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5/23 Minor League Wrap-Up

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Definitely no org sweep today, but a couple of good comebacks, some pitching resilience and Chris Tillman has a new home... but you knew that.

VSL Astros 2, VSL Mariners 1

Danny Cruz:  5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, walk, 4 K
Jean Tome:  2.2 IP, 1 H, walk, K
Jose Jimenez:  1 IP, 1 H
Jose Hernandez:  2-4, R, 2 K
Eduardo Garcia:  1-3, double, RBI, K

NOOOOOOO org sweep for us.

They should make the Astros park in Venezuela true to form and put the LF fence about 200 feet from home plate.  And run a train behind it.

Oh wait, they probably all play on the same fields.  Nevermind.

Anyway, the VSLM's had a 1-0 lead from the 2nd, until Los Astros got back to back one out singles before Danny Cruz got yanked for an overworked Jean Tome.  Tome got an out on a flyout, but Renzo Tello smoked a triple to center that scored both runners and gave Los Astros a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish.

A:  High Desert 6, Lake Elsinore 2

Ruben Flores:  5.1 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, walk, 11 K, 2 wild pitches
Steve Uhlmansiek:  2.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER (HR), walk, 4 K, wild pitch
Juan Zapata:  1 IP
Michael Saunders:  1-5, solo HR, 2 R, K (.284)
Jesus Guzman:  1-3, R, RBI, walk, K (.293)
Adam Moore:  1-2, 2 run HR, 2 walks, K (.277)
Juan Diaz:  2-3, triple, 2 RBI, walk

Lake parlayed a Matt Antonelli double in the 1st into a 1-0 when David Freese sac flied him in, but Michael Saunders responded in the bottom half with his 5th HR of the season, albeit on a line drive that probably lands in play in most other parks.

Despite that, it was a pitchers duel that Ruben Flores, normally not that great of a pitcher, was definitely up for, striking out a season high 11 batters while working into the 6th.  You could probably blame the Lake lineup, as Steve Uhlmansiek relieved him and K'd 4 more in 2.2 IP.  Meanwhile, the Mavs couldn't get anything going against Matthew Buschmann, who induced groundballs and basically made it tough for the Mavs to put it in the favorable Adelanto air.

The Mavs blew it open in the bottom 6th after Buschmann took a seat for the much-more-hittable Brandon Higelin.  Michael Saunders lined to center and CF Yordany Ramirez muffed it, allowing Saunders to high tail it to 3rd.  Jesus Guzman single to center and knocked him in to give the Mavs the 2-1 lead.  And Adam Moore took Higelin deep to make it 4-1 Mavs.  Reed Eastley lined a single to right.  Chris Colton smoked a grounder into center to move Eastley to 2nd.  Jeff Dominguez did not get the memo, and sac bunted the runners ahead for one out.  Edilio Colina, STILL in Adelanto, poked a dribbler that a charging 3B David Freese gloved and tagged Reed Eastley out with for two outs.  But before you could say 'damage control', utility boy Juan Diaz smoked a triple to center to score Colton and Colina and make it 6-1.  Lake's last gasp came in the following half, when Jose Lobaton led off the top 7th with a solo shot to left... but Lake was silenced after that.

So, anyway, news is that Chris Tillman got promoted to High Desert, and this should be bad news for him.

However, and yes, I'm echoing comments I made yesterday, but Aaron Cotter, Marwin Vega, Nicholas Allen, Jose Escalona, Austin Bibens-Dirkx and Roman Martinez, however, are running ERA's in the 3's and 4's. And most of those guys aren't exactly bright prospects (ABD notwithstanding).  And oh, hey, Ruben Flores just fanned 11 batters while holding Lake Elsinore to one run over 5.1 IP.

Most of the team's 5.27 ERA going into Thursday was thanks to a struggling Paul Fagan and a now-retired Jon Lockwood.  You can only blame sample size to a point: when more than half your pitching staff is running somewhat normalized ERAs despite playing half their games in a launchpad, you have to doubt said launchpad will wreck Chris Tillman's stats and performance.

I think Tillman's numbers will actually look passable despite it all.  The space park isn't destroying the pitching staff as much as the park factor would suggest.  Plus, Chris Tillman is clearly a great talent, and despite some off moments was dominating Single A hitters with his stuff.

