Pitching in the PCL sucks. Every other fly ball seems to leave the ballpark, minor-league soldiers put up OPS's over 1.000, and each park seemingly has a batter's eye that makes the baseball look as noticeable as the sun as it screams toward home plate. Perhaps one of the exceptions to this rule is the ballpark down in New Orleans, where the Zephyrs - Triple-A affiliates of the Florida Marlins (who just added Logan Morrison to their roster - lulz!) - play their games. It's one of the few chances out there to see a PCL pitcher in a relatively neutral environment, and while outings there should be analyzed as the small samples they are, a single game at New Orleans is probably more valuable for analyzing than a single outing at Reno or Las Vegas. With that in mind, feast your eyes on this outing from a top D-backs prospect as they faced off against the Zephyrs on Saturday:
Snakelet of the Day:
Wade Miley (Triple-A): CG, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 9:1 K:BB, 9:5 GO:AO
While it's certainly much more difficult to get excited about an outing in Short-Season-A ball, this line also deserved mentioning:
John Pedrotty (SSA): 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 7:1 K:BB, 6:4 GO:AO
Triple-A: Reno 4, New Orleans 1. (67-53) Miley was utterly phenomenal on Saturday. Even in the inning he allowed the Zephyrs to scratch across a run - the first inning - it was a dink and dunk effort by New Orleans. A bunt single led off the game, and after a wild pitch and swinging strikeout, a ground ball single was sent back up the middle, with the runner advancing to second base on the throw home. Another swinging strikeout and a flyout later, though, that runner was stranded, and the Zephyrs would only get two more baserunners in the entire game. Perhaps what's most impressive of all is that all nine of Miley's strikeouts in this game were on swings-and-misses, a ridiculous figure. At one point, Miley retired 22 consecutive batters while taking a buzzsaw to the New Orleans lineup.
If Jason Marquis struggles in his next outing against the Mets on Sunday, continuing to display of an inability to miss bats in key moments, Miley looks like as strong a candidate as ever to take his job in the big-league starting rotation, pushing Marquis to the bullpen and adding even further to the team's glut of long relievers. If Marquis holds on to his big-league rotation slot for the rest of the year, we'll still see Miley in Sedona Red in 2011, as he's a lock to at least be promoted to the big-leagues as an extra reliever, giving Kirk Gibson another left-handed option, and one that can also deal with right-handed hitters.
As for the offense, it did plenty to support Miley's yeomanlike effort. Evan Frey hit a key two-run triple to break a tie game, while Ryan Langerhans and Andy Tracy each hit doubles in support of Miley. Tracy also walked once and added a pair of singles to his night. Oh, and that Miley kid notched three hits of his own, scoring once and raising his Triple-A batting average to .308. Just another Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher, eh?
Double-A: Mobile 11, Mississippi 3. (71-47) The BayBears took advantage of wildness on the part of Mississippi starter Aaron Shafer, who walked five in just 4.1 innings, to jump out to an early, comfortable lead and cruise to a blowout victory. Daniel Kaczrowski hit a two-run home run off of Shafer, while Marc Krauss doubled, but those were the only extra-base hit the BayBears recorded all night. It was a ton of singles - 13 of them, to be precise - and a those walks that proved to be key, as several Mobile bats regularly found themselves on base. Adam Eaton had two singles, a walk, and a stolen base, Ryan Wheeler had a pair of singles and a pair of walks, Krauss added two walks to his evening, Taylor Harbin had a three-hit day, and Kaczrowski added a pair of singles to his bomb.
It also helped, of course, that starter Bryan Henry continued to find ways to strand Mississippi batters on the basepaths. Despite allowing ten hits and a walk in just five innings and striking out just one batter, Henry left the game with only three runs charged against him. Four shutout innings of relief later, including two spectacular innings from Kyler Newby (one hit, five strikeouts, no walks), and this one was wrapped up.
Hi-A: Visalia 4, Inland Empire 1. (55-63) I may have spent the introduction to this post writing about how horrible pitching in the PCL is, but pitching in the Cal League is no cinch. Visalia starter Derek Eitel didn't seem to notice, throwing five innings of one-run ball, leaving the game with the same 4-1 score as the game ended with. Eitel struck out seven batters and gave up just two hits in his five innings, though he did also walk three. Dan Taylor and Evan Marshall were great in relief, and Blake Cooper managed to throw a scoreless inning despite walking two and allowing a hit. The big blow from the Visalia bats was a three-run home run from slugging corner infielder Matt Davidson, his 15th homer of the season. Ryan LaPensee added a double.
Low-A: South Bend 2, Bowling Green 6. (55-62) Starter Bradin Hagens had a bad night, posting a backwards K:BB ratio of 1:2 and giving up five runs (four earned) in just five innings on the mound. Hagens' struggles were replicated by the South Bend offense, as the Silver Hawks bats were held to just six hits, only one of which went for extra bases - a triple by Roberto Rodriguez. This one was all but wrapped up by the end of the third inning, when the Silver Hawks were already down by a score of 5-1.
Short-Season-A: Yakima 3, Vancouver 0. (21-35) Yakima starter John Pedrotty had his second consecutive disgustingly-good outing, throwing six shutout, no-hit innings for the second time in the last week. Pedrotty posted a 7:1 K:BB ratio in Saturday's game with a 6:4 GO:AO ratio, which came after posting an 8:1 K:BB ratio in six scoreless frames back on August 8. Pedrotty has suddenly become the Bears' ace, and the 2011 13th-round draft pick is pitching his way into serious consideration for an in-demand starting rotation slot for the South Bend club on Opening Day 2012.
Reliever Willy Paredes, making his debut with Yakima, struck out three and walked one in two scoreless innings of work, while Victor Acosta worked his second consecutive scoreless outing for the Bears since joining the club from the AZL. The offense did just enough to support Pedrotty, as Garret Weber doubled, singled, and walked, while Tyler Bream tripled.
Advanced-Rookie: Missoula 6, Helena 3. (33-19) The Osprey received a pair of home runs that lifted the offense, as blasts from Roidany Aguila and Stephen Cardullo accounted for half of the team's runs. Jonathan Griffin added three hits, and the Osprey had a balanced offensive attack carry them over the Brewers. Starting pitcher Keith Hessler faced just 19 batters for Missoula, but managed to strike out eight of them while still having a substandard outing. Hessler walked three and gave up five hits, and was charged with a pair of Helena runs. However, the Missoula bullpen came on and locked down Helena as the Osprey took over the game, allowing just one run in 5.1 innings.
Low-Rookie: D-backs 8, Indians 9. (13-30) Jason Postill got the starting nod for the AZL D-backs, posting a 5:1 K:BB ratio in 5.1 innings, but yet allowing seven hits and four runs before giving way to Elroy Urbina. Urbina stunk up the joint by allowing five runs, all earned, to score on five hits, two walks, and a home run, despite putting in just one inning on the mound. Urbina's outing ruined any chance the club had of staging a comeback, particularly with such a large portion of the offense having anemic days. Socrates Brito was good once again, tripling and singling while driving in four runs, but Wagner Mateo earned a shiny new golden sombrero with his 0-4, 4 K evening.