6/14 Minor League Wrap-Up

Every now and then something happens like this in the minors: Columbus leadoff man Brandon Watson extended his hit streak yesterday to 40 games, two shy of the International League Record.  The longest streak in the history of the minors, however, is so far off that it even tops DiMaggio's 56 game MLB hit streak: Joe Wilhoit mounted a 69 game hitting streak in 1919.  DiMaggio himself did come close, though, putting up a 61 gamer in 1933 with San Francisco, which still stands as the PCL record.  Watson's streak is the longest since Orlando Moreno's 43 gamer with AA Louisville in 1961.

Some other things from the comment threads for yesterday's entry:

- Phildopip went to yesterday's Portland-Rainiers game and remarked that Clement's bat looked just fine and up to speed.  Like most of you reading, I had to doubt the bat-speed reports when Clement started to rebound strong.  Scouts are observant and usually get it right, but sometimes we forget that many of their observations are made in a vacuum, made while watching 1-2 games during a series, without an awareness of any larger context.

Remember that... as much as I hate bringing this deal up... part of what led the M's to deal Soriano was not just the availability issue, but a scouting trip where scouts saw him throwing mid 80's fastballs in the Dominican fall league.  They relayed that info to management, who likely took that into account when deciding to deal him to Atlanta for lefthanded trash.  What the scouts didn't know was that Soriano was battling the flu and was well under the weather at the time, yet was pitching anyway.

Why didn't scouts and management consult these sources who knew Soriano was sick?  Maybe they weren't aware of these sources.  Maybe they were and blew the flu news off as an excuse from conflicted interests.  Maybe they thought, "Even if a guy's sick, he doesn't lose 10 mph off his four seamer!"  Or maybe they just didn't know and no one was there to make sure they knew.

Who knows?  The world of baseball scouts, reports, management, players and coaches is a vast network and not everyone is connected.  It'd be easy to call this inexcuseable, but this sort of disconnect is hardly infrequent.  I'd even wager that it's commonplace and even standard.

- Also, though I edited yesterday's recap to reflect this, I must bring it up again: High Desert's Marwin Vega left the game because he got drilled on the side of the head by a line drive that ricocheted into the outfield.  Medics and trainers jumped right in to help him and got him to a nearby hospital pronto.  Fortunately, Vega was treated and released in time to make it back to the space park before the end of the game.  It appears he's going to be fine... if not feeling a little cautious in the near future for very obvious reasons.

That said, I cannot believe I wasn't paying enough attention to my sources to have caught this and I apologize.  I've been rushing a bit the last few days to throw these up, so I need to pay better attention.

Thanks for the heads up to J and our resident mavs fan, who also notes that Mavs mascot Wooly Bully was injured after he fell from the roof of one of the dugouts, requiring a 2nd appearance from the ambulance.  Fortunately, Wooly Bully should also be okay.

- According to Chris Mehring, who covers the T-Rats direct and keeps the quality blog Rattler Radio, a great blog that covers the T-Rats and does some fine retrospective pieces... Quad Cities apparently practices a tandem rotation system:

Eight guys rotate over the 5 spots.  I gather that some guys are full timers, but for the lower spots, two guys swap roles: one guy starts and throws 75 pitches or 4-5 innings, while the other guy relieves him and goes 4 innings while throwing 60-75 pitches.  If another reliever is needed later, then fine, but that's the plan.

This is why Swing starter Elvis Hernandez has 8 starts and 7 relief appearances.  It's not because he's inconsistency, but because he simply takes turns with another starter and it was his turn today.

  • J at Mariner Minors has also mentioned at MM that with Juan Beltran coming off the DL for Wisconsin, the Mariners have sent Greg Halman, Kalian Sams and Ogui Diaz to Everett, whose season will begin pretty soon.  Those three have hit pretty poorly all year and could certainly use the time against lesser and/or more unseasoned competition.
  • The Dominican Summer League is underway!  However, MiLB doesn't cover the league for whatever reason, and box scores are pretty tough to find, so like J, I'm gonna refer you to the day-after recaps of Jonathan Helfgott with the Global Baseball Blog for your DSL info.  I'll check in from time to time, though given I can barely cover the VSL Mariners WITH readily available info, I think it's best I leave this one to better informed writers.
  • Also, I'd be remiss not to mention our friend from BCB who lives near Appleton and was able to shed some light on the bumper cars incident involving Anthony Varvaro, Steven Richard and Kyle Parker.  Apparently, since minor leaguers often get crappy cars for the season that they won't need for obvious reasons after the year, they like to go to parking lots and smash them up.  Somes cops caught them in the act of doing so and decided to cite them, even though the only cars they were damaging were their own.  Thanks to eamuscatuli for that info, and it appears that this is even less of a non-big deal than we originally thought, falling into 'big misunderstanding' and 'worth a chuckle' territory.  I can now joke about it with impunity... not that I wasn't in the first place, LOL.
I must say I learned quite a bit yesterday.  Thanks to everyone who chimed in, and to anyone in the know who ever has new info to offer.

