Plenty of action to look forward to tonight, particularly on the pitcher's mound. One of the system's top-10 prospects was making his Hi-A debut, a hopeful reclamation project was returning to action at Triple-A after spending time on the DL, and a good young arm toed the rubber in the Northwest Short-Season-A League. However, the best performance of the night came from one of the club's bats:
Snakelet of the Day:
David Nick (Hi-A): 5-5, HR, R, RBI
Triple-A: Reno 9, Salt Lake 11. (49-34) Armando Galarraga returned from the disabled list, but whatever it was that was bothering him before he went on the DL apparently wasn't what was causing him to struggle so much on the mound this year. Galarraga gave up five runs in the first inning. After Reno put up six runs in the third to grab the lead, Galarraga loaded the bases on a single and a pair of walks in the fourth before departing with one out, giving way to Derek Eitel, making his first appearance above Hi-A. Eitel didn't help matters by immediately giving up a double to score two of the runners, then allowing a sac fly to let the third runner Galarraga put on base to score before getting out of the inning. Simply put, Eitel isn't quite ready for Triple-A ball, and the PCL is particularly merciless to those not ready. His line ended up at 3.2 innings pitched, 3 ER, 1:3 K:BB, 6:2 GO:AO, 1 HR.
The nine run output means that Reno technically did its part offensively, but in all honesty, that ballpark (Aces Ballpark) is just not a place where nine runs appears to be sufficient in the hottest months of the season, when the ball carries like a sniper bullet. The offense was led by home runs from Cole Gillespie and Lucas May, the former of whom is putting up his best season OPS since Rookie ball, and the latter of whom has added over 150 bips to his OPS since joining Reno from Omaha. Call me crazy, but I'd prefer that May start getting more regular starts in favor of Konrad Schmidt, whose .313/.355/.502 line isn't all that impressive when you realize that the resulting .857 OPS ranks fourteenth on the team. The catcher position doesn't require a ton of offense, but I personally think May is a better option in spite of his rough start to the year in the Royals system.
Double-A: Mobile 6, Montgomery 1. (45-36) Starter Kyler Newby out-dueled Rays prospect Nick Barnese (7 IP, 2 ER), allowing just a solo home run in 7.1 innings of work before giving way to Ryan Cook, who notched the next five outs without much of a hitch. Mobile's offense was led by Taylor Harbin, who notched a single and a pair of doubles, and Ryan Wheeler, who went 1-3 with a double and a walk. A.J. Pollock added two hits, and (Your Daily) Paul Goldschmidt went 1-3 with a walk. Adam Eaton was plunked for the first time with the BayBears, continuing a trend he established last year at Missoula and had kept up all year long for the Rawhide.
Hi-A: Visalia 6, Inland Empire 11. (37-34) It was an interesting debut night for David Holmberg, who gave up a solo home run in the first, but struck out the side, then had nine strikeouts through five innings before things completely fell apart in the sixth. After recording one out, Holmberg surrendered three straight singles before being pulled for Christian Beltre, who promptly retired none of the three batters he faced and allowed all of Holmberg's runs to score. Taylor Sinclair, who followed Beltre, was equally poor, allowing three of his own runs in the seventh inning to build up a lead for Inland Empire that they'd never relinquish.
Jon Mark Owings doubled and tripled, while David Nick and Alfredo Marte - who was making his first appearance of the year at Hi-A - each homered. Nick was particularly awesome, whacking five hits on the night for an incredible eight total bases. Nick's line jumped to .287/.338/.411, a .749 OPS. While that figure isn't particularly enthralling, it's a definite improvement upon his .251/.318/.366 line at South Bend last year in his full-season debut, even in the friendlier league (that's offset partially by the jump in overall competition level). Nick still is just 21 years old, an age that would still be appropriate for South Bend, so if he needs to repeat Visalia before making the big jump to Double-A ball, it wouldn't be devastating to his prospect hopes.
Low-A: South Bend 1, Dayton 6. (39-40) The Silver Hawks tried to patch together a bullpen game, with Michael Bolsinger throwing the first 3.2 innings before giving way to a trio of relievers, each of whom pitched over one inning of work. It didn't work out, as Keith Cantwell was roughed up and Dayton starter Stalin Gerson was stellar through his 6.1 innings of work. The bats were particularly quiet, as South Bend managed just seven hits, all singles, and scraped across one run. Raywilly Gomez collected two of those hits, and also drew the team's only walk.
Short-Season-A: Yakima 2, Boise 1. (6-11) A run in the bottom of the eighth inning broke a 1-1 tie and gave Yakima a close win after Teo Gutierrez pitched yet another brilliant game. Gutierrez allowed just one run in seven innings of work, striking out seven with four walks. The high walk total in this game followed two games with a combined zero free passes, so I'm not particularly worried about his control long-term. He turned 21 in May, so he's a tad old, though age-relative-to-league is less of a concern for pitchers than it is for hitters. Yakima received a pair of doubles, one apiece from Westley Moss and Tyler Bream, and two-hit nights from Bream and Justin Hilt.
Advanced-Rookie: Missoula 4, Billings 1. (6-8) Jeremia Gomez keeps on rolling alone, hitting his first home run of the year in this one, helped out by triples from Eric Groff and Tom Belza, and doubles from Chris Ellison and Justin Bianco. Ellison's three hits and Belza's pair were the only multi-hit games the Osprey managed, but it was plenty with how effective the Missoula pitching was. Starter Taylor Siemens threw 5.2 scoreless innings, giving up just three hits and a walk with five strikeouts. Frank Santana came in for the ninth and struck out all three batters he faced for the save.
Low-Rookie: D-backs 13, Padres 2. (6-5) The Arizona League bats went wild today, with the lone (and depressing) exception of Wagner Mateo, who struck out four times in his six at-bats. Still, there were plenty of good performance, from outfielder Socrates Brito, who was 4-6 with a triple, and Pat Donahue, who was also 4-6, whacking a pair of doubles. Brito and Donahue each added a stolen base to their nights. Starter Bryan Escanio was solid, allowing two earned runs in five innings with a nice 5:1 K:BB ratio.