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6/21 Minor League Wrap-Up

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The Rainiers bats have a great game, powered in part by a big bat... except it wasn't Adam Jones!  He actually went hitless!  You won't believe whose bat had the biggest night, bigger than the 3-doubles night that Clement had.

The Braves appeared to have punched themselves out, as they couldn't get a ball out of the infield until the 3rd inning, and the bats got going as the XBH geyser known as Charlton Jimerson went off last night (TWSS!) to power a rout.

Chris Tillman pitched last night.  After about a week off.  Against the Lancaster Jethawks and their powerful offense, in Lancaster's launchpad of a home park.  You can probably guess what the end result was. :(

Meanwhile, Kyle Parker showed some rust himself, as he blew away Quad Cities batters but left too many pitches up in the zone, got hit and the T-Rats had to come back to take the lead.  But the bullpen eventually sealed the T-Rats' demise.

Robert Harmon had an up-and-down night, but the Aquasox bats made sure the game wasn't in any sort of peril.

And VENEZUELA~!  Yoervis Medina got to the stadium on time, but watched luck crap all over his every flyball surrendered.

VENEZUELA~!  VSL Pirates 3, VSL Mariners 2

Yoervis Medina:  4 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 2 walks, 3 K, balk
Edlando Seco:  2 IP, 0 H, 1 ER, 3 walks, 2 K
Leonardo Rodriguez:  1 IP, walk, K
Jose Jimenez:  1 IP, walk
Terry Serrano:  1-4, double, K (.272)
Rigoberto Rangel:  1-4, double, R, 2 K (.269)
Cesar Fuentes:  1-3, RBI, walk (.282)
Jonathan Loaisiga:  1-3, RBI, K (.278)

No hypothetical scenes from VENEZUELA today, as it's a lot more clear what happened.  Yoervis Medina had some poor luck with flyballs... not that giving up so many helped.  Of the 8 flyballs the VSL Pirates put in play, 7 dropped in for base hits.  The defense, by and large, appears competent, so I'm not sure the Pirates were taking advantage of poor play or positioning.  But after a busy 4th, Medina called it a day down 2-1.  Giving up that many flyballs in four frames is not advised, even if the results aren't supposed to be as bad as Medina saw.

Flyballs:  8
Groundballs:  4
Line Drives:  1
Pop Ups:  1
Walks:  2
Strikeouts:  3

The VSLM's came back in the 7th.  Humberto Espinoza, not a pinch hitter extraordinare today because he started at 1B, led off with a walk.  With one out, Espinoza, not known for his speed, stole his 1st base of the season.  Botched hit and run gone good?  Either way, Pirates catcher Anyelo Neira passed a ball and Espinoza took 3rd.  Cesar Fuentes took a walk and Jonathan Loaisiga (yes, I've actually been waiting all morning to type Jonathan Loaisiga) singled to center to knock in Espinoza and TIE THE BALLGAME!  New pitcher Humberto Iriarte uncorked a wild pitch with two outs to move the runners to 2nd and 3rd, but got Jose Hernandez, like his MLB namesake, out on strikes.

Edlando Seco had worked a scoreless 5th and 6th, and came back out for the 7th... then walked the first two batters.  So Leonardo Rodriguez, usually a starter and one of the best pitchers on the VSLM's staff, came in to pitch.  Freizer Pedron bunted the runners over for one out.  Then Jairo Marquez walked to load the bases... for Antonio Negron.

Leo wanted the double play grounder and he got it when Negron grounded to short.  Roberto Vesquez turned it to Carlos Ramirez, Ramirez fired to 1st, and COULD NOT get Negron in time!  Carlos Salazar scored and the Pirates had the 3-2 lead.

The VSLM's went quietly in the 8th and 9th, and that was that.

a:  Everett 8, Yakima 4

Robert Harmon:  5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER (2 HR), 4 walks, 8 K, 2 hit batters
Ryan Moorer:  2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, K
Shawn Kelley:  1 IP, 2 K
Keith Meyer:  1 IP, walk
Greg Halman:  1-4, double, R, RBI, K
Kalian Sams:  1-3, R, RBI, walk, K, SB
Jeff Dunbar:  1-3, double, 2 RBI
Ogui Diaz:  1-4, RBI

The Aquasox got their runs in clumps, scoring a pair in the 1st, 2 more in the 3rd, and 3 more in the 6th to get comfortably ahead.  In the interim, Robert Harmon had some control issues, walking 4 and plunking 2 more in only 5 innings, with a curious case of negative variance: every flyball in play was a hit, the lone line drive was a double, and 2 of his 3 flyballs were home runs.  He also did give the Yakima bats a hard time, netting 8 strikeouts, while all but one of his 7 groundballs were turned into outs.  In the end, he only allowed 3 runs and, thanks to some good run support, got the win after working the minimum 5 innings.

