Prospect Of The Day
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre righthander Daniel McCutchen (Yankees) struck out 10 Syracuse batters and walked none in a five-hit shutout yesterday, giving him his league-leading second whitewashing of the season. He might also be the hottest pitcher in the IL at the moment, seeing as in his previous start he completed six, six-hit, one-run innings. The 25-year-old McCutchen (2-6, 3.36) in his past two starts: 15 innings, 11 hits, one run, zero home runs, one walk and 15 strikeouts. Opposing batters can get the ball in the air against him, as he recorded four groundouts and 12 fly outs in yesterday’s game, and his home runs per nine (1.2) and ground/fly rate (0.71) at Triple-A are indicative of a fly-ball pitcher.
Two big league stints have produced just .154/.154/.231 averages for Richmond SS Brent Lillibridge (Braves). That’s in just 26 at-bats, but unfortunately his Triple-A performance is less than reassuring: .212/.276/.288 in 212 at-bats. The 24-year-old was 2-for-4 yesterday with a pair of doubles (nine), a run scored and his twelfth error. . . . Rochester LHP Francisco Liriano (Twins) continued to look good in his return from Tommy John surgery, throwing six shutout innings yesterday and giving up just three hits and a walk and striking out seven. He went a perfect 5-0, 3.93 in June, recording 38 strikeouts and eight walks in 36 2/3 innings. . . . Pawtucket RHP Clay Buchholz (Red Sox) had been just about flawless in June, going 4-1, 0.88 in six starts, with 30 strikeouts and nine walks in 30 2/3 innings. He wasn’t nearly as stellar yesterday (5 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 5 SO), but the 23-year-old righthander told The Woonsocket (R.I.) Call that he struggled with what he perceived to be an inconsistent strike zone, saying:
“It’s one of the few times I can say that a couple pitches, if they were called differently, would have reflected the final numbers. But the (home plate umpire) was squeezing both sides. If it’s a tight zone, you’ve got to throw where they’ve called it a strike. It was hard for me to do that today because every time I thought I threw a good pitch, I would have to throw something I didn’t think I needed to throw.”
Buchholz on the Red Sox’ guideline that he throw roughly 60 percent fastballs: “It doesn’t go through your mind when you’re out there. You’ve still got to pitch and you’re out there to win. At the same time, you can’t throw 15 straight fastballs. It’s just the scale they want you to think of.”
What To Watch For Today
The pitching matchup of the day is in Buffalo, where Syracuse LHP David Purcey (Blue Jays, 7-6, 2.77 with 107-34 K-BB) squares off with LHP David Huff (Indians, 2-2, 3.79 with 43-4 K-BB).
PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE
Prospect Of The Day
Iowa first baseman Micah Hoffpauir (Cubs) has made the most of his 35 big league at-bats this season, batting .400/.432/.571 with six doubles, but he hasn’t found a way to stick with the team yet. His trouble: Derrek Lee is really good, and the Cubs’ top bench bat, Daryle Ward, is also a lefty-hitting, first-base type. Hoffpauir, 28, went 3-for-5 for Iowa yesterday, with a home run (nine), a double (15), a run and two RBIs, pushing his season line to .356/.373/.712 in 118 at-bats. A 13th-round pick in 2002 from Lamar, Hoffpauir has some experience playing an outfield corner, but still has played just 11 of 47 games (majors and minors) there this season.
Oklahoma LF John Mayberry (Rangers) was 1-for-4 with a double (20) and a run scored. The 24-year-old is hitting for much-improved power this season, as evidenced by his .531 slugging between Double-A and Triple-A. If that mark holds, it would establish a new season high for him, besting the .479 he slugged for low Class A Clinton in 2006. . . . The up-and-down season continued for Memphis LHP Jaime Garcia (Cardinals), who struck out only one in 4 1/3 innings yesterday and gave up six runs on eight hits and four walks. Though his overall numbers are solid for a 21-year-old in Triple-A (4-4, 4.59 with 57-25 K-BB in 69 innings), Garcia in his past five starts has scuffled: 26 innings, 30 hits, 25 runs, 14 walks and 18 strikeouts—though he gave up just two home runs in that span.
What To Watch For Today
Oklahoma RHP Tommy Hunter (Rangers), a supplemental first-round pick in 2007, makes his second Triple-A start after giving up three runs in 6 1/3 innings in his first.