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5/9 Minor League Wrap-Up

Before I begin, I'm compelled to mention that Mariner Minors, where J has done a great job for ages and ages, now has a couple of new writers that offer some close-up, thus of course very useful, perspectives on a couple of our affiliates.

Josh Martin lives in Memphis, TN and, being close to the action in Jackson, goes to DIAMOND JAXX games and does some neat time-to-time write-ups on the club, while Bob Moschin lives near High Desert and his articles take a closer look at higlights from the Mavs' games.  Both have done a solid job thus far and I encourage anyone with a keen interest in the M's prospects to give them a read... if you haven't already bookmarked MM ;P

So now... Lancaster absolutely destroys Paul Fagan, who is being reattached by Michael Saunders, Casey Craig, some crazy glue and a pair of pliers as we speak... the T-Rats get beat up and rained on but when the skies clear, it was them who beat up on the Loons... the DIAMOND JAXX couldn't quite get the bats going in the Mississippi heat, though the AA Braves certainly got theirs going against Robert Rohrbaugh... while Tacoma quickly tacked on two runs against Round Rock, and let Justin Lehr and the bullpen do the rest.

A:  Lancaster 15, High Desert 6

Paul Fagan:  5.1 IP, 12 H, 10 ER, 4 walks, 2 K (ERA 7.07)
Jason Snyder:  1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER (HR), 2 walks, K, hit batter
John Sullivan:  no outs recorded, 1 ER, headhunted hit batter, 1 ejection
Austin Bibens-Dirkx:  1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, walk, K, hit batter
Casey Craig:  3-5, double, 2 R, RBI (.289)
Michael Saunders:  2-5, 2 doubles, 2 R, 3 RBI, K (.235)
Jesus Guzman:  3-5, RBI, K (.307)
Johan Limonta:  2-4, RBI (.352)
Adam Moore:  0-3 (.225)
Josh Womack:  3-4, 2 R (.213)

In teh face of unpredictable circumstances, the Mavs made a predictable choice for today's start, going with Paul Fagan... who got lit up out of the gate in the 1st, recovered until the 4th, when he got lit up again, and went into full on HoRam mode until he was pulled in the 6th.  Given the tired bullpen following yesterday's crazy game, the Mavs needed Fagan to go as long as he could and left him in.

The offense said what the hell and staged a couple of little rallies in the 5th (2 runs) and 7th (3 runs) but were hopelessly out of it at both points, and neither rally was for more than pride.

Apparently, frustration set in as runner after runner trotted across the plate for Lancaster, as John Sullivan came in to start the 8th, with the Mavs down 12-6, and Sully immediately plunked Lancaster DH Scott White, earning himself the EJECTION.  Not sure what prompted that, as White, who had a couple hits and 3 RBI, hadn't hit any home runs nor, by any accounts, spiked or tackled anybody on the basepaths (plus he was the DH so he clearly didn't do anything on the field to prompt this), nor did Lancaster pitching previously plunk anybody.  To the Jethawks' credit, they did not use this as a prompt for a beanball war (and they were up huge), and kept it clean.  To add insult, the runner Sullivan put on via plunkage eventually scored off Austin Bibens-Dirkx, as did two others, to make it 15-6.  Unless Sullivan was ordered to plunk the batter, I bet he's in some sort of trouble.

Meanwhile, Johan Limonta and Josh Womack remained hot with multi-hit games, while Jesus (Guzman) Has Risen! for 3 hits after a little slump, as did Michael Saunders with two doubles, knocking in three.

NEXT:  Time to play GUESS TONIGHT'S STARTER!  I'm gonna go with Aaron Cotter.  6:30 pm PDT.

A:  Wisconsin 6, Great Lakes 4

Chris Tillman:  1 IP, 3 H, (4 R) 2 ER, walk, K
Lots of rain.
Steve Uhlmansiek:  3.2 IP, 0 H, 2 walks, 6 K.  Talk about answering the bell.
Joe Kantakevich:  3.1 IP, K
Andrew Barb:  1 IP for the save.
The freshly demoted Alex Meneses:  0-3, 2 walks, K
Carlos Triunfel:  0-1, sent to the hotel during rain delay (.238)
Ogui Diaz:  1-4, K (.228)
Leury Bonilla:  3-5, R, K (.301)
Carlos Peguero:  1-5, R, K (.232)
Alex Liddi:  0-1, sent to the hotel during rain delay (.213)
Hargrove's kid:  2-3, 3 run HR (!!!), walk (.239)  Damn, Little Rain Delay loves his rain delays.
Kuo Hui Lo:  2-4, R (.175)
Gavin Dickey:  2-4, double, 2 RBI, walk (.210)

One of these days, we're really going to find it, and then nobody can stop us. Come mid-May, we're going to fly off. By far, we're the best team in the league. I'm telling you. You can write it on paper. We're the best team in this league. - Greg Halman

The arrival of three things keyed this game.

