Minor League Report
By Dan Strittmatter
RHP Cesar Valdez – Aug. 4 – 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 9:0 K:BB, 0 HR, 7/2 GO/FO
RHP Kris Benson – Aug. 4 – 3 IP, 3 H, 1 R ( 1 ER), 1:0 K:BB, 0 HR, 5/2 GO/FO
The Aces received a dominant two-man performance on the mound yesterday, with Benson starting the game on his rehab assignment, throwing 39 pitches in an efficient and effective outing as he begins to rebuild strength in his arm. This is the second straight rehab outing for Benson in which he’s thrown three innings and surrendered just a single earned run.
Benson was followed by Valdez, who came in from the ‘pen to throw a mere 62 pitches in shutting down the Nashville lineup in six frames. Valdez appears to be regaining his dominant form at Reno from the start of the season, as he has now gone at least six innings while giving up one run or fewer for the third time in his last four appearances.
LHP Wade Miley – Aug. 3 – 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2:3 K:BB, 0 HR, 9/2 GO/FO
RHP Kyler Newby – Aug. 4 – 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 7:2 K:BB, 4/3 GO/FO
Just add another 10 innings with one earned run at the bottom of the list of incredible starting pitching performances for the BayBears over the last couple weeks. While Miley’s strikeout and walk rates may not have been as superb as he’s shown us in the past, he continues to force Southern League hitters to pound the ball into the ground. Anytime you give up one earned run in five innings of work and your ERA rises (to 1.61), you’re having a darn good season.
On the other hand, strikeout and walk rates were certainly not an issue for Newby. In his fifth start in the Mobile rotation filling in for Barry Enright, Newby missed a ton of bats and also did an admirable job keeping the ball on the ground. Allowing fewer than one baserunner per inning is pretty impressive however you look at it. On the season, Newby’s ERA is now an impressive 3.40, and in those five starts, it’s an even more impressive 2.57 (3.89 out of the ‘pen).
RHP Charles Brewer – 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 4:0 K:BB, 1 HR, 9/5 GO/FO
Since his first start for Visalia (3 1/3 innings, 6 ER), Brewer has been phenomenal for the Rawhide, allowing just 12 earned runs in 44 1/3 innings of work (2.44 ERA) with 35 strikeouts, 11 walks and three home runs allowed. Also in that span, Brewer has induced 60 ground ball outs as opposed to just 33 outs in the air. Add those numbers to a 1.83 ERA in 69 innings at South Bend before his promotion to Visalia, and you’ve got a ridiculous first full season in the pros.
Low-A South Bend:
3B Bobby Borchering – Last Five Games (Aug. 1 – Aug. 5) – 14-for-23, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 8 R, 3:0 K:BB, 1 HBP
3B Matt Davidson – Last Six Games (July 31 – Aug. 5) – 12-for-22, 3 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 4 R, 6:4 K:BB, 1 SF
Bobby Borchering’s bat came alive for the month of August in a way that is reminiscent of some of Brandon Allen‘s explosions at Triple-A Reno. He has collected 25 total bases in 23 at-bats, (1.087 SLG), and an absolutely ludicrous August OPS of 1.712. Arguably his best game of the month came yesterday, when he went 2-3 with a solo home run — his second in two days and 11th of the season — three runs scored, and a hit-by-pitch while not striking out. We’ve been expecting this power surge all season long from Bobby, and it seems that batting practice power is turning into in-game power.
Not to be outdone, Matt Davidson has been equally impressive over the past week. His best game of the stretch (no “arguably” necessary on this one…) came on Aug. 3 against Bowling Green, when he went 2-for-4 with a pair of home runs, five RBI, two runs scored, a walk and a strikeout. Davidson now has 30 doubles, three triples and 14 home runs amongst his 112 hits in 2010, and has an OBP/SLG/OPS line of .382/.509/.892 on the year, the best OPS on the Silver Hawks and third best OPS of all current Midwest League batters. To add to how impressive he’s been, both of the players ahead of Davidson on that list are 22 years old. Davidson, on the other hand, turned 19 last March.
SS Zachary Walters – 15-Game Hitting Streak – 26-for-65, 5 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 16 R, 14:3 K:BB, 5 SB (0 CS)
RHP Jake Hale – 2010 season – 17 games, 28 1/3 IP, 17 H, 2 R (1 ER), 29:5 K:BB, 0 HR, 1.50/1 GO/FO, 0.32 ERA
While the 15-game streak is extremely impressive, the numbers from Walters’ last ten games are even better – 20-for-42, five doubles, a triple, a home run, 12 RBI, 12 runs scored, three stolen bases and a 6:2 K:BB. He struggled earlier in the year with strikeouts and getting on-base, but while he still isn’t the most patient hitter, he’s certainly making a lot better contact as of late, and he’s got a lot of pop in his bat for a middle-infielder, particularly a shortstop. His batting average is up to .317 on the year with this streak, and his line of .333/.455/.788 is good for the third-best OPS on the Bears.
