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Diamondbacks Farm Round-Up 8/4: Fifth-Inning Fail Edition

It's true that every professional pitcher has a bad day.  Heck, even Roy Halladay has had a ton of them - as a matter of fact, he practically had an entire season of them (two scoreless appearances in an entire big-league season!).  Perhaps a bit more uncommon, though, is when a pitcher's otherwise good day is turned into an excruciating outing by one inning's worth of failure.  It's why things such as the infamous Vin Mazzaro Inning (top of the fourth) make headline news - the basic idea of BABIP tells us that a pitcher has to be not just terribly bad, but also terribly unlucky for such atrocious innings to occur.  Unfortunately for one of the D-backs' farmhands, that's exactly what took place on Thursday night.  However, here's some good news for you:

Snakelet of the Day:

Wagner Mateo (Low-Rookie): 3-5, 2 2B, 3B, 2 R, RBI, K

And, of course, let us not all forget...


Trevor Bauer (Hi-A): 3 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 6:3 K:BB, HR, 3:1 GO:AO

Triple-A: Reno 0, Memphis 11.  (64-48)  This one may have started out fine, but when things got ugly, they got ugly really quickly.  The starting pitching match-up was left-handed Tom Layne - the man who has been bouncing between Double-A and Triple-A all year long - for the Aces against Maikel Cleto - the pitching prospect the Cardinals acquired last off-season for Brendan Ryan.  Cleto has been fabulous in 2011, pitching his way from Hi-A Palm Beach to Memphis in just 12 minor-league appearances and a pair of big-league relief games.  Between all three minor-league stops, Cleto had accumulated a rather impressive 3.90 overall ERA with a combined 103:42 K:BB ratio in 101.2 innings of work.  Right off the bat, advantage: Memphis.

Cleto's numbers only dipped lower on Thursday night, as the hard-throwing right-hander - who has a minor tie to the D-backs, as he was initially a part of the Mets system and a piece of the package sent to Seattle for, of all people, current D-backs closer J.J. Putz - threw six shutout innings against a watered-down Reno lineup.  The only extra-base hit Cleto allowed was a double to Ryan Langerhans, who seems to be OPS'ing around 1.811 since the D-backs acquired him from Tacoma.  Wait a minute... that's exactly what he's OPS'ing since his acquisition.  Pretty impressive.

Meanwhile, Layne gave up just one run through the first four innings before collapsing in grand fashion in the fifth inning.  Here's a play-by-play of Layne's top of the fifth: single, strikeout, two stolen bases, walk, RBI reached-base-on-error, single, RBI single, RBI single, two-RBI single, RBI reached-base-on-error, out of game.  Newly-signed veteran suck artist Brian Stokes entered the game, bound and determined to be just bad enough that the Redbirds could pull off a ten-run inning, and by golly he made it happen.  Stokes quickly allowed an RBI single and a two-RBI double before recording a groundout, another RBI single, then finally (mercifully) ending the inning with a groundout.  Ten runs crossed the plate before the bleeding could be stopped.  Layne wound up being charged with eight runs in this inning while recording just one out.  Never mind that four of them were unearned, that's just bad.

The Redbirds shutout continued with three scoreless innings from a pair of former D-backs farmhands.  First, former back-end-innings-eater-of-the-future Bryan Augenstein racked up five groundouts and a strikeout while walking two in two innings of spotless work.  Augenstein gave way to lefty Ron Mahay, released from Triple-A Reno by the D-backs earlier this year, who worked a scoreless ninth while striking out one.  All-around depressing game.

Double-A: Jarrod Parker's start was postponed due to wet grounds.  On a related note, I has a sad.

Hi-A: Visalia 2, Stockton 5.  (48-62)  BAUER ALERT BAUER ALERT BAUER ALERT BAUER ALERT - So, Trevor Bauer was on the mound or something for Visalia...  The best prospect in the system threw only three innings and had some wobbles, but it was certainly nothing too discouraging for someone pitching in just his second game since the college season ended.  The main thing we wanted to see was whether or not Bauer's stuff was still sharp despite his workload and brief hiatus from pitching, and the six strikeouts in three innings send a clear message: his stuff is as sharp as ever.  The Visalia offense struggled to support Bauer and the Rawhide bullpen, unfortunately, notching just one extra-base hit, a double from Bobby Borchering, who also walked to "lead" the offense.

