Aaron Blair finally got to make his first AA start after getting rained out on Sunday and he didn't disappoint. He simply went out and threw 6 shutout innings on 4 hits with 9 strikeouts. I think he'll find that in the Southern League his curveball breaks more, his change-up dives more and his fastball won't be as straight. He's getting close to being a major league candidate in the not-too-distant future.
Blair was drafted just 13 months ago to the day and already finds himself in AA Mobile with results to back it up. He's only 2.5 months older than Archie Bradley and might just get in the rotation conversation around the same time. Bradley and Shipley are getting all the prospect love from prognosticators but Blair deserves his as well. Baseball America listed him as the #44 prospect in their recent mid-season ranking, and he's #4 on my Top 60 list.
3 Stars: Aaron Blair, Mobile 6 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 9 K, 0 ER, W (1-1)
2 Stars: Anfernee Benitez, AZL 4 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 6 K, 0 ER
1 Star: Tyler Baker, Hillsboro 2 for 3, 2 BB, 2 R, 1 HR (1), 2 RBI
0 Stars: Andrew Velazquez, Stryker Trahan, South Bend 0 for 8, 6 K
AAA: Reno 6 @ Salt Lake 7. Mike Bolsinger wasn't his best allowing 5 runs on 11 hits in 4.2 innings. The Aces did get him off the hook by taking a 6-5 lead in the 6th on a Blake Lalli 2-run homer. But Kevin Munson and Joe Paterson each allowed a run in the 7th and 8th respectively (with some help from Will Harris) and there were no more comebacks. Alfredo Marte went 2 for 4 with a triple and Argenis Diaz had 2 hits.
AA: Mobile 6 @ Pensacola 3. It was the Aaron Blair show in his AA debut with 6 shutout innings and 9 strikeouts. The game was scoreless when Blair left after 6 innings, then the offense scored a run in the top of the 7th without a hit that put him in line for the win. Five more runs in the 8th put the game out of reach. Mark Thomas hit a big 3-run homer in that inning. Tom Belza went 3 for 3 with 2 walks and Evan Marzilli went 2 for 3 with a walk, a triple and 2 RBI.
A+: Visalia 3 @ High Desert 2. Brandon Sinnery was solid going 7 innings allowing just 2 solo homers to up his record to 9-6. The offense rallied from behind with 2 runs in the 8th on a double from Steve McQuail and a sac fly by Kevin Medrano. Daniel Gibson pitched the 9th for his first save. Alex Glenn went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI.
A: South Bend 5 Peoria 4. South Bend scored in each of the first 4 innings and held on for the one-run victory. Sean Furney was decent allowing 2 runs over 5 innings. Silvino Bracho got the call in the 9th and delivered his 19th save with a perfect inning and 2 strikeouts. Daniel Palka led the offense with a double and a triple while Michael Perez went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI. Andrew Velazquez went 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts and he is really scuffling a bit lately. In his last 43 plate appearances he has struck out 17 times. He has to be getting tired having played 95 games plus the long grind of the on-base streak.
A-: Hillsboro 7 @ Eugene 13. Starter Austin Platt got hit pretty hard as did reliver Mike Cetta, though 3 errors didn't help their causes. The Hops offense did manage 14 hits with 3 each from Yoman Garcia and Nate Robertson. Tyler Baker went 2 for 3 with 2 walks and a 2-run homer. Taylor Ratliff went 2 for 4 with a walk, a double, 2 RBI and a stolen base.
R: Missoula 7 Orem 10. Carlos Hernandez couldn't get through the 5th inning and relievers Kevin Simmons and Will Landsheft weren't any better. The offense scored some runs late but they were after the game was no longer in doubt. Trevor Mitsui homered for the 3rd consecutive game and the 4th in his last 5. Dane McFarland hit his 6th homer and B.J. Lopez hit his first.
AZL: Dbacks 0 @ Dodgers 1. The Dbacks were shut out on 1 hit and then allowed the winning run in the bottom of the 9th on a sacrifice fly. Cody Reed started and was very good again tossing 3 shutout innings on 3 hits with 4 strikeouts. So far in 11.2 innings he has 15 strikeouts versus 3 walks and no earned runs allowed. Anfernee Benitez followed and was even better with 4 more shutout innings on 2 hits with 6 strikeouts. Marcus Wilson got the lone hit.