What to Watch at the Park
When the two leading home run hitters in a league are matched against one another, it’s an easy slam dunk for the series of the week. That’s what’s on tap starting on Monday in Winston-Salem when Joey Gallo and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans come calling. Pelicans third baseman Gallo has 10 home runs (although he’s cooled off of late) and Dash outfielder Courtney Hawkins is tied for second with Potomac’s Brandon Miller for second on the circuit with seven bombs.
Monday’s game also features the return of flame-throwing righthander Francellis Montas, one of the pieces the White Sox received in the trade that shipped Jake Peavy to Boston last summer. Montas, who missed the first part of the season with a knee injury, sports a heater that has touched 100 in the past but not regularly sits between 91-95 with flashes of 97 from time to time. He’s got a pair of average offerings in a mid-80s breaking ball and a changeup, but the cheese is his calling cards.
Besides Gallo, Myrtle Beach also brings with them hotshot catcher Jorge Alfaro and his cannon of an arm. He’s at .286/.327/.388 for the season with a pair of bombs, but has thrown out just 22 percent of the runners trying to steal. There’s also outfielder Nick Williams, a first-rounder who has struggled this season but stuck out last year among the Rangers’ pack of prospects at Hickory as the most polished hitter of the group.
Unfortunately, dynamic Dash shortstop Tim Anderson has a bum shoulder and will not play in this series.
MILB.tv Series Of The Week
If you can’t get to a ballpark, viewing Lansing at West Michigan on your PC, laptop or phone is a productive way to spend your time. Catcher Santiago Nessy, shortstop Dawel Lugo, third baseman Mitch Nay, outfielder D.J. Davis and righthander Alberto Tirado are among the standouts on a loaded Lansing club.
The Lansing lineup will probably have some problems, as West Michigan has the most successful pitching staff in the Midwest League. Four different Whitecaps pitchers are among the Top 10 ERA leaders for the league and the team as a whole leads the league in ERA by more than a half a run.
Admittedly, the Whitecaps have a number of 2013 college draftees who may be a little bit ahead of some of the younger hitters in the league, but a staff that includes Buck Farmer (3-2, 2.12), Austin Kubitza (3-0, 2.15), Kevin Ziomek (1-3, 1.69) and Jonathan Crawford (1-1, 3.04) is going to give anyone a challenge, especially when they are playing at their home-run sapping ballpark.
If there’s one thing that stays the same in the minor leagues, it’s that Phillies’ affiliates are always good for some creative promotions. From gnomes to Crazy Hot Dog Vendors, they know what they’re doing. This coming Sunday, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs will celebrate Mother’s Day by giving way the Kevin Frandsen wine toppers you see at right. So, moms of the Delaware Valley, kick back, put your feet up, crack a bottle of your favorite bubbly and let Frandsen keep the rest fresh.