Flyballs:  3 (2 HR)
Groundballs:  7
Line Drives:  1
Walks:  4 (plus 2 hit batters)
Strikeouts:  8

Meanwhile, the 'veteran' bats in the lineup are producing early on, as Ogui Diaz, Kalian Sams and Greg Halman, through 3 games, are a combined 12-33 with 3 doubles, 4 runs, and 5 RBI.  The hardscrabble existence in full season A ball has given them an early edge.

NEXT:  Doug Salinas makes his debut tonight at 7:05 pm PDT in Everett.

A:  Quad Cities 7, Wisconsin 6

Kyle Parker:  5 IP, 7 H, (5 R) 4 ER, 3 walks, 8 K, hit batter
Drew Fiorenza:  0.1 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 2 walks
Brian Kappel:  2.2 IP, walk
Andrew Barb:  1 IP, 2 K
Kuo Hui Lo:  1-4, double, R, RBI, K (.260)
Carlo Peguero:  2-4, RBI, 2 K (.265)
Trevor Lawhorn:  3-5, double, R, RBI (.288)
Joseph White:  1-4, double, 2 RBI, walk, 3 K
Jair Fernandez:  1-3, double, R, K (.267)
Juan Diaz:  1-4, double, R, RBI (.282)

It looked for a couple innings like second half, same as the 1st, that Wisconsin was going to get rolled again.

It didn't start out that way.  Rust-laden sloppiness struck Kyle Parker in the 1st like Steven Richard's car in the parking lot, with a walk and throwing error on a sharp ground ball leading directly to a run, but he sure settled down, striking out 5 of the 6 batters, including the side in the 2nd.  But then those pitches started hitting high in the zone in the 3rd, because he got tagged for 2 line drives and 2 flyballs, all but one of which were base hits, and four runs later it was 5-0 Swing.  Two strikeouts that inning indicate he was still blowing away hitters... just that he left enough stuff up in the zone to get hit.  And coaching clearly advised him of this, as he got three consecutive groundballs in an easy 4th.  In fact, not a single batter put a ball-in-play into the air after that 3rd inning, though Parker did walk and hit a batter.  The hiatus certainly left Kyle Parker with some rusty control, but he certainly didn't lose any of his stuff during the well-deserved rest.

Flyballs:  3
Groundballs:  7
Line Drives:  3
Walks:  3 (plus 1 hit batter)
Strikeouts:  8

As the Mariners org bats like to do, the T-Rats bats got going in the bottom 5th to try and get him the win once it was clear he was done.  With a run in the previous inning, they still trailed 5-1.  Jair Fernandez led off the bottom 5th with a double.  Juan Diaz singled to left to cash in Jair and cut the lead to 5-2.  Runnin Rebel Calvin Beamon smoked a grounder into center to move Diaz to 3rd.  Kuo Hui Lo flew to center for one out, but cashed in Juan Diaz on the sac fly to make it 5-3.  Reed Eastley singled to center to move Beamon to 3rd.  Trevor Lawhorn came up with two outs and lined a single to center to cash in Beamon and mmake it 5-4.  Pitcher Tyler Herron was obviously done, and he ceded to Kyle Sadlowski.

And Joseph White smoked a double to left to cash in Lawhorn and Eastley, T-RATS LEAD 6-5!

With Parker now in line for the win, Drew Fiorenza came on to work the 6th.  With one out, Donovan Solano lined a single to left.  No big deal, except Fiorenza walked Daryl Jones, then walked Jose Ramirez to load the bases... for Jared Schweitzer, and Fiorenza was pulled for Brian Kappel, only a marginally better option.

And Kappel couldn't find the zone, walking Schweitzer to force in a run, tie the ballgame, and leave them loaded... for Chris Grossman.  Grossman lifted a flyball to left, easily played by Kuo Hui Lo, but Daryl Jones tagged up and scored to give Quad Cities the lead 7-6.

And then both sides went quietly.  Bottom 8th, the T-Rats send Alex Liddi to the plate with one out, and he smokes a grounder to short that he beats out.  Jair Fernandez gets plunked and runners are now on 1st and 2nd.  Gavin Dickey comes in to pinch run for Jair, so they have a better chance to score the go-ahead run on an XBH.  Juan Diaz certainly tried, but CF Jose Ramirez got under his flyball for two outs.  Calvin Beamon grounded harmlessly to 1st and that was the inning.

Bottom 9th, last chance for the T-Rats, still down 7-6.  Kuo Hui Lo and Reed Eastley go down on strikes.  But Carlos Peguero gets plunked, then Trevor Lawhorn launches a shot to left for extra bases, Peguero, the tying run, gets to 3rd and they HOLD HIM UP.  Runners on 2nd and 3rd for Joseph White... who walks to load the bases with two outs for... Alex Liddi.  Uh ohs.