Sure, Tillman's still developing, and he may get taken deep on a couple flyballs that would stay in most yards, but an ERA in the 4's is not improbable.

And needless to say, this is EXCELLENT news for the Mavs pitching staff, which now adds a pretty good arm and helps to stabilize their typically unstable rotation.

Also, per J at Mariner Minors, pitcher John Sullivan got released.  I don't want to say 'good riddance'- CRAP, I just did.  Why am I not feeling pangs of regret?...

Let's just say it wasn't working.

NEXT:  IT'S CHRIS TILLMAN TIME against Lake Elsinore!  7:05 pm PDT.  Seriously, folks, he's gonna be fine.

A:  Kane County 8, Wisconsin 4

Tony Butler:  3.1 IP, 7 H, (5 R) 2 ER (HR), 4 walks, 2 wild pitches, hit batter.  Looks like he hasn't solved that control problem yet.
Michael Wagner:  2.1 IP, 2 H, (2 R) 0 ER, K, wild pitch
Brian Kappel:  1.1 IP, 1 H, 3 K
Joe Kantakevich:  1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, walk, 2 K, balk
Kuo Hui Lo:  3-4, RBI, walk (.257)
Carlos Triunfel:  3-5, 2 RBI (.321... DAMN, kid)
Alex Liddi:  1-3, R, walk, 2 K (.185)

Tony Butler still can't find the plate, allowed 5 runs in the first 3 frames and did not make it out of the 4th, getting pulled after putting on two more runners, uncorking a wild pitch, then hitting a batter.  Butler took a seat and ceded to... Michael Wagner.

In making his debut with the T-Rats yesterday, Michael Wagner has now pitched with all four active Mariners North American minor league affiliates this season.  He recorded one out for High Desert, pitched an inning for the Rainiers, made 6 dreadful appearance for West Tenn, and here he is in Appleton.  For what it's worth, it appears he has found his proper level, as despite the 2 unearned runs allowed in working into the 6th, he at least looked like he belonged out there.

The T-Rats busted out a 4 run rally in the 7th to cut within 7-4, but could not score again.  They even loaded the bases with two outs in the top 8th, but you can guess what the MARINERS IN THE MAKING did there.  The Cougars added an insurance run in the bottom 8th.

NEXT:  Steven Richard's indefinite interim hold on a rotation spot has now become a permanent hold (thanks for promoting Chris Tillman!) as the T-Rats head to Peoria to start a series with the Chiefs.  4:30 pm PDT.

AA:  West Tenn 7, Chattanooga 5

Andrew Baldwin:  5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER (HR), walk, 3 K, wild pitch
Juan Done:  0.1 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 3 walks, K
The Aircraft Carrier:  2.2 IP, 1 H, 2 walks, K
Craig James:  1 IP, K (HEY, two good outings in a row)
Brent Johnson:  2-3, 2 doubles, R, walk, K (.290)
Erick Monzon:  1-4, R, RBI, walk (.234)
Prentice Redman:  1-5, double, R, RBI, K (.291)
Matt Tuiasosopo:  1-2, solo HR, 2 R, 2 walks (.299)
Charlton Jimerson:  1-4, double (.226)
Jeff Frazier:  2-3, 3 RBI, walk (.224)
Rene Rivera:  0-4, K (.190)
Chris Minaker:  1-4, RBI, K (.235)

The DIAMOND JAXX came into the bottom 3rd down 3-0 after Tyrell Godwin went deep on Andrew Baldwin for a 2 run shot, his FIRST home run of the season.

Brent Johnson led off with a double down the LF line.  Erick Monzon smoked a grounder into right to score him and put the DIAMOND JAXX on the board 3-1.  Prentice Redman lined a double to center to score Monzon and cut the lead to 3-2.  Marshall Hubbard drew a walk... and Tui drew a walk to load the bases... for Charlton Jimerson.

And true to form... CJ popped up for one out.  Gee, I wonder why the Astros cut this guy.

Jeff Frazier, a guy we haven't heard from in a couple weeks (oh, he's been in the lineup, but only in the way that, say, Luis Valbuena is in the lineup)... lined a single to right to score Redman and Hubbard and give the DIAMOND JAXX a 4-3 lead as Tui took 3rd... and that was it for Camilo Vazquez, who isn't bad, but certainly isn't good.

