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6/15 Minor League Wrap-Up

I've made some contentious comments about scouts lately and it's gotta stop.  Yes, they operate off what they see and may not have inside info on why they're seeing what they're seeing, but they know what they're watching and they usually get it right.

I actually do trust the word of scouts a great deal, despite my recent ramblings, and seeing that my tone's gone the other way a few times in recent days and weeks, I felt I needed to come correct before proceeding.

There's nothing wrong with questioning the tenets of one's reality, but I'm not trying to cast doubt into the general credibility of scouts.  I apologize if any recent writing came across that way.

I'm opinionated if nothing else.  If anything, I like the relative amicability of the Mariners blogosphere (trust me, people are far, far more catty on the internet than they are here and at USSM) and really, really hold back on challenging a commonly accepted belief therein.  With baseball, I like to base any opinion I state on some degree of analysis and research.  That said, I need to realize that jumping to some conclusions, especially in contradiction to the observation of experienced scouts, opens the door for trouble.  While I'll continue to post observations, I'll be more careful about passing judgment on scouting.

In other words, I'm not gonna discuss the Clement bat speed issue again without more concrete information.  Among other things ;P  I probably will end up in another run-in with time, but trust me when I say I'm not actively trying to start any trouble.

OKAY, so enough of that.  There was an incredible game in Tacoma last night, and some pretty good action otherwise.


They played two in Venezuela!

Game 1:  VSL Mariners 6, VSL Astros 5, 7 innings

Leonardo Rodriguez:  3 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 2 walks, K
Rhonny Acosta:  3.2 IP, 4 H, (2 R) 0 ER, 2 walks, 2 K, wild pitch, hit batter
Yoervis Medina:  0.1 IP, walk, K
Terry Serrano:  3-4, 2 R, SB (.291)
Carlos Ramirez:  1-2, R, 2 RBI, walk (.333)
Jonathan Loaisiga:  1-3, double, 2 RBI (.295)

This was actually quite a game.  The Astros struck first with a Jhonny Medrano (ha, you thought Peralta was the only one who spelled his name like that) double for one run and a Renzo Tello RBI single that plated another off Leonardo Rodriguez, who had been shutdown reliable to date.

The VSLM's did not have an answer until the 4th, and here's where business picked up.  Carlos Ramirez took a leadoff walk and Rigoberto Rangel got plunked.  Humberto Espinoza, usually a pinch hitter extraordinare but starting at 1B for this game, bunted them ahead for one out.  Cesar Fuentes singled to center and drove in Ramirez to cut the lead to 2-1 while moving Rangel to 3rd.  Jose Rivero did his Richie impression for two outs, but Jonathan Loaisiga doubled to center to punch in both runners and give the VSLM's a 3-2 lead.

Jhonny Medrano drew a leadoff walk for the Astros in the bottom half, was sacrificed to 2nd and 3rd, then scored on a Federico Hernandez single to tie the ballgame.

The VSLM's did the same thing when Terry Serrano hit a leadoff single, sacrificing him over, though Serrano took 3rd on what had to be either a hit and run sacrifice bunt or a poorly played grounder by the Astros infield.  EIther way, Carlos Ramirez got him in with the suicide squeeze and it was 4-3 VSLM's.

The Astros responded in the bottom 5th.  Ricardo Bonfante singled with one out, and Oscar Figueroa immediately doubled him in to tie the ballgame... but got caught stealing 3rd and the threat ended soon after.

The VSLM's went quietly in the top 6th and the Astros looked to seize the advantage.  Jhonny Medrano drew a leadoff walk... then took 2nd when Rhonny Acosta uncorked a wild pitch.  Renzo Tello struck out, but Jose Altuve's groundout moved Medrano to 3rd.  However, Federico Hernandez grounded out to end the threat.

In the top 7th and final frame, Cesar Del Rio drew a one out walk for the VSLM's.  Terry Serrano lined a single to move pinch runner Yidid Batista to 2nd.  Roberto Velasquez popped up for two outs, but Carlos Ramirez, one of the squad's best hitters, singled to right to score Batista and give the VSLM's the 5-4 lead as Serrano tok 3rd and Ramirez took an extra bag himself.