And Liddi goes down on strikes to end the ballgame.  Sigh.

NEXT:  Nathan Adcock's turn against the Swing today at 5:05 pm PDT.

A+:  Lancaster 15, High Desert 9

Chris Tillman:  4.1 IP, 12 H, 11 ER (2 HR), 2 walks, 3 K, wild pitch, 2 hit batters
Ruben Flores:  2.2 IP, 5 H, (4 R) 3 ER (HR), walk, 2 K, hit batter
Aaron Cotter:  1 IP 1 H
Michael Saunders:  2-3, 3 R, 2 walks, K (.307)
Jeff Dominguez:  1-4, R, RBI, walk, K (.240)
Jesus Guzman:  3-5, triple, 2 run HR, 2 R, 5 RBI, 2 K (.287)
Johan Limonta:  1-5, RBI, K (.301)
Adam Moore:  2-5, K (.294)
Eddy Hernandez:  1-5, R, 4 K: The Golden Sombrero.  Welcome!
Jeff Flaig:  2-4, R, K (.227)

To paraphrase the movie Baseketball... it certainly seems to be raining shit on Chris Tillman right now.

The combination of circumstances to contribute to a horrible start were all there: the Jethawks are arguably the Cal League's best hitting team.  Chris Tillman is still mired in a bad personal slump, is probably in over his head against Cal League competition in general, AND had extra days off thanks to the All Star Break, likely accumulating some rust.  And of the friendly hitters parks in the Cal League, none are friendlier than Lancaster's home park.

So as terrible as this start was, it wasn't that big of a surprise.  If he had held the Jethawks to, say, 4 runs over 6 innings, it would've been a miracle and an uncanny, massive step forward given this stage in his development.

Three line drives in the 3 run 1st inning off Tillman, all of which were doubles, pretty much spelled doom.  Tillman did ring up a couple of K's, but a kid fighting a bull with a steak knife is probably gonna get a couple wounds in before he's gored to death.  Add in a wild pitch, two hit batters, two infield errors once he started getting groundballs, everything I mentioned above, and a partridge in a pear tree, and you have the makings of a disastrous outing.  Finally, in the bottom 5th, Tillman watched Bubba Bell take him deep to lead off, gave up another flyball, then watched Zach Daeges take him deep, and he was finally, mercifully pulled.

I would've pulled him after the 4th, as he had gotten some groundballs and even though he suffered negative variance on said groundballs, it would've been a better note to finish on, especially with a rested bullpen (everyone just had 3 days off!), than 2 home runs to your final three batters before getting the hook.  Not that the management thereof made a huge difference, as the 2 HRs to end it were more like pus icing on the dog-shit cake.

Flyballs:  9 (6 of which came vs the final 8 batters, 2 HRs)
Groundballs:  9
Line Drives:  5
Walks:  2 (plus 2 hit batters)
Strikeouts:  3

If I had to take a partially uneducated guess, I'm guessing the org knew Tillman was gonna have a hard time either way, so they figured they might as well get him closer to home and let him struggle nearer to friends and family, even if the challenge was a bit too advanced for him.  Besides, it's in line with the org's 'challenge the prospect' philosophy, and they're hoping he comes out of it the way Tui, WLAD and Adam Jones did... though those were hitters, and the track record for pitchers coming out of the other end better for it isn't quite there.

For what it's worth, it's the Lancaster Jethawks, featuring some of the Cal League's best sluggers, in a launchpad.  Ruben Flores, who relieved Tillman, got destroyed too.

Other things: welcome to outfielder Eddy Hernandez, who made his 2007 debut and went 1 for 5 while wearing the Golden Sombrero.  He played with the T-Rats last season and put up a 243/296/355 line in 403 ABs while racking up 135 Ks vs 26 walks.  You can see why they were in no hurry to play him.  If I had to guess why we're seeing him here and now, I'm thinking the org originally intended to put him on the T-Rats roster once T-Rats were sent to Everett, but ran out of room when they brought in new, better guys like Calvin Beamon, so here he is in High Desert with 'sink or swim' orders.

Also, welcome to Kevin Reynolds, who got in a few ABs at Wisconsin before the org finally said, "Ah, what the hell, send him to High Desert."  It's likely promotions upward to West Tenn opened up the Mavs roster, hence these guys showing up at a higher level than their talent and performance would warrant.  I guess we'll see as we move along.

NEXT:  Well, Ruben Flores pitching in relief and the recent All Star Break makes the next starter's identity a mystery.  We'll probably find out at 7:05 pm PDT tonight in Lancaster, and may he have a better night than Tillman and Flores did.

