All four squads lost more than they won this week. The Bats and the Dragons both have the worst records in their respective leagues, although I do think both will improve enough to at least not be in that spot by midseason. Bakersfield botched its chance to make some hay on first-place San Jose, suffering a three-game sweep at home, but they managed somehow to stay the same 2.5 games out. Pensacola is up and then itís down; lost, then itís found.
AAA Louisville Bats
Record this week: 2-5.
Overall: 17-37. Last. Now fourteen games back of Indianapolis (PIT). Still the worst record in the IL by several games.
5/24: Indianapolis (PIT) outlasts the Bats 2-1 in 15 innings. Louisville went a clean 0-for-15 with men in scoring position and stranded 14 runners overall. Jeff Francis pitched quite well (4.09, 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 99 pitches/62 strikes). Jordan Smith (L 1-2, 6.14, 1.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER) took the loss after Nick Christiani (3.86, 2 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 1 K) and Scott Carroll (6.26, 3 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 K) held the Indians for a while. The Bats had Cody Puckett on second with one out in the 11th, two on with one out in the 12th, and two on with one out in the 14th. But they couldnít score. Debuting OF Joey Gathright, signed out of indy ball a couple of days before, reached base in both of his at-bats.
5/25: Make it 0-for-24 with RISP over the last two games; Indy wins again, 4-1. Pedro Villareal (L 2-1, 3.70, 5.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K) started.
5/26: After two games in Indy, the two clubs then went to Louisville for two. The Bats managed to take game one, 5-4, as Jordan Smith managed to stop an Indians ninth-inning rally at two runs (save #4, 1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER). Starter Sean Gallagher got the win (W 4-3, 5.09, 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K). Gathright was 1-for-3 with a RBI and walk as well as his first stolen base. RF Danny Dorn was 2-for-3 with a walk and run scored (.211).
5/27: Not only did Indy rally off Carlos Fisher, Travis Webb, and Josh Judy- they piled up seven runs, turning a 4-2 deficit into a 9-4 rout. Fisher saw his ERA expand to 4.81, while Webb got the loss (2-3) as well as the ERA expansion (5.40). Poor Chad Reineke pitched extremely well (4.45, 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K). 1B Neftali Soto was 2-for-3 with homer #6 (.227).
5/28: Wirfin Obispo is still in mid-stretchout mode, as he went from working two innings in his previous outing to three (5.63, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 63 pitches/39 strikes). He departed with a 4-3 lead over Syracuse (WAS), and, thanks to great relief work from Carroll (W 2-3, 5.64, 3 IP, 2 H, 1 K), Christiani (3.49, 2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 K) and Smith (save #5), thatís how it ended. CF Kris Negron was 2-for-3 with homer #5 (.228) and Dorn was 2-for-4 (.218). 3B Willie Harris, while still hitting under .200, had a key two-run double.
5/29: The Chiefs take a day game 6-2, which means this is the worst May for Louisville in 30 years. The Bats actually outhit Syracuse 12-11, but went 3-for-16 with RISP and stranded 11 runners on base. Gathright poked three hits and drove in two (.412) while Harris was a perfect 4-for-4 to raise his average 50 points. Jeff Francis was back to being a tad too hittable (L 2-6, 4.21, 6.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 112 pitches/68 strikes).
5/30: Poor Brett Tomko fell to 0-6 despite yet another quality start (3.12, 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K) as the Chiefs win the series and game 2-1. The veteran has made ten starts for the Bats, and has yet to give up any more than three runs in any of them. 2B Cody Puckett was 2-for-3 with a walk and run scored (.238).
Transactions: 5/24: OF Joey Gathright officially activated (see last weekís report). 5/28: C Brian Peacock promoted from Pensacola.
Around the minors: UT Drew Sutton, who still deserves and hasnít gotten a real shot at being a multiposition utilityman in the big leagues, was traded twice in two days on May 20-21. Atlanta, his fifth organization, sold him to Pittsburgh (#6). The Pirates then turned around and peddled Sutton to the Tampa Bay Rays (#7) for what I presume was a nifty profit. As of today, Sutton has hit .241 in eight games with the Rays.
The Reds are listed by Baseball America as having signed 1B Aldrich Guzman. Guzman has no entries in the Baseball Cube nor does anything come up on a Google search. Weíll see, I guess.
The Cubs signed C Brian Esposito, who was released by the Reds in spring training prior to playing any games that counted. Another player that didnít stick with the Reds organization, LHR Clay Zavada, was picked up by St. Louis and assigned to AAA Memphis. I assume his epic Ďstache came along too. Oakland recalled INF Adam Rosales, who, after a strong 2010 in a utility role (.271/.321/.400 in 80 games), missed a large piece of 2011 with injuries (just 64 games overall) and ineffectiveness (6-for-61 in 24 big-league contests). The 29-year-old had been hitting .277 at AAA Sacramento.
