The combination of Easter Sunday and winter-like temperatures throughout the Northeast and Midwest led to a small slate of games on Sunday, but there were some highlights, including Homer Bailey’s 2007 debut.
Homer Bailey’s spring training didn’t go as he would have planned, as he struggled before being quickly sent to minor league camp. But his Triple-A debut was nearly perfect as he allowed only one hit in five innings. Timo Perez’ home run was the one blemish on his Louisville debut.
“He threw some good curveballs, his changeup was OK, his fastball was pretty good,” Bats manager Rick Sweet said. “Overall he threw pretty good strikes.”
But there was one worrisome stat in Bailey’s first start. His command is thought to be the only thing standing between him and the majors, but on Sunday he threw only 42 strikes in 83 pitches.
Bryan Bullington’s return to the mound could have come under better conditions. The former No. 1 pick missed all of 2006 because of shoulder surgery. For his 2007 debut, he was greeted by 37 degree weather. It didn’t seem to bother him though, as he threw five scoreless innings.
if you want further proof that cold weather hurts hitters, check out the box score from Sunday’s Round Rock-Iowa second game. After Round Rock won 2-1 on a bases loaded walk in the seventh in the opener, the two teams combined for two hits in the nightcap. Chad Reinke and two relievers’ one-hitter topped Ryan O’Malley/Cory Bailey’s combined one-hitter.
Diamondbacks utilityman Mark Reynolds has picked up right where he left off in 2006. Playing third base, Reynolds hit his second home run and second double of the season on Sunday in Mobile’s win. But the play people at the park were talking about was right fielder Carlos Gonzalez’ throw that gunned out Enrique Cruz at second base.
“That’s a Gonzo-ism,” said Mobile manager Brett Butler. “He just lulled (Cruz) right there. He took his time, knowing if the guy goes, he had a good chance to throw him out.
High Class A
The hottest hitter in the minors right now is Lancaster outfielder Bubba Bell. Bell, 24, came into the season with seven home runs in two minor league seasons. He now has five home runs in four games and a streak of three straight games with home runs. The 2005 39th-rounder still has a ways to go to prove he’s a prospect, but he leads the minors in hits (12), home runs (5), RBIs (15) and total bases (29). While Bell helped lead Lancaster past Bakersfield, the Rangers had to be encouraged by Blaze catcher Taylor Teagarden’s day. The catcher went 4-for-4 on Sunday as he comes back after missing nearly all of 2006 because of rehab from Tommy John and a back problem. He also threw out the only baserunner who attempted to steal against him.
The Mariners are learning what the Royals found out before them–High Desert is death to pitchers. The new Mariners affiliate has seen plenty of offense and few untarnished ERA during the first four-game series of the season. High Desert and Inland Empire scored 88 runs in four games, capped off by Inland Empire’s 15-11 win on Sunday.
Braves prospect Eric Campbell had one of those moments players always dream off. Campbell led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk-off home run Sunday afternoon, snapping a 1-1 tie. As the Myrtle Beach Sun News explained, Campbell swapped to a shorter bat before his ninth inning heroics, as he hit a ball out despite winds that were blowing straight in.
“I never thought any ball would leave the ballpark today,” said Pelicans hitting coach Rick Albert.
Birmingham right fielder Thomas Collaro (White Sox) came within a double of hitting for the cycle on Sunday as he helped Wes Whisler pick up a win.
Low Class A
The Midwest League mercifully had the day off on Sunday, but that might not be time enough for everyone to thaw out from Saturday’s set of games. Of the five games that weren’t canceled on account of weather, all but one were played in sub-freezing temperatures. Dayton and West Michigan played in 28 degree weather with 15-20 mph wind gusts. Thanks to advance sales, the Dragons streak of selllouts continued, but few fans decided to use their tickets. Fort Wayne and Lansing are still waiting to play their season openers after their entire opening series was called for snow and cold.
If you bought the Baseball America Prospect Handbook, you read that center fielder Desmond Jennings has 80 speed that allowed him to lead the Appalachian League in steals despite not knowing much about getting jumps yet. He isn’t finding the South Atlantic League much more difficult. Jennings stole two more bases on Sunday to give him five for the season already.