Rafael Torrealba took a walk to load the bases... for Humberto Espinoza.  And Espinoza, accustomed to being clutch in late inning situations, drew a walk to force in another run and make it 6-4.  However, Cesar Fuentes went down on strikes, and the best team in the VSL had three outs to make up two runs.

Yohender Lopez drew a leadoff walk... then Manuel Holder grounded into the 6-4-3 double play.  Smooth move.  Ricardo Bonfante grounded through the hole into left, and was able to take 2nd when LF Rafael Torrealba mishandled the ball.  Oscar Figueroa got plunked to put runners at 1st and 2nd.  Ricardo Garcia singled to left and Bonfante scored to make it 6-5 with the tying run at 2nd and the winning run at 1st.  That was it for Yoervis Medina, and Rhonny Acosta came in to finish the job... except he walked Jhonny Medrano to load the bases... for Renzo Tello.

And Renzo Tello swung at strike three without making contact to end a back and forth ballgame.

Game 2:  VSL Astros 3, VSL Mariners 2, 7 innings

Danny Ayala:  4 IP, 4 H, (1 R) 0 ER, 4 walks, 3 K
Carlos Sanchez:  2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 walks, balk
Cesar Fuentes:  1-3, solo HR, K (.280)
Eduardo Garcia:  2-3, double, R, K (.237)
Humberto Espinoza:  pinch hit RBI single (.371)

DAMN, the only team ahead of the VSLM's in the standings does them in during a rain-shortened affair.  The VenezAstros snuck in a run off Danny Ayala and pounded in two more off reliever Carlos Sanchez, leaving the VSLM's down 3-0 going into the 7th and what proved to be the final inning.

Cesar Fuentes went deep with one out to get the VSLM's on the board.  Eduardo Garcia doubled with two outs, and Jose Hernandez singled to move him to 3rd.  Pinch hitter extraordinare Humberto Espinoza checked in and singled to right to bring in Garcia and move pinch-runner Rafael Torrealba to 3rd.  Terry Serrano lined a pitch... right to the glove of RF Renzo Tello, and that was that.  So the VSL's leading team, the Astros, got even in the nightcap.

Everett's season begins June 19th, next Tuesday, at home against Yakima!

A:  Wisconsin 12, Cedar Rapids 3

Anthony VROOM VROOM BANG Varvaro:  7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER (HR), walk, 9 K, 2 wild pitches
Eddy Fernandez:  1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER (HR), 2 K
Michael Wagner:  1 IP, 1 H
Calvin Beamon:  2-3, 3 R, walk, K (Welcome!)
Reed Eastley:  3-4, 3 R, RBI, K
Carlos Peguero:  3-5, 2 doubles, 3 run HR, 2 R, 7 RBI (.256)
Alex Liddi:  2-3, R, 3 RBI, walk, K (.216)
Leury Bonilla:  1-4, double, RBI (.241)
Juan Diaz:  2-4

Big, big game today against Vladimir Veras, who watched his ERA balloon to 8.18 after 8 runs allowed in 3 innings in only his 3rd start of the year.  The first two went far, far better.  This one went beter for the T-Rats, who had this well in hand before the middle innings.  Carlos Peguero flashes his potential every now and then, and he flashed it last night with a manbeast effort, knocking in 7 runs on 3 XBHs.

Also, welcome to former UNLV outfielder Calvin Beamon, who signed as a free agent with the M's organization on May 31st and played his first game with the T-Rats.  He had previously been on the Everett roster, though with the Aquasox season starting Tuesday and a dramatic shift in rosters to take place, expect to see a variety of new faces pop up with the T-Rats as the Mariners org continues to reshuffle and compose the Aquasox Opening Day Roster.

Beamon posted 298/375/404 with 17 stolen bases in 198 ABs during last year with UNLV.  He had transferred from Texas after getting lost in the shuffle, after having transferred there from the Community College of S. Nevada's quality Juco program.  He's a travelling man.  He'll look to swipe some bags and hit for average.

And how can I not mention the dominating effort from Anthony Varvaro, his 1st since that whole court summons episode came to light?  Some people focus better on the field when on-the-field distractions hit.  Anthony sure looked like one of them yesterday.

