up five stolen bases in five attempts.

9/5: Curt Partch put up a quality start in the season finale (L 2-2, 6.92, 6 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 1 HR), but the bats went silent in a 4-0 shutout loss. A quiet end for the Reds’ affiliation with the town of Zebulon, as the Mudcats are moving to Pensacola for 2012. The current plan is for a Carolina League (High-A) team to move from Kinston to Zebulon. See the article below for why this is happening; believe me, it makes sense.

Transactnotes: 9/1: As Soto, Grandal, Webb, Hynick, and Berry left for Louisville, the Mudcats picked up C Mark Fleury, INF Brodie Greene, LHR Drew Bowman, and OF Ryan LaMarre from Bakersfield.

Carolina manager David Bell was quoted in this BA article about wrapping up the 2011 minor-league season.

High-A Bakersfield Blaze

This week: 2-4.
Overall: 31-39 second half, fifth place. 66-74 overall.

8/31: San Jose (SFG) whipped up on the Blaze, 10-1. Matt Fairel is still struggling badly (L 0-5, 11.88, 1.2 IP, 5 H, 8 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 2 HR). Bakersfield got all of three hits.

9/1: Giants win the rubber match, 5-2. Mark Serrano was, as he often is, a little too hittable (L 6-9, 4.62, 7 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 2 HR). SS Devin Lohman’s two-run homer in the ninth (#4) prevented a shutout. Lohman was 2-for-4 to raise his average to .325.

9/2: Again Lohman homered, but again it was too little too late. High Desert (SEA) takes one in Sam Lynn Stadium, 4-2. JC Sulbaran whiffed eleven Mavericks in a losing effort (L 9-6, 4.60, 7 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 11 K). RF Stephen Hunt was 2-for-4 (.298).

9/3: Four in the seventh on C Jordan Wideman’s grand slam (#2) propelled the Blaze to a 5-1 win. Dan Jensen, the UC product up from Billings on temp duty, pitched extremely well (6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K). Jamie Walczak worked the seventh for the win (1-0, 5.33, 1 K). Chris Manno took care of the final two (0.53, 2 IP, 1 H, 2 K). Lohman’s two hits put him at .328.

9/4: Again it was Wideman deciding things, as he hit into a fielder’s choice that turned into a two-run, game-ending E-6 by the Mavericks shortstop. Bakersfield walks off with a 5-4 win. Doug Salinas (W 5-2, 4.47, 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K) finished up. CF AJ Means was 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored (.251, steal #37). DH Phil Bauer, a NDFA from Xavier who came up from the AZL on temp duty, was 2-for-2 with a walk, RBI and run scored after entering midgame. Starter Tim Crabbe struck out eleven in seven innings (3.41, 3 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 2 BB).

9/5: High Desert picked up a 10-0 rout in the finale. Fairel (L 0-6, 12.09, 5.2 IP, 13 H, 8 ER) just doesn’t have it back yet. Lohman’s two hits finish his High-A line at .331/.400/.554 in 39 games. Pretty solid.

Transactnotes: 9/1: As Fleury, Greene, Bowman, and LaMarre left for Carolina, the Blaze picked up RHR Tyree Hayes (off the DL), C Julio Morillo, UT Phil Bauer, and RHS Dan Jensen.

Low-A Dayton Dragons

This week: 4-2.
Overall: 48-22, won the second-half division title by nine games over Fort Wayne (SD) and Great Lakes (LAD). Overall 83-57. That’s the best overall record in the 16-team Midwest League!

8/31: Two in the eighth on an E-5 turn a 5-4 Bowling Green (TB) lead into a 6-5 Dragons win. Dan Wolford gave up his first earned run since June- and got the win (7-1, 1.36, 1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER). Blaine Howell got save #9 (1.99, 2 IP, 2 H, 3 K). DH Tucker Barnhart was 2-for-4 (.271) and 1B Don Lutz 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a RBI (.295). Hamilton got on base twice but was picked off (CS #20) going for steal number ninety-six.

9/1: Dan Corcino had an off night (L 11-7, 3.42, 4.2 IP, 10 H, 7 ER) as BG wins 7-5. Hamilton launched his third homer of the year and added a single (.273). Lutz rapped three hits to get to .298. 3B David Vidal had two hits and two RBI (.279).

9/2: Hamilton ran his steals total to 97 with a pair of bags during his 3-for-5 night (.276, R, 2 RBI). The Dragons won easily, 11-5. Lutz hit a two-run homer (#20) and LF Juan Duran was 2-for-4 with homer #16 (.267). 2B Ronald Torreyes had three hits as well (.361). Josh Smith picked up win #14 in his final start (14-7, 2.97, 5 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 HR).

9/3: 100! Hamilton got to the century mark with three more steals, reaching the milestone by swiping second and third in the same Brandon Dailey fifth-inning at-bat following a leadoff single. (Dailey then grounded out to score him; he finished 2-for-3 with a pair of runs.) The Dragons beat Lansing (TOR), 4-2. Stalin Gerson worked five scoreless (W 6-2, 3.41, 3 H, 4 BB, 6 K). Mitch Clarke picked up three (2.81, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K) and Pat Doyle struck out the side in the ninth for save #2 (3.78).

