I tuned into the Inland Empire webcast to take a listen to Troy Cate’s start against Rancho Cucamonga tonight and got a bit of a surprise. The 66’ers starting pitcher is the apparently healthy Matt Thornton. I’d heard he was making good progress, but wasn’t expecting him to take the hill so soon. The recovery time for Tommy John surgery is steadily being trimmed.
And yes, I’m that big of a nerd that I listen to minor league baseball games on the internet. And Derek wonders why I’m single.
Quick update. Ismael “Roy Hobbs” Castro just busted the Quakes light fixture with a huge home run in the fourth inning. Apparently, the explosion was Natural-esque. Still no word on whether Castro is legitimitely younger than Robert Redford, however.
Our own resident minor league guru, David Cameron, with whom I really should check my stuff before posting wild guesses, reports that LHP Cesar Jimenez will start the second game of Wisconsin’s double header tonight. If he pitches well, he has a chance to stick in the rotation as Beau Hintz, Tanner Watson and Juan Sandoval have all been rather ineffective this season in the 3-4-5 slots. Frankly, it’s a wonder they didn’t turn to Jimenez earlier, but apparently the organization isn’t all that impressed with him because he’s not a power pitcher. Pshaw! Check out this link to see what he’s done over the past year or so. The first line is what he did in the Venezuelan Summer League before being called up to Everett last season. Wow. After that are this season at Wisconsin, last year at Everett, and his brief stop in rookie ball on his way from Venezuela to Everett. Jimenez has a very good changeup, particularly for his young age, as well as an Arthur Rhodes-style hitch in his windup that makes it tough for batters to pick up the ball.
Further, Rafael Soriano should make his way back into Tacoma’s rotation eventually, perhaps in place of a struggling Ken Cloude who could be on his way to the pen. Cloude’s ERA is nearly seven, he isn’t striking out many hitters and his K:BB ratio is quite poor at 21:13 in 33 2/3 innings. Might be time to make a move there.
Finally, I’ve updated the Big Board for the week. Highlights include Kazuhiro Sasaki’s return to the majors, Soriano’s return to the minors, Cha Seung Baek on the disabled list, Kevin Olore’s demotion from San Antonio to Inland Empire to bail out the 66ers beleagured pitching staff, and the reappearance of Jay Pecci.
Oh, and if you’re just finding us thanks to a new link from one of the various blogs out there, welcome aboard.
Minor League Highlights for Sunday, May 11
Oklahoma 3, Tacoma 2. RHP Aaron Taylor blew his second save of the year, allowing two runs in the top of the 9th as the Rainiers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Taylor (1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K) entered the game with a 2-1 lead in relief of RHP Rafael Soriano (2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K), but surrendered a two-run homer and saw his record fall to 0-2 on the year. Soriano, making his first appearance since returning to Tacoma, worked in relief of RHP Jeff Heaverlo (6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 1 K). It is unclear whether Soriano is now being groomed for a relief role or if he simply needs to get his arm stretched out with a few long relief outings before returning to the rotation. There is very little to report offensively, as the Rainiers were held to just four hits.
Midland 12, San Antonio 8. The Missions played quite well Sunday… if you take out the second inning, in which RHP Chris Wright (4 IP, 8 H, 10 R, 5 ER, 5 BB, 1 K) allowed eight runs, essentially ending the game. A costly error by SS Jose Lopez led to five of the runs being unearned. San Antonio fought back by scoring in five seperate innings, but fell short as it was never more than two runs in any frame. As you might guess when the team scores eight runs on 15 hits, several hitters had big days. 1B John Lindsey led the way, with a 4-5 game including two doubles, a homer and four runs scored. 3B Justin Leone was 3-3 with a double, while DH Jim Horner and the aforementioned Lopez each had two his.
Inland Empire 14, Lake Elsinore 9. This was a strange one. RHP Kevin Olore, making his first appearance since being demoted from San Antonio, got the start but was lifted in the 4th despite not allowing a hit (3 1/3, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 5 K). LHP Justin Blood (2 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K) took over in relief and got his team through the 6th holding a 4-1 lead, but then things got ugly. It started in the 7th, when the 66ers put up nine runs to take a 13-1 lead. LHP Russ Morgan, sent in for some mop-up work, pitched a scoreless 7th but was touched up for four runs in the 8th. After the 66ers scored once more for good measure in the top of the 9th, Morgan allowed four more runs in the bottom half of the inning to arrive at the final score of 14-9. His line for the game finished at an ugly 3 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 0 BB, 2 K and three homers, and his ERA ballooned to 12.71. Among the hitters, LF Shin-soo Choo and C Chris Collins each had three hits, including a triple for Choo and two doubles for Collins. RF Greg Jacobs, 1B John Castellano, 3B Hunter Brown and CF Sheldon Fulse each added two hits, including homers for Jacobs and Castellano. Whew!
Wisconsin‘s game with Battle Creek was rained out, as the Midwest League lost six of its eight games — including a double header — to bad weather. Baseball America doesn’t show the two teams playing a double header today to make up the lost game, but the Timber Rattlers’ website, probably a better souce for such information, says they’ll play a pair of seven-inning games starting at 5pm local time. RHP Tanner Watson and LHP Beau Hintz are the probable starters for Wisconsin assuming they stick with their regular rotation.
I’m just now getting around to reading the Steve Kelley article Derek linked to yesterday. Really, that’s some pretty shoddy journalism if you ask me. If you’ve got something concrete, come out and say it. If you’ve got nothing, don’t make these vague statements — “And he isn’t spending the extra time between starts to tweak his messy mechanics” or “Is he more interested in night life or night games?” — with nothing to back them up, even if it’s more or less known that Freddy is out and about in Seattle. Kelley’s column brings nothing to the proverbial table on this particular topic. And what’s up with his hair?