While we were busy discussing the draft and All-Star games that none of us cared for, we still had a handful of Minor League games go on. I’ll cover all the games that went on during the break, starting with Tuesday’s slate of games. Since we have three days worth of games to break down, I suggest grabbing some coffee or other refreshments before reading this.
RHP Brandon Pfaadt (7/14): 92-Pitch Maddux*, 4 H, 1 BB, 5 K
*Complete Game Shutout in less than 100 pitches, named after Hall of Famer Greg Maddux who did this quite a bit.
Tuesday July 13th
On Tuesday, the Diamondbacks Minor League affiliates combined for a 1-3 redcord, with Reno the only team to pick up a win.
Reno would turn to shock and awe offense, putting up six runs between the 2nd and 3rd innings to take a 6-1 lead. Fueling that barrage included home runs by Juniel Querecuto and Jamie Ritchie, with five of those runs coming from them. The 6th run would come on a Jose Herrera RBI single that preceded the first homer. The first seven runs of the game would come at the expense of once great pitching prospect Jesus Luzardo, who is having a really rough year in Oakland, as he got tagged for 7 runs on 7 hits with 4 walks and 1 strikeout.
Humberto Mejia held his own in this start, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits with no walks and 5 strikeouts. After a really rocky start in June, Mejia has turned in three competitive starts for the month of July. Depending on what happens with the MLB club, I think he should be in the MLB rotation after the trade deadline and see if he can stick. After Mejia left the game, the bullpen immediately laid an egg. Ryan Weiss was hammered for 4 runs in the 6th inning, allowing Vegas to tie the game at 7-7. It didn’t help that Luis Castillo could not keep the tying run from scoring with 2 outs. The rest of the bullpen was able to put up zeros without too much drama.
Reno would then take the lead in the 8th inning. Singles by Ben DeLuzio and Querecuto would get the first two runners on base. A pair of fly balls to right would score DeLuzio to take the lead and allow Querecuto to move up to 3rd. Seth Beer added some insurance with an infield hit to the first baseman, although I’m guessing it was a case where the pitcher forgot to cover 1st base or perhaps a swinging bunt. With the lead in tow, Miguel Aguilar would pitch the 9th and would take control of this game as he retired all three hitters he faced for the save.
This game started off as a pitcher’s duel, although Kyle Friedrichs would slightly out-pitch Ryne Nelson. Nelson wasn’t bad, but wasn’t sharp as he allowed 2 runs on 7 hjts, 2 walks, and 8 strikeouts. Given Nelson’s early struggles at the AA level, this is a step in the right direction. Amarillo’s offense would also start off decently quick as they scratched a run in the 2nd and 4th innings. Luis Alejandro Basabe singled home Renae Martinez and Osvaldo Abreu legged out a ground ball to SS to prevent a double play. Nelson’s runs would come in the 5th when he ran out of gas and was tagged for a 2-run double.
Mack Lemieux would come in a tie game with 2 on and 2 out and would record the next four outs without any further damage. At that point, the game became a stalemate and we had to wait until one of bullpens blinked. Unfortunately, it was Blake Workman who blinked first as Midland was able to get 3 runs against him in the bottom of the 8th.
Amarillo would make a spirited comeback bid in the 9th. Dominic Fletcher would reach second on an infield hit that turned into a two base play thanks to an errant throw by Oakland SS prospect Nick Allen. A double by Ryder Jones and a single by Buddy Kennedy would get Amarillo within a run and the tying run on base, but Renae Martinez would ground out to 2B to end the game.
This game started out as a pitcher’s duel between Luis Quinones and Blake Walston. Neither team would score in the first two innings, but Hillsboro would take a 1-0 lead in the 3rd. Jorge Barrosa led off the inning with a walk and moved up to 3rd on Dominic Canzone’s single up the middle. With runners on the corners and no outs, Tristin English would bloop onto into right field to score Barrosa from 3rd. Hillsboro would fail to score further despite a fly ball getting both Canzone and English into scoring position.
After pitching another zero in the 4th, Walston came apart in the 5th. After retiring the first hitter, the next five would come to reach. A home run tied the game at 1-1, but then a walk and three singles would force in another run with Walston hit by a comebacker on his 103rd and final pitch. Walston would leave the game afterwards, although based on the play-by-play it was not for injury reasons. Wesley Rodriguez would get the final two outs of the 5th without allowing any further damage and pitch a scoreless 6th on top of that.
Hillsboro would tie things up in the 6th. Like in the 3rd, the first two hitters reached on a walk and a single. With 1 out, Leodany Perez would bloop another ball into right field to tie the game at 2-2. With runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out, Hillsboro once again failed to capitalize with a strikeout and a caught stealing at home. I suppose if the guys behind you can’t hit you might as well try to score without their help?
With the score tied in the 7th, Hillsboro turned to Denson Hull to help put up a zero. He did that for the 7th, but Hillsboro hitters were unable to do anything with it in the 8th. The bottom of the 8th would not be as kind as Hull would walk two hitters only to see one of them come around to score on a two out single. Hillsboro’s offense would go down quietly in their final two innings.