Low-A (10 innings): South Bend 1, Lansing 2.  (51-57)  Teenage right-handed pitching prospect Tyler Green had his best outing in over a month, throwing five scoreless innings to put the Silver Hawks in the driver's seat early on in this game.  Green allowed just one hit and two walks while striking out three and posting a solid 9:2 GO:AO ratio.  He was followed by Patrick Schuster, who continued his successful season with the Silver Hawks by allowing just one run in his three innings of relief despite off-setting peripherals on Thursday night, registering a 3:3 K:BB ratio and 1:4 GO:AO ratio - not the type of peripherals Schuster typically puts up.  A solo home run from Yazy Arbelo - his 25th of the season - in the second inning would prove to be all of the offense South Bend would get, and Lansing scratched back and wound up walking it off in the bottom of the tenth off of relievers Jeremy Erben and Eury De La Rosa.

Short-Season-A (12 innings): Yakima 3, Everett 7.  (16-31)  Brad Wilson started this one for the Bears, throwing five shutout innings despite a 4:3 K:BB ratio due to his ability to keep the ball on the ground.  He was followed by right-hander Teo Gutierrez, whose innings appear to be monitored, but the 21-year-old right-hander struggled out of the 'pen, walking four in three innings with just one strikeout and allowing a pair of runs (one earned).  This one went into extras, but Randy Hamrick, back in Yakima after a brief relief stint in Triple-A Reno, coughed up four runs in just a third of an inning on three hits and a walk, putting the game safely out of reach for the impotent Bears offense.  Speaking of the offense, Steven Rodriguez doubled, while Westley Moss and Garret Weber each had three-hit nights, with Moss adding a walk to his evening.  The rest of the offense?  Four hits, all of which were singles, and a walk.

Advanced-Rookie: Missoula 4, Billings 5.  (27-43)  Missoula received three spectacular offensive nights on Thursday, as Stephen Cardullo went 3-4 with a home run, Fidel Pena went 2-4 with a double and a sacrifice hit, and Tom Belza went 3-5 with a pair of doubles.  The rest of the offense?  1-22 with two walks (both walks courtesy of Breland Brown).  Osprey starter Conrad Flynn had a rough day, as a 4:0 K:BB ratio can only go so far to mitigate the damage when one allows a pair of home runs and hits two batters.  After five innings, Flynn was done, exiting with three earned runs allowed.

Flynn gave way to right-hander Jesse Darrah, who seems to be showing himself as a nice back-end-of-a-rotation sleeper find on day two of the draft.  Darrah, who signed Arizona's eighth-round pick in the 2011 draft for $105,000, worked three scoreless innings and struck out six, allowing just one walk and one hit.  The outing dropped Darrah's ERA to a solid 3.98 in the hitter-friendly Pioneer League, with a 48:15 K:BB ratio in 43 innings of work on the mound - numbers reminiscent, although certainly not quite as good, as the ones put up by Charles Brewer when he was with the Osprey after being drafted back in 2009.  Eric Groff extended his hitting streak to 21 games.

Low-Rookie: D-backs 12, A's 4.  (12-24)  Here's a name you probably haven't heard for a while: Kevin Mulvey.  That's exactly who started the AZL D-backs game, on a rehab assignment from what I believe is another elbow operation, though I'm not entirely sure of the details of the injury.  Nonetheless, I'm sure the big-league club was hoping that the right-hander would dominate complex-based ball a bit more than he has in his two outings, as he posted a middling 3:0 K:BB ratio in his five-inning outing today, the second of his rehab assignment.  The odds of Mulvey being on the D-backs' 40-man roster on Opening Day 2012 look like they reside somewhere between slim and none.

However, there was something to be legitimately excited about from Thursday's AZL game - the performance of none other than Wagner Mateo, possessor of one of the two highest ceilings among position players in the entire farm system (I can't decide between Mateo and Chris Owings).  Sure, Mateo has had immense struggles for the AZL D-backs in 2011, particularly when it comes to making contact, but when he hits the ball, he hits it hard.  He made enough contact on Thursday, crushing a pair of doubles and a triple in five trips the plate to lead the AZL offense.  Mateo's season line is steadily creeping up, currently sitting at .252/.336/.407 in 35 games - more than respectable numbers for an 18-year-old in stateside ball.

One slightly curious note: Mateo played first base for the D-backs on Thursday, after I noticed he switched from center field to first base in a prior box score.  Remember, Wily Mo Pena's best position was once center field.  Since teams sign some of these Latin American stars at such young ages, it's extremely difficult to know how the player's body will develop.  Mateo has been projected to comfortably play in a corner outfield slot for most of his pro career, but don't be surprised if he adds a ton of bulk and is relegated to first base duty.