See also: Tuesday's Daily Dish
See also: Baseball America Prospect Report
Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond was off to a hot start in his return to the level where he probably should have started the season–high Class A.
Desmond, a third-round pick in 2004 out of a Florida high school, was pushed to Double-A Harrisburg to start this season despite hitting a combined .249 in 515 at-bats last year between low Class A Savannah and high Class A Potomac. He got off to a slow start with the Senators and never recovered, batting .182-0-3 with 35 strikeouts and five walks in 121 at-bats, so the Nationals finally decided to send him back to the Carolina League. Though Desmond is mature for a 20-year-old, the club was concerned about his confidence level.
"To say it wasn't a concern would not be honest," Nationals farm director Andy Dunn said. "You push the kids, you want to find out–are they ready? The only way you're going to find out if they're ready or not is to give them the opportunity. (We'd) rather find out than sit here wondering."
The Nationals want Desmond to work on developing a better plan at the plate and not chase so many balls out of the strike zone. And they want him to build his confidence.
"He just got off to a slow start," Dunn said. "I don't think it was mechanical. He was just so eager and so excited, he just got himself in a hole–there are good, mature arms in the Eastern League. But he never quit working."
The early signs at Potomac were encouraging. Desmond was eager to get back on the field and prove himself, Dunn said, and he was 5-for-14 (.357) in his first three games, including a two-double game in a 13-4 win against Lynchburg on Tuesday.
Low Class A was loaded with prospect pitching matchups last night, headlined by Cedar Rapids' Nick Adenhart against Omar Poveda of Clinton. Both pitched well enough to win, but both go a no-decision in a game Cedar Rapis won 5-4 in 13 innings.
Adenhart did not allow an earned run over seven innings while fanning seven and walking three, while Poveda fanned eight over seven innings.
Other intriguing matchups on last night's docket were Kane County's Jared Lansford versus Peoria's Mitch Atkins, Dayton's Johnny Cueto against West Michigan's Sendy Vasquez and Augusta's Shairon Martis against Greenville's Clay Buchholz.
Lansford has been extremely effective this season despite poor peripheral numbers, and those caught up with him last night. The Athletics righthander allowed three runs over five innings while walking three and striking out three, and his record dropped to 4-2, 1.54. His ERA is surprising when you consider he has a 16-19 strikeout-walk ratio in 35 innings this season.
His counterpart, Mitch Atkins, was not on the prospect radar prior to this season, but is pitching like a prospect this season. The righthander was a seventh-round choice of the Cubs in 2004 out of high school in North Carolina and allowed just one run over six innings Tuesday to improve his record to 4-0, 1.95. The 20-year-old has yet to allow more than three runs in any of his 10 starts and has 56 strikeouts and 19 walks in 55 innings.
The Reds' Cueto has been hot of late for Dayton but was pedestrian Tuesday, allowing three runs over six innings in a no-decision. The Tigers' Vasquez was far more impressive in earning his third victory of the season, as he allowed no earned runs over seven innings to lower his ERA to 2.55.
The one SAL matchup involved the least impressive performance of the night. Martis garnered national attention by throwing a no-hitter in the World Baseball Classic, but the Sally League has proven far more difficult. The righthander could not get out of the fourth inning last night as Greenville battered him for seven runs (three earned) as his ERA rose to 5.92.
Buchholz, a supplemental first-rounder of the Red Sox last June, threw five solid innings, allowing two runs while striking out four but did not factor in the decision.
• Three injuries of note: The Padres placed righthander Cesar Carrillo on the disabled list retroactive to May 25 with a strained right forearm flexor. Carrillo, who was called up to Triple-A Portland on May 19, had yet to make his debut for the Beavers. The Padres' first-round pick last year out of Miami went 1-3, 3.02 in 51 innings at Double-A Mobile . . . Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart has been out of the lineup since May 20 with a jammed right wrist. The Rockies' No. 1 prospect was hitting .245/.331/.445 in 155 at-bats at Double-A Tulsa. "All tests have been negative for structural damage in the wrist," Rockies assistant GM Bill Geivett said. "He is on a progression back to hitting but is still a week away at least." . . . The Braves placed outfielder Josh Burrus on the DL with a left oblique strain. The 2001 first-round pick, coming back from a shoulder injury that ended his Arizona Fall League season early, was hitting .178/.229/.218 in 101 at-bats this season at Double-A Mississippi . . . No word on any suspension or fine for Devil Rays outfielder Elijah Dukes after he was scratched from the lineup Monday for showing up late to the ballpark. Dukes showed up on time Tuesday, and ripped a hanging slider from Triple-A Ottawa lefthander Scott Rice for a bases-clearing double in Durham's 6-1 win. The 21-year-old outfielder is hitting .306/.404/.554 in 157 at-bats . . . . Rangers righthander Eric Hurley pitched well in his return from a short stint on the disabled list, but Rockies lefty Franklin Morales pitched better. Hurley, who missed 10 days with a right wrist sprain, allowed four runs–two earned–on five hits in five innings as high Class A Bakersfield lost to Modesto, 10-4. Morales gave up just two hits and one run while striking out six to improve to 3-4, 3.02 on the year . . . The Red Sox promoted righthander David Pauley to the big leagues to replace injured lefthander David Wells. Pauley was 2-3, 2.39 at Double-A Portland.
Contributing: Chris Kline.