Thanks to a huge mass of wet weather across the Eastern seaboard, a good chunk of Monday’s scheduled action was postponed or stopped midstream. All of the Eastern League, all but one South Atlantic League game and all but two International League games were washed out. That, combined with scheduled, league-wide off days for the Carolina and Midwest League and just one scheduled game in the Florida State League, led to a very light slate around the minors.
The Tennessee Smokies have to be happy to leave Pensacola. Thanks to the Southern League’s reliance on five-game series, the Cubs affiliate was already going to get to see all five members of the Reds’ Double-A affiliate’s all-prospect rotation. But major league rehab assignments meant the Smokies also faced Mat Latos and Jonathan Broxton.
The Smokies may take another outing against Latos instead of the prospects. Two days after Robert Stephenson struck out 11 in only five innings of work, Reds 2013 supplemental first-round pick Michael Lorenzen allowed only four hits and no walks in seven scoreless innings as Pensacola finished off a 4-1 series win over Tennessee. Lorenzen struck out six. In comparison, Latos gave up five of the 10 runs the Blue Wahoos allowed in the five-game series. As a team, Pensacola recorded 57 strikeouts while giving up nine walks in 43 innings of work.
Lorenzen’s strong start was maybe the most encouraging of solid outings by all five of the Blue Wahoos’ starters—Stephenson, Carlos Contreras, Jon Moscot, Daniel Corcino and Lorenzen. An outfielder/reliever at Cal State Fullerton, Lorenzen threw only 45 innings in 42 appearances college and only another 21 innings in his 22 games in his pro debut, so his seven-strong innings were easily the longest outing of his pro career. Lorenzen needed only 78 pitches for seven innings of work.
The righthander did an excellent job of locating his 93-98 mph fastball down in the strike zone, mixing in his slurvy breaking ball once he got ahead of hitters. Lorenzen allowed only one ball out of the infield in the first four innings as he carried a perfect game into the fifth. Twelve of the 13 outs recorded on balls in play came on ground outs, giving Lorenzen an astronomical 12-to-1 ground out to fly out ratio (there were two double plays). Even the hits he allowed were largely grounders.
Lorenzen will have to string together more of these outings to prove that his future is in a rotation and not a bullpen. His delivery begins with a stab in the back that has concerned some scouts about how it will affect his control and he has to improve his changeup, but the Reds have had plenty of success with taking college fresh-armed relievers and turning them into useful pro starters. The best example is 2011 third-round pick Tony Cingrani, who jumped from the Rice bullpen to the Reds’ rotation in only two seasons. Zach Stewart, a third-round pick out of Texas Tech in 2008, has not had the same big league success that Cingrani has, but he was an impressive prospect at one point and did play a key part in the Reds’ acquisition of Scott Rolen in a 2009 trade.
• Craig Breslow, LHP (Triple-A Pawtucket): Originally slated to enter in a more typical relief scenario, Breslow was shifted into the starter’s role because of the aforementioned inclement weather. He threw a scoreless frame on 10 pitches before yielding to scheduled starter Chris Hernandez.
• Cody Ross, OF (Triple-A Reno): Ross went 1-for-3 with an RBI in his fourth straight rehab game with the Aces.
• Brian Wilson, RHP (High Class A Rancho Cucamonga): In his second rehab appearance with the Quakes, Wilson pitched a scoreless first inning with a hit and a strikeout.
