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6/26 Minor League Wrap-Up

With the Rookie ball clubs taking the day off, I'm able to focus a bit more on what happened yesterday.

A new pitcher for the Rainiers matches the performances that warranted his callup, allowing another new face to give it a shot out of the bullpen (oh, and Adam Jones is back).

The spirit of Eddie Guardado and Bobby Ayala paid the DIAMOND JAXX bullpen a visit in the 9th.  They would've called for their closer, but he sucks even worse.

I'm finally aboard the 'Chris Tillman in High Desert was a bad choice' bandwagon.  If the wheels hadn't come off before yesterday, they certainly came off yesterday.

Kyle Parker's last start didn't look good but he put up good strikeout and groundball numbers.  This start yesterday, however... not so much.

The Aquasox looked destined for a loss in Tri City, but remember what Kason Gabbard did yesterday?  Yeah, Tri City's closer kinda did the same thing.  And I find the idea of even having a closer in short season A ball rather funny.

VENEZUELA~!  The VSLM's had the day off.

AZL:  Peoria's Mariners also had the day off.

a:  Everett 5, Tri City 3

Robert Harmon:  5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, walk, K, wild pitch, hit batter
Nick Hill:  1.2 IP, 1 H, walk
Mark Pettis:  1 IP, 2 H, K
Ryan Moorer:  1 IP, K
Greg Halman:  1-3, double, 2 RBI, 2 walks, 2 K
Matt Mangini:  1-4, double, R, K
Manny Pimentel:  1-3, double, walk, 2 K

Robert Harmon left in the 6th after having given the Dust Devils a 2-1 lead.  He hadn't pitched as well as the 1 run over the previous 5 would indicate, with several line drives surrendered while all but 2 batters put the ball in play.  And even though he settled down, even getting 5 straight groundballs in the previous two frames, variance caved in during the 6th, and a leadoff HBP and a wild pitch sure didn't help his cause.  Harmon can clearly use some improvement in general, and while there's some hope for him as a starter, he's got plenty of work to do before he can reliably do so.

Flyballs:  2
Groundballs:  10
Line Drives:  5
Pop Ups:  1
Walks:  1 (plus 1 hit batter)
Strikeouts:  1

Military man Nick Hill came in and the Dust Devils cashed in another run on a suicide squeeze (HEY) to make it 3-1.  Tri City did get two runners on in the bottom 7th but could not cash anyone in.  They did it again in the 8th against struggling Mark Pettis, as a leadoff double and a subsequent single put runners on the corners (then 2nd and 3rd after a stolen base) with no outs, but somehow Pettis escaped the inning without a run.

Andrew Groves came in to shut it down in the 9th for the Dust Devils, and Manny Pimentel drew a leadoff walk.  Robert Mena pinch ran, and with one out, Groves uncorked a wild pitch to move Mena to 2nd, before Deybis Benitez got plunked to put runners at 1st and 2nd, one out.  Kris Sanchez struck out for two outs, but then Jeff Dunbar got plunked to load the bases... for Marquise Liverpool, as Jermaine Brock pinch ran for Dunbar.

Groves started hitting the catcher's glove, but couldn't hit the strike zone, as Liverpool drew a walk to force in a run and cut the lead to 3-2.

Then Edilio Colina got plunked, and THAT forced in a run to tie the ballgame, bases STILL loaded for Greg Halman, and Halman doubled down the LF line to cash in Brock and Liverpool to make it 5-3.  Groves finally got yanked to what I'm sure was a warm reception from the Tri Cities crowd, and Riquy Peña got Matt Mangini on strikes to end the frame.

Ryan Moorer put the side down quietly and that was that.

A:  Peoria 5, Wisconsin 2

Kyle Parker:  5.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 walks, 3 K, hit batter
Michael Wagner:  1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, K, wild pitch
Brian Kappel:  0.2 IP, 1 H
Eddy Fernandez:  0.2 IP, 1 H, K
Gavin Dickey:  1-4, double, R, sac fly RBI, 2 K (.217)
Reed Eastley:  1-4, RBI
Alex Liddi:  1-4, double, 2 K (.220)
Jair Fernandez:  2-4, SB (.287)

Kyle Parker's last start, while his BIP was encouraging, wasn't a good performance.  This one wasn't good either, and he didn't even rack up strikeouts this time.  He gave up 2 in the 2nd as nearly everything was put in the air, 2 more in the 3rd thanks to two groundballs turning into singles (and only escaping further damage when the 4th and final groundball of the frame was converted into a DP), and tiptoed into the 6th, recording two outs against the first two batters before reaching his limit and giving way.  At the mercy of his groundballs, the variance went negative and combined with the poor 2nd inning, the result was a poor performance.