Flyballs and line drives indicate he was just trying to blow hitters away,and as the game wore on he definitely blew them away.  After getting hit a bit in the bottom 4th on back to back line drive singles, and watching a fielding error on what would've been the 3rd out load the bases, he struck out PJ Phillips to end the threat without a run, and then just blew the Kernels away, striking out 4 of the next 6 batters he faced and managing to fan one more during a wild 7th and final inning of work that saw him uncork two wild pitches.  With his control fading, Varvaro called it a night after 7 strong innings.  His only run came on a sudden solo HR in the 2nd that was no more than a tree falling in the proverbial woods.

Flyballs: 6
Groundballs:  5 (plus one bunt)
Line Drives:  3
Walks:  1
Strikeouts:  9

A:  Rancho Cucaomonga 5, High Desert 2

Chris Tillman:  6 IP, 8 H, (5 R) 4 ER, walk, 5 K, 3 hit batters
Paul Fagan:  3 IP, 1 H, K
Casey Craig:  2-3, 2 walks, K (.342)
rest of T-Rats lineup:  5-28, 2 R, 0 RBI, 4 walks, 7 K

Is it time for another episode of What's Wrong With Chris Tillman?  No, it's not.  We know he currently possesses Single A skills to go with his big league talent and has a ways to go with developing, that he's been slumping and that he's probably a bit overmatched against these High A hitters in a hitters climate.

Early on, Tillman plunked a batter but came out firing, striking out 4 of his first 7 batters.  But as the game wore on and he wore down, the opposition caught up to his stuff and started hitting him.  Sounds familiar.  Two singles, the second on a lined shot right back at Tillman that he fortunately deflected with ihs glove, and a sac fly scored a run but he got out with a GIDP.

After that, though, the line drives started coming, and a pair of 2 run innings had the Quakes up 5-0, with the Mavs offense punchless until a late 2 run 9th inning rally prevented the shutout. They did load the bases with two outs for Michael Saunders, who hit a long fly ball to center, but the wind helped it land in an outfielder's glove at the warning track for the final out.

The challenge is pretty clear to Chris.  "I made a couple mistakes, and they definitely capitalized on them," Tillman said. "Big, huge learning curve for me. It's totally different between here and (Low-A) Wisconsin. I've learned a ton in just the couple starts I've been here."

Flyballs:  2
Groundballs:  6 (plus 2 bunts)
Line Drives:  7
Walks:  1 (3 hit batters)
Strikeouts:  5

AA:  West Tenn 4, Tennessee 2

Robert Rohrbaugh:  6 IP, 9 H, walk, 3 K
Mumba Rivera:  2.1 IP, 1 H, 2 ER (HR), 2 walks, 3 K
David Asher:  0.2 IP, K
Charlton Jimerson:  1-4, triple, R, RBI, walk, 2 K, SB #13 (.259)
Prentice Redman:  2-5, RBI, K (.275)
Matt Tuiasosopo:  0-3 (.292)
Luis Valbuena:  2-3, RBI, walk (.234)
Luis Oliveros:  1-4, K (.310)

Robert Rohrbaugh didn't allow a run over six innings despite several grounders that snuck through for singles.  He gave up several flyballs and a liner or two here and there, but for the most part, the Smokies just couldn't string anything together against Rohrbaugh, who keeps finding a way to pitch productive starts.

Flyballs:  6
Groundballs:  8 (plus 1 bunt)
Line Drives:  3
Pop Ups:  5
Walks:  1
Strikeouts:  3

Meanwhile, the DIAMOND JAXX snuck 3 runs off of Mark Holliman, who like Rohrbaugh isn't a spectacular pitcher but holds the fort and snuffs out most rallies before they start.  So what happened to him?

Errors.  Wild pitches.  Stolen bases.  Charlton Jimerson drew a walk in the 1st, stole 2nd, then took 3rd when catcher Chris Robinson threw YIKES AND AWAY.  Jimerson broke for home on a Prentice Redman grounder to 3rd and 3B Casey McGehee threw him out at home.  Holiman then threw a wild pitch to move Redman to 2nd, then walked Marshall Hubbard, but Tui grounded into an inning ending force.  That inning was typical of what derailed Holliman's night.

Top 6th.  Hubard lines a single to leadoff.  Tui gets plunked.  Brent Johnson sac bunted them ahead for one out.  Luis Oliveros flew to left and LF Jemel Spearman DROPPED it, scoring the run.  Chris Minaker couldn't chas in the run on his grounder, as Tui was thrown out at home.