AA:  West Tenn 8, Mississippi 1

Joe Woerman:  5.1 IP, 1 H, 4 walks, 6 K
The Aircraft Carrier:  1.1 IP, 1 H, walk, K
David Asher:  0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER
Chad Fillinger:  2 IP, 3 K
Charlton Jimerson:  4-4, 2 run HR, solo HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, SB #19 (.264).  Yet another freakout game.
Marshall Hubbard:  2-4, RBI, 2 K (.256)
Matt Tuiasosopo:  0-2, sac fly RBI, walk, K (.287)
Erick Monzon:  1-4, RBI, K (.231)
Luis Oliveros:  1-4, R, K (.289)

Carl Loadenthal was back in the lineup yesterday after Wednesday's dubious ejection (which I attempted to explain yesterday with some fiction), but clearly, the AA Braves were deflated for a change after the previous day's drama.  They did not hit a ball into the outfield until the end of the 3rd inning, and Joe Woerman was able to hold them to an infield single while working into the 6th, as the DIAMOND JAXX put up 3 runs in the first 2 frames, then put up a 4 run 4th to put the game out of reach.  Charlton Jimerson had another one of his every-so-often massive nights, going 4 for 4, jacking 2 HRs and powering half of that big early outburst.  This guy would be such a big star if he could do even half of this more often than he does.

Woerman and the bullpen went into cruise control, even quickly overcoming a little David Asher meltdown (speaking of fast promotions, this was David's 3rd app since getting the call from High Desert) to escape with only one run allowed.  Woerman's exit in itself was a little early, only getting halfway through a 3rd turn through the lineup, though walks (4) and K's (6) do run up your pitch count.  Maybe West Tenn was a little more interested in getting their guys some work, which doesn't quite explain The Aircraft Carrier's 2nd straight appearance but whatever.

Flyballs:  3
Groundballs:  5
Line Drives:  1
Pop Ups:  3
Walks:  4
Strikeouts:  6

NEXT:  Travis Chick tries to go 3 for 3 in awesome starts today at 5:05 pm PDT in Jackson.

AAA:  Tacoma 13, Sacremento 7

Justin Lehr:  6.2 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, 4 walks, 3 K, 2 wild pitches
Jason Mackintosh:  0.1 IP, 1 H, K
Wife Vulture:  2 IP, 2 H, K
Gookie Dawkins:  2-5, solo HR, GRAND SLAM, K (.261)
Jeremy Reed:  1-5, K (.287)
Adam Jones:  0-5 (.318)
Bryan LaHair:  2-5, double, triple, R, 2 K (.254)
WLAD:  1-4, solo HR, 2 R, walk, 2 K (.316)
Jeff Clement:  4-5, 3 doubles, 2 R, 2 RBI (.272)
Nick Green:  3-5, 2 run HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 K
Rob Johnson (DH):  2-5, 2 run HR, 2 R, 2 K (.260)

Go figure that the Rainiers have such a big game, in Sacremento, on a day when Adam Jones goes hitless.  The Rainiers had 10, TEN extra base hits, including 5 HRs off River Cats pitching.  Most of the damage came off Kazuhito Tadano, who had easily his worst outing since getting called up in mid-May from AA Midland.  15 of his 26 ERs have come in two horrible outings.  This was one of them, as Tadano's disastrous 2nd saw him taken deep by WLAD, Jeff Clement hitting a double, Rob Johnson taking him deep (only Rob's 3rd HR of the season) and Gookie Dawkins hitting his 3rd HR of the year.

Tadano barely escaped, finished the 3rd, then loaded the bases in the 4th before leaving, only to watch in horror as Gookie Dawkins cleared his runners with a GRAND SLAM, his 2nd home run of the game, that turned a 5-4 ballgame into a commanding 9-4 lead.

Justin Lehr, however, also had a poor outing, though not as bad as Tadano's.  Lehr got touched up for 2 in the 1st, 2 more in the 3rd, 2 more in the 5th, and got the hook in the 7th before Jason Mackintosh allowed his runner to score.  Lehr threw 57% of his pitches for strikes and walked 4 batters while uncorking 2 wild pitches: not one of his better nights.  His groundballs were scattered but fortuitous, as they frequently led to GIDPs and ended rallies, but inbetween those were a salvo of flyballs and line drives (an astonishing NINE line drives).  And fortunately, despite the Rainiers' barrage, the River Cats did not hit any home runs off of him.  His 1-2-3 inning in the 6th were all flyballs.  Line drives, line drives everywhere!

Flyballs:  7
Groundballs:  8
Line Drives:  9
Walks:  4
Strikeouts:  3

But Lehr still got his 7th win of the win thanks to the offensive barrage his Rainier teammates put up in three big rallies: the 5 run 2nd, the Gookie grand slam in the 4th, and then another 4 run barrage in the 9th for the hell of it, where LaHair and Clement hit doubles, then Nick Green went deep for his 1st blast as a Rainier to make it 13-7.

NEXT:  LOL Jake Woods, in Sacremento tonight at 7:05 pm PDT.