There's no tougher league for a young pitcher than the high Class A California League, and there's no tougher park in the minors than Lancaster. After last night, it's probably safe to say Chad Bettis has conquered both.
The Rockies righthander went into Lancaster last night and fired seven shutout innings for Modesto, allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out 11, matching his season high. Bettis struck out at least one hitter in each of his seven innings, and he didn't allow a runner to get into scoring position until the seventh. After giving up a walk and a single with two outs in the frame, Bettis finished his evening by striking out JetHawks left fielder Daniel Adamson.
Bettis' above-average fastball and ability to work down in the zone have helped make him one of the Cal League's most effective hurlers in the second half. After going a modest 4-4, 4.30 in 84 innings in the first half, the 2010 second-round pick has led the league in ERA in the second half, going 7-1, 2.28 in 71 innings. He's won five straight decisions and hasn't lost a start since July 8, running his record to 11-5, 3.37 for the season.
AROUND THE MINORS
• We wrote in a Prospect Bulletin (subscription required) last week about low Class A Greensboro leadoff man Noah Perio and how there's reason to believe his power will improve as he gets older. After slugging .344 in the first half, Perio upped that mark to .492 in the second half with his first career two-homer game last night against Augusta. The 19-year-old second baseman went 2-for-5 and drove in four runs. Perio, the Marlins' 39th-round pick in 2009, tends to be overly aggressive for a leadoff hitter—he's drawn just 17 walks all year and none since Aug. 1—but the rest of his resume is hard to argue with, as he's batted .303/.332/.412 for the season while striking out just 57 times in 413 at-bats.
• Indians righthander Corey Kluber has largely had a forgettable season with Triple-A Columbus, carrying a 6-8, 5.91 record into yesterday's start against Pawtucket. But for one night, the 25-year-old had it working, tossing 6 2/3 no-hit innings and striking out 11. However, Kluber issued five walks on the night, and that proved to be his undoing. He lost his chance at a no-hitter when he was pulled after handing out consecutive two-out walks in the seventh, having thrown 113 pitches already. The Clippers lost out on a potential combined no-no when Red Sox catcher Luis Exposito singled to lead off the eighth. Kluber did get the win though, improving to 7-8, 5.61 in 135 innings.
• A day after most of his fellow 2011 first-rounders were sweating out the signing deadline, Braves top pick Sean Gilmartin threw four shutout innings in his second appearance for low Class A Rome. The lefthander struck out four and gave up one hit and one walk. The 28th overall pick from Florida State, Gilmartin hasn't allowed a run in 6 2/3 innings of work with the R-Braves.
• The odyssey that has been Tyler Matzek's 2011 season continued yesterday, as the 20-year-old lefthander made his sixth start since rejoining low Class A Asheville. The good news was that Matzek limited Savannah to two runs on two hits in seven innings and struck out six. The bad news was that he handed out seven walks and hit a batter. He lowered his ERA to 5.44 in nine starts overall with Asheville, and he's 2-2, 3.18 in 34 innings since returning in mid-July. Since his return, he has both the most strikeouts (40) and most walks (27) of any South Atlantic League pitcher.