The weird and sloppy play did more to hurt Holliman than astute situational defense with men on 3rd and Halliman's ability to induce grounders helped him.

AAA:  Tacoma 9, Tucson 7, 12 innings

Jorge Campillo:  7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 walks, 4 K
Jake Woods:  2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 walks, K
Jamie Cerda:  2 IP, 2 H, (5 R) 4 ER, 3 walks, K
Jason Mackintosh:  1 IP
Jeremy Reed:  2-5, R, walk (.298)
Adam Jones:  1-6, 3 run HR, 2 K (.328)
Ronnie Prettyman:  replaced Mike Morse, 1-2, double, R, walk, K (.266)
Jeff Clement:  3-6 (.257)
WLAD:  5-6, 2 run HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, K (.310)
Rob Johnson:  1-5, R, 2 K (.250)

Robert gave me the heads up that this was an epic contest, and I know I'm going to miss good details, but I'll do my best to recap.

CAMPILLO TIEMPO matched Casey Daigle out for out, and after Daigle left, Tucson cracked first in the 4th.  Evan McLane relieved Daigle, and got two quick outs, but Mike Morse got a grounder into center to get on.  Jeff Clement lined a single to put Morse on 2nd.  WLAD lined a single as well and scored Morse to make it 1-0 as he took 2nd and Clement 3rd.

Then Tucson went down in order in a funny sequence, as all three hitters flew out to Adam Jones in CF, tying a record held by millions.

Campillo held the fort until the 7th. With one out, Jamie D'Antona grounded to Oswaldo Navarro at SS and GUESS WHAT?  Navarro muffed it and D'Antona got on.  Floodgates: open.  Jeff Salazar lined a single to right.  Brian Barden lined a single to right and D'Antona went for home but WLAD said screw that, bitch and gunned his candyass down at the plate.  But Donnie Sadler snuck a grounder into center and Jeff Salazar scored to tie the ballgame at 1.  Oh well.

Jake Woods relieved Campillo in the 8th and brought his suck with him.  Danny Richar led off with his 20th double of the season.  Alex Romero blooped a single to left to move Richar to 3rd.  Robby Hammock grounded into the 6-4-3 double play... but Richar scored in the interim to make it 2-1 Tucson.

The Rainiers could not manage a run, and the Sidewinders looked to put it away in the 9th.  With one out, Jeff Salazar grounded to new 3B Ronnie Prettyman and Ronnie couldn't play it in time.  Then Salazar stole 2nd with two outs.  Then stole 3rd as Donnie Sadler drew a walk to put runners at the corners.  Then Rich Thompson drew a walk to load the bases... for Danny Richar.  Richar flew to left, but Jeremy Reed was able to get under it for the 3rd out.

Randy "Bet No One Makes Any Dirty Nicknames Out Of My Surname" Choate came in to start the bottom 9th, the Rainiers down to their final three outs.  Bryan LaHair watched strike three for one out.  Ronnie Prettyman smoked a grounder to short and I'm gonna need some observational help here, because I have absolutely no idea how he turned that into two bases without any errors.  Jeff Clement smoked a grounder to Sadler at short and he couldn't play THAT, so runners are now on the corners.  Choate got the hook and Chad Harville came in to bail the Sidewinders out against WLAD.

WLAD smoked a grounder up the middle... INTO center field to score Prettyman and WE ARE TIED!!!  The winning run is on 2nd and Rob Johnson... strikes out.  Then Oswaldo Navarro... strikes out.  We're going to extras.

And Jamie Cerda comes in to pitch.  Crap.

Alex Romero, who apparently didn't get a scouting report on Cerda, bunted and got thrown out.  Robby Hammock hit a liner... right to Gookie Dawkins at 2B. Chris Carter grounded to 2nd to end the frame surprisingly without any damage.

Brandon Medders came in for Tucson.  Ask Goose about Brandon Medders.  Expect a hilarious response.

Gookie Dawkins wasn't laughing after striking out.  Jeremy Reed grounded to 2nd, and a throw from Danny Richar that would've been close went YIKES AND AWAY, allowing Reed to take 2nd.  This is some infield defense from Tucson.  Adam Jones watched strike three for two outs.  Huh.  Brandon Medders then leads us to wonder if the Sidewinders use scouts at all, as he intentionally walks Bryan LaHair to get to Ronnie Prettyman.  Prettyman stepped in and watched Robby Hammock pass a ball to move the runners to 2nd and 3rd.  Prettyman draws a walk to load the bases with paydirt 90 feet away... for Jeff Clement.

