Minor League Wrap (5/2-8/11)

Jay Yencich · May 9, 2011 at 8:30 am · Filed Under Minor Leagues 

I’m going to be in New York next Monday, so there probably won’t be a wrap next week, or at least not one that’s on time. Since I’ll be getting back late the following Saturday, that probably also means a delayed wrap or none at all for the following week. I doubt I’m going to have a lot of time to be writing about baseball while I’m there.

Anyway, the high minors affiliates are doing well, and Jackson is continuing to run off some good streaks. The lower levels are not so hot and have been having issues. But Taijuan Walker debuted this week, we saw a 10+ K performance and an inside-the-park grand slam, and the on-base stuff that we’ve been seeing to start the year is still in full-effect with a lot of guys.

To the jump!

Tacoma Rainiers (4-3 this week, 12-19 overall)

The Week in Review:
Monday, May 2nd 2011
Tucson 6 (SD – 1), Tacoma 12
W: Paredes (2-1, 7.36) L: Hefner (0-2, 6.85)

Tuesday, May 3rd 2011
Tucson 5 (SD 0), Tacoma 6
W: Inman (1-2, 6.11) L: French (0-4, 5.57) S: Neshek (2)

Wednesday, May 4th 2011
Tucson 6 (SD – 1), Tacoma 7
W: Smith (1-1, 7.30) L: Perdomo (0-1, 3.32)

Thursday, May 5th 2011
Tucson 4 (SD – 2), Tacoma 8
W: Jimenez (3-1, 3.44) L: Castro (2-2, 10.17)

Friday, May 6th 2011
Las Vegas 14 (TOR – 1), Tacoma 3
W: Cecil (2-1, 7.41) L: Roe (0-3, 8.10)

Saturday, May 7th 2011
Las Vegas 3 (TOR – 2), Tacoma 4
W: Ring (1-0, 3.12) L: Abreu (2-3, 4.11) S: Lueke (2)

Sunday, May 8th 2011
Las Vegas 6 (TOR – 1), Tacoma 4
W: Richmond (2-1, 6.67) L: Delcarmen (2-2, 4.41) S: Farquhar (3)

Hitter of the Week:
CF/RF Mike Wilson, R/R, 6/29/1983
6 G, 23 AB, 10 H, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 6/2 K/BB, .435/.462/.783

I am ecstatic, because for the first time in my eight years of doing this, Mike Wilson is no longer someone I’m obligated to talk about as a minor leaguer in the future. It’s a relief, I’ll tell you that much, and it seems as though the M’s are willing to give him the LF job if he earns it, which means I could end up not talking about him ever again. Wilson suffered a shoulder injury early in the season which knocked him out for a good stretch of time, so while his line for the season is .381/.429/.683, this is sixteen games we’re talking about here. The good news is that he doesn’t have platoon splits and his home parks have been nothing to worry about, so for all the oddities in his trajectory, he could still be a starter if he keeps hitting.

Honestly, I’m Still More Excited About Him Mention:
2B Dustin Ackley, L/R, 2/26/1988
7 G, 27 AB, 5 R, 8 H, 2 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2 SB, 2/6 K/BB, .296/.424/.704

Also Slugging Mention:
DH Mike Carp, L/R, 6/30/1986
7 G, 25 AB, 4 R, 7 H, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, SB, 7/1 K/BB, .280/.296/.600

Slugging at About Half the Rate Mention:
1B/LF Matt Tuiasosopo, R/R, 5/10/1986
6 G, 25 AB, 4 R, 8 H, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 2 SB, 5/2 K/BB, .320/.370/.480

Pitcher of the Week:
RHP Blake Beavan, 1/17/1989
0-0, GS, 2.57 ERA in 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3/1 K/BB, 11/1 G/F

Hitting was pretty interesting for the Rainiers this week. Pitching wasn’t. Most of the rotation members had at least one start this week where they gave up four+ runs and Beavan was the only exception. One might think that the start of the season has been disappointing for him, considering the rumored velocity boost he was experiencing in spring training, but his rate stats are pretty much identical to his Tacoma stint last year, minus a hit every nine innings and some home runs. Beavan doesn’t strike out guys that often. Never has since turning pro. He’s still roughly a back-end starter, and from that standpoint, I’m way more interested in a certain double-A pitcher.