Rk:  VSL Mariners 5, VSL Cubs/Twins 4

Reynaldo Sabala:  3 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, walk, 2 K, 2 wild pitches
Kelvin Montbrum:  3.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 K, hit batter
Mayckol Guaipe:  1 IP, 1 H, walk
Jose Jimenez:  1.1 IP, walk, K
Terry Serrano:  2-3, double, R, RBI, walk (.267)
Carlos Ramirez:  1-4, RBI, K (.330)
Jonathan Loaisiga:  3-4, double, 2 R (.293)
Cesar Del Rio:  2-4, triple, R, 3 RBI (.279)

The score made it look a lot closer than it was for the most part.  The VSLM's jumped out to a 5-1 lead before the 5th, and it took a 3 run 7th that knocked reliever Kelvin Montbrum out of the game to make it close.  Mayckol Guaipe did watch catcher Cesar Del Rio pass a ball, then walked the bases loaded, but he got a grounder for the force out that ended the threat.  Guaipe got three groundballs in the 8th, one of which got through for a hit, before getting pulled for Jose Jimenez (not the Cards pitcher that threw a no-hitter), who got the last 4 outs to seal yet another VSLM's win.

You keep seeing the names Terry Serrano and Carlos Ramirez, because each day they keep getting on base and/or knocking in runs.  A great way to get noticed is to consistently produce.

A:  Quad Cities 5, Wisconsin 1

Nathan Adcock:  7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 5 K, hit batter
Drew Fiorenza:  1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER (HR), walk
Reed Eastley:  1-4, RBI
Carlos Peguero:  1-3, double
rest of T-Rats lineup:  3-24, R, 4 K

Another tough game where the T-Rats couldn't get anything going at the plate.  Nathan Adcock bought them as much time as he could, but even after Drew Fiorenza allowed 3 runs to put it out of reach, the 2 runs Adcock allowed over 7 were the difference.  It's a shame because Adcock pitched a brilliant game, inducing grounders from 60% of the batters he faced, and the only two line drives he surrendered came during the fateful 2 run 4th.

Flyballs:  3
Groundballs:  15
Line Drives:  2
Walks:  0 (1 hit batter)
Strikeouts:  4

Also, welcome to Joseph White, who DH'd yesterday in his T-Rats debut and went 0 for 3.  The 21 year old  posted a 250/424/383 line in Everett last season.

A:  Lancaster 15, High Desert 3

Ruben Flores:  3.1 IP, 12 H, 10 ER (2 HR), 4 walks, 2 K, hit batter
Miguel Marquez:  3.2 IP, 6 H, (4 R) 2 ER (HR), 3 walks, 3 K, 2 wild pitches
Juan Zapata:  1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER (HR), K
Austin Bibens-Dirkx:  1 IP, 2 walks
Casey Craig:  2-4 (.339)
Jesus Guzman:  1-3, 2 run HR, walk, K (.276)
Jeff Flaig:  3-3, solo HR (.211)
rest of Mavs lineup:  1-21, R, walk, 4 K

This game is what most teams would refer to as a nightmare.  Ruben Flores just got destroyed in the first inning for 6 runs, and these weren't bleeder through the hole runs, these were off line drives, FIVE of them in the 1st, and one towering home run.  If not for a thin bullpen, he probably should have been pulled after that, but they needed innings from him and he did what he could.  He settled down in the 2nd but then the line drives came again in the 3rd, and Flores got as far as the 4th before surrendering another home run, plunking a batter and getting the hook.  Generally, the average hurler in the Cal League sees batters hit a line drive on about 10-15% of balls in play, maybe 20%: Flores watched 41% of his batters hit liners.

Flyballs:  3 (2 of which left the yard: thanks, space park!)
Groundballs:  6
Line Drives:  9
Walks:  4 (1 hit batter)
Strikeouts:  2

Replacing him was a new face!  Pitcher Miguel Marquez is the most recent piece of proof that a good season in the VSL can get you somewhere, as he made his Mavs debut... and got pounded in an erratic outing, but still.

The bats sure didn't help, as Kristofer Johnson held down the fort for 6 innings, only getting touched up by a 2 run Johan Limonta homer in his final frame before he left with a 13-2 lead.  A GIDP killed a leadoff single in the 3rd, and after singling with two outs, Casey Craig ran himself into the 3rd out at 3rd on a Michael Saunders single.  Two well hit balls in the 4th found Jethawks fielders.  Not that the deficit could have been overcome with positive bounces in those instances, but Jethawks luck in the field certainly helped them keep the Mavs down.  It certainly wasn't Johnson's pitching that did it.