9/4: CF Brennan May, playing in his third game since coming up from the AZL, hit his first MWL homer in the ninth but it wasn’t quite enough. Dragons lose, 5-4. Vidal was 2-for-4 with homer #20 (.280) and Lutz cracked .300 with a 3-for-4. Kyle Lotzkar started (L 3-2, 4.32, 5 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 7 K).

9/5: Hamilton put an exclamation point on his season with three more stolen bases to finish with 103 as the Dragons beat Lansing, 3-2, to take two of three from their first-round playoff opponents. Tanner Robles finished strong (W 7-9, 5.40, 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 9 K). Chad Rogers got the save.

Transactnotes: 9/1: OF Josh Garton and RHR Brian Pearl placed on the DL. OF Brennan May and 2B Brandon Dailey up from the AZL.


The Dragons headed to the MWL playoffs for the fifth time in their 12-year history; twice they’ve lost in the first round, twice they’ve made it to the semi-finals. 59-80 and 53-85 records in 2009 and 2010, respectively, make 2011 the first trip for Dayton since 2008 (when they went to the semi-finals despite a 66-72 record overall in the regular season). Their opponents, the Lansing Lugnuts, have been playoff-bound eleven times in seventeen years, with league championships in 1997 as a Kansas City affiliate and 2003 (Chicago Cubs). Lansing is going to these playoffs on the strength of a 38-29 first half, although they still turned in a 39-31 mark in the second (overall record 77-60, four and a half-games worse than the 83-57 Dragons- who had the best overall record in the 16-team MWL).

9/8:Game One at Fifth Third Field! Lansing took a 1-0 lead in the third and made it 2-0 in the fourth off Daniel Corcino, but the Dragons roared back for a run in the fourth, three in the fifth, and three more over their final two at-bats to complete a 7-3 win! Corcino didn’t give up another run after the fourth, assembling a quality start (W, 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K). Chad Rogers allowed one run in the seventh, but Blaine Howell struck everyone out in the eighth and Drew Hayes spun a 1-2-3 ninth to end it. 1B Donald Lutz slugged a two-run homer and finished 3-for-4 with three RBI. SS Billy Hamilton was 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored. Dayton was 0-for-3 stealing, so it was good the bats were booming. CF Jefry Sierra was 2-for-3 with two RBI and LF Juan Duran 2-for-4 with two runs scored.

9/9: Josh Smith was Delino DeShields’ choice for the start in Game Two as the two teams took a bus ride to Lansing. By winning his final start, Smith pushed ahead of Quad Cities’ Anthony Ferrara to lead the MWL in wins with 14. He also led the circuit with 166 strikeouts, ten ahead of Corcino. Dayton’s offense burst out of the gates, scoring two in the top of the first when Hamilton walked, moved up a base on 2B Ronald Torreyes’ single, then went to third when RF Kurtis Muller was hit by a pitch. Lutz grounded out to score Hamilton. An out later, a passed ball scored the second run. Lansing got one of those back off Smith in the bottom of the inning, but the righthander settled down to allow no more hits for the next four-plus innings, departing in the sixth with one out after hitting the second batter in that inning with a pitch (5.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 8 K). Pat Doyle came on to finish the sixth and seventh as a 97-minute rain delay stopped play. (The Dragons got only one hit after the first inning before the sixth, when Frank Pfister struck out and Tucker Barnhart grounded out to strand Muller at third. Muller singled in his next at-bat, in the eighth, but was thrown out stealing.) Howell then worked the bottom of the eighth, stranding two. Hayes came on for the ninth:

Lansing Bottom of the 9th
• Pitcher Change: Drew Hayes replaces Blaine Howell.
• Marcus Knecht singles on a ground ball to right fielder Kurtis Muller.
• Carlos Perez out on a sacrifice bunt, pitcher Drew Hayes to second baseman Ronald Torreyes. Marcus Knecht to 2nd.
• K. C. Hobson strikes out swinging.
• Matt Nuzzo homers (1) on a fly ball to left field. Marcus Knecht scores.

Tough luck for the All-Star reliever- Nuzzo had hit just .267/.341/.380 during the regular season with four homers in 68 games.

9/10: The walk-off job in Game Two brought us to Game Three in Lansing. (Not sure why the deciding game gets played at the park of the team with the worse record.) Kyle Lotzkar started slowly, allowing two runs in the second (helped along by two Dayton errors) and one in the third. Dayton got two back in the fifth when RF Theo Bowe bunted his way aboard, moved to second on a groundout, took third on Hamilton’s infield hit, and scored on a Torreyes groundout. Hamilton stole second and scored on Barnhart’s double for the second run. Lotzkar gave up the fourth Lansing run on a solo homer in the bottom of the fifth (5 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 6 K). The Dragons loaded the bases with none out in the seventh on Bowe’s bloop single, Sierra’s HBP, and Hamilton’s bunt single. Torreyes hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring Bowe and cutting the lead to 4-3, but Barnhart hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. Dayton went quietly in the eighth and ninth (as Dan Wolford worked through three scoreless innings); thus ended a pretty darn good season.

