HIGHS: There were two excellent pitching matchups across the minors on Friday, one of which took place in Rochester as Twins righthander Kevin Slowey met up with Rays 6-foot-9 righthander Jeff Niemann. Both pitched well, but Slowey emerged the victor in the Red Wingsâ€™ 3-0 win. Slowey scattered seven hits over eight shutout innings, struck out seven and did not allow a walk in the victory. Niemann allowed three runs on six hits and struck out seven over six innings of work . . . Triple-A has been fun for Giants outfielder Brian Horwitz since he was called up earlier in the week. Horwitz went 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles in Fresnoâ€™s 6-1 win against Salt Lake. Signed as a nondrafted free agent in 2004, the 24-year-old batted .309/.371/.390 in 136 at-bats at Double-A Connecticut this season . . . Reds first baseman Joey Votto continues to heat up at Louisville. The 2002 second-round pick went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBIs in the Batsâ€™ 10-1 win against Buffalo to improve his overall numbers to .319/.426/.503 and is currently riding a 17-game hit streakâ€”collecting two hits or more in 12 of those 17 games.
LOWS: Only one low at this level, but itâ€™s low enough to stand alone. Blue Jays righthander Josh Banks lasted just one inning in Syracuseâ€™s 10-4 loss to Pawtucket, allowing 10 runsâ€”all earnedâ€”on 11 hits. The 2003 second-round pick saw his ERA jump nearly two full points after that brief outing . . . to 5.47.
HIGHS: Rays catcher John Jaso has been crazy hot lately and that trend continued in Montgomeryâ€™s 14-5 loss to Mississippi. Jaso, a 12th-round pick in 2003, doubled and homered, improving his overall numbers to .339/.423/.540 in 124 at-bats . . . Altoona manager Tim Lieper said back in the middle of April that there was nothing to worry about with Andrew McCutchenâ€™s struggles, and slowly it appears as if the 11th overall pick in 2005 is beginning to put something together. McCutchen went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored in the Curveâ€™s 8-7 loss to Bowie, and while his average is creeping toward .200, the 20-year-old recorded his 10th double of the season.
LOWS: Phillies lefty Matt Maloney hasnâ€™t been very good in May. Maloney, who allowed four runs on nine hits over six innings in Readingâ€™s 9-5 loss to Portland, is 1-3, 5.65 this month . . . Cubs righthander Mark Holliman got hammered in Tennesseeâ€™s 8-4 loss to Jacksonville. Holliman, a 2005 third-rounder, allowed eight runs on 11 hits over 5 2/3 innings . . . Luis Munoz isnâ€™t someone on most radars across the minors, but the 25-year-old Dominican had been emerging in Altoona . . . until his last two starts, that is. Or maybe he just doesnâ€™t like facing Bowie. Munoz allowed five runs on 10 hits against the Bay Sox in his last start on May 19, and didnâ€™t make it out of the first inning against them on Friday. Munoz allowed seven runs on seven hits in just 2/3 of an inning. This season, Munoz is 5-2, 3.97 in 48 innings.
HIGH CLASS A
HIGHS: The other pitching matchup worth watching in the minors on Friday pitted Tampa righthander Ian Kennedy against Devil Rays lefty Jacob McGee. And the two were near-mirror images of each other at least based on the numbers. Kennedy, who piled up 20 strikeouts over his last two starts, allowed a pair of runs on five hits and fanned eight over five innings. McGee allowed two runs on four hits and struck out eight over six innings in the Yankeesâ€™ 5-2 win . . . Go figure: it was a night for pitchers in the Florida State League, as Marlins lefthander Aaron Thompson struck out 10 over seven innings in Jupiterâ€™s 3-0 win against Clearwater, and Brewers righthander Will Inman whiffed 12 over six innings in Brevard Countyâ€™s 3-1 win against Sarasota.
LOWS: OK, so I was wrong. At the beginning of the season, I said in a chat that this would be a comeback year for Cubs first baseman Brian Dopirak. But after hitting .218/.247/.269 with virtually no power (one homer, one double) in 78 at-bats, the Cubs reassigned Dopirak to the FSL, where heâ€™s hitting just .125 in his first 32 at-bats . . . Angels righthander Stephen Marek got roughed up in Rancho Cucamongaâ€™s 9-3 loss to Bakersfield, allowing five runs on five hits and walking six over four innings.
LOW CLASS A
HIGHS: You had to figure itâ€™d only be a matter of time until the bats would come around in Great Lakes, as the majority of the Loonsâ€™ roster had never played full season ball before this year. Friday, third baseman Josh Bell homered and shortstop Preston Mattingly showed signs of emerging from his season-long doldrums. Mattingly went 3-for-5 with a homer, triple and double in the Loonsâ€™ victory against Lansing. Another fun fact about Great Lakes? The young club features seven switch-hitters . . . Chris Marrero delivered a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 12th inning in Hagerstownâ€™s 9-8 win against Delmarva. It was Marreroâ€™s 12th jack of the season . . . A 2006 19th-round pick, Angels outfielder Chris Pettit is quietly having a nice season in Cedar Rapids. Pettit went 3-for-5 with two doublesâ€”giving him 20 on the yearâ€”in the Kernelsâ€™ 7-3 win against Kane County. Pettit is now hitting .359/.415/.583 with five homers and 25 RBIs in 156 at-bats . . . Third base, second base, it doesnâ€™t matter for Lake County infielder Jared Goedert. The Indians swapped positions between Goedert and Adam Davis about a week ago and Goedert hasn’t allowed the move to affect his offense. The pair combined to go 6-for-10 with eight RBIs in the Captainsâ€™ 12-9 win against Lakewood, with Goedert hitting his 16th homer.
LOWS: Cardinals righthander Blake King didnâ€™t have much fun riding the piggyback system in Quad Citiesâ€™ 5-2 loss to Beloit. King walked four and allowed four runs, maxing out his pitch count in just 2/3 of an inning . . . Athletics righthander Scott Deal didnâ€™t do much dealing in Kane Countyâ€™s loss to Cedar Rapids. The 2005 fifth-round pick allowed seven earned runs on 13 hits over just five innings.
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