One: A new face showed up at 2B: Alex Meneses, demoted from AA to get more playing time, work on his fundamentals and bolster the T-Rats lineup with his 1337 hitting skillz.  In his place, the functional glove but punchless bat of Luis Nunez was moved to the Everett roster, which at this preseason stage basically serves as a glorified inactive list.

Two:  Chris Tillman had another crappy day.  He led off by walking Bridger Hunt.  A reasonably well hit ball to right by Francisco Lizarraga (now THAT's a name) was playable, but Kalian Sams dropped it, and everybody was safe.  The runners were going with Preston Mattingly's grounder to 3rd, and Liddi didn't have a play and the bases were loaded.  Eduardo Perez (no, not THAT Eduardo Perez) lined a shot back at Tillman, which deflected off Tillman's leg... into left field, scoring Hunt and Lizarraga as Preston Baseball took 3rd.  2-0, no outs.  Matt Berezay gave a pitch a good shot and it dropped into right for a single that scored Mattingly and moved Perez to 2nd, 3-0 Loons.  Adolfo Gonzalez hit a flyball and FINALLY, Kalian Sams got under and caught it for the first out of the inning.  Josh Bell came to the plate, and catcher Juan Beltran made a pickoff throw to 1st, and Leury Bonilla couldn't glove it, allowing Perez to score, 4-0 Loons.  Despite that, Berezay stayed at 1st... but took off for 2nd on the next pitch, and Beltran gunned him down at 2nd for two outs.  Josh Bell clearly got distracted in the melee, and swung at strike three to end the inning.

Tillman would settle down... in the dugout, because...

Three: The rain.  After the T-Rats went down in order the rain REALLY started coming down and the umps halted play for a couple hours.  As 7 pm local time passed towards 8 pm, manager Jim Horner, not sure if the game would even continue, and realizing that two of his infielders, Alex Liddi and Carlos Triunfel, were still underage and couldn't play into the wee hours, pulled Liddi and Triunfel from the lineup and sent them back to the motel.  Andy Hargrove took Liddi's spot and 1st base, as Leury Bonilla shifted from 1st to 3rd, and speedy Ogui Diaz, relegated to utility infielder duty, took Phenom's spot in the lineup and at short.  And when the umps announced that play would resume shortly before 9:30 pm local time, Tillman, having cooled in the dugout for two hours, couldn't safely re-warmup and continue, so he was done as well, and Steve Uhlmansiek warmed up for what would be a stretched-out appearance, his biggest test as he continues his comeback from TJ surgery.

The tarp came off, play resumed and Uhlmansiek put down the side in order.  Michael Gardner relieved Thomas Malgarejo, and Juan Beltran smoked a worm-burner up the middle, then Gavin Dickey, looking much better lately, drew a walk, but Alex Meneses, still readjusting to Single A pitching, took strike three for one out.  Ogui Diaz tapped one to short and SS Francisco Lizarraga couldn't play a play on the still-slippery infield, loading the bases.  But Leury Bonilla took strike three and Carlos Peguero's shot to left found the glove of LF Matt Berezay to end the inning.

Uhlmansiek worked another quick inning in the 3rd, and Little Hargrove came out and led off with a massive shot so far over the left center wall that it bounced off the adjoining sidewalk and into the street! T-Rats on the board!  What.

Kalian Sams drew a walk, and Kuo Hui Lo hit a sharp grounder into LF to move Sams to 3rd.  Gardner lost a pitch and plunked Juan Beltran, loading the bases with nobody out.  Could Gavin Dickey stay hot?  Flyball into center and YES, it hit the grass, scoring Sams and Lo to cut the lead to 4-3 as Beltran took 2nd.  Gardner had nothing and he was done, ceding to Joe Jones.  Alex Meneses continued working the count, and drew a walk to reload the bases.  There was still nobody out.