Reliever Default Mention:
RHP Josh Lueke, 12/5/1984
0-0, 3 G, , 0.00 ERA in 3.2 IP, 2 H, 1/0 K/BB, 9/2 G/F, 4/2 G/F

From The Training Room:
Guti was around and hit .125/.176/.375 in sixteen at-bats. Otherwise, nothin’ doin’.

Strange Happenings:
Ackley did make a couple of errors this week. Uh, whoops… The Rainiers squared off against Las Vegas over the weekend, which has such names on its roster as Brett Lawrie, Travis Snider, Eric Thames, Scott Podesdnik, Adam Loewen, and Chris Woodward… In Sunday night’s game, seven home runs were hit. In Tacoma. At Cheney. For the Rainiers, they were by Tui, Carp, Peguero, and Ackley. One of these things is not like the others. No, it’s not that Tui is right-handed.

Jackson Generals (4-2 this week, 16-12 overall)

The Week in Review:
Monday, May 2nd 2011
Jackson 3, Chattanooga 5 (LA – 1)
W: Savage (3-0, 2.86) L: Hensley (0-2, 2.66) S: Lindblom (3)

Tuesday, May 3rd 2011
Birmingham 3 (CHW + 1), Jackson 4
W: Ramirez (3-0, 2.78) L: Griffith (1-2, 5.79) S: Patterson (5)

Wednesday, May 4th 2011
Birmingham 4 (CHW 0), Jackson 5
W: Fields (1-1, 1.42) L: Omogrosso (0-1, 1.93)

Thursday, May 5th 2011
Birmingham 2 (CHW – 1), Jackson 3
W: Kasparek (4-1, 2.70) L: Zaleski (2-3, 2.41) S: Patterson (6)

Friday, May 6th 2011
Birmingham 3 (CHW – 2), Jackson 6
W: Hernandez (1-0, 7.59) L: Mabee (0-1, 27.00) S: Patterson (7)

Saturday, May 7th 2011
Birmingham 7 (CHW – 1), Jackson 5
W: Remenowsky (2-0, 0.63) L: Hensley (0-3, 3.65) S: Infante (7)

Sunday, May 8th 2011
Off day

Hitter of the Week:
LF Jake Shaffer, L/L, 8/16/1987
6 G, 18 AB, 6 R, 7 H, 2B, HR, 6 RBI, SB, 3/3 K/BB, HBP, .389/.500/.611

One of the stories I just haven’t been able to figure out this far into the season has been the breakout of Jake Shaffer. Shaffer was a 15th-round pick in 2008 out of Northern Kentucky and got no scouting report from BA in their database at the time. In his second pro season, he was in Clinton and slugged .420, and basically looked like an org player. Last year, in High Desert, he slugged .517, but given the park factors and everything else, I wasn’t inclined to think too much of it. This season, in more neutral climes, he’s slugging .559. He’s already more than halfway to his career high in home runs, and had an inside-the-park grand slam earlier in the week. I’d gripe about the plate discipline, but this week it looks like he made an effort to clean it up, as he doubled his walk totals for the season. I don’t know how long he can keep this up, or more importantly, why he’s doing this, but it’s interesting to watch for as long as it’s going on.

Less the Home Run Hitter Mention:
CF James McOwen, L/R, 9/26/1985
5 G, 19 AB, 5 R, 7 H, 2B, 4 RBI, SB, 5/2 K/BB, HBP, .368/.455/.421

Doubles, at Least Mention:
1B Rich Poythress, R/R, 8/11/1987
5 G, 22 AB, 7 H, 3 2B, 3B, 4 RBI, 3/0 K/BB, .318/.318/.545

Pitcher of the Week:
RHP Erasmo Ramirez, 5/2/1990
1-0, GS, 1.17 ERA in 7.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R (ER), 5/0 K/BB, 12/6 G/F

When Ramirez was first named a member of the Generals rotation to start the season, it seemed like a temporary thing. He’d hold down a spot until Hume or Hill came off, or Carraway would take over and that would be that. Since then, Hill’s still hurting, Carraway has been in and out of the rotation, Hume was sent to California, and Ramirez has shown few signs of weakness. For example, did you know that in addition to getting two ground outs to every one in the air, he’s only walked one this season, with 32.1 IP? Or that he’s averaged about six and a third innings per start? Or that, if you take just his last three starts and toss aside the first two when he was getting his feet wet, he’s striking out nearly eight per nine innings? Sure, he’s small and gives up a lot of hits, but perhaps we’ve been underestimating him.