As for Hale, it’s about time he received some recognition here for being absolutely dominant all year long. While he’s old (24) for his level, the 2009 draft pick is poised to start rocketing up the system, as he has been almost completely unhittable in 2010. He was even dominant in the outing in which he allowed his one earned run of the year — he struck out three in two innings of work on July 15, but a series of balls put in play found holes in the defense, as four hits brought a run across the plate.
SS Raul Navarro – Last Three Games – 7-for-16, 3 R, 3:0 K:BB.
Navarro, the 18-year-old shortstop who spent 2009 in the DSL, has impressed in 2010 with Missoula hitting .299 with a line of .340/.438/.777 through 37 games. While the power hasn’t been there over the last three games, he’s making good contact, is playing a premium defensive position and his .139 ISO shows that he does have some pop in his bat.
Rookie-level Dominican Summer League:
OF Wagner Mateo – Last Three Games – 5-for-12, 1 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 4 R, 3:0 K:BB, 1 SB (0 CS).
Widely regarded as the top prospect on the DSL D-backs, Mateo has been impressive recently, with a two-homer, six-RBI game on Wednesday against the DSL Padres followed by three more hits, including a double, in a doubleheader yesterday against the DSL White Sox. Mateo’s OPS on the year now sits at .811, 21st-best in the DSL. For a 17-year-old in a pitcher-friendly league made up almost entirely of players older than him, that number is very impressive.
Others of note:
· While the great pitching of Wednesday night’s Triple-A Reno game was really nice to see, as Benson and Valdez are looking to re-establish themselves as Major League contributors, it would be a shame to overlook the Aces’ offensive explosion, as they scored 12 runs off of Nashville. Leading the way (once again) was Brandon Allen, who collected two hits, including a two-run homer, three RBI, and a hit-by-pitch. Ryan Roberts also homered and walked.
· Right-hander Kevin Mulvey followed the strong performances of Benson and Valdez with a strong outing of his own on Thursday night, throwing seven innings, scattering eight hits and surrendering just a pair of runs. He gave up a homer and recorded a pair of strikeouts.
· After a strong start was followed by a breakdown in the Major Leagues, Daniel Stange is piecing his command, and his season, back together at Double-A Mobile. His last nine appearances have been scoreless, spanning 10 2/3 innings.
· Lefty Patrick Corbin made his second start for Visalia since being acquired in the Dan Haren deal. His innings are being limited, but he threw three scoreless frames, allowing just a pair of hits and striking out four with no walks.
· Keon Broxton has also been dangerous at the top of the Silver Hawks’ lineup as of late, currently riding a seven-game hitting streak that includes a pair of three-hit games. One of those three-hit games came on Wednesday night, when Broxton also collected a double, a home run, and a walk.
· 19-year-old South Bend right-hander Scottie Allen struck out eight batters in just four innings of work on Tuesday night, but, unfortunately, every ball that was put in play seemed to fall for a hit against him, as he surrendered six earned runs. This has actually been an unfortunate trend of Allen’s for the entire 2010 season. His batting average on balls in play is an astounding, unsustainable .655.
· On Tuesday, Yakima pitchers Andrea Pizziconi, Rashad Tucker, Keith Cantwell, Hale, and Corey Davisson combined for a shutout of the Eugene Emeralds, allowing just five hits, striking out nine and walking nobody.
· David Holmberg, the left-hander acquired from the White Sox in the Edwin Jackson trade, made his debut for the Rookie-level Missoula Osprey on Wednesday. He threw five innings, allowing seven hits and six runs, though just three of those runs were earned. He struck out three, walked a pair and didn’t allow a home run.
· Another lefty from Missoula, Patrick Schuster, had a good outing on Tuesday. Schuster went five innings, giving up seven hits and a pair of unearned runs while striking out five and walking just one.
· DSL D-backs outfielder Socrates Brito has already jumped out to a .375 OBP in his first seven games with the team.
· Some shifting around in the minor league system:
o INF Tony Abreu was sent to Triple-A Reno as the D-backs recalled RHP Rafael Rodriguez, who was acquired in the Dan Haren trade.
o Ed Easley was promoted to Triple-A Reno to give the Aces a second catcher after John Hester was called up by the D-backs to replace the traded Chris Snyder.
o Double-A RHP Bryan Augenstein was activated from the 7-Day DL. He threw two innings of scoreless relief last night, striking out a pair and allowing a hit.
o Back on Monday, RHP’s Casey Upperman and Rashad Tucker were promoted to Short-Season Yakima from Rookie-level Missoula.