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6/18 Minor League Wrap-Up

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Not a lot of actual baseball to report from yesterday, with Single A on their All Star Break and the Rainiers having the night off.  But there is a very useful development to post: Everett's roster!  Familiar faces from earlier this season include Kalian Sams, Greg Halman, Ogui Diaz, Edilio Colina and reliever Robert Harmon, who made 3 spot starts in Wisconsin, and will start the year in Everett's rotation.  Plus, draft picks!  Dave Cameron and J at Mariner Minors have gone on at length about who to watch, so drop by and get a heads-up.  The roster will continue to take shape up until tonight's game.

Two teams did play last night:

VENEZUELA~!  VSL Mariners 7, VSL Devil Rays/Reds 6, 10 innings

Jose Rios:  4 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, walk, K
Oberth Guanire:  3.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, walk, 3 K, hit batter
Jose Jimenez:  1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, (intentional) walk, 3 K, wild pitch
Carlos Sanchez:  0.2 IP, 2 walks
Kelvin Montbrum:  0.1 IP
Terry Serrano:  2-5, 2 R, 3 K (.275)
Humberto Espinoza, PHE:  1-2, 2 RBI
Rigoberto Rangel:  2-5 (.271)
Cesar Fuentes:  2-4, R, 2 RBI, K (.280)
Jose Rivero:  1-5, double, RBI, 2 K (.283)

The VSLM's trailed the VSLDRs/Rs 3-2 going into the 8th.  The VSLM's exhausted the roster to get a rally going: Yidid Batista pinch hit for Alejandro Garcia... and grounded to short for one out.  Smooth.  Jonathan Loaisiga smoked a grounder into left, and Rafael Torrealba came on to pinch run, as Cesar Del Rio came in to pinch hit for Larry Gonzalez.  This suitably confused pitcher Wilfredo Bocaranda, who uncorked a wild pitch, then walked Del Rio to put runners at 1st and 2nd.  Hugo Calderon came in to pitch, because guys named Hugo are tough sons of bitches.

But Terry Serrano is tougher, smoking a grounder into center to send Torrealba home, except CF Efrain Contreras is actually pretty good at CF, and gunned Torrealba down at home for two outs, as Del Rio took 3rd and Serrano took 2nd.

No time like the present, the next batter, Roberto Velasquez, was lifted for Humberto Espinoza, Pinch Hitter Extraordinare (yes, he gets caps now).  And Humberto lined a single to left to knock both runners in as he took 2nd.  VSLM'S LEAD 4-3.  That, folks, is CLUTCH.

Carlos Ramirez, quiet all night, drew a walk.  Rigoberto Rangel, loud all night, grounded to short and SS Jhonder Alvarez, pondering why his parents didn't just call him Jorge, candyarsed the grounder to let it roll into left as Espinoza scored and Ramirez took 3rd.  5-3 VSLM's.  We're still in the 8th!

Cesar Fuentes lines a single to left and C-Ram comes in to make it 6-3 VSLM's!  Jose Rivero, though, finally grounded to 3rd to end the melee after 4 runs.  Hugo ain't so tough :P

The plethora of pinch hitters and runners led to multiple shifts.  Espinoza is a great pinch hitter but a suspect first baseman, but there he was.  Cesar Fuentes moved from 3B to SS, Raffy Torrealba took a seat for Jorge Agudelo, who took 3B.  Cesar Del Rio is now YOUR catcher in peril.  However, scrub reliever Oberth Guanire came out to work his 4th inning in relief.  The Devil Rays and Reds get no respect in Venezuela either.

With one out, Gustavo Omana blooped a flyball into left for a single, and Rangel misplayed it to turn it into two bases.  Argenis Gonzalez grounded to 2nd for two outs but moved the runner to 3rd.  Jhonder Alvarez got plunked.  Lucas Nakandakare pinch hit for Orlando Cabrera, certainly not THE Orlando Cabrera, and Nakandakare not only has a long name but drew a long walk to put runners at 1st and 2nd.  Pinch runner Mauricio Nagahashi came on for Nakandakare and Jose Jimenez, certainly not THE... wait, was he ever good enough to be THE Jose Jimenez?  I mean, throwing a no hitter is a feat but c'mon, even Bud Smith and Andy Hawkins threw no hitters.  That's a totally random, 'lightning in a bottle' feat.  I guess if there can be two Kevin Browns and two Brian Giles and a random lefty reliever was one good ST from there being two Luis Gonzalezes, stranger things have happened than baseball seeing another Jose Jimenez... not that the VSL reliever's at all close to a big league career....

