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7/28 Minor League Wrap-Up

Originally posted at 1:36 pm and bumped to keep the game thread prominently visible, but now that it's over....

As the VSLM's season winds down and approaches its finish, the T-Rats showed signs of life in a doubleheader, the Mavs showed signs of life against Inland Empire, Michael Wilson reminded us he's still alive, and Robert Rohrbaugh reminds us over 9 impressive innings that there's more to Oklahoma's home ballpark than meets the eye.

On to the wrap-up!

They played two in VENEZUELA~!

Game 1:  VSL Pirates 11, VSL Mariners 3, 7 innings

Jean Tome:  one out, 2 H, (6 R) 5 ER (HR), 2 walks (1 intentional), hit batter
Edlando Seco:  4.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 4 walks, 4 K, wild pitch
Yorjans Chourio:  no outs recorded, 2 H, 4 ER, 2 walks, wild pitch
Manuel Campos:  1 IP, 2 H
Roberto Velasquez:  3-4, solo HR, 2 R (.255/.337/.320)
Jose Rivero:  2-4, RBI
Carlos Ramirez:  1-2, double, walk (.271/.369/.373)

Okay, that sucked.  NEEEEEEXT.

Game 2:  VSL Mariners 14, VSL Pirates 1, 7 innings
VSLM's:  44-21... VSL Bucs:  45-20

Jose Rios:  6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 walks, 5 K, hit batter
Carlos Sanchez:  1 IP, walk, K
Humberto Espinoza:  2-3, 3 R, RBI, K
Jose Rivero:  3-4, double, 3 run HR, 3 R (.300/.405/.495)
Cesar Fuentes:  2-5, R, 3 RBI, K (.321/.411/.408)
Rigoberto Rangel:  3-4, 3 run HR, SB (.268/.368/.437)
Larry Gonzalez:  2-3, 2 R (.256/.337/.305)
Terry Serrano:  3-3, 2 doubles, R, RBI (.246/.351/.310)

Okay, that's better.

I hadn't been paying attention, but it turns out there's only 5 games left in the VSL season.  I'm about as well versed in writing season ending wrap-ups as I am in directing hardcore pornography, so my fumbled attempt at writing one once the VSL season concludes won't try to delve too far or do any more than highlight statistical performances.  Other more informed than I can tell you more on what a VSL player's odds generally are of advancing to the North American mainland for next season, but from the statistical histories of those who have... as you'd expect, you generally have to have a pretty good year in the VSL.

There are about 4 position players who have statistically made a strong case, and while they've all posted solid ERA figures overall, few if any of the VSL pitchers have put up strong, dominant peripherals.  Of the regular SPs, only Jose Rios has a K:BB over 2.0.  Several have rang up good K rates, but have corresponding high walk rates, and remember, the VSL is full of 18-20 year old kids.  If you're any good as a pitcher, you can ring a lot of them up.  I doubt that'll stop several of these pitchers from advancing, but again, I'm not well versed in how promotion from international lands goes.  There doesn't seem to be a real hotshot in the bunch.

Dominican:  The DSLM's had the day off.  They are in progress against the DSL Phillies (26-17).  Unlike the Venezuelans, the Dominicans still have plenty of baseball left, as their season continues until late August, as do the seasons of most other minor leagues.

Arizona:  Mariners 6, Cubs 3
AZLM's:  2-0... AZL Cubs: 1-1

Richard Ortiz:  5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER (HR), walk, 7 K, wild pitch, hit batter
Michael Renfree:  2 IP, 4 H, 2 K
Tom Ellis:  1 IP, 2 K
Travis Mortimore:  1 IP, 1 H, K
Daniel Carroll:  1-3, RBI, walk, K (.353/.455/.431)
Alfredo Mateo:  1-3, double, R, RBI, walk (.256/.330/.402)
Mario Martinez:  2-4, triple, 2 R, 2 RBI, K (.233/.255/.320)
Dwight Britton:  1-3, RBI, walk, K, SB (.279/.338/.311)

Dick Ortiz let the AZLM's fall behind 3-0, but the AZLM's roared back in the middle innings to take the lead for good.  Also, like his fellow phenom Carlos Triunfel did earlier this year, Mario Martinez took some time to adjust to pro pitching at the rookie ball level, but has finally clicked and is now starting to hit the ball well.