Flyballs:  7
Groundballs:  10
Line Drives:  3
Walks:  2 (plus 1 hit batter)
Strikeouts:  3

Not only would there not be a comeback from a 4-2 deficit, but the Chiefs added a run in the 7th off Michael Wagner to pad the lead.

A+:  Lake Elsinore 8, High Desert 3

Chris Tillman:  1.2 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 6 walks, 2 K, hit batter
Nick Allen:  3.2 IP, 5 H, (4 R) 3 ER, K
Paul Fagan:  1.2 IP, 1 H, (1 R) 0 ER, K
Steve Uhlmansiek:  1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER
Michael Saunders:  1-4, RBI, K (.295)
Jesus Guzman:  1-5, solo HR, 2 K (.291)
Jeff Frazier:  1-3, double, walk
Jeff Flaig:  1-3, double, 2 R, walk (.221)
Kevin Reynolds:  3-3, double, R

Man, I hope Chris Tillman's okay, but six walks is a very poor sign.  He's got to be pulled from the rotation, at least, if not sent back down or shut down.  At best, he's not making progress, and more likely, something is wrong with him, an injury or some sort of mechanical imbalance, and sending him back out there to start again probably won't help solve that.

Flyballs:  2
Groundballs:  2
Walks:  6 (plus 1 hit batter)
Strikeouts:  2

That aside, the Mavs actually were in this game, down only 3-1 in the 5th, but Nick Allen, who had relieved Tillman and done reasonably well, imploded in the 6th and, 4 runs later, the game was out of reach.

Fun fact:  The Lake Elsinore Storm are the High A affiliate of our hated natural interleague rivals, the San Diego Padres, and rehabbing big leaguer Brian Giles made a rehab start with the dirty bastards yesterday.  He went 0 for 3 with 2 walks (and you can guess who those walks came from) and a strikeout.  He'll be back to wrestling naked with Marcus in the shower in no time!

AA:  Mobile 5, West Tenn 2

Joe Woerman:  6.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 walks, 2 K, 2 hit batters
The Aircraft Carrier:  1.1 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, walk, K, wild pitch
David Asher:  0.1 IP, 1 ER, walk (intentional)
Mumba Rivera:  0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER (HR)
Charlton Jimerson:  2-5, K, SBs #20, 21 and 22 (.255)
Brent Johnson:  2-3, double, R, RBI, K (.292)
Luis Valbuena:  1-4, double, RBI, K (.233)
Rene Rivera:  0-2, 2 walks (.177)

It looked like the DIAMOND JAXX were gonna tietoe off with a 2-1 lead.  Joe Woerman, who wasn't supposed to be starting in the first place (more on that later), tiptoed into the 7th having allowed only one run, and the Aircraft Carrier got him out of the 7th and pitched a scoreless 8th.  Woerman's performance was a mixed bag, with a lot of baserunners that were nullified by timely groundballs and even one on a Rene Rivera pickoff!  Two of Woerman's groundballs resulted in rally killing GIDPs.

Flyballs:  4
Groundballs:  8
Line Drives:  3
Pop Ups:  2
Walks:  3 (plus 2 hit batters)
Strikeouts:  2

The problem was the 9th.  The Aircraft Carrier came out to finish, still leading 2-1.  Justin Upton lined a single to left, then De La Cruz uncorked a wild pitch to put Upton on 2nd before walking Javier Brito.  The Aircraft Carrier got yanked and David Asher, not an improvement to say the least, came in to pitch.  It appears that, with Craig James absolutely sucking, the DIAMOND JAXX are going to the dreaded closer by committee... and it's not a good committee.

Carlos Gonzalez bunted the runners ahead for one out.  Asher intentionally put on Chris Rahl to put the force at any base, then ceded to Mumba Rivera.  This is not a good bullpen.

Phil Avlas flew to center for two outs, but Upton was able to tag up and score to tie the ballgame.

Cesar Nicolas flew to center.  Charlton Jimerson got under it... and watched it sail over the left center field wall!  Mobile wins 5-2!  The bullpen gets a D- for effort.

