A great day overall on the farm, as the D-backs stateside affiliates were one ninth-inning collapse away from a clean 7-0 sweep. In particular, the Hi-A Visalia Rawhide offense brought their bats to the ballpark on Saturday, particularly those in the heart of the lineup. Top prospects Matt Davidson and Bobby Borchering had fine days at the plate, as did two guys who have done nothing but rake for the Rawhide all year long - David Nick and Alfredo Marte - but the best performance of the night came from the youngest player on the team, a promising middle infielder who has taken his lumps at the plate in 2011:
Snakelet of the Day:
Chris Owings (Hi-A): 4-5, 2 2B, 2 R, K
Triple-A: Reno 13, Memphis 10. (66-48) It was the epitome of unexpected events, but I looked at Reno's website yesterday and saw that, of all the pitchers in the world, former D-back reliever Blaine Boyer was scheduled to start against the Aces. Boyer did in fact start Saturday's contest and continued doing what he'd done with the Redbirds in his previous two outings: stink. The Aces slapped around Boyer over his 3.1 innings on the mound, plating seven runs against the hard-throwing right-hander, who struck out just one and walked five. Reno's big blow was in the fourth inning, when Andy Tracy hit his second home run of the game, a grand slam off of Cory Rauschenberger - how's that for a last name? - that plated a pair of Boyer's inherited runners. Outside of Tracy's two homers, Angel Berroa notched a double for Reno while going 2-2 with two walks and a sacrifice fly, and Evan Frey reached base six times, on a pair of singles and four walks. The only impressive pitching performance was from Ryan Cook, who worked a scoreless ninth to seal the victory after Reno pulled out of a tie in the bottom half of the eighth.
Double-A: Mobile 12, Montgomery 7. (67-44) With Tyler Skaggs of the BayBears going up against Chris Archer of the Biscuits, a 19-run game is hardly what was expected. However, those two starters didn't actually fare poorly. Skaggs had a short outing, throwing 83 pitches through just three innings of work, but giving up just one run on three hits and a pair of walks with six strikeouts. Archer, on the other hand, lasted five innings on the mound and gave up three runs, though just one was earned and he posted a 6:3 K:BB ratio. Both teams' bullpens imploded, though, allowing a combined 15 runs in 10 innings. Mobile edged ahead due to a home run from Taylor Harbin, doubles from Adam Eaton, Daryle Ward, and Ed Easley, and solid days of getting on-base from Eaton and Jacob Elmore. Eaton reached base four times on the double, a hit-by-pitch, and two walks, while Elmore notched a single and a pair of walks.
Hi-A (12 innings): Visalia 7, Stockton 4. (49-63) As mentioned in the intro, the Visalia offense went doubles-crazy in this one, receiving one from David Nick, two from Matt Davidson, one from Bobby Borchering, two from Alfredo Marte, and two from Chris Owings. Owings had the best day of the group, collecting four hits to lead the offense, and those five hitters listed above, hitting 2-6 in the order, combined to go 13-29 with 21 total bases. With that kind of offensive production in the middle of the lineup, it's frankly surprising that the Rawhide only scored seven runs. On the mound to start the game for the Rawhide was Eric Smith, who put together an impressive start. Smith went six innings, allowing three runs on five hits - including a homer - and three walks, but striking out nine Stockton batters.
Low-A: South Bend 3, Bowling Green 2. (53-57) Starting the game for the Hawks was Jeffrey Shields, who had a strong game for South Bend. Shields pitched seven innings of two-run ball, allowing just four hits with a home run, while posting a 3:1 K:BB ratio and 12:4 GO:AO ratio. He gave way to Christopher Odegaard, who threw two scoreless innings of relief to notch the win. The offense came courtesy of three doubles, one apiece from Matt Helm, Roberto Ortiz, and Gerson Montilla, with Helm collecting two hits and Montilla drawing a walk, just the day after I noted that patience was his biggest flaw.
Short-Season-A: Yakima 5, Everett 3. (17-32) The Yakima bullpen came through in a big way in this one, as Michael Blake and Randy Hamrick combined to throw 3.2 scoreless innings of relief with six strikeouts and no walks. That gave the Bears offense time to break a 3-3 tie with a pair of runs in the seventh, then holding on for the victory. Justin Hilt and Danny Pulfer doubled, while Pulfer, Tyson Van Winkle, and Westley Moss recorded two-hit games. Moss also stole a pair of bases without being caught to move from first to third.
Advanced-Rookie: Missoula 10, Helena 5. (29-16) Starter Raymond Hernandez was solid once again for the Osprey, allowing two runs in six innings with a 6:2 K:BB ratio and 8:1 GO:AO ratio. It'll be interesting to see where the D-backs put Hernandez in 2012 - they haven't been hesitant in the least with putting top bats from Missoula straight at VIsalia, but handling pitching prospects is an entirely different beast altogether. Offensively, the Osprey demolished Helena with the help of a balanced power attack. Seven of the nine Osprey bats recorded extra-base hits: a home run from Tom Belza, triples from Ty Linton and Stephen Cardullo, and doubles from Breland Brown, Fidel Pena, Eric Groff, and Justin Bianco. Belza, Brown, Linton, and Bianco also each stole a base, though Groff and Roidany Aguila were each caught stealing once.
Low-Rookie: D-backs 4, Dodgers 5. (12-25) Two D-backs losses to the Dodgers in one day. Domingo Soriano doubled while Wagner Mateo and Derek Luciano had two-hit games, but a 4-2 ninth-inning lead was spoiled by reliever Berling Cruz, who notched just two outs before giving up the walk-off run to the AZL Dodgers.