A local indy player with the Florence Freedom, RHP Stephen Shackleford, got a deal with Seattle. Shackleford, 23, is a Louisville native who played at the Savannah College of Art & Design and was originally a 35th-round pick by San Francisco in 2010.
Interview with RHS Sean Gallagher. Mr. Jason Stella (writer of the article), I applaud your yeoman efforts in attempting to make this particular Bats season interesting.
AA Pensacola Blue Wahoos
This week: 3-4.
Overall: 25-28, third place in the South Division, six games behind Mobile (ARI). Down 1.5 games from last week.
5/24: After losing the opener of this five-game set, the Blue Wahoos got a nice combination of offense from LF Yordanys Perez (2-for-3, homer #3, 2 RBI), defense from CF Ryan LaMarre (two runners thrown out at home), and pitching (JC Sulbaranís 5.2 innings of two-run ball) to beat Mississippi (ATL), 4-2. Sulbaran evened his record at 3-3 and cut his ERA to 4.41 (7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 79 pitches/48 strikes). Donnie Joseph got the last five outs for save #11 (1 H, 3 K, 0.36). He also bailed out Curtis Partch, leaving the bases loaded in the eighth. RF Josh Fellhauer added a single and double (.330) and C Mark Fleury didnít make an out (1-for-1, 2 BB, RBI, R, .184).
5/25: Pensacola stormed back to tie the game at 5 with a five-run fifth, but the Braves got the tiebreaker in the top of the ninth at the expense of Mr. Joseph to win it 6-5. Donnie fell to 4-1 and his ERA nearly doubled to 0.69; itís only the second earned run heís given up all season. Kyle Lotzkar struggled (3.20, 3.1 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 6 BB, 5 K) although Wilkin de la Rosa (1.59, 2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 K) and Justin Freeman (3.38, 2 IP, 1 H, 1 K) pitched well in relief. 1B Joel Guzman was 2-for-4 with two RBI (.274) and LF PJ Phillips doubled in two (.211).
5/26: The Braves clinched a series win with five runs in the eighth, taking the game 7-3. Mark Serrano faced six batters and gave up six hits (L 3-1, 4.33, 4 ER). Clayton Tanner allowed one of his runners to score but managed to stop the bleeding (4.22, 2 IP, 1 BB, 2 K). Starter Daniel Corcino worked six very nice innings (3.50, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K). RF AJ Means homered (#1, 2-for-4, .280) and 3B David Vidal had a single and double (.171).
5/27: The BWs blew up for four in the bottom of the eighth to win it, 7-5, and salvage two in the series. Serrano got the win despite giving up a solo homer in the top of the eighth (W 4-1, 4.46) and Joseph got save #12. Starter Tim Crabbe was out in the third (4.04, 2.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 3 K) although Drew Hayes bailed him out with the bases loaded (5.23, 2.1 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 2 K). Means homered again, a three-run bomb that proved decisive in the eighth (#2, 3-for-4, .345).
5/28: Pensacola had gotten just one hit off Jackson (SEA) phenom Danny Hultzen the last time they faced him, but the 2011 #2 pick walked seven and left with a no-decision. This time he was on point, firing six shutout innings in the Generalsí 5-0 victory. Tim Gustafson took the loss (2-2, 5.04, 5.2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 1 HR). The BWs came away with ten hits in the game total, but left 14 men on base. LaMarre (.278), SS Didi Gregorius (.269) and Perez (.245) each had multiple safeties.
5/29: This time the Wahoos managed to draw a pitcher of considerably more modest pedigree (25-year-old lefty Steve Garrison, signed as a six-year free agent in the offseason after posting an ERA over 5 at Double-A in the Yankees system), but they still couldnít get the bats going well enough. Garrison scattered seven hits over six two-run innings en route to a 4-2 Jackson win. JC Sulbaran was just a little too hittable (L 3-4, 4.58, 6 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HR). 2B Brodie Greene was 2-for-3 with a double, walk, and RBI (.250) as he attempts to break a cycle thatís seen him slug .283 in the month of May.
5/30: Pensacola manages to draw another non-phenom starter, Taylor Stanton- a 26th-round draft pick whoís been primarily a reliever in 2012- and this time makes a little hay, scoring seven through three innings and waltzing to a 7-3 win. Kyle Lotzkar bounced back nicely from a rough previous outing (W 2-1, 3.16, 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 K) with Drew Hayes turning in two good frames after him (4.76, 1 H, 3 K). Fleury doubled twice and drove in two (.186) and Phillips had two hits and two runs scored (.196, steal #2). 1B Stephen Hunt was 1-for-2 with two walks and two RBI (.231).
Transactions: 5/28: C Brian Peacock up to Louisville; C Chris Berset up from Bakersfield.
High-A Bakersfield Blaze
This week: 3-4.