AAA:  Tacoma 12, Tucson 5

Robert Rohrbaugh (!):  6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 3 walks, 2 K, wild pitch, hit batter
Brodie Downs:  1.2 IP, 1 H, (4 R) 0 ER, 3 walks, hit batter.  Welcome!... I think.
Jason Mackintosh:  1.1 IP, 2 H, K, wild pitch
Nick Green:  1-5, solo HR, walk, K
Jeremy Reed:  1-5, 2 run HR, walk (.285)
Adam Jones IS BACK:  1-6, R, 2 K (.313)
WLAD:  2-4, double, 2 R, RBI, walk, 2 K, SB #13 (.323)
Jeff Clement (DH):  1-4, R, RBI, walk, K (.282)
Rob Johnson:  3-5, 3 doubles, 3 R, 2 RBI (.264)
Brant Ust:  2-4, double, 2 RBI, walk (.273)
Oswaldo Navarro:  2-5, R, 2 RBI, K, SB (.233)

From the Evening Sun:

As Robert Rohrbaugh was standing in line at the buffet table in the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx clubhouse before Saturday night's game, he got a tap on the shoulder from manager Eddie Rodriguez.

The Diamond Jaxx coach was hoping to play a prank on his ace pitcher, but Rohrbaugh, a Littlestown graduate, read right throw it.

He knew the news was good.

But that didn't change the reaction when he found out he was getting on a plane this morning for Tucson, Ariz., to join the Seattle Mariners' Class AAA club, the Tacoma Rainiers.

"I feel kind of numb right now," Rohrbaugh said. "I'm kind of nervous meeting up with another ballclub. It's also exciting. I don't want to spend the rest of my life at Jackson, Tenn."

Rohrbaugh earned the promotion after leading the Diamond Jaxx with seven wins over the first half of the season.

He has allowed 84 hits in a team-high 85 innings of work and posted a 3.28 ERA.

So THAT's where Robert Rohrbaugh went!  I hope he enjoyed the DIAMOND JAXX buffet line, because between Wife Vulture and Byron Embry, I'm not sure the Rainiers buffet line's gonna leave much for the newcomer.  It's not a coincidence that Feierabend and RRS were so relatively svelte when they showed up with the big club.  He showed a lot of the groundballing early on that made him so successful in AA, but eventually the Sidewinders started lining pitches and hitting flyballs, and somehow he escaped with only 1 run allowed in 6 innings.  His line looked no different from his usual line in West Tenn, but the BIP were hardly as impressive.  Positive variance saved him today.

Flyballs:  5
Groundballs:  10
Line Drives:  5
Pop Ups:  1
Walks:  3 (plus 1 hit batter)
Strikeouts:  2

Still, for a guy who just made the jump from AA, to perform without skipping a beat in AAA is pretty good, especially considering the struggles of those who preceded him (guys like Mackintosh and Juan Doñe).

A n00b made his debut on the hill, named Brodie Downs.  Brodie Downs is a 27 year old who pitched for Modesto Junior College last season.  After he finished high school, Downs worked as a land surveyor, but eventually decided to return to baseball.  The Mariners drafted him in the 23rd round this past June and, figuring his prospect status was about as bright as Roman Martinez's, added him to the bullpen in Tacoma this week to see what he had to offer.

Brodie gave up a leadoff line drive single to Alberto Callaspo in the 7th, only to have Rob Johnson gun him down trying to steal.  He walked another batter but got out of the inning just fine.

He led off the 8th by plunking Brian Barden.  He got Jeff Salazar on a grounder, but as Oswaldo Navarro tried to turn the double play, he threw to first, only for Bryan LaHair to drop the throw!  So instead of two outs, we had one out with a guy on 1st.  Then Rich 'I think you mean' Thompson walked.  Rainiers pitching coach Dwight Bernard went out and told Downs something original, like trust your stuff.  Make your pitches.  Throw strikes.  Then Matt Morgan grounded to 3rd, where Brant Ust was working today, and Ust muffed it, allowing Salazar to score and putting runners on the corners with one out.

Donnie Sadler grounded to short, where Oswaldo got the force at 2nd for two outs as Rich Thompson scored.  Then Alberto Callaspo walked and that was it for Brodie Downs.  Not the best of debuts, but not his fault either.  If that's the worst we see from Brodie Downs, he'll probably be fine, because his defense probably won't commit two errors in every inning.

The good news?  Even after reliever Jason Mackintosh allowed two of Brodie's runners to score on a single, the Rainiers were still leading 7-5, and then they blew it open again in the 9th with 5 more runs.