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8/12 Minor League Wrap-Up

Time on my hands and minimal worries means a recap of more substance today!

The DIAMOND JAXX were stymied by a junkballer famous for something other than baseball, I finally go into some details on a topic Bob Fontaine discussed at LL/USSM Meetup II, the T-Rats are swinging the bats well and we see some familiar faces appear in Peoria.

On to the wrap-up!

Dominican:  The DSLM's had the day off.  Assuming it still isn't pouring and they haven't built an ark yet, they're in progress as this is written against the DSL Phils (37-17).

Arizona:  Giants 6, Mariners 3
AZLM's:  6-8.. AZL Gigantes:  7-7

Sean White:  3.1 IP, 12 H, (6 R) 5 ER, 2 walks, 3 K, 3 wild pitches, bad relapse of acute suckitis.
Michael Renfree:  two outs
Richard Ortiz:  1 IP, 1 H, 2 K
Anthony Phillips:  1-5, R, RBI, 3 K
Alfredo Mateo:  1-4, RBI
Israel Nuñez:  subbed in, RBI single, walk
rest of AZLM's lineup:  0-18, 9 walks, 10 K

Lots of surprise returns in this loss.  First of all, Sean White showed us that the wrong guy started today, as after failing to finish the 4th, Michael Renfree bailed him out, and starting the 5th was none other than CHA SEUNG BAEK.  He put the rookie ballers down like bitches in the 5th, 6th and 7th, and six K's and one feeble hit later, the Dugout had a useful quote on the event:

Also, not noted above but certainly in the mix was MATT MANGINI, who indeed has made enough progress to where he can take some reps.  As originally noted, if he was gonna play at all again this season, it was going to be in Peoria, and here he is.  With only a couple weeks or so left in the minor league season, expect Mangini to ride out the string in Peoria and re-load to start next season fresh with the T-Rats.

a:  Yakima 4, Everett 2
EVE:  23-30... YAK:  23-30

Robert Harmon:  5.2 IP, 7 H, (4 R) 2 ER, 3 walks, 4 K
Ryan Moorer:  1.1 IP, 2 H, K, wild pitch
Mark Pettis:  1 IP, 1 H, K, wild pitch
Manelik Pimentel:  2-4, double, R, K
Joe Dunigan:  1-3, double
Jermaine Brock:  2-3, triple
rest of Aquasox lineup:  1-20, R, 2 walks, 9 K

Well, this was one of Robert Harmon's better outings... not that that's saying much.  Harmon, brought to Everett to get his footing back under him, instead has watched short season A ballers hit him just like the MWL hit him, and though he ONLY allowed 4 runs, it wasn't enough today, as the Aquasox bats took a powder and Yakima got their requisite runs off Harmon to win this in a walkover.

A:  Wisconsin 5, West Michigan 4, 10 innings
WIS:  20-28... WMI:  32-17

Ricky Orta:  6.1 IP, 6 H, (3 R) 2 ER, walk, 8 K, balk, hit batter
Michael Wagner:  1 IP, 1 H, 2 K
Joe Kantakevich:  two outs
Steven Richard:  2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 walks, 2 K
Calvin Beamon:  2-5, double, R, RBI, K (.247/.338/.318)
Ronald Garth:  2-5, 2 doubles, 2 R, 2 K, 2 much (.262/.331/.514)
Reed Eastley:  1-4, double, R, K (.276/.383/.408)
Gavin Dickey:  1-3, RBI, K (.216/.272/.371)
Joe White:  1-4, RBI, 2 K (.317/.418/.447)

I don't know what they're putting in the Gatorade in Appleton, but this is a much better T-Rats team than the one we saw laying down and dying for opponents two weeks.  This team is hitting better... or better put, they're ACTUALLY HITTING.

Ronald Garth is on something, Reed Eastley is showing that he is too good for A ball even if he's not good enough for High A, Joe White is still producing, Kuo Hui Lo has stopped disappearing for extended stretches, Gavin Dickey has started looking consistently useful, here comes Calvin Beamon... basically, with the end of the tunnel approaching, several T-Rats have turned on the jets to try and finish with a bang.

Meanwhile, yesterday, the T-Rats quickly built a 3-1 lead through 2 and Ricky Orta, who has become unbeatable since returning from injury, tightened the clamps.  Joe White took advantage of a leadoff fielding error that put Reed Eastley on and knocked in another run in the 6th to make it 4-1.

But Orta faded before the start of the 7th.  Ryan Strieby led off the 7th with a double, Santo De Leon knocked him in with a one out single and, after Jordan Newton's grounder to 3rd got muffed by Alex Liddi, Orta was pulled for Michael Wagner, who struck out Joe Tucker but allowed a single to Scott Sizemore to cash in De Leon and make it 4-3.  But Wagner got James Skelton on strikes to get out of it.

New closer Steven Richard came on to seal the deal in the 9th, but Brandon Timm led off with a triple and Santo De Leon doubled him in to immediately tie it.  Heh, WHOOPS.  Jordan Newton bunted De Leon over for one out to threaten another run, but on an ensuing grounder, SS Juan Diaz did a good job of checking the runner back before throwing out the next batter for two outs.  Scott Sizemore drew a walk but James Skelton went down on strikes to kill the rally.

The T-Rats went quietly to send it to extras, and the Whitecaps threatened against Richard in the top 10th: Ryan Strieby drew a 2 out walk and was lifted for speedy Gorkys Hernandez, who then swiped his 46th stolen bag of the season.  But Brandon Timm's flyball was easily fielded by Calvin Beamon in RF to end that threat.

Garth led off the bottom 10th with a double, and after Alex Liddi tapped back to the mound, reliever Casey Fien hurled the throw to 1st YIKES AND AWAY, allowing Garth to score the winning run.

