Julio Rodriguez doesn't overpower hitters, but the Phillies righthander still finds ways to get swings and misses thanks to his deception and feel for his craft.
One day after his 21st birthday, Rodriguez was at his best Tuesday night, throwing six shutout innings for high Class A Clearwater against Brevard County. Rodriguez limited the Manatees to one hit and two walks while striking out 10, his third double-digit strikeout game of the season. He didn't figure in the decision, keeping his record at 16-7, but he did drop his ERA down to 2.73.
An eighth-round pick in 2008, Rodriguez surpassed his previous career-high for innings pitched (90) long ago, as Tuesday's start brought his season total up to 152. We'll have to see what impact that has on him next year, but Rodriguez hasn't worn down at all as this year's gone on. In fact, he'd only gotten better. Rodriguez is riding a 22-inning shutout streak dating back to Aug. 12 and his 2.50 ERA since the midpoint of the season is the second best in the Florida State League.
AROUND THE MINORS
• Conner Crumbliss' bread and butter is his on-base ability. He led the minors in walks last year with 126 in low Class A and ranks fourth this year with 91 for high Class A Stockton. He'll never be known for power, but the Athletics' 24-year-old second baseman put on a show Tuesday. Crumbliss hit for the cycle in Stockton's 17-4 win against Modesto, going 4-for-6 with two RBIs and three runs scored. He singled in the first, doubled in the third, homered (his seventh of the year) in the fourth and finished the job with a triple to lead off the seventh. The Emporia State (Kan.) product improved to .273/.406/.388 in 407 at-bats for the year.
• The Rangers believed enough in righthander Justin Grimm's potential to give him $825,000 as a fifth-round pick last year in spite of his having an underwhelming college career at Georgia. Grimm has rewarded that faith with a solid first full season in high Class A, going 5-2, 3.39 in 16 starts for Myrtle Beach. The hard-throwing 23-year-old had his best start of the year Tuesday, working six innings and allowing only one hit (a solo homer) against Wilmington. He matched his season-high with eight strikeouts and had only one walk.
• You might have to go back awhile to find the last time Trevor Bauer got hit this hard. In another reminder that nobody's perfect, the fast-rising Diamondbacks righthander hit his first real speed bump since being the third overall pick in this year's draft. Making his fourth start for Double-A Mobile, Bauer recorded just five outs while getting hammered for 10 runs (all earned) on eight hits and three walks. After he'd allowed just four runs in 15 innings in his first three Mobile starts, his Double-A ERA ballooned to 7.56. But we're still betting he'll be fine.
• Dodgers left fielder Angelo Songco is making a push for the California League home run title, and a series in High Desert should help. The 22-year-old went 3-for-5 with a homer and two doubles the first game of high Class A Rancho Cucamonga's three-game set at High Desert last night. He's up to 27 homers for the season, two behind league leader Michael Choice's 29. Songco is finishing strong, hitting .363/.392/.714 in August and .312/.364/.576 for the year.