Monday's slate of Memorial Day games provided no performances worthy of commemoration for future generations. Still, a handful of pitching prospects charted progress at the Double-A level.
• Rockies 2008 first-round lefthander Christian Friedrich rebounded from a dismal May 25 start (10 runs, seven hits in 1 2/3 innings) to turn in his finest effort of the season for Tulsa. His game score jumped 63 points, from 10 to 73, in limiting Frisco to one run on just two hits over seven innings. The 23-year-old notched five strikeouts against one walk and recorded 11 of 13 in-play outs on groundballs.
Friedrich told Minor League Baseball.com that his success derived from changing speeds on his fastball and limiting free passes by filling up the strike zone. In 10 starts this season he's gone 4-3, 4.64 with 39 strikeouts and 16 walks in 52 1/3 innings.
• Like Friedrich, the Diamondbacks' Pat Corbin is a talented lefty who's taken his lumps in Double-A at times this season. He's been trending in the right direction lately for Mobile, turning in his finest work in late May and authoring his best start yesterday—seven shutout innings featuring three hits, six strikeouts and one walk.
The 21-year-old Corbin surrendered nine runs on 13 hits in a May 19 start, but in his other three starts since May 14 he's allowed zero runs over 18 2/3 innings to go with a 22-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Opponents are hitting an even .200 in that time.
• Opposing Corbin yesterday, and making his Double-A debut, was Braves 20-year-old righty Arodys Vizcaino. Prior to his promotion to Mississippi, Vizcaino had been practically untouchable for high Class A Lynchburg, with 15 strikeouts, three walks and just seven hits allowed in his final 19 Carolina League innings. He allowed just one run in that time.
Vizcaino struck out six batters and walked one in seven innings yesterday against Mobile, but three of the five hits he allowed left the ballpark. In fact, he allowed all five runs he allowed to score in the second innings. BayBears right fielder Marc Krauss and catcher Josh Ford connected for solo homers, while center fielder A.J. Pollock delivered a two-out, three-run shot.
• Mariners righthander Erasmo Ramirez spent two years in the Venezuelan Summer League and last season in the low Class A Midwest League. Seattle jumped him to Double-A Jackson this season and he's built on his résumé as perhaps the minors' finest control pitcher. In 364 2/3 pro innings he's has walked just 39 batters—or an even 1.0 per nine innings.
Unsurprisingly, the 21-year-old Ramirez, who hails from Nicaragua, leads the Southern League this season with just 0.58 walks per nine, and his pitch efficiency has landed him among the league's leaders in innings (62) and WHIP (1.08) as well. He allowed four runs in seven innings against Montgomery yesterday, on the heels of an eight-run shellacking the turn before, so his ERA has ballooned to 3.92.
Notably, Ramirez doubled his season total for walks by issuing two in yesterday's game. Last season he walked more than one batter in a start just five times out of 23.
Top Hitting Exploits
• Cardinals 2010 first-rounder Zack Cox connected for his first Double-A home run (and first extra-base hit). He's gone 6-for-20 (.300) with five walks and seven strikeouts for Springfield.
• Triple-A Omaha third baseman Mike Moustakas (Royals) rapped eight hits in 18 at-bats (.444), including two doubles, in a four-game series at Memphis.
• Double-A Tulsa center fielder Tim Wheeler (Rockies) went 3-for-5 to raise his average to .337. The leadoff hitter improbably leads the Texas League with 14 homers and 45 RBIs despite not collecting any of either in a weekend series at Frisco.
• Speaking of extraordinary leadoff batters, San Jose's Gary Brown went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two stolen bases yesterday (to give him 30 on the year). In his last seven games, the Giants center fielder has batted 13-for-31 (.419) with three doubles, eight runs scored and four steals.
• Angels center field phenom Mike Trout hasn't homered since May 9, but that's not to say he's gone quietly. He went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI yesterday for Double-A Arkansas. In 21 games since last going yard, Trout has batted .294/.422/.397 in 68 at-bats. That production includes five doubles, a triple, eight steals in 11 attempts and a 14-to-13 walk-to-strikeout ratio—a strong three weeks in the life of any minor leaguer, let alone a 19-year-old in Double-A.
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