TRIPLE-A (Prospect rank in parentheses)
Syracuse right fielder Eury Perez collected two hits in his team’s loss to Pawtucket. Although he’s got the chops to man center field (and his bat would play better there, too) in the Chiefs’ all-prospect outfield, Perez has shifted to right to accommodate the more touted Brian Goodwin. … Durham center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (No. 10), who has batted in the Nos. 1, 2 and 6 holes already this season, went 1-for-4 with two runs and a stolen base in the Bulls’ win over Charlotte. Kiermaier has everything you’d like to see in a center fielder: Plus-plus range, an above-average arm and blazing speed on the basepaths. He sprays line drives all over the park, but doesn’t hit for much power. … Memphis outfielder Stephen Piscotty (No. 4), who is part of the minors’ best outfield, collected two hits in a loss to Omaha. … Iowa third baseman Christian Villanueva (No. 13) slugged a three-run home run in a win over Nashville. Villanueva, who came over in the Ryan Dempster trade with the Rangers, doesn’t carry the prospect cachet of infield-mate Javier Baez, but he did slug 23 home runs last year between high Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee. … Oklahoma City first baseman Jon Singleton (No. 7), who came clean this winter about his struggles with marijuana and alcohol, doubled twice. He’s adding the last bits of seasoning before heading to Houston. … Albuquerque OF Joc Pederson (No. 1) went 2-for-3 with a home run, three runs and two walks against Reno. Pederson is knocking on the door of the majors, and that knocking could get even louder if Yasiel Puig has to miss extended time with his sore thumb. … Giants catching prospect Andrew Susac collected his first home run of the year for Fresno.
A shoulder injury kept Atlanta RHP J.R. Graham (No. 3) from pitching more than eight games with Double-A Mississippi last year, as well as instructional league. He made his season debut on Monday and needed just 63 pitches to silence Mobile for five no-hit innings. He walked one and struck out three. With pitchers dropping like flies in Atlanta, Graham could be a valuable commodity this summer if he keeps performing. … Diamondbacks RHP A.J. Schugel (No. 20 in Angels system before trade), acquired this offseason in the trade that also netted Mark Trumbo for Arizona, fanned nine in his season debut with the BayBears. Schugel works mainly with a 90-92 mph sinking fastball and complements the pitch with a changeup and curveball. … Rockies catching prospect Tom Murphy connected on his second home run of the year for Tulsa, a pinch-hit blast in the 11th. … Padres OF Rymer Liriano (No. 6), who had Tommy John surgery in Feb. 2013, was 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs. … Midland OF Billy Burns, who turned heads in the spring with his blazing speed, stole his fourth bag of the season. … Astros OF Delino DeShields Jr. (No. 13) hit his first home run of the season on Monday. He had five all of last year. … Rangers 2B Rougned Odor (No. 1) connected on his first longball of the year. … Angels OF Zach Borenstein (N0. 9) stole four bases on Monday. That’s pretty amazing on any night, but it’s downright mind-boggling when you realize he stole five all of last year.
HIGH CLASS A
Brewers OF Tyrone Taylor (No. 2) doubled three times off of Cubs prospect Rob Zastryzny in the only Florida State League game of the day. … In the same game, Cubs infield prospect Jeimer Candelario (No. 8) collected two hits, including his first triple of the year. He scored once, drove in a run and made two errors. … Houston 3B Rio Ruiz (No. 11) delivered a walk-off win for the Jethawks with a two-run double in the bottom of the ninth. … In the same game, Astros RHP Vince Velasquez (No. 6) whiffed five over four perfect innings to give his team time to rally. … Astros SS Trevor Story (No. 9), coming off a down year with Modesto in 2013, hit for the cycle on Monday, and collected five hits overall, scored twice and drove in two more runs. … Mariners OF Gabriel Guerrero (No. 13), the nephew of Vladimir Guerrero, hit his second homer of the year on Monday, putting him halfway to his season total last year with low Class A Clinton. … Three of Oakland’s top 30 prospects—SS Daniel Robertson (No. 10), 2B Chad Pinder (No. 15) and C Bruce Maxwell (No. 28)—collected their first homers of the season. … Dodgers SS Corey Seager (No. 2) collected three hits in his team’s win in 12 innings over Inland Empire.
LOW CLASS A
The only game of the day at this classification was a doozy, featuring a slugfest between Greensboro and Lakewood. Phillies SS J.P. Crawford (N0. 3), who has hit in every game this season, collected four more knocks, including a go-ahead homer in the 11th inning of Lakewood’s loss. He also doubled. … Outfielder Dylan Cozens (No. 22) also collected four hits including a double, impressive for someone who has questions regarding his hit tool. It was the first four-hit game of Cozens’ career. … Greensboro teammates Austin Dean (No. 14) and Avery Romero (No. 9) were a combined 5-for-11 with three doubles, two runs and two RBIs in the win.