With an emphasis on development and protecting young arms, the minor leagues don't give us too many nine-inning no hitters, especially from legitimate prospects.
Yet yesterday Blue Jays righthander Kyle Drabek accomplished the rare feat, throwing nine no-hit innings in Double-A New Hampshire's 5-0 victory over New Britain. Drabek, 22, finished with just three strikeouts, but with two walks he faced one batter over the minimum, as he walked first baseman Erik Lis to lead off the fifth before erasing him when the next batter, DH Juan Portes, grounded into a double play. Drabek lowered his ERA to 3.20 in 107 innings with 80 strikeouts and 45 walks.
We're Going Streaking
Phillies second baseman Harold Garcia ended the suspense in the first inning, driving a single up the middle to extend his hitting streak to 37 games, a new high Class Class A Florida State League record. Garcia, a 23-year-old out of Venezuela, joined Clearwater on May 15 and has recorded at least one hit in 43 of his 45 games, with a batting line that now sits at .341/.400/.500 to go along with 17 steals in 22 attempts. He's a little bit older than most FSL prospects, but Garcia has some ability with the bat that could take him to the big leagues.
Don't Call It A Comeback
Eric Hosmer has never hit well in the minors before this year, so it's not really fair to call 2010 a comeback year for the high Class A Wilmington first baseman. Still, after a dismal 2009 campaign that left pro scouts less than enamored, Hosmer is showing why the Royals made him the second overall pick out of high school in the 2008 draft. Hosmer, 20, hit two home runs yesterday, giving him seven on the year and a remarkable .353/.430/.553 line in 342 plate appearances. If those home run totals don't jump out at you, remember that Wilmington is one of the toughest parks in the minors for hitters, and with 26 doubles, six triples, an isolated power mark of .200 and positive reviews on his raw power from scouts, there's no concern there. Even better, Hosmer has more walks (41, including five intentional) than strikeouts (32) and he's even added value on the basepaths with 11 steals in 12 tries. Oh, and he's hitting well against lefthanded pitching, too, a problem that plagued him a year ago.
Lamb On The Rise
Mike Montgomery deserved all the ink after the way he pitched early in the season, but injuries have sidetracked his season. Meanwhile the Royals have another lefthander in the midst of an outstanding season: 19-year-old John Lamb. While Hosmer put on a power display for Wilmington, Lamb took the mound for the Blue Rocks and struck out 10 and didn't walk anyone in 6 2/3 scoreless innings. With a 1.55 ERA in nine starts and a 65-13 K-BB mark in 52 1/3 innings since his mid-May promotion from low Class A Burlington, Lamb's name belongs in the discussion of the best lefthanded pitching prospects in baseball.
Matzek Coming As Advertised
With eight professional starts, it's become clear why the Rockies went well over slot to sign 2009 first-round pick Tyler Matzek. With eight strikeouts, one walk and two runs allowed in six innings yesterday, Matzek now has a 2.41 ERA in 41 innings with 47 strikeouts and 25 walks. Sitting with his fastball around 92-94 mph, Matzek, 19, has the stuff to overmatch low Class A South Atlantic League hitters, so with him it's mostly just a matter of shoring up his command because his raw stuff is some of the best in the minors.
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