BUT ANYWAY, Jimenez came on to face... Henry Rodriguez, AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH.  If your parents aren't copy-pasting names onto your birth certificates, they're adding unnecessary H's to your names, JHONNY and JHONDER.

And No, Henry! hit a double down the LF line to score Omana and Alvarez and make it 6-5.

The VSLM's loaded the bases in the top 9th, but Terry Serrano got some popcorn and watched strike three, while Humberto Espinoza hit into a 1-2-3 GIDP extraordinare.

In the bottom 9th, Miguel Chacoa led off with a grounder to 3rd that he beat out.  Chacoa stole 2nd base with one out, then took 3rd on a wild pitch from Jimenez.  David Hernandez grounded to short, and SS Cesar Fuentes made a good throw home... that Cesar Del Rio dropped, and Chacoa was safe and the game was tied.  Imagine if Joh did something like that in a one run game, and the blogosphere howling that would follow.

Jimenez intentionally walked the next batter, then struck out the next two to send it to extras.

With two outs in the top 10th, Cesar Fuentes singled to right, then Jose Rivero smoked a double down the LF line to cash in Fuentes and make it 7-6.  Fuentes got greedy and went for 3rd, not a bright move since the ball was on the same side of the field, and he was thrown out easily to end the frame.

Carlos Sanchez came in to start the bottom 10th.  He walked Mauricio Nagahashi, but No-Henry! grounded into the 1-4-3 double play.  Omar Guerra walked, and Sanchez took a seat for Kelvin Montbrum, who's been pretty good out of the bullpen as a long guy (TWSS) and Miguel Chacoa grounded to short to end the ballgame.

Mississippi 9, West Tenn 7

Justin Thomas:  6.1 IP, 9 H, (4 R) 3 ER, 3 walks, 3 K
Chad Fillinger:  1.1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, walk, K
Mumba Rivera:  1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 walks, wild pitch, needs a break
Craig James:  0.1 IP
Sebastien Boucher:  2-5, R, 2 K (.208)
Charlton Jimerson:  2-4, double, R, 2 K (.253)
Prentice Redman:  1-5, RBI, K (.272)
Marshall Hubbard:  2-5, triple, 2 R, 2 K (.255)
Matt Tuiasosopo:  1-2, triple, R, 2 RBI, walk (.288)
Luis Valbuena:  1-4, double, K (.236)
Rene Rivera:  1-4, 3 run HR, HUH, WHAT... 2 K (.190)

I was watching a bit of the Braves game last night, and it struck me what a pain in the ass it must be to face the Braves hitters, especially all their talented young guys.  They just keep fighting through ABs and then pound your pitches into the gaps for hit after hit, no matter the score.  It's not just simple tenacity, but 'we are going to constantly make your lives miserable every time you face us.'  Seeing what a pain in the ass the AA Braves are to the DIAMOND JAXX, I am led to believe that this active pain in the assery is an organizational philosophy, and fortunately, due to the coastal placement of our respective big clubs, AA is the only place where we need to see them.  Watch Saltalamacchia hit in the bigs and realize that, not two months ago, he was being the exact same pain in the ass to YOUR West Tenn DIAMOND JAXX.  I admit I'm basing this belief on nothing more than vague, uninformed observation, but dude, playing the Braves must suck, and in AA, playing the AA Braves sucks.

Justin Thomas must agree, as the AA Braves teed off scored 4 runs off him in the first 4 innings.  Most pitchers can get away with 3-5 line drives in a 6 inning start.  Thomas surrendered 5 line drives in the first two innings, 3 in the 1st.  He escaped the 2nd after back to back line drives scored a run, thanks to picking off a runner, and Rene Rivera (!) gunning down a base stealer at 2nd.  The AA Braves drove everything on a line, groundballs and line drives, in the early going, not hitting a single flyball until the 4th.  Thomas, to his credit, settled down and allowed only one line drive after the 2nd, inducing mostly groundballs and managing to get 3 strikeouts as the game wore on before leaving after the 6th, only having allowed the 4 runs.

