Much like he did last year at Double-A Birmingham, White Sox third baseman Dayan Viciedo got off to a slow start for Triple-A Charlotte. The 21-year-old Cuban, who hit just .234/.244/.299 in his first month with Birmingham last year, saw his average bottom out at .218/.232/.309 on April 22. Since then, Viciedo has hit a sizzling .356/.396/.678 with eight homers (the fourth most in the minors over that span) and 18 RBIs. Viciedo hasn't changed his free-swinging ways, as he's drawn just four walks all season, but he has managed to improve his contact rate noticeably over the last few weeks. After striking out 23 times in 83 at-bats in April, he's whiffed just 10 times in 62 at-bats so far in May.
Viciedo had his biggest night of the young season Tuesday in Buffalo, going 4-for-6 with three doubles and an RBI, leading the Knights to an 8-6 win in 11 innings. Adding injury to insult for Buffalo, catcher Josh Thole injured his hip stepping on the bat of Charlotte's Jordan Danks, who had just hit the go-ahead single. Thole left the game and will be re-evaluated today, according to the Buffalo News. Viciedo came up next and drilled his third double of the night, scoring Danks to give the Knights an insurance run. Thole wasn't the only player to go down for the Bisons, either, as shortstop Ruben Tejada left the game in the fourth inning complaining of dizziness. He will also be re-evaluated today.
Alonso Continues Hot Hitting In Triple-A
Reds first baseman Yonder Alonso connected for his first Triple-A home run as part of a 2-for-6 night for Louisville. The 23-year-old went deep off Lehigh Valley righthander Nate Bump in the fourth inning of what turned into a marathon night. Alonso's homer knotted the score at 1-1, and it would stay that until the 16th inning, when the Bats finally pushed across a run on Zach Cozart's RBI single after Chris Burke had hit a one-out triple. The game was the longest in Lehigh Valley's franchise history, breaking the record set just one night earlier when the IronPigs played a 15-inning affair at Gwinett.
For Alonso, the night extended what has been a positive first week in Triple-A. Alonso had been mostly treading water at Double-A Carolina, where he opened the year .267/.388/.406 with three homers in 101 at-bats, before getting promoted to Louisivlle last week. After going 1-for-8 in his first two games, Alonso broke out with a 4-for-5 night with six RBIs last Saturday in Rochester. He's had hits in each of his three games since then and is up to .370/.433/.556 (10-for-27) after six games.
Aeros Nearly No-Hit Altoona
Three pitchers for Double-A Akron (Indians) combined on a one-hit shutout of Altoona. Lefthander Scott Barnes started the evening for the Aeros, tossing 5 1/3 hitless innings, striking out five and walking four. The start continued what's been an up-and-down season so far for Barnes. The 22-year-old, who came over from the Giants in the Ryan Garko trade last year, has carried no-hitters through five innings twice in eight starts (he was pulled after five no-hit innings on April 14), but has also been touched up for five earned runs or more on three occasions, leading to his 0-4, 7.20 line entering last night. Barnes isn't overpowering, relying on location and a deceptive delivery, but he had it working last night, picking up his first win of the year to improve to 1-4, 6.11.
Righthander Steven Wright relieved Barnes in the sixth and kept the no-hit bid alive through seven innings. Wright was replaced by righthander Omar Aguilar to start the eighth, but Aguilar gave up a leadoff single to Curve center fielder Gorkys Hernandez before finishing the night, forcing the Aeros to settle for the one-hitter and a 2-0 win.
Matz Goes Under The Knife
Mets lefthander Steve Matz had Tommy John surgery on Tuesday, knocking him out for this season and putting him on track to make his pro debut late in 2011. A second-round pick last year, he has yet to throw a pro pitch because he signed at the Aug. 17 deadline for an above-slot $895,000 bonus. Matz, a Long Island native, turns 19 on Friday.
While it's common for pitchers drafted out of high school to delay their pro debuts until the year following their selections, very few wait two years. One recent example is Angels righthander Jon Bachanov, a supplemental first-round pick in 2007, who had TJ surgery after signing and did not make his debut until ’09. Tigers lefty Casey Crosby, taken in the fifth round in ’07, returned from TJ surgery in time to make three appearances in the Gulf Coast League in ’08, but he wasn't at full strength until the ’09 season.
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