While much of the focus of late has been on the glut of middle infielders the organization has acquired in Gregorius, Pennington and Ahmed to compliment home-grown Chris Owings, there's a couple of infielders who have quietly been moving up the ranks and performing at a fairly high level. I refer to Gerson Montilla, currently repeating in Visalia, and Michael Freeman, who is manning second base for Mobile. Freeman gets bad marks for a complete lack of power and being a couple of years older than other prospects at the level, but he just continues to produce year after year. He's currently hitting .339 for Mobile with 5 steals, and last year led the California League in hits. He's already 25 but he's not doing anything to hurt himself and may find a role in the next couple of years as somebody's reserve infielder as he can also play shortstop.
Montilla would probably have graduated to Mobile after a fine season last year in Visalia if not for the presence of Freeman and Ahmed. He had 55 extra base hits last year including 14 home runs. He went 3 for 5 with a grand slam last night and might earn a promotion if Gregorius sticks in the majors so somebody else can move up and make room for him. Montilla could have a similar future as Freeman though he can't play SS but does play third base. A couple of under-the-radar youngsters worth keeping an eye on.
In minor league action yesterday Reno fell to Colorado Springs 5-2 in spite of a solid outing by Nelson Figueroa. Mobile surrendered a 12-run 3rd inning and that was way more than the offense could deal with. Visalia scratched out an 8-6 win behind a so-so start by Andrew Chafin and another save by Jake Barrett.
3 Stars: Gerson Montilla, Visalia 3 for 5, 2 R, 1 HR (GS, 1), 4 RBI
2 Stars: Michael Freeman, Mobile 2 for 3, 1 BB, 2 R, 1 HR (1), 2 RBI, 1 SB (5)
1 Star: Jake Barrett, Visalia 1 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 S (3)
0 Stars: Alexis Lara, Mobile 2 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 1 K, 5 ER
Triple A: Reno 2 Colorado Springs 5. Nelson Figueroa put in a yeoman's night work allowing 3 runs on 7 hits and a walk in 7 innings. But the offense went ice cold with just 3 hits on the night. Joe Paterson wasn't his best as he surrendered 2 runs including a home run in the 9th to crush any chances of a late comeback. Tuffy Gosewisch hit his 3rd home of the year and Chris Owings had an RBI single. On the "world's collide" front former Padre (and Kevin Towers) 1st round pick Nick Schmidt (who has yet to make the majors) was the winning pitcher for Colorado.
Double A: Mobile 7 @ Montgomery 16. The Bay Bears defense gave up 2 touchdowns in the first quarter though both extra points were missed. Mobile scored a 3rd quarter touchdown to keep the entire crowd from leaving before the end but it was too little too late. Bradin Hagens started and couldn't stop the bleeding in the 3rd inning when he allowed 7 runs (4 earned though it was his error) and his relief, Alexis Lara, tacked on 5 more earned runs and the game was over. Michael Freeman went 2 for 3 with a walk and a rare home run. Nick Evans hit a 3-run homer, his 2nd of the year.
High A: Visalia 8 Lake Elsinore 6. Andrew Chafin got the start and actually pitched better than his final line suggests. He gave up a run in the first then cruised through the next 4 innings striking out 7. He allowed 2 in the 5th on two infield singles and a double, and another in the 6th on a walk, a groundout and relief failures. So his final line of 4 runs on 6 hits and a walk looked worse than it was. The offense did its part to make Chafin a winner with a big 7-run 2nd inning capped off by Gerson Montilla's grand slam. Tom Belza added 2 hits including a double and 2 RBI. Jake Barrett got his 3rd save in 5 games and has yet to allow a run this year. He's another bucking for a promotion as he looks worlds different than last year.