Old Reliable Mention:
RHP Jarrett Grube, 11/5/1981
0-0, 2.57 ERA in 7.0 IP, 8 H (HR), 2 R, 7/1 K/BB, 7/1 G/F

Struck Out Ten in Last 13.0 IP Mention:
RHP Kenn Kasparek, 9/23/1985
1-0, 1.35 ERA in 6.2 IP, 4 H (HR), R, 5/2 K/BB, 4/5

From the Training Room:
Friday afternoon, RHP Steven Richard was released. He wasn’t putting up bad numbers or anything, he had a 3.68 ERA with nine hits and a 6/3 K/BB in 7.1 innings, he was just released. Maybe he asked for it . Maybe something else was going on. I don’t know. Anyway, LHP Brian Moran came off the temporarily inactive list to make room for him.

Strange Happenings:
As you probably know by now, in the Southern League, they play five-game series as a general rule. This makes the sweep an even rarer phenomenon, but the Generals have nearly pulled it off their past two series. Each time, it came down to the final game, and Steve Hensley has taken the mound and lost… Triunfel was getting some good marks for his defense to start the season. That’s not really showing up in the box scores though, as he made an error on Monday and three more on Tuesday… Seager only played three games this week, and thus wouldn’t qualify for HOTW, but he did extend his hit streak to thirteen games and was 5-for-10 with four doubles and two walks on the week… The same outfield defense that gave up the inside-the-park grand slam to Shaffer gave up a triple to Rich Poythress.

High Desert Mavericks (2-5 this week, 12-19 overall)

The Week in Review:
Monday, May 2nd 2011
High Desert 3, Modesto 8 (COL – 7)
W: Houston (2-1, 2.08) L: Stanton (1-2, 6.75)

Tuesday, May 3rd 2011
High Desert 1, Modesto 2 (COL – 6)
W: Bettis (2-1, 3.55) L: Medina (0-5, 6.30) S: Kuo (5)

Wednesday, May 4th 2011
High Desert 6, Modesto 7 (COL – 5) (eleven innings)
W: Woods (1-1, 1.80) L: Markovitz (0-1, 9.00)

Thursday, May 5th 2011
High Desert 6, Modesto 10 (COL – 4)
W: Gomez (2-1, 1.21) L: Gillheeney (1-2, 3.90)

Friday, May 6th 2011
High Desert 4, Rancho Cucamonga 1 (LA + 7)
W: Sorce (3-1, 2.92) L: Redding (2-3, 3.60) S: Delabar (2)

Saturday, May 7th 2011
High Desert 4, Rancho Cucamonga 12 (LA + 8 )
W: Smith (2-0, 2.55) L: Stanton (1-3, 8.20)

Sunday, May 8th 2011
High Desert 10, Rancho Cucamonga 9 (LA + 7)
W: Medina (1-5, 6.69) L: Magill (4-1, 2.88) S: Jimenez (4)

Hitter of the Week:
OF Daniel Carroll, R/R, 1/6/1989
7 G, 28 AB, 5 R, 9 H, 2 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 3 SB, CS, 11/4 K/BB, 3 HBP, .321/.457/.500

This week marked a return to Carroll doing something that he excels at: leaning into pitches. He’s been hit into the double digits every year he’s been on a full-season roster in spite of playing in a limited number of games, often because he was leaning into pitches. This makes me less optimistic about him continuing the breakout, but he is just a walk away from tying a career high set in 79 games two years ago, so that’s something. His success rate on steals is also a career best 90%, and he finally hit a road home run this week.

Small Sample Spotlight: Catcher Mention:
C Trevor Coleman, S/R, 1/19/1988
5 G, 15 AB, 2 R, 5 H, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, SB, 6/4 K/BB, HBP, .333/.500/.600

Hitting Finally Mention:
OF James Jones, L/L, 9/24/1988
7 G, 30 AB, 4 R, 11 H, 3 2B, 2 RBI, SB, 6/0 K/BB, .367/.367/.467

Slugging a Little Less Mention:
3B/1B Vinnie Catricala, R/R, 10/31/1988
7 G, 32 AB, 5 R, 11 H, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 SB, 7/2 K/BB, .344/.382/.469

Pitcher of the Week:
LHP Nick Czyz, 4/10/1987
0-0, GS, 0.00 ERA in 6.0 IP, H, 3/1 K/BB, 7/5 G/F

I don’t know if I should be highlighting pitching or defense here, but regardless, this happened. Mind you, this was in Modesto, which has half the home run rate of the average Cal League park, but most of the pitchers didn’t care and were allowing nearly seven runs a game throuhgout the series. In this one, Czyz retired sixteen of his first seventeen batters before giving up the one hit he allowed in the game. Meanwhile, every member of the defense was active in recording outs. Czyz has excelled at limiting walks this season, but part of that has just been that he puts more balls in play of late. Sometimes it works and he goes deep with few hits allowed, sometimes they all start dropping in and he doesn’t last long.

