Not only did the D-backs rack up the long-balls at the big-league level on Thursday, but the minor league system also had a few homer-happy performances, particularly at Triple-A Reno, as the Aces teed off four times against Fresno. Cole Gillespie was responsible for two of those home runs, but he's become a bit of a lost cause at this point of his career, and it's hard to get excited about great offensive nights in the PCL, so Snakelet of the Day goes to a very familiar name (for the second day in a row).
Snakelet of the Day:
Ryan Wheeler (Double-A): 2-4, 2B, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB, K
Triple-A: Reno 11, Fresno 4. (60-37) Needless to say, Fresno's lineup is quite a bit less potent without that Brandon Belt guy... the Aces held the Grizzlies to just one extra-base hit in this contest, a truly remarkable feat for the PCL, led by a strong outing from Gaby Hernandez, who struck out six with no walks in seven innings, allowing two runs, just one of which was earned. Jordan Norberto finished off the game with two innings of scoreless work. Offensively, Cole Gillespie had a pair of homers (and two walks), and David Winfree and Andy Tracy each had a homer to fuel Reno's offense.
Double-A: Mobile 9, Birmingham 3. (59-38) My goodness, Ryan Wheeler is on some sort of tear. After tripling and homering on Wednesday, Wheeler doubled, homered, and walked on Thursday, raising his season line again, up to .314/.372/.506, an .878 OPS. This was Wheeler's fourth straight game with an extra-base hit, his fourth straight multi-hit game, and his fourth straight game with an OPS above 1.000. Not too shabby for a 22-year-old at Double-A. Even when the team signs Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley, Wheeler will get serious consideration for a top-10 spot on my organization prospect list at the end of the year. He was helped out offensively by doubles from Josh Ford and Paul Goldschmidt, and Marc Krauss reached base five times on three singles and a pair of walks.
On the mound for Mobile was Kyler Newby, who was just okay in a starting role, allowing three runs in five innings of work, with a 4:2 K:BB ratio. Yonata Ortega made his Double-A debut, throwing two scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts and a walk. Billy Spottiswood pitched the last two innings, striking out four and allowing no runs.
Hi-A: Visalia 2, Rancho Cucamonga 6. (42-54) Visalia received an all-around mediocre performance, with Bobby Borchering putting in the only good offensive night by whacking a double and drawing a pair of walks. Starter Eric Smith also had a so-so evening, allowing just two earned runs in five innings, but surrendering three unearned runs with a 3:3 K:BB ratio. 2011 draftee Evan Marshall made his Hi-A debut, striking out two, walking one, and allowing a hit in two scoreless innings.
Low-A: South Bend 8, Clinton 6. (45-50) Third baseman Matt Helm had another solid night, doubling twice and driving in four. Helm has been solid in July, putting up a .273/.360/.470 line in 18 games, showing the power and overall offensive ability that got him his $500,000 signing bonus. Zach Walters and Gerson Montilla also doubled, and both have shown impressive power this year in a league that greatly suppresses power. Thankfully, the offense put up enough runs to cover for starter Jeff Shields, who allowed five runs in his five-inning outing, though the bullpen allowing just one run the rest of the way certainly helped.
Short Season-A: Yakima 4, Boise 0. (12-22) The story of the night was the Bears pitching staff, as Alex Capaul (five innings, five K's, one walk), Justin Albert (two innings, two strikeouts), Sammy De Los Santos (one inning, one strikeout), and Randy Hamrick (one inning, one strikeout, one walk) combined to shut out the Hawks, allowing a total of six hits, with just two extra base hits - doubles from toolsy Cubs prospects Reggie Golden and Zeke DeVoss. The Bears built their lead with the help of a home run from Zachary Jones, a triple from Carter Bell, and a double from Garrett Weber. Weber had a three-hit night, while Bell also singled and walked to lead the Yakima offense. Bell has been one of the best bats in Yakima's lineup since signing with the D-backs as a 29th-round pick in this year's draft, striking out just twice in his nine games of action for the Bears and posting a .333/.359/.472 line.
Advanced-Rookie: Missoula 12, Casper 3. (18-12) A three-run bomb from Jon Griffin and doubles from Eric Groff and Justin Bianco were plenty of power for the Missoula offense, and provided more run support than Osprey starter Raymond Hernandez needed. Hernandez allowed two runs - one earned - in five innings for the Osprey, striking out four and walking three, before giving way to the bullpen, which allowed just one more run the rest of the way. Griffin and Groff each had three hits, with Griffin also drawing a walk, while Bianco finally may have had a breakout game, adding a single and a walk to his night.
DSL: It's officially Friday and yet the box score for Thursday's 10:30 a.m. DSL game between the DSL D-backs and DSL Rockies hasn't been posted on the team's schedule. I'll include this one tomorrow.