And Clement certainly gave it a ride... but Jeff Salazar was able to make the catch, and we're going to the 11th.

And then the Sidewinders realized they were facing Jamie Cerda.  Jamie D'Antona doubled.  Jeff Salazar walked.  Brian Barden bunted them ahead for one out.  Cerda intentionally walked Donnie Sadler to counter, loading the bases... for Rich Thompson.  And then Cerda forgot how to throw strikes.  Ball four to Thompson, forcing in the go-ahead run and keeping them loaded... for Danny Richar.

And Richar hit an absolute bomb to cavernous center.  Adam Jones, with the range of Ichiro on a Vespa, couldn't get to it because it hit off the top of the big-as wall, about a foot from being a grand slam.  Salazar scores.  Sadler scores.  Thompson scores, Richar slides into 3rd and it's 5-1 Tucson.  Dammit dammit.  And what is manager Daren Brown doing out there, screaming at the umpire?  Uh, dude, those runs were most definitely runs and Jamie Cerda most definitely sucks.

Now, The News Tribune can help us here.  Tucson manager Bill Plummer (HEY) had been tossed after bickering with the umpires over the proper way to prepare white rice, and third base coach John Youngblood had taken over as manager.  DB agued that Youngblood had touched a runner during the triple.  The ump asked DB what he had been smoking and if he could have some.  DB erupted, got tossed, and threw his hat a good 30 feet in disgust.  The umpire decided to hold off on asking DB how he cooked his steamed rice.

Alex Romero lined back up the box and Cerda made a great snag for the second out.  He threw to 3rd to double off Richar and threw it YIKES AND AWAY to allow Richar to tag up and score easily.  Irony is such a twat.  6-1 Tucson.

So the Rainiers come up in the bottom 11th, and this is basically over.  WLAD lines a single but whatever.  Rob Johnson smokes a grounder into center and WLAD takes 2nd, watched Danny Richar drop the relay throw, and takes 3rd.  Whatever.  Oswaldo Navarro foul tips strike three into the catcher's glove for one out.  Gookie Dawkins watches ball four... go YIKES AND AWAY and WLAD scores to make it 6-2.  Still, one out, two men on and four runs to go.

Jeremy Reed watches in amazement as Brandon Medders contracts whatever syndrome of suck Jamie Cerda had, and forgets how to throw strikes.  Reed draws a walk and the bases are loaded... for Adam Jones.  But c'mon, Adam is 0 for 5 and it's 6-2 with one out.

Medders then uncorks a wild pitch to score Johnson and move the runners up.  6-3.  Adam Jones sees how much this guy sucks.  He realizes Medders is one of those Major Leaguers (well, technically).  Adam Jones belongs in the majors and now would be a good time to prove it.

And Adam Jones absolutely crushed a terrible pitch from Medders, sending it over the left field wall!!

TIE.

BALLGAME.

And Bill Murphy, the very last Sidewinder pitcher in the pen, relieves Brandon Medders about 5 batters too late.  Medders' AAA ERA is now a fabulous 11.57.  Brandon Medders is clearly ready for the Majors.

Murphy has nearly no gas in the tank, and is barely able to get Bryan LaHair and Ronnie Prettyman to end an improbable frame.  We go to the 12th.

Jason Mackintosh pitches the 12th and gets his batters 1-2-3.  Murphy has nothing left, and the Sidewinders are forced to make a desperate move in the 12th. Danny Richar moves to short, Matt Morgan replaces DH Chris Carter and goes to 2nd base, eliminating the DH.  And Donnie Sadler, who was at 2nd, takes the mound to pitch.

Jeff Clement hit a grounder up the middle, that trickled into center for a base hit!  Jon Nelson came in to pinch run, as WLAD, who already had 4 hits, came to the plate.

WLAD crapped all over the non-pitcher's pitch and like Richar's triple, his shot sailed deep into cavernous center.  WLAD did not leave the box as the ball sailed and sailed, looking just a bit longer than Richar's shot... and bounced off the light fixture over center field!  HOME RUN.  RAINIERS WIN.

Crazy ballgame.