Another Visalia game in which the team had a huge deficit early due to the starter being overmatched and the offense stuck with an impossible task. Avery Short got whacked again, surrendering 8 runs in 1 2⁄3 innings with the number of runs allowed (19) starting to approach the number of outs (21) he’s gotten at A ball. Ronny Simon committed two errors, which led to 3 unearned runs scoring. On the positive side, Visalia hitters went 3 for 7 with runners in scoring position so we got to take victories where they come.
Wednesday July 14th
Amarillo would lead almost from the get-go in this game, with a Dominic Fletcher home run giving the Sod Poodles a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. They would add on another run in the 3rd when Stone Garrett singled home Jancarlos Cintron and two more in the 5th on Alek Thomas’ 2-run single. With a 4-0 lead, some sloppy defense would lead to 3 runs scoring off Luis Frias. Amarillo’s infield committed two throwing errors and Frias would allow a 2-out, 2-run homer in his 5th and final inning.
Frias had been struggling in his past few starts, but rebounded as he looked great through 4 but perhaps got thrown off his rhythm with the bad infield defense. Going into the 5th, he only allowed 2 hits and had a 6/0 K/BB ratio, so I’ll consider it a step in the right direction for him. The bullpen was able to provide four scoreless innings with Jeff Bain providing two while Keagan Curtis and Blake Rogers dealing with the final two innings. Thanks to the solid effort of the bullpen, Amarillo was able to hang onto that lead.
Hillsboro would only need one pitcher to complete this game, as Brandon Pfaadt threw a Maddux against Vancouver. Pfaadt only needed 92 pitches to shut out the Canadians, allowing just 4 hits and 1 walk while striking out 5. Pfaadt has been quite the find, drafted out of a Division II program and signing for $100K as a junior, and has been arguably the most consistent performer of the organization’s pitching prospects.
Hillsboro’s offense would score two runs in the 2nd and never look back. Eduardo Perez would single to lead off the inning and score on a single by Reece Hampton, who scored on Dominic Canzone’s double. Hillsboro would have chances would go 1 for 4 in future chances w/ RISP.
Visalia would open up the game with the first 4 batters reaching base and putting up a 3-spot in the top of the first. A.J. Vukovich doubled home two and would score on Elian Miranda’s single one batter later. Unfortunately, that was it offensive for the entire game. Adrian Del Moral would struggle in the 4th and cough up the lead, but got some help from Jose Santamaria to limit the damage to 4 runs. I can’t say the rest of the bullpen was equally up to task, as the next three relievers each were charged with 2 runs in their respective outings and allowed the deficit to balloon.
Thursday July 15th
Josh Green got lit up for 5 runs in 5 innings in this start, with former D-back prospect Matt Davidson hammering out a 2-run homer in the 5th as the big blow. Green would allow 8 hits, 1 walk, and struck out 4. The Aces offense had some chances in this game, but not very many as their offense came in the form of home runs and couldn’t quite string hits together. Drew Ellis and Jose Herrera would strike for home runs of Dodgers pitching prospect Josiah Gray.
Amarillo’s offense was unable to get big hits in this game, putting pressure on a pitching staff that had to be perfect. Henry was able to provide length, pitching into the 7th inning but did allow 5 runs on 10 hits, 2 walks, and 8 strikeouts. Tyler Holton was able to get the final 4 outs for the bullpen, but the offense simply wasn’t there. In fact, their only run scored came on a gift as Buddy Kennedy was able to score after a throwing error on a double steal attempt.
While Slade Cecconi got knocked around a bit, he was still able to provide some length and held the lead throughout his start. Cecconi was tagged for 4 runs on 7 hits with two of them being homers, but did not walk a batter and struck out 6 over 7 innings. Despite struggling a bit in his recent starts, he seems to have found a groove on the found and is making improvements over the month of July (16 2⁄3 IP, 8 R, 18 K, 4 BB).
One night after watching Pfaadt carry the team with his pitching, the offense made sure to win this game. Part of it was opportunities handed to them, but that’s what you want to see. Hillsboro would score 2 runs in each of the 3rd-5th innings, allowing them to take a 6-2 lead. In the 3rd it was bad defense and spotty control that allowed Hillsboro to score their first run as Roman Ruiz would turn an error and wild pitch into a run. A walk, stolen base, and an RBI single off the bat of Andy Yerzy would make it 2-0.
Errors once again helped Hillsboro in the 4th, as Spencer Brickhouse would reach on an E1. The pitcher must have been thinking about his error as Axel Andueza would crush the next pitch into the left center field stands to make it 4-0. The 5th inning saw more traditional ways of reaching base, as a double by Dominic Canzone, a walk by Tristin English would put two on. Each runner would steal a base to put themselves in scoring position. A sacrifice fly and RBI single would make it 6-2.
After Cecconi’s work on the mound was done, the Hops still carried a 6-4 lead in the 7th. A double by Jorge Barrosa to lead off the inning would come around to score thanks to a wild pitch and a ground ball to the 1B. With a nice 3-run lead, the bullpen would put up two zeros to close it out with Nick Snyder getting the 8th and Yaramil Hiraldo getting credited for the save.
The way Visalia has been playing of late, this is starting to turn into a mad lib. This game was a bit more competitive at first, but then got away late as a struggling starter and terrible bullpen let the game get away in the middle innings. Austin Pope would get tagged for 8 runs in 4+ innings. There was a little excitement offensively as Neyfy Castillo hit his 12th homer of the year in the 4th inning, but offense became more and more difficult to find.