Flyballs:  4
Groundballs:  11
Line Drives:  6
Walks:  3
Strikeouts:  3

The DIAMOND JAXX tied the game in the 4th on a 3 run home run by... RENE RIVERA?!  Every now and then, the fat load comes out and has an awesome game, and the opener of a home series with the AA Braves is the best time to do it.  Chris Minaker and Sebastien Boucher, clearly inspired by the non-suck, lined back to back singles to keep it going, but Charlton 'All or Nothing' Jimerson went down on strikes to end that frame.

West Tenn took the lead in the following frame, when Marshall Hubbard hit a one out triple, and Tui sac flied him in to make it 5-4.

They would extend the lead in the 7th.  Charlton Jimerson led off with his token power output, a double down the LF line.  Jimerson then stole 3rd, his 16th swipe of the year, impressive given he didn't even show up until about a month into the season.  Prentice Redman did his Bad Jimerson impression and went down swinging for one out as Charlton stood at 3rd thinking it was a game of charades saying, 'Uhhhh... Steve Balboni!'  He did not notice the death glare.

Marshall Hubbard tapped back to the mound, and pitcher Tyler Bullock took the easiest throw in baseball... YIKES AND AWAY, and Jimerson scored to make it 6-4.  Tui came to the plate and watched Bullock uncork a wild pitch to move Hubbard over, then lined a big shot to right to easily bring in Hubbard, 7-4, as he slid in with a triple.  Brent Johnson and Luis Valbuena couldn't knock him in, however.

Chad Fillinger had finished the 7th, and the dubious reliever was sent back out for the 8th.  Greg Creek doubled with one out, and Ray Serrano doubled him in to make it 7-5.  Mark Jurich grounded to 3rd for two outs, while keeping Serrano on 2nd... but Van Pope drew a walk, and Mumba Rivera came in to relieve Fillinger.  Mumba came off of two bad outings and was looking to rebound... in a 2-run ballgame with two men on?  Well, he only needed one out, and who else are you gonna call?  Mike Hrynio?

Mumba uncorked a wild pitch that moved the runners into scoring position, and Mike Rozema made him pay with a grounder to 3rd that Tui couldn't play and throw to 1st in time, scoring Serrano to make it 7-6 as Pope took 3rd.  Still, Mumba need only get JC Holt to end the frame.

And Mumba walked JC Pope to load the bases... for Josh Burrus.

Burrus lined a hard shot right to Minaker at SS with such force that Minaker couldn't glove it, or more-so, could only put the glove up in self-defense, and Pope and Rozema scored to give the Braves the lead as Minaker chased it down.  Burrus, for whatever reason, thought he could take 2nd even though the ball was still in the vicinity, and once Minaker got it back, he easily threw out Burrus at 2nd to end the frame.  Still, 8-7 Braves.

The Braves would cash in another off Mumba, who due to thin bullpen reasons was left out there, to make it 9-7 before Craig James, who hasn't been too good himself, would come in to get the final out of the top 9th.  Joey Devine would come in to close and the DIAMOND JAXX would go down without so much as a whimper.

Okay, other things: Luis Valbuena had a bad first two months, but he is now starting to pick it back up to try and show us that yes, he was worth promoting to AA.  In his last 10 games he has put up a 353/389/559 line.  Sure, this is a hot streak, but given that he was doing next to nothing with the bat a month ago, this is good news.

As for cooling off, Tui has not suprisingly come down from his torrid start, but is also showing more power (257/297/514 in his last 10).  It's discouraging to see the rise in power correlate with the drop in walks.  Another funny thing: Tui's platoon splits are whacked out for a righthanded bat:

vs RHB:  296/418/489
vs LHB:  277/378/362

The OBP is roughly the same but look at the SLG.  Normally, southpaws give RHBs an inherent platoon advantage, as their pitches tend to hang more, leading to better power.  In Tui's case, he's hit for far LESS power against lefthanders.  A closer look shows he strikes out far less against lefties.  Make of that what you will.