Prospect Of The Day
Lehigh Valley started its first season in the IL at 5-30 and is 24-20 since then, and lefthander J.A. Happ’s (Phillies) a major reason for the turnaround. He’s pitched like an ace since an 0-3 start, and did it again last night against Durham. He no-hit the Bulls through the first four innings and allowed only one hit in six shutout frames, striking out nine to take the IL lead with 99 in 94 innings.
Happ’s fastball sat in the 87-91 mph range, touching 92 regularly, and he was effective working it to both corners against lefthanded hitters, while using his change and slider more against righthanded batters. He threw 95 pitches, and efficiency was the only reason he didn’t pitch deeper in Lehigh Valley’s 7-0 victory. Since that 0-3 start, Happ has gone 5-3, 3.25 in 74 2/3 innings, with 75 strikeouts and just 22 walks. If the Phillies—whose five starters in Philadelphia have yet to miss a turn—have a big league need, Happ appears close to being ready to help. (John Manuel)
Buffalo SS Asdrubal Cabrera (Indians) hit a miserable .184/.282/.247 in Cleveland this season, but he’s back to his old tricks in the IL. The 22-year-old, acquired from the Mariners in 2006 for Eduardo Perez, has hit in 11 of his first 13 games for the Bisons, going 3-for-4 last night with a homer (one) and two steals (two). Cabrera is batting .434/.474/.547 for Buffalo . . . Scranton/Wilkes-Barre CF Brett Gardner (Yankees) has gotten better each month of the season, and after going 2-for-4 yesterday with his IL-leading 10th triple (he also leads with 29 stolen bases), he’s now hitting .321/.433/.457 in 81 June at-bats . . . Charlie Morton leads the IL with a 2.05 ERA, but he’s in the big leagues now, so that won’t last much longer. Which pitcher currently in the IL has the best ERA? Why, it’s 28-year-old Pawtucket knuckleballer Charlie Zink (Red Sox), of course. He pitched the first 8 1/3 innings of the Red Sox’ 10-inning victory against Richmond yesterday, striking out 10, walking four and allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits. Zink’s previous high for strikeouts this season was five . . . Charlotte LHP Clayton Richard (White Sox) improved to 3-0 in three IL starts after the Knights’ 8-1 win at Norfolk. Richard entered the game with a perfect 12-to-0 strikeout-to-walk ratio—and left the game with same. Despite striking out no one, Richard allowed only one run on five hits in six innings. The only other marks on his ledger: one balk, one double play induced.
What To Watch For Today
Scranton RHP Alan Horne (Yankees) makes his fourth start since returning from a strained biceps. He faces Columbus RHP Collin Balester (Nationals), who has gone 8-3, 4.09 with a solid 61-21 K-BB—but with 14 home runs allowed in 72 2/3 innings. Lefties Brian Duensing (Twins) and Matt Maloney (Reds) will square off as Rochester visits Louisville.
PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE
Prospect Of The Day
Memphis center fielder Colby Rasmus (Cardinals) has a hit in 13 straight games after going 2-for-3 with a home run (11), a double (13) and a stolen base (10) in yesterday’s 8-1 win against Nashville. After slumping miserably in April and May (.214/.313/.345 combined), Rasmus has been on fire in June and has resuscitated his averages to .251/.347/.413.
Righthander Clayton Mortensen, the 36th overall pick from Gonzaga in 2007, went 7 2/3 innings for the win, striking out two, walking four and giving up one unearned run on seven hits.
After allowing six runs on seven hits in 2 2/3 innings (five strikeouts, four walks, two homers) yesterday, Sacramento LHP Gio Gonzalez (Athletics) still has not turned in consecutive dominant Triple-A starts. He seemed poised to do so, seeing that in his previous start had been a 12-strikeout, one-hit, eight-shutout-innings effort against Fresno last week . . . Tacoma CF Michael Saunders (Mariners) can do no wrong this season. The 21-year-old was 1-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base yesterday, pushing him to .350/.435/.600 through 20 Triple-A at-bats . . . On the other hand, Salt Lake SS Brandon Wood (Angels) was batting just .233/.298/.349 in 43 at-bats since his return to Triple-A. He may have snapped out if by going 3-for-5 last night with three runs, three RBIs, a triple and a solo homer (11) off Gio Gonzalez . . . Albuquerque RHP Gaby Hernandez (Marlins) made his third consecutive start at home, and for the third consecutive start he was rocked (5 IP, 12 H, 6 R, 3 BB, 2 SO). Over those three turns, he’s 0-1, 10.05 having gone 14 1/3 innings while giving up 30 hits, six walks, three home runs and 18 runs while striking out 11. Actually, those low walk and home runs totals suggest he’s doing something right, and away from Isotopes Park, the 22-year-old Hernandez is 1-2, 4.56 with 23-8 K-BB in 23 2/3 innings.
What To Watch For Today
Recently-promoted righthander Jeff Samardzija (Cubs) makes his Triple-A debut for Iowa tonight in Albuquerque, of all places. The Cubs’ fifth-round pick in 2006 went 3-5, 4.86 for Double-A Tennessee, with 44 strikeouts, 42 walks and six home runs allowed in 76 innings.
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