Aside from my lame, cliche excuse for a title, Thursday was a solid day down on the farm for the D-backs. Arizona was trotting out several of its top pitching prospects - including its top-2 - at nearly all levels of the farm, as six different minor-league starting pitchers turned in solid outings. However, none of the performances was absolutely brilliant - though perhaps my expectations are simply set artificially high by Patrick Corbin's spectacular night on Wednesday - so I elected to go with a bat for...
Snakelet of the Day:
Ryan Wheeler (Double-A): 3-4, 2B, BB, K, R, RBI
Triple-A: Reno 4, Tacoma 3. (51-35) Finally hitting the mound in Tacoma after his scheduled start in Tucson was pushed back, Barry Enright was solid for the Aces, and continues to show the strange ability to be unfazed by the absurd hitter-friendliness of the PCL. Enright threw 6.2 strong innings and gave up three runs (all earned), striking out seven, walking two, and surrendering a home run and six hits. Barry still is a fan of the flyout, with a 3:4 GO:AO ratio in this game, but think of this way: if Enright had yet to pitch in the major leagues in his career and was putting up these kind of numbers - 10 GS, 58.2 IP, 3.99 ERA, 45:19 K:BB - at Triple-A, what kind of prospect would he be? His upside might always be a command-and-control righty in the back of a big-league rotation, but he's dramatically upped his bat-missing over his last three outings, recording 24 punch-outs (7 walks) in 19 innings of work. If he's doing something differently, I'm a fan of whatever it is.
Offensively, the 1-2 hitters - Tony Abreu and Collin Cowgill - combined for an 0-8 night, but Brandon Allen, David Winfree, and Mark Hallberg chipped in doubles, with Hallberg's coming in the eighth inning to drive home two and give Reno the lead for good. Jordan Norberto chipped in a solid inning of relief, Kam Mickolio retired the only batter he faced on an infield pop-up, and Bryan Shaw worked the ninth inning to record his sixth save with the Aces.
Double-A: Mobile 9, Birmingham 4. (49-36) Going right down the list of top arms in the minors working on Thursday, Jarrod Parker was on the hill for the BayBears, and delivered a quality outing in his usual five innings of work. Parker shut out the Barons, allowing just two hits and a pair of walks while striking out three and posting a 6:5 GO:AO ratio before giving way to the bullpen. Bryan Woodall had a rough eighth inning, surrendering three earned runs on four hits, but Mobile had built a 9-0 lead off of Birmingham starter Justin Edwards, and Ryan Cook came on in the ninth to slam the door with yet another scoreless appearance.
Speaking of Edwards, he must have been really pissed off at Mobile's Adam Eaton, who was hit by a pitch three separate times - all three by Edwards - while also singling. Ryan Wheeler had a great day, going 3-4 with a double, a walk, and a strikeout, while Marc Krauss went 2-5 with a double of his own. Your Daily Goldschmidt: Paul had a short night, going 1-2 with a walk before being pulled for Dan Kaczrowski. Not entirely sure why, as I don't imagine he would need a ton of rest just for the Futures Game. Perhaps there's a promotion to Triple-A Reno coming?
Hi-A: Visalia 5, Lake Elsinore 3. (39-45) Continuing on the top pitching prospect express, we now find ourselves at Tyler Skaggs Station. Skaggs had a short night, working just three innings so he'll be fresh for the Futures Game, but he was his usual, dominant self for Visalia. In just three innings of work, Skaggs struck out five batters with no walks or home runs allowed, though he did surrender a run on three hits and two HBPs. Following Skaggs was Derek Eitel, fresh off of a spot appearance for Triple-A Reno. Eitel was also very impressive, throwing 4.2 scoreless innings of no-hit baseball, striking out three, walking two, hitting one, and inducing ten ground-ball outs while not letting a single ball in play get hit in the air. David Nick and Raoul Torrez doubled, while Alfredo Marte and Keon Broxton each reached base twice.
Low-A: South Bend , Great Lakes . (39-44) You guessed it: more top pitching prospects. Starting the game was Tyler Green, the young Texas fireballer, though things didn't go particularly well for the right-hander. Green struck out just one batter in four innings of work, giving up six earned runs on nine hits, two walks, and a homer, though he did post a 7:2 GO:AO ratio. Later on, Patrick Schuster entered the game in relief, though he lasted just one batter into his second inning of work before being ejected in an apparent maelstrom with the home plate empire that involved the Great Lakes catcher, the Great Lakes first baseman, and South Bend manager Mark Haley. Thus, Schuster worked just one inning, allowing no hits and a walk with three ground-ball outs. At the plate, infielder Gerson Montilla was just about the only Silver Hawks bat who could figure out Great Lakes starter Ryan Christenson (8.1 IP, 1 ER), doubling twice.
Short Season-A: Yakima 2, Eugene 6. (6-15) This game got out of hand quickly, as Eugene took a 5-2 lead by the end of the second inning due to a bad outing from starter Brad Wilson. Yakima had little success off of Eugene starter John Barbato, a 2010 draftee who received an over-slot $500,000 bonus from San Diego (thank you, Christmas Break research internship!), scraping across just one hit and those two runs - both unearned - in five innings. Henry Zabala's 2-4 day with a double accounted for 3 of the four total bases the Bears accumulated all game, as the Eugene bullpen shut down the Yakima offense. Goodness, this team is bad...
Advanced-Rookie (11 innings): Missoula 3, Helena 4. (9-9) Missoula was pretty solid at the plate in this contest, led by a 3-5 game, including a double, from Ryan Court, and a 1-4 game with a double and a walk from Jon Griffin. 2011 draftee Jesse Darrah was on the mound for the Osprey, and he turned in a strong outing, giving up just one run through six inning, striking out eight. Unfortunately, Johan Jaime gave up Missoula's 3-1 lead in the seventh inning - Jaime's only inning of work - and the Osprey went on to lose this one in the 11th inning when Victor Lara gave up a two-out solo home run.
Low-Rookie: D-backs 3, A's 4. (6-8) Yet another of the organization's top arms was at work for the AZL D-backs, as right-hander Yiomar Camacho started against the AZL A's. Camacho struck out five and walked two in 5.1 innings of work, allowing three runs, though just one was earned, while posting a stellar 7:0 GO:AO ratio. I'm really hoping to get a chance to see Camacho at South Bend either at the end of this year as the Silver Hawks' arms start hitting their limits, or next year when he is a strong candidate to receive a full-season assignment out of Spring Training. Unfortunately, the AZL D-backs struggled against the AZL A's pitching, though 19-year-old infielder and 2011 draftee John Leonard had a solid game, going 1-3 with a double, a walk, a strikeout, and a stolen base, though he did commit an error in the field.
DSL: The DSL D-backs and DSL Twins supposedly played on Thursday, though the box score wasn't available as of 11:51 p.m. (the game time was at 10:30 a.m.).