Three news tidbits popped up in Wednesday’s minor league action, with one long hitting streak ending and two no-hitters, including a five-inning perfect game.
First, in the Year of the Hit Streak in the minor leagues, Rangers third baseman Chris Davis had his 35-game streak end Wednesday night during an 0-for-4 performance with high Class A Bakersfield. Davis’ streak tied the California League record set in 1992 by Athletics farmhand Brent Gates.
Davis was the third minor leaguer to set or tie a league hitting-streak record this season. In the Triple-A International League, Nationals outfielder Brandon Watson hit in 43 consecutive games for Columbus, while Yankees third baseman Mitch Hilligoss set a low Class A South Atlantic League record with a 38-game streak. Those are the longest streaks in the minor leagues in the last 20 years, with Davis’ streak checking in at tied for fourth in that time span.
Davis, who entered the season ranked 11th among Rangers prospects, had been living dangerously of late, with five straight one-hit games before his streak ended. He’s having a unique season in many ways, hitting .309/.352/.586 with 28 doubles, 21 home runs and a league-best 88 RBIs. He ranks second in the Cal League in home runs, third in slugging and fourth in doubles. Despite his hit streak, he’s far from a contact hitter, with a 112-22 strikeout-walk ratio in 350 at-bats.
To highlight just how unlikely Davis’ hit streak was, consider his contact rate (68%) was dramatically lower than either Watson’s (87%) and Hilligoss’ (85%). Davis’ secret: he hit nearly .400 when putting the ball in play. Well, .392, really, and his extra-base hit rate (14%) blew away Watson (4%) and Hilligoss (7%).
â€¢ Davis’ streak came to an end on an eventful day in the minors. Short-season Vancouver lefthander Brad Hertzler, the Athletics’ 15th-round pick out of Maine, threw a five-inning perfect game in the Northwest League, beating Spokane in his third pro start. The younger brother of Triple-A Pawtucket righthander Barry Hertzler, Brad Hertzler struck out three for his first professional victory.
â€¢ High Class A Tampa had the day’s biggest feat with a nine-inning no-hitter thrown by three righthanders, including one of the Yankees’ top prospect and a top sleeper. Kevin Whelan, getting in some innings as a starter at Tampa, threw five innings against Jupiter, striking out four and walking one to begin the 3-0 victory. David Robertson, a 17th-round pick out of Alabama last year, continued his breakout debut season with two shutout innings before sidewinding closer Josh Schmidt finished with two more scoreless innings.
A scout with an American League club reports Whelan’s fastball sat in the 91-93 mph range, and while he didn’t have great command of the pitch, he threw his plus slider for strikes and made pitches when he had to. Schmidt worked off an 85-87 mph fastball with good sink, fanning three and walking two, and has 64 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings for Tampa this year.
Robertson, signed after a stellar summer on Cape Cod last year, used primarily a 90-91 mph fastball that he throws downhill despite his 5-foot-11, 180-pound frame. Robertson’s out pitch remains his tight curveball, and he’s thrown two scoreless innings in six of his seven outings with Tampa. For the season, the younger brother of Athletics righthander Connor Robertson is 5-3, 0.92 in 59 innings between Tampa and low Class A Charleston. He has a 77-19 strikeout-walk ratio and has allowed just 31 hits on the year, including no home runs.
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