The Diamondbacks and their 4 minor league affiliates completed their first organizational sweep, with strong starting pitching anchoring the teams. Joel Payamps pitched a scoreless spot start for Reno, Josh Taylor scoreless for Jackson, solid bullpen game in Visalia, and scoreless pitching from Jon Duplantier for Kane County. In 3 of the 4 games, the margin of victory was 4 or more. In many of these games, not only did the pitching show up, there were some impressive hitting displays from guys normally noted as light bats that would normally be a 3-Star performance on any given night.
3 Stars: Kane County RHP Jon Duplantier 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K, GS 72, W (1-0)
2 Stars: Jackson LHP Josh Taylor 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K, GS 69, W (2-1)
1 Star: Reno RHP Joel Payamps 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K, GS 63, W (2-0)
0 Stars: Kane County 3B Ramon Hernandez 0 for 4, 3 K
Reno Aces 12, El Paso Chihuahuas 1: The Aces took a big lead early and never looked back. With scheduled starter Zack Godley scratched from the start, the scheduled starter for the Visalia Rawhide took the start instead. Despite the jump from the Cal League to the Pacific Coast League, Joel Payamps held more than his own with 6 scoreless innings. It also helps when your offense plates 8 in the first 4 innings. Ketel Marte had a huge night at the plate, falling a home run short of the cycle but did manage to club 3 extra base hits to double his season total to 6. Lots of crooked numbers in the hit column on the box score with the team picking up 18 hits. Jake Winston pitched the final 3 innings for the old school save.
Jackson Generals 11, Biloxi Shuckers 0: Behind the pitching of Josh Taylor, who allowed just 1 hit and 2 walks while striking out 5 in 5 scoreless innings, the Generals cruised to an easy win over the Shuckers. Jamie Westbrook pounded out 4 extra base hits in 5 trips to the plate and Kelly Dugan hit a pair of home runs as part of an unrelenting offense. Westbrook started the year with an Anarctica-level cold streak, but the 4 extra base hits could be a sign of him potentially catching fire at the plate and hopefully carry that into strong numbers for the next couple of weeks. The bullpen was fanastic, with Grant Sides pitching 3 scoreless and nearly repeating Gabe Speier’s feat from yesterday. Miller Diaz closed out the game with a 1-2-3 9th that included 2 strikeouts.
Visalia Rawhide 3, Lake Elsinore Storm 2: The Rawhide made it a 3-0 night against the Padres and their minor league affiliates. With their scheduled starter making a spot start for Reno, it was a bullpen game with Keegan Long getting the start. Long pitched well for 3 2⁄3 innings before being relieved by Kirby Bellow who followed up with 3 1⁄3 scoreless and the win. Mason McCullough allowed a run in the 8th to make it 3-2, but the pen held on. Sergio Alcantara was the offense, going 2 for 4 with 2 RBI and scoring a run on a wild pitch to account for all 3 Visalia runs.
Kane County Cougars 5, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 1: Once again, Jon Duplantier was fantastic. He pitched 5 scoreless innings with no walks and 8 strikeouts, further making his already video game-like numbers more ridiculous. As a former elite college pitcher with a first round caliber arm, the Midwest League might be too easy for him. Jazz Chisholm and Luis Alejandro Basabe had a pair of RBI XBH to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead in the 5th to give Duplantier the run support he would need for his first professional win. The Cougars broke it open late with a 2-run homer from Kyle Smith to stretch the lead to 4. With 1 out and 2 on in the 8th, closer Tommy Eveld came in and closed the door with a 5-out save.