See also: Monday’s Daily Dish
See also: Today’s Baseball America Prospect Report
Double-A Wichita righthander Zack Grienke took another step toward returning to the big leagues, shutting down San Antonio for seven innings Monday in the Wranglers’™ 11-3 win.
And Greinke knew that if he’™d not pitched well, he’™d have wound up taking an extraordinary amount of heat from his teammates. Greinke received permission to leave the club on Saturday from its recent road trip in Corpus Christi, paying for a flight back to Wichita in order to get two full days of well-deserved rest.
The 22-year-old righthander has pitched very well since the all-star break, a streak that began with a nine-inning complete game, 12-strikeout performance against Springfield on July 3. Since then, Grienke’™s gone 4-1, 2.74 with a 63-8 strikeout-walk ratio.
“He got some well-deserved rest and we got a well-deserved and well-needed pitching performance,” Wranglers manager Frank White told the Wichita Eagle. “Our bullpen is pretty shot.”
Greinke struck out seven, walked one, and allowed a run on five hits in the Wranglers’™ 10th straight win against the Missions.
“My fastball command was pretty good, but I would have liked for it to be a little more accurate,” Greinke told the paper. “I threw a lot of strikes, but some of them were over the plate more than I wanted them to be.”
Greinke allowed his lone run in the first inning, but then settled in and retired 11 in a row after a leadoff triple in the second by San Antonio outfielder Sebastien Boucher.
“(I thought) I’ll give up that run and limit the damage, because we’re going to score at least one run before the game’s over, more than one likely,” Greinke said.
And with the kind of offense Wichita has been putting up recently, that statement is a no-brainer’"in the Wranglers’™ recent 17-game road trip, they averaged 7.70 runs per outing.
Monday, the potent combination of third baseman Alex Gordon and outfielder Billy Butler once again delivered, as they combined to go 5-for-9 with three RBIs and four runs scored.
The Texas League MVP-caliber numbers Gordon has put up, as well as Butler’™s remarkable consistency in his first season in Double-A, generally have overshadowed Greinke’™s return to form. He’s 6-2, 4.64 for Wichita this season overall, all since leaving the big league club during spring training for personal reasons. His problems off the field helped lead to his collapse on it, as he went just 5-17, 5.80 in Kansas City last season.
“I think Zack is on the right track now, I really do,” Wranglers pitching coach Larry Carter said. “He’s around a group of guys that’s a great group of guys. What more could you want than to be on a team like this? There’s great players on this team.
“Everybody looks up to Zack because of where Zack’s been. If you knew Zack, you would never know he had two years in the major leagues (with the Royals). He’s been very good lately. I think he’s really happy and having fun doing what he’s doing.”
Lind Comes Through Again
Adam Lind’™s prospect stock is on the rise as he continues to hit at Triple-A Syracuse, where he’™s recorded hits in nine of 13 August games. His two hits last night pushed his line to .362/.480/.586 in 58 at-bats with 14 walks and 11 strikeouts for the SkyChiefs.
Lind, 23, spent most of the year with Double-A New Hampshire where the left fielder was a near-unanimous pick with managers as the Eastern League’™s best hitting and power prospect. He hit .310/.357/.543 for the Fisher Cats with 19 home runs.
Lind, a third-round pick in 2004, had a rare chance at redemption in Sunday’™s game, when he atoned for a ninth-inning error that allowed Ottawa to rally and tie the game. In the bottom half of the inning, he crushed a Julio Manon 1-0 fastball over the right-center field fence to give Syracuse the 3-2 win.
“I’m sure Adam felt bad about losing that ball, but he has a short memory,” Syracuse manager Mike Basso told the Syracuse Post-Standard. “He’d be a good field-goal kicker.”
Overall, Lind is hitting .316/.376/.550 with 22 home runs, 28 doubles and 78 RBIs in 109 games. He has 39 walks and 98 strikeouts in 402 at-bats.
• Pirates righthander John Van Benschoten made his first Double-A start since 2003, as he continues to return from three arthroscopic surgeries on both shoulders. Van Benschoten, Pittsburgh’™s first-round pick out of Kent State in 2001, allowed a pair of runs on three hits over five innings in Double-A Altoona’™s 4-2 win against Connecticut. He struck out three and walked three.
• The Royals have added Luke Hochevar to the roster for low Class A Burlington and he joined the club yesterday. The first overall pick in this June’™s draft is scheduled to make his debut Wednesday night against South Bend. He should face off against Justin Upton, the No. 1 overall pick from the 2005 draft, who has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games.
• While in State College, Pa., to take on the Spikes, Vermont righthander Ricky Shefka was held up at gunpoint and robbed by three unidentified assailants. According to the Centre Daily Times, Shefka was stopped early Sunday morning and a gun was held to his face. Shefka was ordered to hand over his money ($60) and a gold necklace before being beaten unconscious. Once he regained consciousness, he managed to make it back to the team hotel before being taken to the hospital.
A 20th-rounder pick in 2005 out of Old Dominion, Shefka began the season at low Class A Savannah before a recent demotion to Vermont. The 22-year-old threw three scoreless innings in his one appearance for the Lake Monsters last Friday. In 55 innings for Savannah, the righthander was 2-5, 6.42.
• The Giants’ farm system has had a rough year, with many top prospects struggling either with injuries or poor performances, but lefthander Jonathan Sanchez has been a significant exception. He pitched well in Double-A (1.15 ERA, 46 strikeouts in 31 innings at Connecticut) and in the major league bullpen (1.37 ERA in 20 innings) before being sent to Triple-A to stretch his arm back out as a starter. His second start for Triple-A Fresno was outstanding, as he went 5 2/3 innings without giving up a hit. Manager Shane Turner removed him due to his pitch count (78, according to the Fresno Bee), and the Grizzlies’ bullpen went on to blow an 8-1 lead against Las Vegas and lost 10-8 in 10 innings.
• It’s all or nothing when Kala Ka’aihue steps to the plate. The first baseman has been the Braves’ most prolific slugger in the minors this season, with 27 home runs between low Class A Rome and high Class A Myrtle Beach. Since being promoted in late June, Ka’aihue, who was hitting .329 at Rome, has struggled keep his average above the Mendoza line.
But Ka’aihue has been on a tear lately. He’s hit a home run in each of the past four games–his home run in the 10th on Monday beat Potomac 10-9. He’s hit five home runs in 44 at-bats this month, and while Myrtle Beach’s prevailing winds have swallowed up many hitters, Ka’aihue has had few troubles with Coastal Federal Field. He’s hitting .230-7-13 at home and .221-6-18 on the road.
• Indians first baseman Stephen Head is on a power trip at high Class A Kinston. The 2005 second-round pick out of Mississippi homered for the second consecutive game in Kinston’s 12-11 win against Salem, giving him four home runs over his last seven games. His five long balls in just 13 August games are more than he has hit in any other full month this season, and his .267 batting average this month would be his highest mark for a month. Head is riding a five-game hitting streak, lifting his season average to .227. He had bottomed out at .209 on July 10.
• Triple-A Norfolk hitting coach Howard Johnson was back in uniform yesterday after serving a 10-game suspension for leaving the team without permission earlier this month. Johnson was suspended Aug. 4 after returning from his son’s baseball tournament, which the organization had denied him permission to attend.
Contributing: J.J. Cooper, Aaron Fitt, John Manuel, Matt Meyers.