An awesome day on the farm. Three wins, an overall 36-18 score across the four levels, and exceptional performances from several key prospects - what else could you ask for? Combine that with the still-fresh memory of success in the big-leagues and the fact that the future GM of the D-backs returned to Phoenix tonight from school (fine, so maybe I'm referring to MLB 2011 The Show...), and spirits in the D-backs organization have got to be high right now.
Snakelet(s) of the Day:
The Visalia Rawhide. All of them. I'm not kidding.
Triple-A: Reno 9, Round Rock 7. (27-18) Zach Duke started this game for the Aces, and although his outing didn't look great on paper - 5.1 innings, five ER, two HR - I'm not particularly worried. It's just what I've come to expect from the PCL. Duke finished with a 7:4 GO:FO ratio, so I'm not particularly worried about his ability to generate ground balls and keep the ball in the park. Now, if Nick Piecoro were to write tomorrow that Duke was sitting 82-84 and had no command of his off-speed offerings, I'd be worried. Until that report comes out, though, I see little reason to expect one start at Reno to be a predictor of anything. Typical PCL power output from the Aces bats tonight. Wily Mo Pena and Andy Tracy hit home runs, Cole Gillespie added another triple to his ridiculous total, while Collin Cowgill and Brandon Allen each added a double, with Cowgill also stealing his 11th base of the year (he's been caught stealing just one time in '11).
Double-A: Mobile 5, Tennessee 6. (23-20) Wade Miley was just okay, giving up four earned in six innings of work, with a solid 5:2 K:BB ratio marred by a pair of homers allowed. Those two homers compared to just a single flyout, though, so we can't know without watching him pitch if he's dealing with serious command issues or just bad luck. Possible future-LOOGY Taylor Sinclair made his Double-A debut in relief, throwing a scoreless eighth inning despite walking two and giving up a pair of hits, striking out one. Marc Krauss stayed hot, going 2-4 and collecting both a double and a homer on back-to-back nights. Your Daily Goldschmidt: 1-2, two walks. However, considering that the starter for Tennessee was right-hander Trey McNutt, a consensus top-2 prospect in the Cubs' system and the owner of a mid-90's fastball and plus curveball, I don't think that Goldie was being strictly pitched-around in this contest.
Hi-A: Visalia 14, High Desert 2. (21-24) When I said all of them, I meant it. Let's start on the mound. Derek Eitel, the team's 17th round pick from the 2010 draft, carried a perfect game into the seventh inning, finishing with seven shutout innings, surrendering one hit and one walk while striking out eight. Undoubtedly the best start of his career, Eitel's outing even merited some coverage from MiLB.com (Eitel is pictured gripping what appears to be a knuckle curve - admittedly I cheated and did a little research to figure that out). Not who you'd expect to be grabbing MiLB headlines amongst the guys in this system, but then again neither was Wes Roemer.
Could Eitel be the next in line of D-backs hurlers to represent Ginger Nation? I'm rooting for the guy regardless of what he does on the mound due to the fact that he's the first professional athlete to be drafted in any sport out of the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, making him one of the system's most academically-distinguished prospects (random academic trivia: new D-back Josh Collmenter was Academic All-MAC during college). It's hard to argue with Eitel's peripherals at Hi-A - a 37:17 K:BB ratio & 2.27 GO/FO in 44.1 innings of work will make for plenty of success. The 59 hits seem to be an unfortunate consequence of the Cal League, as there's no way that a BABIP above .400 (according to StatCorner, prior to today's game) is going to continue. I'm looking forward to seeing what Eitel does the rest of this year, hopefully continuing to pound the strike zone and murder the infield grass.
Now onto the bats. Disclaimer: the game's box score makes note of some absurdly hitter-friendly weather (at least it wasn't in the ultra-bandbox of High Desert - it was a home game for Visalia), making Eitel's performance all the more incredible. I considered making Eitel solo SotD for this reason, as shutting down a team in that environment is remarkable. But give credit where credit is due, the Rawhide bats were able to utilize the weather patterns that the High Desert bats weren't able to capitalize on. Let's go through some of the lines from today's lineup. Bobby Borchering: 4-5, three doubles, a triple, no strikeouts. Matt Davidson: 3-5, three doubles, no strikeouts. Chris Owings: 2-5, one HR (and two strikeouts). Adam Eaton: 3-3, one double, one walk, one HBP. Only one hitter, Rossmel Perez, didn't record a hit. Visalia wound up with 19 hits and 32 total bases at the conclusion of this one, with key production from the team's key prospects at this level. As close to a perfect box score for the Rawhide as the D-backs could find reasonably possible.
Low-A: South Bend 8, Great Lakes 3. (21-24) Starter Jeffrey Shields was solid for the Hawks, giving up two earned runs in five innings of work, and piggyback-mate Tyler Green followed suit, giving up one run in three innings of work in relief. The offense was mostly the product of singles and walks, as the Hawks hitters collected just two extra base hits amongst 10 hits overall (with five hitters each recording a two-hit game, and the other four hitters having oh-fer nights) with six free-passes. Those two extra-base hits were solo home runs hit by Chris Jarrett and Raywilly Gomez, the latter of whom is making himself into a real prospect this year. His catching work could use some work, and he hasn't ever shown consistent power, but his plate discipline is nice and he rarely strikes out. If he can develop even 40-45 power on the 20-80 scale, he could have serious big-league usefulness.