ZEBULON, N.C.—Chris Withrow rolled through high Class A in 2009, reaching Double-A Chattanooga as a 20-year-old. The Dodgers righthander, who missed most of his first two seasons with injuries, looked poised to make the big leagues some time in 2011. That could still happen, but 2010 hasn't been nearly as smooth a ride for the Dodgers' 2007 first-round pick.
Withrow had lost his last four consecutive starts heading into Tuesday's outing in Carolina. He managed to avoid taking another loss, but that was about the only good news. Withrow's fastball, which sat regularly in the mid-90s last year and was 92-94 mph back in May, was mostly 89-92 mph on Tuesday, reaching 93 a handful of times. He threw almost exclusively fastballs early on and was hit hard, giving up five runs in the first two innings.
He settled down in the third and fourth, mixing in his running changeup more at 80-82 mph, along with his big curveball, which he struggled to control. Things came unhinged for him again in the fifth though, as Withrow served up his second homer of the night—he'd given one up to Devin Mesoraco in the first—to Carolina's Mike Costanzo. He wound up getting pulled after giving up a career-high nine runs (all earned) on 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings, ballooning his ERA from 5.29 to 5.84. He struck out five and walked two. The start was Withrow's eighth straight without a win, a stretch during which he's 0-5, 8.13 in 34 1/3 innings.
The only other consolation for Withrow was the damage he did with the bat, crushing a grand slam off Carolina's Scott Carroll in the third inning. That Withrow can handle the bat isn't completely surprising—he would've been a two-way player at Baylor had the Dodgers not signed him—but if you're looking for some trivial information, here's this: Withrow now has two career home runs, and both have been grand slams. He previously accomplished the feat last Aug. 21 against Tennessee.
• Jiovanni Mier, ss, Astros: Mier's advanced approach and smooth swing earned him top position prospect honors in the Rookie-level Appalachian League a year ago, but the low Class A South Atlantic League has proven a greater challenge. Mier, 19, hit just .221/.309/.296 through the end of July, but he's finally been heating up lately. Mier went 3-for-5 with a double and a triple last night, his third three-hit game over the last two weeks, and is batting .327/.346/.388 over his last 49 at-bats.
• Jake Brigham, rhp, Rangers: The high Class A California League wasn't kind to Brigham as he went 1-5, 6.93 in 49 1/3 innings with Bakersfield. But the 22-year-old, whose fastball can reach the mid-90s, has settled in since being dispatched to low Class A Hickory in late June. His 3.10 ERA in 52 1/3 innings there was inflated by one start in which he gave up 10 runs, and he was nearly perfect on Tuesday night. Brigham gave up hits to the first two Greensboro hitters he faced, then got the third to hit into a double play, and that was pretty much the end of the night for Greensboro's offense. Starting with double play, Brigham retired 26 straight hitters, fanning 12 of them, on his way to a two-hit, complete-game shutout.
• Jordan Lyles, rhp, Astros: As promised, Lyles made his Triple-A debut last night, pitching six innings for Round Rock in a losing effort against Sacramento. Lyles wound up allowing four runs on eight hits and gave up two home runs, but he did strike out nine. Lyles, a 19-year-old who became the youngest pitcher to appear in Triple-A this season, was still registering in the low-90s with his fastball as he struck out the side in the sixth to finish his outing.
• Andrew Lambo, of, Pirates: Lambo looks like he's put his tumultuous first half of the season behind him. Lambo was suspended for 50 games early in the season for testing positive for the second time for a drug of abuse and was hitting .271/.325/.420 in 181 at-bats for Chattanooga. Coming over to the Pirates in a deadline deal for Octavio Dotel looks like it's revitalized his bat though. Lambo, who turns 22 today, went 3-for-4 for Double-A Altoona last night and is hitting .406/.472/.594 (13-for-32) in eight games since the deal.
• Chris Archer, rhp, Cubs: Archer moved into a tie for the minor league lead wins lead at 14 with seven innings of one-hit ball for Double-A Tennessee, striking out eight. Archer, 21, won his sixth straight start for the Smokies and improved to 7-1, 0.58 in 46 1/3 innings there after starting the season 7-1, 2.86 in 72 1/3 frames at high Class A Daytona. He's a combined 14-2, 1.97 on the year.
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