a:  Spokane 6, Everett 5
EVE: 14-25... SPO:  18-20

Doug Salinas:  4.1 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, walk, 4 K
Brandon McKerney:  1 IP, 1 H, 2 K
Ryan Moorer:  2.2 IP, 1 H, 2 K
Ogui Diaz:  1-5, double, RBI, 2 K (.265/.297/.394)
Joe Dunigan:  1-4, R, RBI, K, 2 SB (.235/.268/.288)
Craig Hurba:  0-3, sac fly RBI, K
Kalian Sams:  1-3, double, 2 R, walk, SB (.171/.276/.286)
Manelik Pimentel:  pinch hit RBI single (.260/.321/.458)

Doug Salinas got hit around as his start wore on and he did not make it out of the 5th.  The Aquasox did respond to the Indians' first 3 run flurry from the 3rd with their own 2 run rally in the 4th, but the Indians added a run in the bottom 4th to make it 4-2.  The Aquasox added a run in the 5th to cut it to 4-3, but the Indians chased Salinas in a 2 run 5th to make it 6-3, and after a run in the 6th, the Aquasox had no further answer expect for a run in a token rally in the top 9th.

Also, of the three demoted arrivals that started the season with the Aquasox and had hot bats (Ogui Diaz, Kalian Sams and Greg Halman), only Halman has maintained a good bat through the season.  Sams tumbled right off a cliff after the first week and Ogui Diaz's bat went back into hiding.  Chances of either prospect being a part of the org's long term future grow dimmer with every strikeout and pop up.  And even though he's having the best luck, Halman himself still has work to do on his plate adjustments and pitch recognition before he stands a chance in full season A ball.

Also, news on the injured Matt Mangini: he is in Peoria rehabbing his sore lower back.  No timetable was given by the Everett Herald on Wednesday, but ther is a possibility he won't be back with Everett this season.

Yes, it took me five days to notice.  I'm slipping.

This is largely precautionary.  He could play rightnow, but trainers found it's a lower-back stabilization problem, and that he would simply reagravate the injury after another week of playing, so they're looking to get him on a core-strength training program so that the problem will not recur once he begins playing again.  I'll take it if it means a better chance at a long, healthy career for Mangini.

Also, more injuries: Edilio Colina has been MIA due to an injured shoulder suffered a week ago.  It's healing up and he should be fine.  If he's not in the lineup today, he should be in the next 1-2 days.  If anything, it has given utility backup Roberto Mena extended playing time, which he has used to improve his numbers and play some good defense at 2B.

A:  They also played two in Appleton!

Game 1 (the thrilling conclusion of Thursday's suspended game):  Great Lakes 4, Wisconsin 3

Tony Butler: 3 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 walks, 2 K
Steven Richard:  4 IP, 6 H, (2 R) 1 ER, 3 walks, 4 K
Family Warrior Harold Williams:  1 IP, 2 walks
Joe Kantakevich:  1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, walk, K, wild pitch
Calvin Beamon:  2-5, 2 RBI
Carlos Peguero:  2-4, 2 doubles, RBI, walk
Juan Beltran:  1-4, double, R, K, SB (.221/.274/.255)

Harold Williams' long journey back from karmic famine arrives in Appleton, where he helped the T-Rats complete this suspended game, a 4-3 loss after a Loons comeback once play resumed.  Harold walked two but threw a scoreless inning.

Sad news lies, ironically, with his arrival on the T-Rats roster.  His arrival is a result of replacing reliever Brian Kappel, who had enough of this mess... and retired.

Game 2: Wisconsin 4, Great Lakes 3, 7 innings
WIS:  11-22... GLK:  10-23

Ricky Orta:  6.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER (HR), walk, 12 K, wild pitch
Rollie Gibson:  two outs, 1 H, K
Calvin Beamon:  2-3, R (.257/.351/.319)
Kuo Hui Lo:  4-4, triple, R, RBI (.275/.334/.372)
Alex Liddi:  1-3, RBI, K (.233/.306/.379)
Carlos Peguero:  1-4, triple, 2 K (.260/.312/.460)
Jair Fernandez:  1-3, RBI, walk, K (.268/.347/.394)

No score until the T-Rats pushed home a run in the 6th.  They could have had a lot more: Carlos Peguero led off with a laser to the wall that got lost in the lights and took a strange carrom. Peguero had three easily, but decided to try for the inside-the-parker, and CF Scott Van Slyke got it back, threw home and gunned Peguero down at the plate.  No outs, man on 3rd... became 1 out.  But then Paul Coleman walked the next three batters, and reliever Joe Jones got Juan Diaz to ground to 1st, but the Loons only took the out at 1st and Ronald Garth came in to make it 1-0.  Then Gavin Dickey struck out to end the frame, because that's what Gavin Dickey does.

