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Baseball America's Daily Dish
Complete Daily Dish Archive

Compiled by Kevin Goldstein, Chris Kline and Matt Meyers
May 5, 2005

If you could go anywhere to see any series in the minors this weekend, where would it be?

Well, this weekend in particular, it might be best if you could clone yourself twice and get on planes to Tucson; Portland, Maine; and yes, even little Zebulon, N.C.--population, 4,046.

Triple-A Fresno and Matt Cain visit Tucson, where the 20-year-old righthander will start on Mother's Day this Sunday. There will no doubt be great matchups as Cain takes on Tucson outfielders Carlos Quentin and Conor Jackson, but the Grizzlies bring a big bat as well in outfielder Todd Linden. The Sidewinders lead the Pacific Southern Division, four games ahead of the last place Grizzlies.

Cain is coming off a rough start, laboring through 4 2/3 innings in a 10-6 loss to Las Vegas on Tuesday. Although Tucson swept the series in April, Cain did not pitch in that four-game set.

Probable starters for the series are lefthander Pat Misch (0-2, 4.32) vs. lefthander Mike Gosling (1-0, 2.00); righthander Brian Cooper (2-3, 5.19) vs. Darren Oliver (1-0, 6.38) and Cain (3-0, 2.67) vs. lefthander Chris Michalak (1-2, 6.26).

Meanwhile, in the Eastern League, Double-A Portland plays host to Norwich. The two teams have only played twice due to an April rainout, but offense was the story, as the two clubs combined for 27 runs in 18 innings.

The story might be a little different this time around, as the Navigators will have to face knuckleballing righthander Charlie Zink (2-0, 6.35), lefthander John Lester (1-0, 4.50) and righthander David Pauley (1-0, 2.28). The club will be without closer Cla Meredith, however, who was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday.

Norwich counters with righthanders Merkin Valdez (1-0, 2.70), Chris Begg (2-2, 1.82) and David Aardsma (3-2, 2.88).

But the Portland lineup features four of the top 10 leaders in hitting in the league--and boasts one of the best middle infield tandems in the minors in shortstop Hanley Ramirez and second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

Down South, Montgomery will visit Carolina. The two teams spilt a four-game set last week, when the highlight was Biscuits right fielder Delmon Young getting tossed and subsequently suspended for bumping the home plate umpire in a 13-0 Mudcats blowout. Young began serving his suspension immediately, sitting out the last two games of the series.

Both teams feature a bevy of prospects as well, as Carolina brings outfielder and Marlins' No. 1 prospect Jeremy Hermida, center fielder Eric Reed and shortstop Robert Andino to the table. And Montgomery is one of the best hitting teams in the minors. In addition to Young, the Devil Rays' No. 1 prospect, the Biscuits have outfielder Elijah Dukes, catcher Chris Isenia and shortstop Fernando Cortez, a rising star in the Southern League.

And of course, the Mudcats are throwing quality arms. Although while Josh Johnson and Scott Olsen won't pitch in the three-game set, righthanders Nick Ungs (1-2, 3.49), Logan Kensing (3-1, 1.52) and 20-year-old Venzuelan Yorman Bazardo (3-1, 3.00) are slated to take the mound.

Montgomery counters with lefthander Jon Switzer (3-1, 2.70), righthander Brian Lockwood (0-2, 6.86) and lefthander Chris Seddon (3-0, 5.64).

--CHRIS KLINE

DISH PIECES

In what has become an ongoing saga, Indians righthander Jeremy Guthrie looks like he might never figure it out. The Tribe's first-round pick in 2002 received a $3 million bonus, and still has yet to live up to any kind of expectations. Last night, Guthrie lasted just 1 2/3 innings, allowed seven runs on five hits and walked three in a 12-1 loss to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. After falling apart at the seams in Buffalo last season, Guthrie was reassigned to Double-A Akron, where he went 8-8, 4.21 in 130 innings before being called up to the big leagues as a middle reliever. When he's on, Guthrie's fastball tops out at 95 mph and his curveball and slider are plus pitches. The problem is he hasn't been on very much, particularly at the higher levels, which might come down to confidence. "You know he wants to go out there and do the job for his team," Bisons manager Marty Brown told the Buffalo News. "It's not that he's laying down. He's giving it his all. He's battling. It's a matter of consistency. He knows that and he's working to get to that. . . . He doesn't believe he can make a pitch, that's my opinion. I think he's trying to find a way to deal with that." On the season, Guthrie is 1-4, 9.78 with 13 walks, 12 strikeouts and has allowed 26 hits in just 19 innings.

Double-A Binghamton righthander Brian Bannister chalked up another victory last night, this time a 3-1 win against Akron. Bannister, the Mets' seventh-round pick in 2003, allowed a run on four hits over 6 2/3 innings, bringing his overall numbers to 5-0, 0.53 with 34 strikeouts and nine walks in 34 innings.

