Wednesday was all about pitching. Pitching prospects stood on mounds around the minors, with Chase Wright leading the way with a 10-K, seven-inning performance.
Devern Hansack was sent to Triple-A Pawtucket after a strong spring because the Red Sox wanted to stretch him out as a starter. He looked pretty effective on Wednesday as he fanned 10 in five innings against Durham.
Brian Bixler had four hits and Sean Burnett pitched effectively as Indianapolis beat Toledo.
Etanislao Abreu picked up hits in his first three at-bats on Wednesday, giving him eight consecutive hits before Colorado Springs finally figured out how to retire him. Abreu’s three runs scored helped lead Las Vegas to a 7-4 win. Abreu is now hitting .483/.484/.724 for the 51s.
Brandon Wood is heating up. The Angels’ third base prospect doubled and homered on Wednesday. He’s now homered in back-to-back games and has five hits in his last 13 at-bats.
Chase Wright has one of the better changeups in the minors. It was working again on Wednesday as Wright extended his scoreless inning streak to 14 with a dominating 10-strikeout, one-hit outing on Thursday. Wright allowed only three balls to leave the infield, as his two-seamer kept hitters pounding the ball into the ground when batters did make contact. For more on Wright’s night, read Anthony Coleman’s excellent game story that goes further than most beat writers in telling the story of that night’s star.
Yoslan Herrera made his U.S. regular season debut, allowing only one run and four hits in five innings for Altoona. His pitching coach gave him a thumbs up, saying he did a good job of keeping the ball down and showing a solid changeup. Third baseman Neil Walker made a key error in the ninth, but he made up for it by doubling in the 11th.
David Purcey struggled with his command in 2006, so the Blue Jays have to be encouraged by his first start in New Hampshire–seven strikeouts and one walk in 6 1/3 innings. Kevin Gray provides a very solid game story that explains Purcey’s path to the majors.
William Juarez threw seven shutout innings for the second-straight start while Xavier Paul doubled twice on a three-hit night as Jacksonville trounced West Tenn.
Birmingham starters had a 29-inning scoreless streak finally snapped when Gio Gonzalez two runs in the second-inning of Wednesday doubleheader. Adam Russell pitched six shutout innings in the first game and Gonzalez pitched quite effectively in the second game.
Brandon Jones’ walk-off home run gave Mississippi a 3-2 win over Carolina. Jarrod Saltalamacchia also homered for the second straight game.
High Class A
It’s hard to imagine that 2006 first-rounder Daniel Bard’s first two starts could have gone any worse. Bard lasted only 1 2/3 innings on Wednesday. He walked six batters while allowing five runs (three earned) to raise his ERA to 14.64. Admittedly Lancaster is a very tough place to pitch, but the three relievers that followed Bard proved that it can be done–they allowed only one unearned run over the final 7 1/3 innings as Lancaster rallied for the win.
Chaz Roe struck out the final five batters he faced thanks to an outstanding curveball and reliever Brett Strickland extended the strikeout streak to seven as Modesto topped San Jose 3-1 in a pitching duel.
We keep waiting for Justin Upton to start to turn his incredible tools into on-field production. A week into the regular season we’re still waiting. Upton left the hitter’s heaven that is High Desert with .190/.379/.333 numbers, but he did score the tying run in the ninth to send the game to extra innings Wednesday, setting up Visalia’s 9-4 win in the 11th. High Desert’s Aaron Jensen allowed only two unearned runs in six innings, keeping is ERA at 0.00. The rest of the Mavericks’ rotation’s ERA? 9.74.
Edinson Volquez was sent back to high Class A to help him completely rework his approach. His biggest focus is to regain the command that has left in. The early results aren’t good. Volquez was battered for eight runs in four innings thanks largely to six walks. Nick Blasi homered twice with a grand slam for Stockton.
Rancho Cucamonga can thank the big league club for their 6-1 start. The Quakes are 4-0 in games started by Jered Weaver and Bartolo Colon. It was Weaver’s turn again on Wednesday and he pitched well, striking out seven and allowing three hits in seven scoreless innings. He also had the quote of the day.
“I felt great,” Weaver said. “I wanted to get a feel for it, and pitch my game. My arm strength is getting better, about 95 percent. I need to get about 10 percent more.”
Stephen Head homered and then helped set up the game-winning run the 11th to lead Kinston to a 2-1 win over Wilmington.
The Florida State League has about as impressive a night of pitching prospects as you will see with Andrew Miller, Chris Volstad, Ian Kennedy, Jacob McGee, Johnny Cueto and Deolis Guerra all taking the mound–and none of them proved to be the most impressive pitcher of the night.
It was rough night for former North Carolina starters. Andrew Miller didn’t struggle nearly as much as Bard, but he also was roughed around some on Wednesday. Miller allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. Cameron Maybin homered and doubled in the Lakeland loss. He added another home run in the second game of the double header.
The title of the minor league’s hottest pitcher is currently a battle between Sarasota’s Carlos Fisher and Trenton’s Chase Wright. Fisher offered his argument for the title with six more scoreless innings on Wednesday, although he struck out only two. Unfortunately there’s no link because the Sarasota paper’s site seems to be down. In the nightcap Johnny Cueto struggled a little, allowing seven hits and two runs in 4 2/3 innings.
Chris Volstad was a tough-luck loser as Jupiter edged Brevard County 4-2. It was a similar story for Deolis Guerra who picked up a loss while allowing six hits and two runs in five innings in his second start of the season, and Tampa’s Ian Kennedy lost despite allowing only three hits and one run in six innings.
Jacob McGee struck out six in six innings to finally give Vero Beach its first win of the season.
Low Class A
Mitch Hilligoss found himself in an unusual spot–batting leadoff–but the Charleston third baseman didn’t seem to mind the change. Hilligoss had three hits to lead the RiverDogs to a 6-2 win over Asheville.
The Rome Braves snapped a franchise-record five-game losing streak with an easy 11-3 win over Kannapolis. The Braves hadn’t even led a game this season until Wednesday afternoon. Center fielder Jordan Schaefer homered and doubled to lead Rome.
Lexington lefthander David Qualben mixed his pitches well to strike out 10 over five innings. Qualben has only a low-80s fastball, but it didn’t seem to matter against Hagerstown.
The entire Midwest League schedule was wiped out by rain and snow as bad weather continued to torment Norther clubs.