Ogui Diaz put it on ground to short, as Lizarraga threw to Adolfo Gonzalez at 2B for one, and over to Eduardo Perez at 1B for two, but Beltran came in on the play to score and tie the ballgame at 4 as Dickey took 3rd.  Leury Bonilla hit a sharp liner but right to Adolfo Gonzalez at 2nd for the 3rd out.

Both teams traded zeros from here, the pitchers having the advantage of facing hitters rusty from the rain delay and tired from being up in the wee hours.  Uhlmansiek lasted until the middle of the 5th, recording an impressing 3.2 innings in relief before ceding to Joe Kantakevich, who despite being a 1-2 inning middle reliever himself was also given the green light to go as far as possible.

The T-Rats looked like they were going down again in the 7th against Joe Jones, who to his credit settled down after that big inning.  Alex Meneses was now swinging at pitches, but grounded out to 2nd.  Ogui Diaz couldn't make contact on strike three, for two outs.  But Leury Bonilla's flyball hit the grass for a single, and Carlos Peguero's grounder to 2nd couldn't be played.  Then Little Rain Delay drew a walk and the bases were loaded.  But Kalian Sams pulled a Player A and popped up along the 1B line for the 3rd out.

Kantakevich took care of business in the bottom 7th, and Miguel Sanfier came in to relieve Joe Jones for the Loons in the top 8th.  Lo flew out to right for one and Juan Beltran swung at strike three for two, but Gavin Dickey crushed one, dropping it in front of the wall in center for a double, and Alex Meneses drew another walk.  Ogui Diaz lined one off the glove of sprawling 3B Joshua Bell, and Dickey turned for home.  Lizarraga at SS grabbed the deflected ball and gunned down Dickey at home for the 3rd out.

Kantakevich mowed the side again in the bottom 8th.  Sanfier came back out for the top 9th, and Leury Bonilla welcomed him back with a grounder into right for a single.  Carlos Peguero grounded to 2nd and Adolfo Gonzalez flipped to short but YIKES AND AWAY into the outfield, and Bonilla took 3rd while a hustling Peguero moved over to 2nd.  Little Rain Delay smoked a grounder to the left side and it got through to score Bonilla and Paguero, giving the T-Rats the 6-4 lead, no outs!  CLUTCH HITTING FROM A HARGROVE?!  WHAT.  Warm up Andrew Barb!

Kalian Sams flew to right for one out, but Kuo Hui Lo lined a single to center to put runners at 1st and 2nd.  Juan Beltran grounded to short, and Lizarraga flipped to Gonzalez for tw- NO HE DROPPED IT.  Everybody safe, bases loaded!  Adolfo Gonzalez is having a bad day.

But Gavin Dickey grounded to short, and Adolfo gloved the throw this time for two outs, AND relayed it to 1st for the 3rd out to finish the 6-4-3 double play.

Andrew Barb came in to shut it down, and the Loons, whose bats never really did wake back up after that rain delay, harmlessly went down in order, and the THE T-RATS HAVE RISEN FROM THE ASHES!!  WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW, GREAT LAKES?

NEXT:  Ricky Orta continues his odysseyic effort to jumpstart his career at 4 pm PDT today.

AA:  Mississippi 3, West Tenn 1

Robert Rohrbaugh:  4.2 IP, 7 H, 3 ER (3 HR), walk, 4 K
Aaron Troila:  2.1 IP, 2 H, 2 K
Juan Sandoval:  1 IP, walk
Brent Johnson:  1-4, triple, RBI, K (.267)
Prentice Redman:  0-3 (.328)
Marshall Hubbard:  1-4, triple, 2 K (.250)
Matt Tuiasosopo:  1-3, walk (.333)
Charlton Jimerson (WELCOME!):  1-4, K
Jeff Frazier:  1-4, K (.220)
Rene Rivera:  2-4, double, R, K, wow. (.209)
Luis Valbuena:  0-4, K (.191)

BTW, congratulations to Prentice Redman, who was recently named the Southern League's Player of the Week.  He certainly deserved it after he arrived with a vengeance last week.  However, today, he was cold and went hitless for the first time since arriving.  In fact, the lineup couldn't get much of anything going in the muggy Mississippi heat (89 degrees at gametime).

