One thing we know by now about Chris Owings is he can hit. Last night he had two more hits, both doubles, in another Reno loss. That makes 6 of his last 8 games in which he's had 2 or more hits. More interesting is the fact he's been playing a lot of games at second base rather than shortstop. The question I've been asking myself is why. He clearly has more value as an offensive shortstop than an offensive second baseman.
Blue Bulldog has suggested that Owings is a potential trade candidate, which makes sense to a degree because his path is clearly blocked for the foreseeable future with Didi and Hill scheduled to man the middle for the next 3 years. Perhaps another thought is they're getting Owings ready to be the backup middle infielder next year and need to get him acclimated to second base, a position he has rarely played throughout his baseball career. Knowing how much KT likes his roster insurance, it makes some sense to have Owings manning a roster spot next year backing up both Didi and Hill. If one of them gets injured Owings provides more offense than our other options like Pennington, Wilson and Bloomquist, Owings can also give Didi more days off against left-handed pitching and provide a more offensively-minded platoon than anyone else can. He would also be a better pinch-hit option off the bench as well as a reliable double-switch guy.
Around the minors, Reno got whomped again as Tyler Skaggs took the mound and ended up with a pretty ugly line of 8 runs allowed (5 earned) on 9 hits and 3 walks in 4.2 innings of work. But the defense around him was downright bad and it had to be an extremely frustrating outing for Skaggs. We'll go through some of the mishaps in the game summary below. Mobile posted a solid victory behind an excellent start from Bradin Hagens. Visalia had an off-day and South Bend won yet again in comeback style 6-5 over Wisconsin.
3 Stars: Bradin Hagens, Mobile 7 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 ER, W (4-1)
2 Stars: Fidel Pena, South Bend 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 DBL, 1 HR (1), 2 RBI
1 Star: David Nick, Mobile 2 for 5, 2 R, 1 DBL, 1 TPL, 3 RBI
0 Stars: Blake Perry, South Bend 1.2 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 1 K, 2 ER
Triple A: Reno 5 Las Vegas 9.Tyler Skaggs wasn't at his best last night but it's not hard to find excuses for what must have been a very frustrating game for him. Let's take a look at some of his innings. He starts with a perfect 1st with a strikeout. In the 2nd he gets a groundout and a strikeout before giving up a line drive single. Then he induces back-to-back grounders to Matt Davidson who makes errors on both, allowing an unearned run to score. In the 3rd he gives up a leadoff triple before sandwiching a walk around 2 strikeouts. With runners on first and third and 2 outs he deflects a groundball up the middle to Davidson who has no play. One earned run scores. In the 4th he surrenders a double and a sharp single followed by a bunt single by the pitcher. With the bases loaded, he induces a grounder that Owings can only make a play on at first, a run scores. Then Taylor Harbin makes an error on another ground ball allowing 2 runners to score. Skaggs is surely steaming by now. He walks the next batter before surrendering a 2-run double. He gets the next batter on yet another groundout to Davidson and they get the runner at the plate. He follows that with a wild pitch and a throwing error by the catcher. The 5th was more of the same with another infield single to Davidson. Just an ugly game all-around. Reno tacked on some late-inning meaningless runs that don't deserve highlights.
Double A: Mobile 7 @Jacksonville 1. Bradin Hagens had another good start, making that 4 out of 5 quality starts to begin the season.. He raised his record to 4-1 and has his 2013 season going in the right direction. The strikeout numbers are pretty low but his ground ball rate is terrific. He finished with just 1 run allowed on 6 hits and a walk over 7 innings. David Nick had another good offensive game with a double, a triple and 3 RBI. Nick Evans had 2 hits including a double and Mike Freeman had 2 hits and an RBI.
High A: Visalia. Off day.
Low A: South Bend 6 @ Wisconsin 5. Cody Wheeler started and while he wasn't his best, he was good enough to keep his team in the hunt. He only finished 4 innings with 3 runs allowed on 4 hits and 3 walks while striking out 6. The offense came from behind twice, with the capper being 2 runs in the 8th on a 2-run double by Frazier Hall. Fidel Pena hit a 2-run homer in the 1st inning and Socrates Brito added a pair of singles. RJ Hively pitched the 9th for his 6th save, and his 3rd in the last 4 days.