Before we get to Tuesday's best performances by prospects, we'll first salute the efforts of Triple-A Columbus righthander Justin Germano. The 28-year-old tossed the first perfect game in Clippers history, which dates back to 1955, and the fifth in International League history last night in Syracuse.
Germano was making just his fifth start of the season after having shuffled between the bullpens in Columbus and Cleveland. Just five nights earlier, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre knocked him around for five runs on 12 hits in six innings. But no such issues surfaced yesterday, as Germano struck out seven, induced 11 groundouts and threw 69 of his 95 pitches for strikes. He went to a three-ball count only once and struck out Chiefs center fielder Corey Brown looking for the final out of the game.
"After three innings, I put it in (my head) so I didn’t make myself nervous," Germano told The Syracuse Post-Standard. "I knew it early on. But I didn’t want to think about it, put pressure on myself. You give up a hit, you give up a hit. I didn’t want to make it more stressful than it had to be."
Germano was originally a 13th-round pick of the Padres in 2000 from Claremont (Calif.) High. He made his big league debut in 2004 at age 21 and pitched for the San Diego organization until July 2005, when he was dealt to the Reds. Since then, he's pitched for the Phillies (2006), returned to the Padres (2007-08), made a sojourn to Japan (2009 with SoftBank) and signed with the Indians before the 2010 season. He has 253 innings of big league experience, mostly coming during his second stint in San Diego when he tossed 133 innings for the 2007 Padres.
Germano appeared in the Prospect Handbook six times, most recently in the 2006 edition after his trade to Cincinnati. J.J. Cooper wrote in the ’06 Handbook of a then 23-year-old Germano:
Picked up with Travis Chick in the Joe Randa deal from the Padres at last year's trade deadline, Germano is pretty close to a finished product. He made his major league debut at 21 two years ago but failed to establish himself in opportunities to join the San Diego rotation. None of his pitches stand out, though he'll flash a plus curveball. He has good movement on a high-80s fastball and an average changeup. Germano's strength is his feel for pitching, as he'll add or subtract velocity to get outs. He's a solid athlete with a fluid delivery and excellent command. That command got him in trouble at the major league level, as he nibbled too much. If he can improve his curveball, he has a chance to be a back-of-the-rotation starter. Unless injuries crop up to create an opening with the Reds, he's slated to start 2006 in Triple-A.
That curveball has continued to be Germano's best pitch, some recent adjustments making it a more dangerous offering.
"I actually made an adjustment three to four weeks ago on my (curveball) grip," Germano told the Columbus Dispatch. "I've been able to throw it a little bit harder and get more out of it."
AROUND THE MINORS
• Braves righthander Julio Teheran scattered eight hits over six innings to pick up his IL-leading 11th win for Triple-A Gwinnett. The eight hits were the most he'd allowed in a game since May 30, but he still limited Durham to one run and struck out nine, lowering his league-best ERA to 1.67 in 107 2/3 innings. Teheran threw 97 pitches, but his fastball was still sitting at 94-95 mph in the sixth.
Teheran was followed by righthander Arodys Vizcaino, making his Triple-A debut. The Braves moved to the 20-year-old to the bullpen a couple weeks ago with Double-A Mississippi in order to limit his innings. Since first full season last year was shortened by injuries, he's already exceeded his career high for innings with 91. Vizcaino came out throwing easy 95-97 mph heat, but he gave up a home run to the second Triple-A hitter he faced, the Bulls' John Matulia. Unfazed, the bounced back to strike out the next two hitters, ending his inning by making switch-hitter Felipe Lopez, batting lefty, look silly on a changeup.
• Another encouraging start for Tyler Matzek with low Class A Asheville. The lefthander struck out eight while limiting Greensboro to two runs on four hits in five innings. He did walk three. In two starts covering nine innings since rejoining the Tourists, Matzek has allowed two runs on six hits with a 14-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He also managed to pick up the win, his first in 15 starts this year between high Class A and low Class A, improving his cumulative record to 1-5, 9.35.
• It's mostly been a forgettable season for Royals lefty Chris Dwyer, but he may be getting things going in the right direction again. Dwyer made his longest start of the year for Double-A Northwest Arkansas last night against Tulsa, lasting eight innings and holding the Drillers to one run on three hits. He matched his season high with nine strikeouts and issued only one walk. It was a second straight quality outing for Dwyer, who improved to 4-9, 6.34 for the year. He allowed three runs in six innings in his previous start, snapping a streak of four consecutive outings in which he'd allowed five runs or more, which had ballooned his ERA to 6.96.
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