Flyballs:  5 (one HR)
Groundballs:  9
Line Drives:  5
Walks:  1
Strikeouts:  2

AA:  Tennessee 6, West Tenn 3

Andrew Baldwin:  6 IP, 9 H, 6 ER (HR), 2 K
The Aircraft Carrier:  1 IP, 2 K
Craig James:  1 IP, 2 H
Prentice Redman:  1-4, double, R, 2 K (.272)
Marshall Hubbard:  2-4, double, R, RBI, K (.247)
Luis Valbuena:  1-3, solo HR (.228)
Rene Rivera:  0-3, 2 K (.193)

The majority of the damage came in a huge bottom 2nd.  Baldwin struck out 2 in a 1-2-3 1st, but Josh Kroeger led off the 2nd with his 11th HR of the season to put the Smokies on the board.  Then Matt Craig lined a single.  Then Casey McGehee lined a triple to center to score Craig, 2-0.    Gary Cates bunted to score McGeheee, 3-0, then Issmael Salas grounded to short for two outs.  But Joe Simokaitis hit a towering double, and Sam Fuld, Mr. Temper Tantrum from yesterday, hit a flyball that dropped in to extend his hit streak to 13 games, while scoring Simokaitis to make it 4-0 as Fuld took 2nd.  Jorge Cortes lined a single to score Fuld and it was 5-0.

Baldwin almost got lit up again in the 3rd as Kroeger and Craig lined back to back singles, but McGehee GIDP'd, though that drove in Kroeger to make it 6-0, and Gary Cates grounded out to end that threat.  Baldwin gave up a couple flyballs in the 4th which were caught and THEN he settled down, inducing groundouts and finishing the 6th without further incident.  The last 3 innings were good, but you can't be a good pitcher when you pitch the way Baldwin did in the 2nd and 3rd (and maybe even the start of the 4th).

Flyballs:  6
Groundballs:  11 (1 bunt)
Line Drives:  6
Walks:  0
Strikeouts:  2

The DIAMOND JAXX plated a run in the 4th and 2 more in the 7th to get in range and chase Kevin Hart, who struck out 8 over 7 innings and pitched well, but the Smokies bullpen would not let West Tenn get closer.

The loss puts Baldwin at 1-7 with a 5.38 ERA.  The guy has enough ability and talent to be useful, but he has looked anything but far too often.  Consistency is his demon.

AAA:  Tucson 3, Tacoma 1, 12 innings

Juan Sandoval (!):  3 IP, 1 H, 1 ER (HR), 2 walks, K
Edward Paredes (debut!):  5 IP, 0 H, walk, 5 K, hit batter
Ryan Rowland-Smith:  3 IP, 2 H, 2 walks, 5 K, hit batter
Byron Embry:  1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, walk, K
Gookie Dawkins:  1-2, double, K, tossed in 3rd, no, I'm not sure why either, probably a close defensive play
Adam Jones:  3-5, double, walk (.332)
Bryan LaHair:  2-5, RBI, walk, K (.257)
WLAD:  0-6, K (.297)
Jeff Clement:  0-2, walk (.250)
Rob Johnson (subbed for Clement):  0-1 (.251)

Despite this being a pretty tight game, this is already a long recap, so let's just say the bats weren't there today and the bullpen ran out of gas down the stretch, especially given Feierabend was supposed to start today, but Hargrove wanted Ryan to come up so he could sit in the bullpen and do nothing better than Jake Woods, so he disappears and a rather undeserving Juan Sandoval was forced into starting duty.  To his credit, Juan didn't do too badly over 3 innings of work.

Edward Paredes relieved Sandoval and dazzled with 5 no-hit innings in a surprise debut.  According to Ryan Divish at the News Tribune, Paredes, a 21 year old lefthander, is headed to Everett in a week, but this was quite the performance on the spot by the kid.  Don't be fooled: novelty likely helped him here and it's no guanrantee he'd be able to replicate the feat with his current makeup once AAA hitters got a better look at him.

Sean Burroughs, BTW, is gonzo.  He reported to the Rainiers FORTY pounds overweight, and did not impress in his 12 ABs, so goodbye.  Mike Morse, who you haven't seen because he's been on the DL with minor injuries, came back off and will take the no-talent assclown's place on the roster.  This doesn't explain why the rather large Byron Embry is allowed to stick around in his current shape, but okay.

Meanwhile, Wife Vulture was in New York to appear in court for obvious reasons, so to shore up the pen, Aaron Cotter and Robert Harmon were brought in to help out.  Cotter and Harmon are likely heading with Paredes to Everett when the Aquasox season starts in about a week.

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