Overall: 29-23, second place, still two and a half games behind San Jose (SF) despite being swept on May 24-26.
5/24: San Jose (SF), the division leader and perennial California League heavyweight, rolled into Sam Lynn Stadium. If Bakersfield swept these three games, theyíd be in first place. LF Juan Duranís clutch solo homer (#5) tied the game at 3 in the bottom of the ninth, but the Blaze couldnít get Billy Hamilton past third (stealing #43 and #44 after walking) in the tenth. Nor could they get Duran past second in the eleventh after he led off with an infield single and was sacrificed over. After the Giants got a run in the top of 12, they had a bid to tie when Don Lutz doubled with two outs- but after Travis Mattair managed a walk, Dominic DíAnna grounded into a force play to end the game. Loss to Chris Joyce (L 0-1, 6.75) following great relief work by Jamie Walczak (2.2 IP, 4 K, 6.33) and Brian Pearl (1.48, 2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K). Starter Tony Cingrani didnít pitch badly, but it was a weaker effort from him by comparison (1.05, 5.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K). Lutz homered in the first (#13, 2-for-4, .306) and 2B Devin Lohman in the sixth (#6, 3-for-6, .256) to go with Duranís 3-for-5 (.202).
5/25: San Jose had an easier time of it in game two, scoring five in the sixth to blow out a 4-4 game. They won 9-5, notching seventeen hits. Justice French gave up ten in four innings (2.14, 4 R, 3 ER) but it was the struggling Brooks Pinckard who took the loss (0-2, 13.14, 1 IP, 4 ER). Hamilton nabbed two more bags (46) but the Blaze had no extra-base hits at all.
5/26: Again a big inning turned a close one into a blowout, as the Giants finish the road sweep with five in the seventh en route to a 8-2 win. Pat Doyle (L 3-2, 4.71, 1 IP, 3 ER, 4 BB) saw his control go out on him. Kyle McMyne gave up two runs in 1.2 innings of his High-A debut. Dan Renken had a solid start (4.68, 5.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K) but he definitely isnít pitching as deep into games as he was last year with Dayton. Lohman (.263) and Mattair (.223) each had multiple hits; the Blaze actually outhit the Giants 10-8 but stranded ten runners. Hamilton swiped #47 while going 1-for-5; his average dropped to .310.
5/27: Inland Empire (SEA) made it four straight home losses for Bakersfield, 6-5 in ten innings. CF Bryson Smith hit a two-run homer (#5) in the first and doubled home Lohman in the ninth to tie the game at 5 (after Hamilton was thrown out at home trying to score from second on Devinís base hit). Smith finished 3-for-5 to raise his average to .347. LF Theo Bowe was 2-for-4 with a double (.362). Sharky Rogers lasted 6.2 (2.14, 9 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) but it was Dan Wolford (L 4-3, 4.55) who took the defeat. Hamilton did get two more steals (49) while finishing 1-for-4 with a walk and run scored.
5/28: Josh Smith played stopper, turning in six strong (W 3-4, 4.98, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) as the Blaze lashed 12 hits. They beat the 66ers 6-2. Joyce followed with two hitless innings (4.66, 1 BB, 3 K) and Mike Griffin finished up (4.96, 1 IP, 1 H). Hamilton had three hits and two RBI to go with three more steals (52, .316) while Bowe was 3-for-4 from the nine hole (.392) with his seventh bag. DíAnna hit a solo homer, his first in the Cal League.
5/29: The Blaze stranded 13 runners, but they got so many hits (15) that they were able to win it anyway, triumphing 5-3. Tony Cingrani didnít miss bats at his normal rate for the second straight start (W 5-1, 1.11, 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) but he was still effective. McMyne retired five straight batters in his second Cal League outing, stranding two of Cingraniís baserunners in the process. Pat Doyle did the same for Mike Griffin, then Brian Pearl worked the ninth for save #8 (1.37, 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K). Mattair was 3-for-5 with a double (.232) and four other Bakersfield starters had two hits. Hamilton got two more steals (54) while going 1-for-4 with a walk. Utilityman James Ewing, DHing in the nine slot in this one, contributed a single, double, and two RBI (.205). 3B Niko Vasquez, the newest Blaze (Blazer?) was 2-for-4 with a walk, run scored and RBI (.250).
5/30: Justice French was hammered a second time in as many starts by the Giants (3.65, 3.2 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 0 K), as he hit a brick wall in the fourth, but the Blaze had already built a 6-0 lead by that time thanks to five walks in two-plus by the San Jose starter. Pat Doyle took over and set down 10 Giants in a row (W 4-2, 4.18, 3.1 IP, 1 K) and Jamie Walczak (save #1, 2 IP, 1 H, 1 K, 6.30) finished up to knock down a 7-5 Bakersfield win! Duran keeps hitting (2-for-4, 2 RBI, .215) and the Blaze got people on base consistently up and down the lineup.