A+:  Lancaster 14, High Desert 2
Mavs:  18-32... Jethawks:  30-20

Cibney Bello:  4 IP, 10 H, 9 ER (3 HR), 3 walks, 3 K, hit batter
Aaron Cotter:  2.1 IP, 8 H, 5 ER (HR), 2 walks, K
Paul Fagan:  2.2 IP, 1 H, walk, K, wild pitch
Carlos Triunfel:  2-4, R (.308/.349/.357)
Adam Moore:  2-3, solo HR (.309/.376/.563)
Jeff Frazier:  1-4, RBI (.329/.380/.520)
rest of Mavs lineup:  4-23, walk, 8 K

I realize now that I forgot to post the results of Saturday's High Desert game in yesterday's wrap up.  I have since added that in, but honestly, the result, a 15 to 3 loss, is pretty similar to yesterday's result.

I should find this funny.  Maybe the Mavs do.  Hey, I wouldn't blame them.  Do what you can, work on the things you need to work on, and if one of those failed Bosox prospects lifts a pop fly over your hilariously shallow outfield wall that makes US Cellular Field look like straightaway center in old Tiger Stadium, so be it and don't let it bother you.

At the LL/USSM meetup in Everett, we got to hang out with Bob Fontaine for a bit, which in itself was really awesome, and of course I asked him about the challenge of developing prospects in High Desert.  He totally understands the problem that the Cal League and this part poses to our prospects, and he talks about how the coaching and development focuses of getting the players to see this as a challenge like pitching in the Ballpark in Arlington or in Fenway Park, where quirks make the parks hitter friendly, and to get the players to ask themselves, "Okay, I just got shelled, now how do I get us out of this jam?" or "Okay, pop flies are leaving the yard.  What do I need to do to give me the best chance of keeping it in the yard and letting my defense help me out?"

It's clearly a bad arrangement, and an unfair challenge for pitchers at this level, but I'm glad to hear that Fontaine and his coaches are trying to make the best of a crappy situation.

And of course, he admitted to the flip-side, that hitters need to be careful not to get fooled by how the ball travels and not to get into bad habits simply because, say for example, using an uppercut swing leads to home runs because of how the balls fly.  This is one reason I try not to get too excited about, say, Jesus Guzman or Adam Moore putting up massive numbers.  Any decent hitter can destroy the Cal League, especially playing half his games in Adelanto.  Casey Craig and Jeff Frazier's lackluster AA performances in spite of their otherworldly High A numbers are great examples of the dramatic change between this environment and a more neutral park.  At this particular point, for this org, the single biggest jump between levels for the hitters has to be between A+ and AA ball because of this league's hitter friendly environment.  It's easy to get caught up in a guy that's performing well in a High A that favors hitters.

AA:  Tennessee 5, West Tenn 2
WTN:  19-31... TEN:  27-23

Andrew Baldwin:  7.2 IP, 8 H, (5 R) 2 ER, walk, 5 K
Brodie Downs:  one out, walk, K
Luis Valbuena:  1-3, solo HR, walk
Marshall Hubbard:  1-4, solo HR, 2 K
Michael Saunders:  2-3, K, SB
rest of DIAMOND JAXX lineup:  1-20, 2 walks, 4 K

This game was notable for the identity of the opposing SP:  Jeff Samardzija, the former Notre Dame wide receiver who gave up a potential NFL career to pursue pro baseball with the Cubs org.  After a Spiroid like performance in the Florida League (107.1 IP, 35 walks, 45 K, 4.95 ERA), he recently got a gift callup to AA and so far, has won his first 2 starts, though has only struck out 5 in 12.1 IP with 4 walks.  If the Cubs make this guy a big leaguer, it'll be because of a complete ignorance of reason.  In fact, this rush promotion thing is a byproduct of the 5 year, $10 million contract he signed.  This was another huge gamble by Jim Hendry and he'll likely defy reason to try and make it pay off.  At best, Samardzija needs a couple more years to develop his stuff, and his performance in the low minors did not warrant a callup.

Yesterday he gave us 2 home runs, and only one of those runs were earned thanks to terrific Cubs Organization fielding.  He allowed 4 hits over 6.1 IP while walking 2 and striking out 3, but the DIAMOND JAXX lineup isn't exactly an impressive lineup and that was enough to pick up the victory thanks to a patented Phat Andy 29 performance: few walks, lots of K's and groundballs along with lots of runs.

AAA:  Tacoma 11, Colorado Springs 3
TAC:  56-66... CSP:  61-60

Jake Woods:  5 IP, 7 H, 3 ER (HR), walk, 4 K
Brad Thomas:  3 IP, 3 H, 4 K
Justin Lehr:  1 IP, 2 H
Mike Morse:  2-5, double, 2 R, K (.339/.401/.504)
Bryan LaHair:  2-4, 2 R, RBI, walk, K (.267/.322/.397)
Brant Ust:  2-5, double, R (.264/.314/.376)
Jeff Clement:  1-3, double, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 walks, 2 K (.264/.357/.488)
Charlton Jimerson:  2-5, triple, 2 R, 2 RBI, 3 K, SB
Rob Johnson:  3-3, double, R, 2 RBI, 2 walks (.258/.327/.357)
Oswaldo Navarro:  3-5, double, 4 RBI, K (.245/.307/.328)

Jake Woods mystified the Sky Sox with his fake tan and strung together 5 useful innings, as the Rainiers staked themselves to a 6-3 lead.  Two displaced starters, Brad Thomas and Justin Lehr, held down the fort the rest of the way, as the Rainiers scored another run in the 8th and then blew it open with 4 runs in the 9th.