Got out to Covaleski Stadium today to watch the Silver Hawks in their home opener against Fort Wayne. Luckily for me, my tickets happened to be right in front of the Silver Hawks' two charters for the night's game, who also happened to be the scheduled starters for the next two games - J.R. Bradley and Archie Bradley. Despite the common heralding of athletes as supreme social beings made to look down on us mere nonathletic mortals, they're a couple of pretty normal teenage guys (both are 19... crazy, given their talent), and talking about the game with them made it all the more entertaining. It started off a little chilly, and was downright cold by the end of the game. Good thing I was excited about the sunshine earlier in the day and thought my Rainbow sandals were a good idea. Thanks, South Bend.
Snakelet of the Day
Alexander Carreras (Hi-A): 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 8:3 K:BB, 3:3 GO:AO
Tyler Skaggs (Double-A): 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R (1 ER), 7:0 K:BB, 7:2 GO:AO
Triple-A: Reno 2, Salt Lake 8. (2-3) Aces hurler Tom Layne began the game by surrendering a lead-off home run - admittedly, to some Mike Trout guy who's pretty good - and things didn't get much better from there. Despite striking out four with no walks, Layne surrendered five hits and four runs (three earned) in 3.2 innings before departing. Daniel Stange took over and things only got worse, as Stange surrendered another four runs (again, three earned) in 1.1 innings.
On the bright side, the awesome story of Jason Lane continues, as the southpaw reliever threw three scoreless frames of long relief after Stange departed, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out two. Lane's ERA remains a glossy zero after 5.1 innings this year, with three strikeouts and a free pass. Not bad for a 35-year-old outfielder. Additionally, Aces Ryan Wheeler and Konrad Schmidt each homered in the game, much-needed hits for both players, who have had a rough few games at the plate to start the year. A.J. Pollock lowered his batting average to .545 with a 2-4 day at the plate.
Double-A: Mobile 2, Mississippi 4. (4-1) Clearly, the baseball gods were unhappy with me proclaiming Mobile to have swept the Braves in a four-game series yesterday when the series actually ran five games. Sorry, BayBears, I let you down... Starter Tyler Skaggs was his usual self, allowing one run in six masterful innings, giving up five hits while striking out seven with no walks. Skaggs even posted a high ground-out rate, with his 7:2 GO:AO ratio a bit higher than the numbers he posted a year ago at the Double-A level. Unfortunately for Skaggs, the BayBears couldn't capitalize on opposing starter Chris Masters' five walks in 4.1 innings, mostly due to their lack of even a single extra-base hit in this contest.
Reliever Brett Lorin was charged with an unearned run, Eury De La Rosa walked one and was tagged with a blown save while recording one out, and Kevin Munson gave up two runs in the bottom of the eighth to give the game to the Braves. On the offensive end, the best day belonged to Matt Davidson, who singled twice and drew a walk, but outside of the top three hitters, who combined to reach base seven times, the bottom six hitters reached a combined six times.
Hi-A: Visalia 9, Modesto 3. (3-2) For those who may never have heard of him, here's a quick primer from Baseball America on Cuban left-hander Alexander Carreras. Carreras made his US pro debut on Monday with the Rawhide, working 5.2 innings (with a 90-pitch limit, according to the Rawhide's twitter account) and allowing just one run on two hits and three walks, striking out eight batters and posting a 3:3 GO:AO ratio. Carreras may have his struggles with control as he acclimates himself to professional baseball, but this was a heck of a debut effort for the left-hander (as if Arizona needs more awesome left-handed pitching).
Visalia was helped out by - and, certainly, took advantage of - Modesto's shooting itself in the foot, as only two of the nine runs Visalia scored in this game were earned. The Rawhide received triples from Yazy Arbelo, Marc Bourgeois, and Carter Bell, along with doubles from Bourgeois, Keon Broxton, and Bobby Borchering. Borchering's 2-5 day now brings him up to 6-18 to start the year with four doubles, a triple, and a 5:4 K:BB ratio as the young slugger repeats the Hi-A level.
Low-A: South Bend 5, Fort Wayne 1. (2-2) Right-hander and 2011 draftee Jesse Darrah was on the mound for South Bend on Monday, and turned in a nice performance with one unearned run allowed in six innings, striking out three and walking none. The Silver Hawks bats came alive in this one, racking up four doubles off of the TinCaps pitching to drive the offensive attack - one apiece from Gerson Montilla, Bobby Stone, Roidany Aguila, and Chris Ellison.
Montilla is somewhat intriguing, as I recall him absolutely destroying a few pitches a year ago that just happened to go right into fielders' gloves, and his double was an absolute missile into the left-center gap. Montilla is very pull-oriented and a bit pudgy - if he puts on a few more pounds, it could put his ability to handle second into jeopardy - but as a potential bench infielder whose approach isn't over-exposed, his surprising power and line drive swing could have value.
As a side note for any lurking Padres fans who might be about for some reason (or just general prospect fans) - Austin Hedges can catch. His receiving skills are excellent, absorbing the ball cleanly and with minimal body (particularly head) and glove movement while showing off a blazing arm on throws to second. He caught Silver Hawks center fielder Ender Inciarte stealing in the second inning by a good second or second-and-a-half. Additionally, while his swing may not lead to much power, he looks like he'll hit for enough average to be able to make use of that phenomenal glove, and I could easily picture him as an above-average everyday regular.