Other Weird Start Mention:
RHP Chris Sorce, 10/28/1987
1-0, GS, 1.35 ERA in 6.2 IP, 5 H, R, 2/3 K/BB, 7/10 G/F

From the Training Room:
For as busy as things were last week, nothing happened in this one.

Strange Happenings:
Franklin hit .222/.300/.278 in just four games this week. He’s still walking. He’s not doing a lot else. But somehow this is easier on me than it would be if he was hitting a lot of bombs but only at home… Sunday’s game featured three outfield assists at three different bases and three stolen bases which included Franklin nabbing home. Saturday’s game had two outfield assists. The Quakes don’t seem to be learning… Medina got his first win this week in spite of giving up six runs in six and a third innings. He took a loss in a start where he went seven frames and let just two runs score. MAVERICKS BASEBALL

Clinton Lumberkings (2-5 this week, 7-17 overall)

The Week in Review:
Monday, May 2nd 2011
Beloit 6 (MIN + 4), Clinton 13
W: Kohlscheen (1-2, 5.40) L: Hermsen (2-3, 4.23) S: Bischoff (1)

Tuesday, May 3rd 2011
Beloit 6 (MIN + 4), Clinton 3
W: Darnell (2-1, 3.14) L: Fernandez (1-1, 5.26) S: Hauser (4)

Wednesday, May 4th 2011
Clinton 0, Peoria 1 (CHC 0)
W: Greathouse (1-2, 4.32) L: Snow (1-3, 5.12) S: Gonzalez (2)

Thursday, May 5th 2011
Clinton 1, Peoria 4 (CHC + 1)
W: Jokisch (4-0, 2.81) L: Walker (0-1, 9.00)

Friday, May 6th 2011
Clinton 5, Peoria 4 (CHC 0) (fourteen innings)
W: Sena (1-0, 0.00) L: Shafer (0-2, 1.88) S: Kesler (1)

Saturday, May 7th 2011
Burlington 2 (OAK + 14), Clinton 1
W: Thornton (2-1, 3.72) L: Arias (0-2, 13.50) S: Tenholder (5)

Sunday, May 8th 2011
Burlington 5 (OAK + 15), Clinton 2
W: Brown (4-0, 1.24) L: Fernandez (1-2, 5.16) S: Mederos (4)

Hitter of the Week:
2B/LF Stefen Romero, R/R, 10/17/1988
5 G, 19 AB, 4 R, 7 H, 3 2B, RBI, CS, 2/3 K/BB, .368/.454/.526

The Lumberkings busted out thirteen runs on Monday, and for the rest of the week, averaged two runs of offense a game. The only one where they scored more than three, it took them fourteen innings to do it. We’re looking at Romero again as a result, because he was the only consistent one, recording a hit in every game he played. I’ve mentioned him two weeks in a row now (remember, he hit .308/.500/1.000 the week before), which makes his start to the season all the more surprising, because he hit just .172/.280/.344 in April, with twenty Ks in sixty-four at-bats. Now he’s down to two Ks in twenty May at-bats. It’s been a pretty sharp turnaround for him.

Four-for-Six in the Extra Inning Game Mention:
IF Shaver Hansen, S/R, 12/19/1987
5 G, 22 AB, 4 R, 6 H, HR, 3 RBI, SB, CS, 6/0 K/BB, 273/.261/.409

Pitcher of the Week:
RHP Brandon Maurer, 7/3/1990
0-0, GS, 1.50 ERA in 6.0 IP, 3 H, 11/2 K/BB, 4/3 G/F, BK

Maurer notches what I believe to be the first double-digits strikeout performance of the season (and a personal high) with the no-decision on Saturday against the Bees. Looking at Burlington’s club offensively, you might not think it’s that impressive, considering that their .637 team OPS going into Sunday’s game was just ahead of (gulp) your Lumberkings at the bottom of the leaderboard. However, Burlington has also been the third-hardest team to strike out thus far, and after the third-inning run, Maurer retired ten of the last eleven, seven of those on Ks, five swinging, two called. Over the last two starts, the other of which came against league-leading offense Beloit, Maurer has only allowed five hits and run a 17/4 K/BB over thirteen frames. When Maurer has his good command, he can be a very interesting pitcher.

