The A-Ball Clinton LumberKings of the Midwest League were bad in 2015. The roster lacked significant/intriguing prospects (even more so after the demotion of Alex Jackson), those that remained were woefully average, and the losses mounted in absurd fashion. When the dust settled, the LumberKings had compiled a hideous 46-93 record, a .239/.318/.330 slash line, a 4.31 team ERA, and their lowest total attendance mark since 2005. It almost felt like the Mariners owed the organization an apology or a big fat paycheck for the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson to throw out the first pitch. Either way, the (assumingly) good people of Clinton deserve a good baseball team this season, which leads us to the whole point of this post:
Clinton LumberKings pitchers have combined to toss 19 consecutive scoreless innings, including two consecutive shutouts.
The streak started on Monday, when Dylan Silva tossed a seemingly innocent and scoreless ninth against the Beloit Snappers. The inning was a meaningless bookend in a 10-6 loss that dropped the LumberKings to 2-2 on the year, and yet, it was a start.
The next night, Art Warren–a 23rd-round draft pick out of Ashland last year–twirled five shutout innings in his Clinton debut, striking out seven while allowing just two hits. Osmar Morales and Nick Kiel, both repeating a season in Clinton, finished it off with four hitless innings and seven combined strikeouts.
Today, it was Lukas Schiraldi's turn. The big righty out of Texas added five more zeros to the board, fanning seven in the process. For Schiraldi–a 15th-round pick in 2014–it was the second-straight strong outing to start the season, which is a vast improvement over a rough 2015 campaign. Darin Gillies and Vinny Nittoli finished off the shutout, spreading out three hits over the final four innings in a 2-0 victory.
For comparison purposes, Clinton didn't throw their first shutout until May 1st last season, when Daniel Missaki, Kody Kerski, and Troy Scott combined to throw a no-hitter against the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
Tomorrow, the LumberKings and their streak will travel to Cedar Rapids to face those very same Kernels. Zach Littell, who tossed five shutout innings in his first start this year, will take the mound.
And here are some sexy notes:
- Ricky Eusebio, selected in the 16th-round out of Miami last year, has been red hot for Clinton early on. The speedy center fielder has slashed .391/.462/.565 so far this season and even managed to hit a rare home run. Eusebio is largely considered to be a glove-first type of player, but he's always shown a good ability to get on base. He could be a player worth keeping your eye on this year.
- Braden Bishop was off to a bit of a slow start, but the UW product turned in a two-hit performance tonight to lift his line up to .190/.261/.190. I blame the cold weather.
- Things are good over in AAA-Tacoma. Fellow LL writer Kate Preusser posted a pretty great breakdown of their early season success yesterday afternoon. As I type this, they lead the El Paso Tiny Annoying Worthless Dogs That I Don't Understand Why People Own, 8-3. Just about the gosh darn entire lineup is hitting above .300.
- The High-A Bakersfield Blaze have two walk-off wins in the last three days. Monday's game ended on a walk-off bunt, while today's win ended in the form of a Kyle Petty home run.
- Things aren't so bad for the AA-Jackson Generals, either. They currently sit atop the Southern League standings with a 4-2 record. No. 2 prospect Edwin Diaz turned in another strong outing this morning, fanning seven over five innings of two-run ball in a losing effort. It wasn't quite as thrilling as his first outing, but the 22-year-old is out to a promising start in 2016.
- I'm not sure how long Guillermo Heredia will be in Jackson. A few nights ago he crushed a grand slam and is currently slashing .455/.478/.636. SSS and all, but he's looked significantly better than the competition and could be in Tacoma soon.