BAPR Plus: August 1

You get to read about great pitching performances in BAPR Plus everyday, but today one of the main stories is the struggles of two first-round pitchers from the 2006 draft. Luke Hochevar saw his ERA climb above 5.00 while Daniel Bard now has 52 walks in 55 2/3 innings as both were battered on Tuesday.

Triple-A

Cliff Lee expected to be pitching in the same rotation with Jeremy Sowers, but he didn’t expect that it would be in Buffalo. The recently demoted Lee allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings in a loss to Syracuse.

J.P. Howell was outstanding, striking out 12 and allowing two hits in seven scoreless innings, but Chad Orvella and new acquisition Brian Shackelford gave up five runs in the ninth on three home runs as Indianapolis rallied for a 5-3 win.

Curt Schilling indicated he’s ready to head back to the majors as he threw seven scoreless innings for Pawtucket. Schilling’s arrival turned Columbus, Ohio into West Boston as 7,114 came to watch the righthander.

Garrett Olson was outstanding again. Olson threw eight scoreless innings to beat Ottawa. In three July starts after being sent down from Baltimore, Olson was 2-0, 0.43 with 23 strikeouts in 21 innings.

Mark DiFelice’s success has to rank among the most surprising stories of the 2007 season. You’ve read about DiFelice’s story in BAPR Plus before, but if you missed it, he’s a minor league journeyman who had to go to the independent leagues after being released by the Nationals. But he picked up a cutter that has turned his career around. DiFelice allowed no hits in five innings yesterday, lowering his overall ERA for the season to 1.49. He’s allowed no runs in three of his four Triple-A starts and now has a 0.89 ERA in seven starts overall.

Luke Hochevar’s bad season got a lot worse last night. Hochevar gave up nine runs in 4 1/3 innings against Colorado Springs, raising his Triple-A ERA to 7.08. His overall ERA this year is an ugly 5.12 as he’s given up 132 hits (and 19 home runs) in in 114 innings. Ian Stewart homered twice off of Hochevar.

Double-A

Matt Antonelli hit his fourth Double-A home run in the first game of a doubleheader with Corpus Christi and doubled in the nightcap. Antonelli is now hitting .407/.493/.678 since being promoted to San Antonio in mid July, but the Hooks pulled off a sweep of the doubleheader.

Trevor Plouffe went 3-for-4 with a double as New Britain beat Erie.

Justin Masterston was still effective but not nearly as dominant in a Portland’s 4-3 win over Bowie. Masterson gave up two runs in seven innings while striking out three. It was the first time in five Double-A starts that Masterson did not pick up the win.

Alan Horne picked up his 10th win in Trenton’s 9-1 win over Binghamton. Horne lowered his ERA to 2.32 with six strong innings.

Gio Gonzalez held Montgomery scoreless for six innings before Reid Brignac helped speed his departure with a solo home run in the seventh. Once the Biscuits got Gonzalez out of the game they took advantage of the Birmingham bullpen scoring five runs in the final two innings for a 6-2 win. The Birmingham paper also notes that Kris Honel, the White Sox 2001 first-round pick, has left the Barons team and is considering retirement.

High Class A

Brett Smith was another victim of the Yankees exceptional starting pitching depth in the upper levels of the minors. To make room for Tyler Clippard and Chase Wright in Double-A Trenton, Smith was sent down to high Class A Tampa despite his 7-4, 2.97 stats at Trenton. But the demotion seems to have affected his pitching as well. Smith was battered for a second-consecutive start as he gave up four runs in three innings raising his ERA with Tampa to 0-2, 11.57. Jason Giambi had a single in a rehab appearance with Tampa.

Aaron Bates hit a pair of home runs and Brad Correll homered for a second straight game as Lancaster beat Rancho Cucamonga. Correll now has 17 home runs in 28 games with Lancaster. Lancaster has 172 home runs this season and is on pace to threaten the league record of 203.

Chris Nelson finished off July the same way he started the month. Nelson went 4-for-6 with a home run, double, four runs scored and four RBIs in Modesto’s 17-5 win over Stockton. Nelson hit .368/.424/.719 during the month. He hit nine of his 15 home runs during the month. Modesto’s Jeff Kindel extended his hitting streak to 26 games with a double.

San Jose’s Adam Witter was 5-for-6 with three doubles in an easy 18-5 win over High Desert.

Low Class A

If the Royals has cause to be concerned about Luke Hochevar’s poor season the Red Sox have to be completely befuddled by Daniel Bard. As a first-round pick coming out of a major Division I program, you would expect Bard would completely dominate low Class A, but he was beat up once again on Tuesday to raise his ERA to 5.53. Bard seems to have lost the ability to throw strikes–he gave up six runs, five of them earned, in 2 1/3 innings on Tuesday. Even more of a concern than the five walks are Bard’s three wild pitches–he now has seven in his last 5 1/3 innings. Greenville ended up winning 11-9 in 14 innings.

Greensboro’s Kyle Winters allowed two hits in a seven-inning shutout to help the Bats earn a split of their doubleheader against Savannah.

Rafael Gonzalez’ turnaround continues. The enigmatic Reds righthander is making the most of his third chance at pitching in Dayton. Gonzalez allowed one unearned run in five innings to pick up his 11th win.

Daniel Perales hit a pair of home runs as part of a 4-for-6, six RBI night as South Bend beat Quad Cities.

Heath Rollins threw seven more scoreless innings in Columbus’ shutout win over West Virginia.

Asheville’s Andy Graham struck out 11 in a complete-game shutout of Lakewood.

Lansing’s Travis Snider hit his eighth home run of the season in the Lugnuts win over Cedar Rapids.

Short Season/Rookie Leagues

When the Cubs signed 2006 27th rounder Cedric Redmond as a draft and follow, they knew he would be a work in progress with some intriguing potential thanks to a fastball that touches 94-95 mph. The righthander gave up eight runs in his first two pro innings but since then he’s thrown nine scoreless innings for the AZL Cubs, striking out 12 while allowing only three hits and one walk. He struck out six in three hitless innings yesterday to pick up his third win.

Josh Collmenter struck out seven in six scoreless innings for Yakima.

Elizabethton’s Michael Allen struck out nine while allowing only an unearned run in five innings.

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