Life goes on in the IL even without Jay Bruce . . . Charlie Zink had the Yankees off balance, J.A. Happ continued his turnaround, Nate Schierholtz hit for the cycle and Taylor Teagarden kept his hitting streak alive.
Prospect Of The Day
We certainly wish Jay Bruce luck as he embarks on his big league career with the Reds, but we sure are going to miss writing about him as a minor leaguer. The 21-year-old center fielder batted .364/.393/.630 in 184 at-bats with 10 home runs, nine doubles and eight stolen bases for Louisville. He leaves the IL as the frontrunner for No. 1 prospect status in our year-end ranking.
But the show must go on . . . Yesterday’s top performer has been pitching well all season, but still you may not be familiar with him. Pawtucket righthander Charlie Zink (Red Sox) has started the season 6-2, 2.59 and ranks seventh in the IL in ERA and fifth with 62 2/3 innings. Respectable numbers, to say the least, but the reason that the 28-year-old Zink may be unknown is that he’s a knuckleballer—well, that and he went undrafted out of Savannah (Ga.) College of Art & Design and signed with Boston in 2002 only after playing in the independent Western League.
Behind six home runs by Pawtucket yesterday, Zink cruised to his sixth win, going eight innings against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits and two walks. He struck out three and threw 69 of 101 pitches for strikes. Zink’s knuckler was dancing with the wind blowing out of Pawtucket’s McCoy Stadium, and even though he pitched out of trouble in the first inning, his catcher George Kottaras told the Providence Journal:
“He was in some jams and worked out of them with minimal damage. He’s been pitching really well for us recently, and it’s good to see him do that.”
Incidentally, the IL features another youngsh knuckleballer in Charlotte’s Charlie Haeger (White Sox), who has gone 3-4, 5.21 and ranks second in the IL in with 65 2/3 innings, but also first with 34 walks. Haeger is just 24 years old.
Lehigh Valley LHP J.A. Happ (Phillies) went winless in April despite a 3.51 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings. After giving up just one run to Indianapolis in seven innings yesterday, while striking out and walking four, the 6-foot-6 lefty improved to 2-1, 2.90 in May. And because Syracuse LHP David Purcey has missed two IL turns because he was pitching in the big leagues, Happ now comfortably leads all IL pitchers with 70 strikeouts—but only Haeger has more than Happ’s 30 walks . . . Indianapolis 3B Neil Walker (Pirates) was 2-for-4 with his 10th double of the year. Though he’s been hitting for more power and making more contact this month, Walker is still batting just .247/.261/.483 in 89 May at-bats . . . After starting 3-1, 1.25 in April, RHP Lance Broadway (White Sox) continues to slide. He gave up six runs (five earned) on 12 hits yesterday, while striking out four in seven innings. His 2.85 ERA still ranks ninth in the league . . . The Red Sox are set to have top-prospect righthander Clay Buchholz make a rehab start at Durham this Friday.
What To Watch For Today
Two of the IL’s bigger recent surprises pitch today. Louisville RHP Homer Bailey (Reds), who’s given up nine runs and 11 walks in his past 10 innings, tries to right the ship at Columbus. Durham RHP Mitch Talbot (Rays) has been as good (3-0, 1.67 in May with 25-3 K-BB in 27 innings) as Bailey has been bad. He throws at Norfolk.
PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE
Prospect Of The Day
Fresno right fielder Nate Schierholtz (Giants) turned a corner in 2007, batting .333/.365/.560 for the Grizzlies while hitting well at home, on the road and against lefties (.279/.322/.541). The lefthanded batter has continued hitting this season (.304/.346/.536), but yesterday in Las Vegas he was turning corners in a more literal sense, as he hit for the cycle in five at-bats.
Schierholtz connected for his sixth homer of the season in the second inning, and he added a single, a double (ninth) and triple (sixth) to the mix.
It seems that all Tacoma C Jeff Clement (Mariners) does is hit homers. He went 1-for-3 yesterday with a walk and his ninth big blast of the year. He has homered in four of his eight games since being sent back to the Rainiers . . . Oklahoma C Taylor Teagarden (Rangers) went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts, but he managed to extend his hitting streak to 15 games—and he’s played in just 18 Triple-A games. Though he hasn’t caught in consecutive days since May 12-13, Teagarden has nabbed just four of 16 Triple-A basestealers (25 percent) on the year . . . Memphis CF Colby Rasmus (Cardinals) went 1-for-3 (two runs, two RBIs, walk, two strikeouts) with his seventh home run of the year. It was his first extra-base hit since homering on May 11 . . . And while he’s certainly no prospect, Nashville RHP Jeff Weaver (Brewers) is interesting in that he’s getting rocked in Triple-A. After giving up nine runs in six innings yesterday, Weaver, 31, dropped to 1-3, 6.69. In 35 innings he’s struck out 25 Triple-A batters, walked 13 and given up eight home runs.
What To Watch For Today
Three of the league’s better young arms take the hill tonight. Oklahoma RHP Eric Hurley (Rangers) meets Omaha RHP Carlos Rosa (Royals) in Omaha, and Salt Lake RHP Nick Adenhart (Angels) and his Bees host Colorado Springs.
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