Visalia outfielder Tom Belza is one of those guys you don't expect a lot from, after all he was drafted in the 43rd round in 2010. They don't even have 43 rounds any more. He was a top high school player in Cincinnati, went to Oklahoma State and had a solid career there, though his numbers declined each of his 3 years. He didn't impress at all his first pro season in Yakima with a .549 OPS. He was given one more chance in Missoula in 2011 and he took advantage of it posting an .885 OPS. The graduation to full-season ball in South Bend tested him, and while he didn't overwhelm anyone with a .722 OPS, he did drive in 80 runs. Now he's in Visalia, he just turned 24, and he's still holding his own, though he should at that age. He's hitting .301 with 8 homers, 53 RBI and an .812 OPS. He's probably still a long shot to get through the next two levels to the top, but I guess what's interesting is if Keon Broxton was putting up those numbers we'd be calling him our next center fielder.
3 Stars: Tom Belza, Visalia 2 for 3, 2 BB, 2 R, 1 DBL, 1 HR (8), 6 RBI
2 Stars: Andrew Barbosa, Visalia 6 IP, 1 H, 5 BB, 7 K, 0 ER, W (8-7)
1 Star: Andrew Chafin, Mobile 5 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 ER, W (8-6)
0 Stars: Chris Owings, Reno 0 for 6, 1 K, 2 E (28)
Triple A: Reno 2 @ New Orleans 0. It's not often you see a PCL game go into the 12th inning tied 0-0, but that's what happened last night. The Aces loaded the bases with one out and Chris Owings struck out, but the Zephyrs let him off the hook when a routine grounder that should have been the 3rd out was booted plating two runs that held up for the win. Charles Brewer started and tossed 6 shutout innings on 2 hits and 2 walks with 6 strikeouts. Joe Paterson added 2 zeros, Evan Marshall 1, Eury De La Rosa 2 more, and Chaz Roe earned the save. Juan Rivera had 3 hits to maintain his torrid hitting streak.
Double A: Mobile 5 Jackson 3. Andrew Chafin had another solid start allowing just a solo home run in 5 innings of work, though he only threw 83 pitches. It seems some of the organization's prospect arms are starting to get scaled back on their innings and pitch counts, not the worst idea. Jake Barrett got a 5-out save, his 8th for Mobile where he has a 0.60 ERA so far in 14 games. Garrett Webber went 3 for 4 with 2 RBI to lead the offense.
High A: Visalia 11 Rancho Cucamonga 5. Tom Belza was a one-man wrecking crew with a grand slam, a double, 2 walks and 6 RBI. Andrew Barbosa was effectively wild throwing 6 shutout innings on just 1 hit but 5 walks while striking out 7. He has allowed just 1 hit and no runs in 3 of his last 4 starts, heady stuff. Anthony Meo had a fairly awful relief appearance allowing 5 runs in less than an inning on 3 hits and 2 walks. Evan Marzilli went 2 for 4 with a triple and his first professional home run. Jake Lamb returned to the lineup for the first time since June 1st.
Low A: South Bend 6 @ Bowling Green 4. Rudy Flores delivered the game-winner with a 2-run homer in the 6th inning. Kyle Winkler got the start and was so-so allowing 4 runs in 5+ innings. Henry Garcia got the win going 2.2 perfect innings with 5 strikeouts. Garcia has 46 strikeouts and 3 walks in 46 innings. That might be approaching some kind of K/BB record. Enrique Burgos pitched a perfect 9th for his 14th save. Michael Lang hit a solo home run and Fidel Pena went 2 for 4 with a double.
Short Season A: Hillsboro 2 @ Vancouver 8. Blake Forslund got beat up pretty good allowing 6 runs (4 earned) over 5 innings. Chase Stevens got tagged for 2 more, and Randy McCurry's 3 for 4 night was the highlight for the tepid offense.
Rookie: Missoula 3 Billings 4. Adam MIller was pretty mediocre allowing 3 runs over 5 innings, and Cody Geyer allowed another in the 6th. The offense could only come up with 3 runs in response led by solo home runs from Jose Queliz and Jake Miller.
AZL Rookie: Dbacks 3 Giants 0. Brad Keller had yet another very sharp outing. This year's 8th round pick threw 5 shutout innings on 2 hits and 2 walks, and is sporting a 1.38 ERA, and a 6-1 record with 39 Ks and 15 walks in 39 innings. The bullpen was terrific with 4 shutout innings on 1 hit with Tyler Toyfair getting the save, his 4th. Justin Williams went 2 for 4 and Sergio Alcantara went 2 for 3.