Lansing went on to sweep Fort Wayne (SD) in the semifinals, but they would lose to Quad Cities (STL) in the finals. A very interesting postscript to this series, with Delino DeShields benching star 3B David Vidal for game two.

Rookie-Pioneer Billings Mustangs

This week: 6-3.
Overall: Finished first half at 20-18, second place, five games behind division champ Missoula (ARI). Second half 24-14. Overall 44-32, best in the Pioneer League North Division- but out of the playoffs. Shades of the 1981 Reds.

8/31: Billings outslugged Helena (MIL), 14-9. 2B Ryan Wright was 3-for-6 with homer #6 (.273, 3 RBI). CF Bryson Smith was 4-for-6 with homer #4 and five RBI (.353). 2B Sammy Diaz hit #2 and 1B Robert Maddox #13.Cole Green started and won (W 3-1, 4.50, 5 IP, 9 H, 4 ER).

9/1: Again with the winning, 7-4. Unfortunately the first-place Voyagers also won, maintaining their lead. Smith homered again (#5) before leaving midgame in favor of Spencer Dickinson, who was 2-for-2 himself. Tony Cingrani pitched five for the win (2-2, 1.99, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K). Brooks Pinckard got save #9 (3.86). Maddox was 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI (.270).

9/2: This is it- the two-game series that might just decide whether Billings goes to the playoffs. And Great Falls (CHW) starts with a bang, whipping the Mustangs 9-2. Ismael Guillon was knocked out in the third (L 3-6, 6.67, 2.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER). Maddox had three hits and homer #14.

9/3: The Voyagers expand their lead again, winning 6-2 and sweeping the short series. Billings outhit Great Falls 11-10, but stranded ten men on base. Carlos Gonzalez, up from the AZL, didn’t have it (4 IP, 6 H, 6 ER).

9/4: Five runs in the eighth produce an 8-6 comeback win over Missoula (ARI). C Danny Vicioso homered (#3) and drove in three (.329) and 3B Junior Arias was 3-for-4 with homer #6 (.242). Wes Mugarian left after four (5.80, 9 H, 5 ER) but lefty Chris Joyce got the win in relief (1-0, 2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K). Pinckard notched save #10. Great Falls won.

9/5: Green pitched six strong innings (W 4-1, 4.24, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K) and the Mustangs lashed seventeen hits in a 6-2 win over the Osprey. (Unfortunately, the Voyagers won again.) Wright hit a three-run bomb, #7, and went 3-for-4 (.291). Dickinson was 3-for-4 with two RBI (.326). Vicioso raised his average to .349 (3-for-4).

9/6: Billings cuts the lead to one with two to play, scoring a 7-0 shutout win coupled with a Voyagers loss. Maddox (#15), Dickinson (#2), and Arias (#7) all homered. Cingrani struck out ten Osprey (W 3-2, 1.75, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 BB).

9/7: In need of a win, the Mustangs couldn’t get it. They lose to Helena, 8-4. Guillon struck out nine in five innings but left a 3-3 tie (6.57). El’Hajj Muhammad gave up what would turn out to be the decisive run (L 2-2, 4.70, 2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K), although the rest of the pen would give up four more runs later. Arias hit homer #8 and Wright had three more hits to climb over .300 on the year. Great Falls lost, giving Billings a chance to tie with a win against a Voyagers loss the next day.

9/8: Give the Mustangs credit- even as Great Falls clinched the second-half division title with a win, they kept playing hard- and they won their season finale 2-1 in 13 innings over the Brewers. LF Steve Selsky, just up from the AZL the week before, homered in the bottom of the 13th to win it. Maddox hit his team-leading 16th homer earlier on. Carlos Gonzalez atoned for his earlier struggled by throwing six one-hit innings (7 K). Mark Leonard retired the last four batters for the W (1-1, 5.23, 1 BB, 1 K).

The Voyagers went on to defeat Missoula in the semi-finals and go on to face Ogden for the Pioneer League title.

Transactnotes: 9/1: OF Steven Selsky and LHR Chris Joyce up from the AZL. 9/2: RHS Dan Jensen to Bakersfield. RHS Carlos Gonzalez up from Arizona. LHR Aguido Gonzalez activated. RHR Jim Moran up from Arizona. 9/4: OF Jon Matthews up from Arizona.

On September 14th, it was announced that RHS Cole Green failed a test for a banned stimulant and will serve a 50-game suspension beginning in 2012.

Rookie-Arizona AZL Reds

Overall: 31-27, second place behind the Dodgers. Wild card winners, lost in the semifinals.