Also, given the multitude of roster moves yesterday, which included the surprising departure of Ron Prettyman for AAA Tacoma (despite hitting poorly for West Tenn), the DIAMOND JAXX welcomed a new arrival, former Astros prospect Charlton Jimerson, who struggled with consistent last year for Round Rock while showing some power (247/287/445) and got a token September trial with the Astros before being released.  Jimerson comes in to help provide power to the struggling DIAMOND JAXX lineup and play some bitchin CF while tuning up his hitting in AA en route to what he hopefully will be a 2nd chance at AAA and, eventually, the majors (though, given he'll be 28 in September, odds aren't necessarily in his favor).  While Prettyman's callup was dubious (maybe to shore up their bench or fill in for a departed Rainier), the addition of Jimerson is an upgrade over Prettyman.  However, Jimerson has some rust to work off, as he only went 1 for 4 last night.

Braves starter Francisley Bueno was, well, bueno, over 6 strong innings, and of course the Mississippi bullpen didn't give an inch.  Meanwhile, Robert Rohrbaugh struggled with his command, got tagged by three solo home runs (the last two were back to back), and could not make it out of the 5th.  Aaron Troila looked much better and Juan Sandoval got to work off some rust after a much-needed rest, but there would be no comeback.

I mentioned Josh Martin, and he some interesting observations, especially on Rohrbaugh and on a favorite target of ours, Rene Rivera:

Starting pitcher Robert Rohrbaugh was hit early. The 2nd and 3rd batters of the game went "yard" back to back. His fastball topped out in the mid 90's. I think he hit 89 once, but I was watching the radar pretty close all night, and he is definitely more of a placement pitcher. The left does have some good offspeed stuff though. I could tell he was better than his performance Wednesday.

Three players stood out offensively to me on Wednesday for the Diamond Jaxx. The first was third baseman Matt Tuiasosopo, who was very impressive. He hit the ball HARD, and was 1 for 3 on the night. He was solid in the field too. He is hitting .333 on the year, and seems to be somewhat of a leader on the team.

Another player that stood out to me was the catcher, Rene Rivera. He was 2 for 4 with a double, but was even better behind the dish. He has an absolute cannon, throwing out a runner trying to steal 3rd. He seems much better than his .209 average would indicate.

The last player that stood out to me was first baseman Thomas Hubbard. He laced a triple and was very fast on the basepaths. He was 1 for 4 on the night.

Well, now I'm confused again about whether Hubbard goes by Thomas or Marshall.  That Josh called him Thomas indicates he was announced at the game as Thomas... though he's still referred to as Marshall by most sources (and I eventually just decided to call him that)... though he originally went by Thomas... Hubbard needs to confirm this in an interview or something.  ANYWAY, good insight from Josh Martin on how the DIAMOND JAXX are looking to observers.

NEXT:  Doug FISTER's turn in Mississippi tonight at 5:05 pm PDT.

AAA:  Tacoma 2, Round Rock 1

Justin Lehr:  6.1 IP, 6 H, (1 R) 0 ER, 4 K, wild pitch
Brad Thomas:  0.2 IP, 1 H, walk, K
Jon Huber:  2 IP, 1 H, walk, K
Adam Jones:  1-3, walk (.297)
Jeremy Reed:  2-3, R (.246)
WLAD:  0-3, R, walk (.333)
Bryan LaHair:  1-4, 2 RBI, 2 K (.218)
Mike Morse:  1-4, K (.317)
Jeff Clement (DH):  0-4, K (.204)
Rob Johnson:  1-4 (.227)
Ron Prettyman (3B):  0-3, 2 K

Welcome, Ron Prettyman!  I hope Daren Brown knows why you're there, because I sure don't.  My guess is that, with Sean Green's promotion and Julio Mateo obviously not replacing him, they had a roster spot, and they're fine with the pitching staff they have right now.

With Oswaldo Navarro struggling anyway out of the lineup and Mike Morse, usually at 3B, taking Navarro's place to let Prettyman play 3B, you have to wonder, but it's likely Navarro was just taking a rest while the Rainiers got a look at what Prettyman's got.  This could likely be a rotation situation between the three, with Morse obviously getting the most PT given his bat, abilities and 40 man status.

Meanwhile, the Rainiers squeezed in two quick runs in the first off Juan Gutierrez, who shut them down the rest of the way... but Justin Lehr and Co also shut down Round Rock, and held it down for the 2-1 win.

NEXT:  Jim Parque will try and get the Round Rock offense going at 5:05 pm PDT.  Actually, now that I think of it, he probably won't need to try.