It's been a long wait for Cody Wheeler to get back on the mound after missing all of 2011 due to Tommy John surgery. Wheeler was drafted in the 5th round in 2010 out of Coastal Carolina and there were some in the organization with high hopes for the lefty. He signed just before the deadline, joined Yakima soon after and promptly blew his arm out. So how did the debut go you ask? Well, it couldn't have gone much better. Wheeler threw 5 shutout innings, allowing just a hit and a walk with 5 Ks. There's a chance Wheeler's injury had already developed at Coastal Carolina before the draft, having found a few old scouting reports that talked about his decreased velocity leading up to the draft. There was a time when Wheeler was projected to go higher in the draft, so the Dbacks may have gotten lucky and landed a really good one. It's a great start to his career in any case and another pitcher to add to the deep list of Dbacks pitching prospects.
Only two games on the schedule tonight as everyone above Rookie ball is on their All-Star break. Missoula opened their 2012 with a 13-3 shellacking of Billings. There's some interesting prospects up there that we'll be watching closely. Yakima is really hurting for hitting and lost again 3-0.
3 Stars: Cody Wheeler, Yakima 5 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 5 K, 0 ER, W (1-0)
2 Stars: Jake Lamb, Missoula 4 for 5, 2 R, 2 DBL, 2 RBI
1 Star: Breland Almadova, Missoula 4 for 6, 2 R, 2 DBL, 1 TPL, 1 RBI, 1 SB
0 Stars: Kerry Jenkins, Yakima 0 for 4, 2 K
Game summaries after the break.
High Rookie: Yakima 0 @ Eugene 3. As we mentioned before the break, Cody Wheeler just burst onto the Dbacks prospect scene with 5 shutout innings in his first start in more than 2 years. The 2010 5th round pick was dominant and racked up 5 Ks versus just 1 hit and 1 walk. He might not be staying in Yakima long if he puts up a few more starts like that one. On the down side, the bullpen couldn't hang onto the scoreless tie and gave up 3 runs over the final three frames. The Bears' bats managed just 4 singles on the night.
Low Rookie: Misoula 13 @ Billings 3. The Missoula Osprey got off to their best start in franchise history, winning the season opener for the first time since 2000. Strong efforts were displayed on both offense and defense with starting pitcher Ross Gerdeman, the Dbacks' 2011 35th-round pick out of Bowling Green, pitching 5.2 effective innings. He allowed 5 of Billing’s 7 total hits while striking out 4 and giving up just one earned run. The only real negative of the night for him were two back-to-back balks given while they weren’t even trying to hold a runner. Washington native Michael Blake, the Dbacks' 2011 16th-round pick out of Hawaii, and 2012 30th-round pick Chase Stevens from Oklahoma State each pitched a scoreless inning of relief with 2 Ks. From what I heard of Stevens’ inning on the radio it sounds as if the kid's got a really good curve ball, which served as the payoff pitch on his two Ks. Missoula pounded out 21 hits on the night with 2012 6th-round pick Jake Lamb clubbing 4 hits with 2 doubles, and 2012 37th-round choice Breland Almadova also ripping 4 hits with 2 doubles and a triple. 2011 5th-round catching prospect Michael Perez had a pair of hits including a 2-run blast in the 6th.