Transactions: 5/24: RHR Kyle McMyne promoted from Dayton. LHR Ryan Kiel placed on the DL. 5/26: 1B Don Lutz placed on the 7-day DL. INF Niko Vasquez, 23, was signed as a free agent and activated. Vasquez was the Cardinalsí third-round pick in 2008 out of a Nevada high school, ascending as high as Double-A in 2011. However, he has just a .233/.328/.354 career line in 481 pro games. He appears to have a decent batting eye, but has always posted low batting averages and high strikeout totals to go with mediocre power. 5/28: C Danny Vicioso promoted from Dayton. C Chris Berset up to Pensacola.
No minor league performance may be so singularly impressive this season as that of high Class A Bakersfield LHP Tony Cingrani, who has allowed a mere 12 runs in nine starts in the pitcher's nightmare that is the California League. The 21-year-old allowed 12 hits and two walks in 11 1/3 innings in two starts this week, but he bore down when it counted, allowing just four runs (three earned) and striking out 16. The Reds 2011 third-rounder now leads the Cal League in ERA (1.05), strikeouts (69), WHIP (0.92) and opponent average (.188) . . .
Very nice article summarizing the rise of German-born Donald Lutz.
Low-A Dayton Dragons
This week: 3-4.
Overall: 20-33. Three more games lost; now 18.5 out. Lansing is killing it (38-14).
5/24: A day after Lansing (TOR) rallied for four game-winning runs in the bottom of the ninth, the division-leading Lugnuts had no problem taking another one. They took advantage of starter Dan Jensenís control issues (L 2-4, 3.21, 4 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 6 BB, 1 K) and won easily 5-2
5/25: Dayton scored four runs in the first, but again Lansing came back- scoring five in the third and holding on to sweep the series, 8-7. 2B Ryan Wright was 3-for-4 with three RBI (.312). RF Kyle Waldrop hit a two-run homer (#1, 2-for-3, .268). Radhames Quezada fell to 1-6 (4.56, 3 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 K).
5/26: The Dragons headed to West Michigan (DET) and managed to rally for four in the seventh and beat the Whitecaps 8-6. Tanner Robles survived a four-spot in the first to last 5.2 (3.98, 9 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 2 K). Ryan Kemp worked 2.1 for the win (1-0, 2.30, 1 H, 3 K). Carlos Contreras got save #3. CF Kurtis Muller hit a solo homer (#2) and finished 2-for-4 with three runs scored (.455). 1B Danny Vicioso had a double and single (.220, R, RBI). Wright pushed his average to .316 with two more hits.
5/27: Again the Dragons rally! They storm back from a 3-0 deficit in the gameís final third to take game two, 6-3. SS Juan Perez lashed three hits and drove in two (.242). Waldrop was 3-for-4 with homer #2 (.280) and Wright made it three in a row with multiple hits (.320, 2 RBI, 2-for-4). 1B Sean Buckley was 2-for-3 (.193). Stalin Gerson scattered nine hits over seven (W 3-3, 4.12, 0 BB, 5 K). ElíHajj Muhammad worked the eighth (3.97) and Contreras the ninth for save #4 (3.16).
5/28: West Michigan got this one, 3-1. Jake Johnson went five (L 0-1, 2.40, 5 IP, 7 H, 3 ER). Muller had a single and double and run scored (.400, BB) and LF Steve Selsky a pair of singles (.280, RBI).
5/29: Jensen seems to be getting hit harder and harder as the season wore on. The UC alumnus fell to 2-5 with another rough outing (4.42, 3 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 3 BB) in the Whitecapsí 8-0 shutout win. The six-foot-eight righthander also committed two fielding errors. Muller had three hits and Buckley two (.198).
5/30: Perhaps those Dragons bats are truly turning a corner. Dayton took it to South Bend (ARI) phenom Archie Bradley, last yearís #7 overall pick, for nine runs (eight earned) in four-plus innings! They hung on to win 9-6, with Quezada (W 2-6, 4.30, 5 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K) looking back to the way he did in April. Cole Green was whooped for four runs, but Muhammad (3.38, 2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K) and Ryan Kemp (2.54, 1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER) managed to get it closed out. Kurtis Muller is on fire- he hit a third homer, finishing 2-for-3 with three runs scored (.459). C Yovan Gonzalez had a bases-loaded double. 3B Joe Terry had two hits and two RBI (.224).
Transactions: 5/24: RHR Kyle McMyne promoted to High-A. RHR Jimmy Moran activated from Billings. 5/28: C Danny Vicioso to Bakersfield; RHR Cole Green activated from suspension.
OF Kyle Waldrop was named the Midwest League Hitter of the Week for 5/21-5/27, going 10-for-19 with two homers and seven RBI.