Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre will not make the International League playoffs for the first time in its five seasons as a Yankees affiliate. The club split a home doubleheader with Pawtucket yesterday, thus mathematically eliminating them from Northern Division contention. (A long-shot scenario exists: Scranton can win the wild card if it wins out and Lehigh Valley loses all its remaining games.)
Scranton didn't go down quietly. The Triple-A Yankees unleashed Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, the organization's top two pitching prospects, one after the other in each end of the doubleheader. Each pitcher threw a seven-inning complete game. Together they combined for 14 strikeouts in 14 innings while allowing a mere three hits. Scranton won Game One by a 3-0 count, but Betances allowed a two-run homer to Ryan Lavarnway in Game Two to account for all the scoring.
"It's a shame," Yankees manager Dave Miley told The Scranton Times Tribune. "I think (hitting coach Butch Wynegar) said it best. Our two kids gave up two runs on three hits, and we split. But they were outstanding."
Making his fifth Triple-A start, Banuelos collected his first shutout as he limited Pawtucket to one hit and two walks over seven innings. He struck out six to give him 30 whiffs in 32 2/3 innings for Scranton. The 20-year-old Banuelos allowed his first hit in the sixth inning when Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias grounded a single up the middle.
Betances avenged a poor start on Aug. 23 (nine walks in three innings against Rochester) by striking out eight Pawtucket batters over seven innings. He walked four but allowed just two hits, one of them the deciding two-run blast to Lavarnway.
"I just tried to go out there and throw first-pitch strikes," Betances told the Times Tribune. "Since my last start wasn't a good one, I just wanted to throw as many strikes as I could. Lavarnway is a good hitter. I threw him a 1-0 fastball, which he crushed. Other than that, I like the way I bounced back."
Around The Minors
• Scranton catcher Jesus Montero cracked his 18th homer in going 2-for-5 with a walk in the Yankees' doubleheader split with Pawtucket. His homer proved to be decisive in Game One.
• Boston's Ryan Lavarnway went 7-for-23 (.304) with a pair of doubles in his first taste of the big leagues this month before being optioned back to Triple-A. Expect the 24-year-old catcher to get a longer look in September, when the Red Sox figure to give him more than just two innings behind the plate as they rest Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek. But for now Lavarnway will continue his assault on International League pitchers. Yesterday he went 1-for-4 with a walk, a hit by pitch and his 17th home run for Pawtucket, spending one game of the doubleheader at catcher and one at DH. Factor in the 14 longballs he hit for Double-A Portland and Lavarnway has 31 homers on the year, which is rarified air for a catcher in the minor leagues. J.P. Arencibia topped 30 last year for Triple-A Las Vegas, while Mike Napoli did so for Double-A Arkansas in 2005.
• High Class A Tampa center fielder Abe Almonte ran his hitting streak to 30 games by going 2-for-3 with a double. Signed out of the Dominican Republic on July 2, 2005, Almonte has spent two full seasons at each Class A stop and owns just a .259 career average. He's batting .265/.330/.377 through 514 at-bats on the season, making him an unlikely challenger for the Florida State League hit-streak record, which Clearwater's Harold Garcia established last year at 37 games. Tampa has eight scheduled games remaining, including two doubleheaders.
• With a win on Sunday, the Elizabethton Twins clinched a berth in the Rookie-level Appalachian League playoffs for the seventh straight year. On Monday, Dominican bonus baby Miguel Sano went 2-for-4 and cracked two home runs (including an inside-the-parker) to push his season total to 20. Twins center fielder Eddie Rosario, a 2010 fourth-rounder, also went 2-for-4 and hit his 21st home run of the season. If 20 homers sounds like a high total for a 68-game schedule . . . well, it is. No Appy Leaguer had hit 20 homers since Greeneville's Mitch Eintertson blasted 24 in 2004. Going back to 1990, the only other 20-homer season belongs to Paul Russo of the ’90 Elizabethton Twins. He launched 22 that season, a mark that Rosario (the league's co-player of the year) and/or Sano could equal in today's Appy League finale.
Elizabethton manager Ray Smith, the Appy League's elder statesman, has served as Twins skipper since 1987, meaning that he managed Russo, Rosario and Sano.
• The Rockies' Wilin Rosario and the Blue Jays' Travis d'Arnaud, a pair of hard-hitting catchers, both hit their 20th home runs yesterday in Double-A. Rosario went deep twice (21) and also hit his 15th double while going 3-for-5 with three RBIs for Tulsa. He's batting .250/.281/.448 through 98 games, and the gap between his strikeouts (23) and walks (zero) is particularly stark in August. Playing for New Hampshire, d'Arnaud went 3-for-6 with homer No. 20. He's batting .315/.376/.545 for the Fisher Cats and leads the Eastern League in slugging.
• Durham lefty Alex Torres established a new Triple-A club record with 149 strikeouts. He fanned seven Gwinnett batters yesterday and allowed two runs on seven hits over six innings. The Bulls lost, allowing the Braves to pull within 2 1/2 games in the IL's Southern Division.
• Double-A Corpus Christi lefty Brett Oberholtzer seems to be growing more accustomed to the Texas League with each start after coming over from Atlanta in the Michael Bourn deal. Yesterday, he allowed two runs in six innings to San Antonio, striking out seven and walking one. In his past two starts for the Hooks, Oberholtzer boasts a 14-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 13 2/3 innings. He's allowed two runs on nine hits in that time.
• Low Class A Bowling Green lefty Enny Romero stifled Great Lakes over 6 2/3 shutout innings, allowing only one hit. He struck out six to give him 135 whiffs in 109 innings on the year. The 20-year-old Rays prospect ranks second in the Midwest League with 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings. Romero has gone 3-0, 2.31 in five August starts for the Hot Rods, fanning 31 and allowing 31 baserunners in 23 1/3 innings.
• Low Class A Asheville corner outfielder Corey Dickerson homered in a pinch-hitting appearance yesterday, giving him 31 bombs on the year. He could finish as high as second in the minors in home runs because the presumptive winner, Triple-A Iowa's Bryan LaHair, appears safe with 37 homers. (Double-A Tulsa's Tim Wheeler has 33 to rank second.) Dickerson has gone deep 10 times in August and eight times in his past 11 games.
• First baseman Neftali Soto went 3-for-5 with a homer for Double-A Carolina, giving him 30 bombs for the year and tying him with Paul Goldschmidt for the Southern League lead.
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