Swingman Mention:
RHP Steve Kohlscheen, 9/20/1988
1-0, 2 G (GS), in 8.0 IP, 7 H, R, 7/3 K/BB, 7/7 G/F

From the Training Room:
I already caught this earlier in the week, but to recap, RHPs Taijuan Walker and Jandy Sena were added, RHP Seon Gi Kim went to Arizona, and RHPs Tyler Blandford and Matt Bischoff hit the DL. Sena was a 23rd-round pick from last year. Blandford was picked in the sixth round two years back. He had a 26/25 K/BB in 27.0 innings last year and has a 6/8 K/BB in 7.2 innings thus far this year, all in relief. Also he had a .421 avg against. Either he is hurt or this is what he is at present. Bischoff allowed three runs on two hits, two walks, and four Ks in two and a third innings the day before he hit the DL. While he got the save, it is rather ominous. Kim got some positive reports in spring training, but it was probably a bit ambitious to be putting him in Clinton in the first place. He wasn’t bad for the Lumberkings, though his strikeout numbers were off and his hits were about the same level they were at in Peoria last year, which is bad.

Strange Happenings:
Walker debuted for the season this week. It wasn’t anything special, though I did try to listen to it, which is difficult as the feed often cuts out and the commercials are several times as loud as the play-by-play meaning that I have to tear my headphones off every few minutes. Walker went four frames and had the same number of runs score against him on seven hits, a wild pitch, a couple walks, and five strikeouts. The first inning or so, he pitched like Bad Felix, nothing but fastballs, and since Peoria was taking the “we’ll swing at anything in the zone” approach, this resulted in a lot of sad times. Five hits opened the game. Bad news. But he calmed down and retired nine of the last ten, and got some groundballs while he was at it… Paxton’s second start was marred by similar technical problems and a lack of command on his part. His final line was 5.0 IP, 2 R (ER), 5 H, 3/4 K/BB. The curve wasn’t quite biting as he wanted it to and the sinker was sinking a bit much. The good news, I suppose, is that he has a sinker that he throws a lot, which is pretty interesting and not something that I knew about with him… Would you guess that Shaver Hansen would have a home run this year before he had a double or a walk? Well, he does… Jabari Blash. So, he had thirteen walks through twelve games now. He had the same number of walks last year in thirty-two games. Except then he was striking out in over 40% of his at-bats and now he’s down to 23.5%.


3 Responses to “Minor League Wrap (5/2-8/11)”

  1. Arron on May 9th, 2011 9:26 am

    Was in Clinton for the game on Saturday…meet the team day as well…nice group of kids…got autographs from Littlewood, Paxton, Blash, Baron, Burgoon, Maurer, Snow, and Walker. They were all very nice and accomodating. I missed the actual event, so I waited by the clubhouse and caught them on their way to the field. They didn’t have to stop, but they did.

    I was going to ask Littlewood about being blocked by Franklin, because last year I asked Franklin about them drafting Littlewood, but we were short on time. Maybe next time.

    Maurer looked really good on the mound. Blash just looks like a ball player. Tall and ripped. Reminds me of a young Mike Cameron.

    Going to see Walker throw tomorrow if the weather permits.

  2. casey on May 9th, 2011 2:05 pm

    Are there injury updates for Greg Halman (with no outfielders left they need him) and Maurico Robles – was supposed to be back late April?

  3. Jay Yencich on May 9th, 2011 2:54 pm

    Was in Clinton for the game on Saturday…meet the team day as well…nice group of kids

    Glad to hear we had someone out there. It’s an interesting group this year, much talent, and getting more all the time it seems, but consistency is not a strong suit for them.

    I’d hold back on any questions like that for Littlewood though. He’s having enough of a time right now being himself without worrying about Franklin.

    Are there injury updates for Greg Halman (with no outfielders left they need him) and Maurico Robles – was supposed to be back late April?

    With Halman, it’s a bit more serious than was originally thought. The wrist is broken, so he’ll probably be out a while yet.

    Robles had his elbow cleaned out and that’s usually something that takes a while to come back from. My guess is that we start hearing things about him in two weeks or so.

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