And then Ricky Orta, who had flat out dominated the Loons and already had 11 K's, came on for the 7th and final frame to try and finish a doubleheader shortened game for the 2nd time.  Except Matt Berezay led off with a double, Orta uncorked a wild pitch with one out, Josh Bell singled and Rick Taloa channeled Jason Tyner and hit his 1st home run of the season to make it 3-1 Loons.

Rollie Gibson came in and despite a single from Scott Van Slyke (who is trying to earn the resident Mariners Org's Thorn in the Side tag for the Loons), got out of the frame, leaving the punchless T-Rats to try and mount a two run rally in the final frame.

Except Calvin Beamon, who decided to show up yesterday, led off with his 4th hit of the doubleheader (technically), Kuo Hui Lo tripled him in, and Alex Liddi flew to right for one out, except Lo tagged up and scored to TIE THE BALLGAME.  Carlos Peguero struck out and it looked like extra frames, until Ronald Garth, Reed Eastley and Jair Fernandez all hit back to back to back singles to cash in the winning run!

Some neat prospect news: today's T-Rats start is Nolan Gallagher, the lost Oasis brother, who was promoted from Everett, starts in today's game.

A+:  High Desert 11, Inland Empire 9
Mavs:  9-27... Empire:  17-19

Chris Tillman:  5.2 IP, 11 H, (7 R) 3 ER, 2 walks, 4 K, wild pitch
Aaron Cotter:  2.1 IP, 1 H, (1 R) 0 ER, K
Aaron Jensen:  1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER (HR), 2 walks, K, wild pitch
Carlos Triunfel:  2-5, double, R, 3 RBI, 2 K (.314/.344/.384)
Travis Scott:  1-3, solo HR (.295/.372/.512)
Jeff Frazier:  3-4, 2 doubles, 2 R, 2 RBI (.368/.417/.521)
Jeff Flaig:  2-4, double, 2 R, RBI (.246/.291/.333)
Kevin Reynolds:  2-4, R, 2 RBI (.395/.429/.474)
Eddy Hernandez:  2-3, double, R, 2 RBI, walk (.204/.284/.316)
Jeff Dominguez:  3-4, R, SB #14 (.263/.317/.360)

The Mavs blew up Empire pitching for 6 runs in the 2nd, added another in the 3rd and staked Chris Tillman to a sizeable lead... one that the defense helped him give back.  Russell Mitchell doubled in a run for Empire in the 4th, Lucas May pounded in another with a single and Ryan Rogowski pounded one in with a single himself to make it 7-3.

Tillman got out of the sizeable jam after going through the entire lineup that inning, worked the 5th without a run despite a single and wild pitch, and then caved in during the 6th.  After two quick outs, Jeff Flaig fielded a grounder and threw the inning ending throw to 1st YIKES AND AWAY to put Bridger Hunt on.  Gabe Gutierrez then singled.  Shane Justis singled to cash in Hunt and make it 7-4.  Drew Locke smoked a grounder to Flaig that he couldn't play in time, and it was 7-5, runners on the corners.

Tillman got the hook and Aaron Cotter came in.  Travis Denker grounded to 3rd, and Flaig muffed it, clearly channeling Oswaldo Navarro in acquiring his 27th error of the season  Oh, and Justis scored to make it 7-6.  Then Russell Mitchell doubled in both runners and the choke was complete, 8-7 Empire.

It would've sucked a lot more had the Mavs not roared back in the 7th.  Triunfel, who killed an earlier rally with a GIDP, led off with a single.  Jesus Guzman walked on water to put runners at 1st and 2nd.  Travis Scott bunted them over for one out, and Jeff Frazier, red hot in High A this year, doubled both runners in to TAKE THE LEAD BACK, 9-8.  Jeff Flaig atoned for his errors by doubling to drive in Frazier and make it 10-8.  Kevin Reynolds, who has done a god job getting on base in High A so far, lined a single to cash in Flaig and make it 11-8.  Eddy Hernandez also singled but Jeff Dominguez channeled Miguel Tejada and grounded into the 1-6-3 inning ending rally killing double play.

