PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE
Prospect Of The Day
Memphis third baseman David Freese (Cardinals) changed organizations in last December’s Jim Edmonds trade, and he skipped over Double-A entirely, but he’s been a steady presence in the Redbirds’ order all season. Because the Padres drafted him out of South Alabama after his senior year in 2006, Freese already is 25 years old, which partially explains how he’s made such a smooth transition from the California League to the PCL.
You won’t find Freese’s name among the league leaders, but through 314 at-bats he’s hit a steady .280/.335/.494 with 16 home runs and 51 RBIs as Memphis’ six-hole hitter. Yesterday he belted two doubles (15) and scored a run as part of a 4-for-4 game, and he’s now riding a modest seven-game hitting streak.
Memphis trails Iowa, the American Conference’s Northern Division leaders, by 5 1/2 games, and with two of its key hitters—CF Colby Rasmus and SS Brian Barden—heading to Beijing as members of Team USA, it will be tough for the Redbirds to overtake the Cubs. Rasmus did his part yesterday, going 2-for-5 with a double (15), a stolen base (15) and a run scored in Memphis’ 6-1 win against Oklahoma. . . . Taking the loss for the RedHawks was RHP Tommy Hunter (Rangers), a supplemental first-round pick in 2007 who has climbed to Triple-A after just 17 pro starts. He surrendered five runs (four earned) on eight hits in five innings, while striking out two Redbirds, walking one and serving us a two-run homer to D’Angelo Jimenez. . . . Portland LHP Cesar Ramos (Padres) sports a 6.14 ERA on the year—which is one of the many reasons the Beavers’ team ERA (5.19) is higher than Las Vegas’ or Colorado Springs’—but he was effective yesterday in a win against the Sky Sox. The 24-year-old pitched six shutout innings while allowing six hits and a walk and striking out eight. . . . Round Rock RHP Chad Reineke (Astros) pitched eight shutout innings, striking out eight and walking three, but his Express lost when reliever Fernando Nieve allowed a run to Omaha in the bottom of the ninth, breaking a scoreless tie.
What To Watch For Today
Las Vegas 3B Terry Tiffee (Dodgers) carried a .286 career minor league average into the season, but in hitting .384/.421/.576 this year, he’s well positioned to win his first batting title. But as a member of Team USA, he’ll need to accumulate 16 more plate appearances before leaving for the Olympics in order to officially qualify for the title. He has 373 PA at present, and if the 51s play all 144 of their scheduled games, he’ll need to rack up 389 PA to qualify. Of course, Tiffee will need to keep hitting, too, because Tucson’s Jamie D’Antona lurks in second place with a .367 average.
Prospect Of The Day
Syracuse lefthander David Purcey (Blue Jays) had a lot to prove this season. In his previous Triple-A trial, in 2006, he flamed out after 12 starts with a 5.40 ERA. Injuries sidelined him for all but 11 starts in 2007, but when he did pitch, the results were hardly encouraging. Offseason surgery to remove cysts in his forearm and triceps, though, has the 26-year-old Purcey pitching pain-free again, and he’s throwing as well as he has since signing as Toronto’s 2004 first-round pick.
The 6-foot-5 lefty shut down Louisville yesterday, as he struck out seven and walked none in giving up two runs (one earned) in six innings. Purcey lowered his ERA to 2.69, which moved him into second place in the IL. His 121 strikeouts, however, rank first.
Pawtucket RHP Michael Bowden (Red Sox) allowed three runs on seven hits in four innings in his Triple-A debut. He struck out four and walked none. Red Sox manager Ron Johnson, in assessing Bowden’s Triple-A debut, told the Providence Journal:
“It was pretty exciting watching Mr. Bowden get his first start. I just watched some of his pitches and this is a young man that didn’t walk anybody. He gave up three runs on seven hits in four innings and I’m sure he’s not happy with that. But that isn’t what lost us the game. He got his first Triple-A start out of the way. This is about development. Even though he gave up three runs, I thought he pitched efficiently the first three innings before a couple of their veterans hit a lot of foul balls.”
Toledo RF Brent Clevlen (Tigers) was 2-for-4 with two home runs (19) and three RBIs as he continues his torrid July. He’s batting .314/.372/.614 in 70 at-bats this month. . . . Norfolk 3B Mike Costanzo (Orioles) went 3-for-7 with a double (17) yesterday in the Tides’ 14-inning loss at Buffalo. Though he’s hit a mediocre .269/.339/.410 to this point, Costanzo, 24, has improved steadily throughout the season, and he’s having his best month in July—.338/.405/.535 in 71 at-bats. . . . Rochester CF Jason Pridie (Twins) was 2-for-4 with a solo home run (nine).
What To Watch For Today
Lehigh Valley LHP J.A. Happ (Phillies) posted a 3.27 ERA in 11 big league innings—while also walking eight batters—but after the Joe Blanton trade, he finds himself back in the Triple-A rotation. He starts for the IronPigs tonight against Durham. On the bright side, now Happ can get back to what really matters: the pursuit of the IL strikeout title. He trails Purcey (who walked 11 batters in 7 1/3 big league innings this year) by just five strikeouts.
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