Two Pirates prospects made their Double-A debuts yesterday, as lefthander Tom Gorzelanny and second baseman Chris Stansberry played a big part in Double-A Altoona's 7-6 win against Reading. Gorzelanny spent the first month of the season in extended spring training with some minor elbow soreness, but went six shutout innings. He allowed two hits, struck out seven and walked two. Stansberry went 1-for-3 with a pair of RBIs. Stansberry, a fifth-rounder in 2003 out of Rice, was promoted from high Class A Lynchburg yesterday, where he batted .351/.468/.478 in 94 at-bats.

While the Pirates got Gorzelanny back, they lost lefthander Paul Maholm, who went on the disabled list with a left groin strain. He is expected to miss his next two starts.

The best pitching matchup last night occurred in the Eastern League, as Portland righthander Jon Papelbon and New Britain lefthander Francisco Liriano combined for 14 shutout innings before handing it over to their bullpens. Papelbon went seven innings, allowed three hits, walked five and struck out six. Liriano also went seven, gave up six hits, walked three and struck out nine in a 5-0 Portland win.

Double-A West Tenn left fielder Matt Murton just keeps hitting. Murton, a first-rounder in 2003 out of Georgia Tech, went 2-for-3 with an RBI in a 9-2 win against Birmingham. Murton is now hitting .426/.508/.584 with three homers and 19 RBIs in 101 at-bats. Righthander Ricky Nolasco allowed a run on three hits, earning his fifth straight victory of the season. Nolasco, a fourth-round pick in 2001 out of Rialto (Calif.) High, is 5-0, 1.03 with 38 strikeouts in 35 innings.

Class A Myrtle Beach lefthander Chuck James has been a consistent victim of poor run support this season, but the Pelicans gave him four runs to work with last night and James delivered. The Braves' 20th-round pick in 2002 went six shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out nine. On the season, James is 2-3, 1.26 with 50 strikeouts in just 30 innings. He's allowed only five walks, and lefthanders are hitting just .028 against him.

Orioles No. 1 prospect Nick Markakis went 5-for-7 with a pair of RBIs in a 4-2 loss to Winston-Salem Wednesday. Markakis, a first-round pick out of Young Harris (Ga.) Junior College, is hitting .311/.377/.433 with a homer and 17 RBIs in 90 at-bats.

High Class A Bakersfield leads the California League with a team ERA of 3.89--not surprising considering the Rangers' top two prospects, Thomas Diamond and John Danks anchor the rotation. But don't forget about righthander Edison Volquez, who picked up his third win of the season by blanking Rancho Cucamonga over seven innings, striking out 10 and allowing just two hits in a 15-0 hammering. Both Quakes hits came off the bat of red-hot shortstop Brandon Wood, while second baseman Howie Kendrick was held hitless for just the third time this season.

Lefthander Glen Perkins, one of five first-round picks by the Twins last June, is quickly making up for lost time after missing the first two weeks of the season with a sore left wrist. "His injury was a weird one--we don't know what caused it," Twins farm director Jim Rantz said. "It would only bother him on his breaking ball, but not his fastball. We just shut him down for a couple weeks and it went away." Perkins, who is from Stillwater, Minnesota and pitched at Minnesota, picked up his first win of the season, allowing one run over five innings in Ft. Myers' 5-3 win over Tampa. It was the first run Perkins has allowed this year in 11 innings, striking out 12. "We're just in the process of stretching him out," added Rantz. "But he's a lefthander with good stuff, and he could move quickly."

Mariners infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, who missed over two weeks after spraining his ankle on Opening Day, has been on a tear of late for low Class A Wisconsin. Cabrera, who has three hits in three of his last four games, is hitting .474 (18-for-38) on the season while splitting time at second base, third base and shortstop.

Diamondbacks righthander A.J. Shappi improved to 4-0, 2.20 by carrying a shutout in the ninth and pitching his first professional complete game in low Class A South Bend's 5-1 win over Clinton. A 2004 ninth-round pick out of UC Riverside, Shappi allowed five hits and struck out five.

It was a big night for prospect in the PCL last night. Rickie Weeks seems to be getting the hang of Triple-A. The Brewers' second baseman was 3-for-5 last night with two home runs and four RBIs for Nashville as he raised his season line to .292/.364/.584.

Weeks wasn't the only prospect to have a multi-homer game last night. The Giants' Todd Linden went 2-for-4 with his sixth and seventh long balls of the season. The former Louisiana State star now has six homers in his last 12 games and boasts a season line of .321/.421/.596.

Out of all the standout performances in the PCL, the hottest hitter might be Mariners shortstop Michael Morse. After going 2-for-2 with a walk last night for Tacoma, Morse is now 13-for-27 in his last eight games and is now hitting .309/.368/.489. He still has a ways to go to catch teammate Chris Snelling who is hitting .446.

Argenis Reyes continues to put together an impressive season in the Sally League. Reyes went 2-for-4 last night with a homer and drove in six for low Class A Lake County. It was only his second home run as a pro and he is now hitting .359/.393/.466. Reyes has been playing all over the diamond this season, with four games at second base, seven games at third, one at shortstop and five in the outfield. It is hard to say where he will end up, but it looks the Indians see him as a potential utilityman.

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