Empire had nothing left after that.  Russell Mitchell went solo yard in the top 9th off Aaron Jensen in a vain attempt to spark a rally, but that and two walks was all Empire would muster.

AA:  Tennessee 3, West Tenn 1
WTN:  15-21... TEN:  18-18

Travis Chick:  7 IP, 6 H, 3 ER (HR), walk (intentional), 4 K
Michael Hrynio:  1 IP, 1 H, K
Mumba Rivera:  1 IP, walk, 2 K
Luis Valbuena:  2-4, walk (.242/.308/.367)
Michael Wilson:  1-4, solo HR, 2 K (.137/.210/.253)
Rene Rivera:  1-3, walk, K (.195/.262/.285)

Travis Chick pitched a competitve ballgame, but because he pitches for the West Tennessee DIAMOND JAXX, that wasn't nearly enough.  The requisite pitching performance for victory in Jackson these days starts with a CG shutout and goes up from there.

The only run of the game for the DIAMOND JAXX came when Michael Wilson emerged from his cave in the bottom 9th, stumbled to home plate with his bat, fell to the ground, grasped a handful of dirt and fitfully hurled it towards third base while screaming DAMN DIRTY DOUBLE A BALLPLAYERS, stumbled to his feet, picked a dead sparrow from his unkempt caveman beard and flung it away, reared back with his bat, hit a solo home run, stumbled around the bases and promptly returned to his cave, not to emerge again.

His teammates were so baffled that they went down promptly after that to end the ballgame.

AAA:  Tacoma 5, Oklahoma 0
TAC:  47-61... OKL:  53-52

Robert Rohrbaugh:  CG shutout, 4 H, walk, 5 K
Jeremy Reed:  2-5, triple, 2 R, RBI, K (.285/.341/.434)
Adam Jones:  3-4, 2 doubles, walk, K (.317/.385/.587)
WLAD:  0-4, RBI, walk, K (.306/.379/.554)
Sebastien Boucher:  2-4, R, RBI, K (.296/.333/.389)

Robert Rohrbaugh shocked the world with a CG shutout... but did he have some help?

One of the interesting things about AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, the home park of the Oklahoma Redhawks, the AAA affiliate of the Texas Rangers... is how much it depresses offense, especially home runs.  Various park factors such as this put the hitting and run factors in the 0.80-0.90 range (1.00 being normal), and the home run factors are a staggeringly low 0.65-0.75.  In 2006, as the linked table shows, the factor was at 0.68.  Granted, part of this is being compared to launchpads like Albuquerque, Colorado and Tucson, but those places have corresponsingly absurd park factors (Albuquerque's HR factor hangs around 1.50-1.60, for example).  It's quite a change of pace not just for PCL hitters in general, but for hitters in the Rangers org, whose big club plays in a launchpad themselves, to come to a place that plays like an atmospheric anvil.  Think about it... Adam Jones' 2 doubles yesterday... could they have been homers off the bat in another park?

If I recall correctly, Oklahoma is a relatively dry and warm place, which would indicate a general friendliness towards offense... apparently not.  It is actually one of pitching friendliest parks in all of baseball.  Could this be why Rangers pitchers struggle?  Could it be that they get too comfortable playing half their games in such a friendly environment, where their mistakes aren't punished as badly... and then they get the call to play for a team who plays their home games in one of the offense friendliest ballparks in MLB?  This is all mildly educated skepticism, but certainly something to think about.

Anyway, Robert Rohrbaugh, playing in an environment that does not punish mistakes as badly as other parks do, even his pitching friendly home park of Cheney Stadium... took down a decent Redhawks lineup (.788 team OPS, which has them in the PCL peloton) and went the distance.

In the end, parks don't have superpowers: you still have to face the batters and get the outs no matter where you're playing, and Robert Rohrbaugh deserves credit for going the distance and ringing up a 4 hit, 111 pitch shutout... but this isn't a performance in a run-neutral environment.  14 flyouts, 8 groundouts, 4 K's... that suggests a lot of good fortune assisting Rohrbaugh.

Fun fact: today's losing pitcher, Robinson Tejeda in his 2007 AAA debut, hails from the same town as our beloved Wife Vulture: Bani in the Dominican Republic.