The hilariously named Rick Asadoorian came in to pitch, and struck out Rene Rivera, as great an accomplishment as taking a piss.  But before you could say 'jam over', Chris Minaker lined a single to center to score Tui and tack on another run, 5-3.  Brent Johnson came up a 2nd time, and drew a walk to load the bases... for Erick Monzon.

But he's Erick Monzon, so oh well.

West Tenn tacked on another run in the bottom 4th when, of all people, TUI went deep for only his 2nd HR of the season to make it 6-3.

The Lookouts tried to make it interesting in the top 6th, when Juan Done came in to spell Andrew Baldwin, who held the fort nicely after giving up those 3 runs in the 2nd and 3rd.  Done, however, walked the first two batters, and though he K'd the next, he could got get a handle on a comebacker from Jay Garthwaite, and the bases were loaded.  Then he walked Marland Williams to force in a run, cutting the lead to 6-4, and that was it for Juan Done, who ceded to Jose De La Cruz, the Aircraft Carrier.

Drew Anderson flew to left for one out, but Tonys Gutierrez tagged up and scored to cut the lead to 6-5.  The Aircraft Carrier walked Paul Janish to re-load the bases, but before you could say 'where was THAT pitch?' Tyrell Godwin grounded to short for the 3rd out.

The DIAMOND JAXX tacked on another run in the 7th when Jeff Frazier knocked in Marshall Hubbard on a single with two out.  The bullpen got it together and did not allow another serious threat all night.

NEXT: Robert Rohrbaugh's turn vs Chattanooga today at 5:05 pm PDT.

AAA:  Tacoma 5, Las Vegas 3

Jorge Campillo:  7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER (HR), walk, 5 K
Ryan Rowland-Smith:  2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 3 walks, 2 K
Adam Jones:  1-5, R, 3 K (.310)
Jeremy Reed:  2-4, R, K, SB (.269)
WLAD:  2-3, R, RBI, walk, K (.331)
Bryan LaHair:  2-3, R, RBI, walk (.243)
Mike Morse:  1-4, R, RBI (.315)
Jeff Clement:  1-3, walk (.220)
Rob Johnson (DH):  1-4, K (.272)

The Rainiers had gone scoreless as they watched the 51's score a couple in the 1st off a 2 run bomb from Mitch Jones, then add another off RRS in the 8th.

In the bottom 8th, they blew up.  Adam Jones and Jeremy Reed each lined singles, and Eric Hull relieved pitcher Matt White.  With WLAD at the plate, Hull uncorked a wild pitch to move the runners over, then WLAD smoked a grounder into left to score Adam Jones and move Reed to 3rd.  3-1 Vegas.

Bryan LaHair lined a single to right to score Reed and move WLAD to 2nd, 3-2 Vegas.  No outs.

Mike Morse lined a single to right to score WLAD and TIE THE BALLGAME as LaHair took 3rd just ahead of the throw to 3rd as Morse took 2nd (Morse has always been better than average at sneaking that extra base on his RBI singles).  Eric Hull had the Fear of Prospects in him and intentionally walked Jeff Clement to load the bases... for Rob Johnson.

And Rob Johnson swung and missed strike three for the first out.  He clearly did not get the memo.  Eric Hull was pulled on a good note and ceded to Matt Riley, the 3rd pitcher of the inning, to get the platoon advantage on Ronnie Prettyman.  Which is great, except Prettyman was pulled for Gookie Dawkins.  I never understand making that switch just because a lefthander's at the plate: I can see it for powerhouse lefthanders, but Prettyman is by no means an imposing hitter, and in fact was a struggling AA hitter who's only in AAA to platoon at 3B so Mike Morse can get some OF/SS reps and get Oswaldo Navarro the hell away from the SS position.  Dumb move unless Hull was pulled due to his struggles, which is more understandable and in which case, nevermind. :P

Dawkins grounded to 3rd, 3B Luis Maza threw to 2nd for the DP and instead threw YIKES AND AWAY to score LaHair and Morse to make it 5-3.  Oswaldo struck out, and go figure that Adam Jones, the most dangerous hitter of all of the above, grounded to 3rd to end the inning.

RRS stayed in the game to finish, and the 51's went down without incident.

NEXT:  The Rainiers are in Tucson, where Justin Lehr will start a series with the Sidewinders at 6:30 pm PDT tonight.