Two of the top college righthanders available in the 2010 draft, North Carolina's Matt Harvey and Georgia Tech's Deck McGuire went off the board at Nos. 7 and 11, respectively. Both signed too late to play last season for the Mets or Blue Jays, but they've made strong pro debuts in the high Class A Florida State League and will play opposite each other in the league's all-star game on Saturday.
Both Harvey and McGuire pitched yesterday, lining them up perfectly to throw again in five days. (After that, perhaps a bump to Double-A awaits)
Keyed by home runs by right fielder Cesar Puello and center fielder Matt den Dekker, the St. Lucie Mets defeated Jupiter 7-4. Harvey allowed only one run on six hits through five innings, striking out eight and walking two. The 22-year-old ranks fifth in the league's ERA race (2.44), but he shares the FSL lead with eight wins and 88 strikeouts. He sports a nifty 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 70 innings.
Harvey endured a couple rough starts in early May, but in his last six turns he's gone 4-0, 1.87 with 46 whiffs and 10 walks in 33 2/3 innings. He allowed two home runs in that time, both in the same start.
Pitching for Dunedin, McGuire turned in one of his finest starts yesterday, allowing only one run against Tampa over seven innings. The Blue Jays prevailed 2-1 as McGuire struck out eight, walked two and allowed just three hits. With 70 whiffs in 70 1/3 innings on the year, he ranks fifth in the FSL (and three spots behind Harvey) with 8.8 strikeouts per nine.
In his last six starts, McGuire has gone 3-1, 3.38 with a 37-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 34 2/3 innings.
AROUND THE MINORS
• Red Sox catching prospect Ryan Lavarnway earned a promotion to Triple-A by slugging 14 home runs to rank second in the Double-A Eastern League. Making his debut for Pawtucket, the 23-year-old went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles yesterday. "It’s time to challenge him," Red Sox farm director Mike Hazen told correspondent Alex Speier. "This is a pretty good bat here, and he needs to face better pitching." In 99 games for Portland, stretching back to last season, Lavarnway batted .284/.375/.503 with 22 homers and 77 RBIs. Follow the link above to read about the young catcher's defensive development and his Triple-A time-share situation with Luis Exposito.
• Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre righty Andrew Brackman walked five batters in an April 29 start, precipitating a total loss of control that continued yesterday in the 25-year-old's first relief appearance of the year. Pitching in relief of George Kontos, Brackman entered in the fifth inning, worked out of trouble and then departed with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth. He threw 21 of 45 pitches for strikes and six of 10 batters he faced reached (via three hits, two walks and a hit batsman). In his last seven starts for Scranton, Brackman went 0-5, 7.50 with 30 strikeouts and 33 walks in 36 innings. In that time, he worked around an average of two baserunners per inning, considering hits, walks and HBPs. Indianapolis-based freelancer Pete Cava reports that following Brackman's rocky June 2 start against the Indians that he "sat quietly in front of his locker after the contest. 'I don’t know,' Brackman said. 'Just no control. It started in the bullpen and went on into the game.' "
• Brackman's Scranton teammate Jesus Montero connected for his fifth homer of the season yesterday, going 2-for-4 with three RBIs. The catcher had gone 3-for-23 (.130) in seven June games up to that point, contributing a double and no RBIs. Montero now is batting .293/.339/.424 in 205 at-bats on the year.
• Triple-A Sacramento right fielder Michael Taylor connected for a pair of solo home runs off veteran righty Eric Junge in Salt Lake City. After a down 2010, Taylor's power appears to be making a comeback in Triple-A. After missing all of April and half of May, he's batting .296/.355/.490 with five homers through 98 at-bats.
• One of the Pacific Coast League's best all-around performers this season has been 25-year-old Diamondbacks outfielder Collin Cowgill. He went 3-for-4 with his 12th home run of the season yesterday. The Triple-A Reno outfielder draws comparisons with Cody Ross for his all-around game and also his right/left bats/throws profile. Cowgill ranks second in the PCL batting race at .375, third with 19 steals and fifth with a .440 on-base percentage. How much does hitting at home in Reno benefit him? Well, Cowgill's batting .417/.484/.713 with seven homers in 108 at-bats at Aces Ballpark.
• Double-A Arkansas center fielder Mike Trout built on his June boom by going 2-for-4 with two doubles (nine) and a stolen base (22) yesterday. He's up to 17-for-41 (.415) this month with a homer, a double, four triples and nine steals in 11 games.
• The Dodgers finally optioned corner outfielder Jerry Sands to Triple-A so that he could play everyday rather than rot on the bench. Back with Albuquerque, he's gone 6-for-16 (.375) with a homer (which he hit yesterday in Oklahoma City) and two doubles. Sands has had the good fortune to play 11 of his 14 minor league games this season in Albuquerque, where he's batting .432/.472/.841 in 44 at-bats.
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