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Baseball America's Daily Dish
Complete Daily Dish Archive

Compiled by Kevin Goldstein, Chris Kline and Matt Meyers
June 6, 2005

ZEBULON, N.C.--With the pitching staff at Carolina, you almost always get the pleasure of seeing an upper echelon prospect take the hill. And with West Tenn in town this weekend, not only was it a chance to see the two best teams in the Southern League face off, but it pitted the newly acquired David Aardsma against Carolina's Scott Olsen on Saturday night in what was the marquee pitching matchup of the series. The Diamond Jaxx entered the game with the best record in the minors, while Carolina had the third best mark.

In his first start against West Tenn, Olsen got shelled for five earned runs in only three innings in what was his shortest outing of the year. The Marlins lefthander took the mound determined not to let that happen again. From the outset, he clearly had command of his entire repertoire. He struck out Dwaine Bacon swinging on a 3-2 changeup to open the game and did the same to Matt Murton to end the first.

Aardsma, while not as dominant, was just as effective in his six innings of work. Through his first four innings, the only hit he allowed was a bloop single to Eric Reed. It was somewhat of a mystery, however, as he was constantly pitching from behind in the count and did not seem to have great command of his change. In six innings, he allowed only two runs on five hits with three walks and only two strikeouts. He appeared to want nothing to do with Carolina outfielder Jeremy Hermida as he walked him twice and hit him with a pitch in his third at-bat.

Olsen lasted seven innings and also gave up two runs, but he looked the part of a top prospect pitcher. His fastball sat around 93 mph for most of the game and he hit 95 a few times. While his slider is typically his out pitch, Olsen was getting better results from his change on Saturday. The Marlins top pitching prospect fanned nine and walked one and did an excellent job of challenging righthanded hitters on the inside part of the plate with his fastball while working his changeup away. Olsen is known for his moxie and that was apparent on Saturday.

The only time Olsen got in serious trouble was in the sixth when he allowed singles to Bacon and Ryan Theriot to open the frame. Unshaken, Olsen induced a groundball from Murton that turned into a 6-3 double play to squash the potential rally.

With the game tied 2-2 in the eighth, Reed was hit by West Tenn reliever John Searles on a 1-2 pitch, then stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Jose Reyes. After Robert Andino struck out, Carolina catcher Jason Hill drilled the first pitch from Searles for a two-run homer that gave the Mudcats the lead for good. Chris Resop came on for the Mudcats and pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 14th save.

While neither pitcher factored in the decision, Olsen is now 4-3, 3.68 with 74 strikeouts and 20 walks in 64 innings. In two starts since coming to West Tenn in the LaTroy Hawkins deal, Aardsma is 1-0, 2.45 with seven strikeouts and eight walks in 11 innings.

Carolina also won the second game of the series, 4-2 yesterday and tonight's pitching matchup rivals Saturday's showdown, as Mudcats righthander Josh Johnson (6-1, 2.63) faces West Tenn righty Ricky Nolasco (6-0, 2.64).

--MATT MEYERS

Four More Suspended For Drug Policy Violations

Major League Baseball announced today that four more minor league players have been suspended for violating the performing-enhancing drug policy. All four players have been suspended for 15 games as first-time offenders.

Angel Rocha (Diamondbacks), Mario Delgado (Orioles), Felix Romero (Red Sox) and David Smith (Blue Jays) were the latest minor leaguers to be suspended under the new policy.

Rocha, a righthander at low Class A South Bend, is 2-1, 6.98 in 40 innings; Romero, also a righthander at high Class A Wilmington, is 1-4, 2.48 in 29 innings. Smith, an outfielder at high Class A Dunedin, is hitting .268/.321/.425 with five homers and 29 RBIs in 179 at-bats.

Perhaps the most interesting is Delgado. The first baseman at high Class A Frederick led the Carolina League in hitting for most of the year, and is now third, batting .342/.395/.564 with 10 homers and 32 RBIs in 202 at-bats.

--CHRIS KLINE

DISH PIECES

Last week we reported that Double-A Portland outfielder Brandon Moss was heating up, but that was an understatement. In the last week, Moss raised his batting average 75 points and is now hitting .293/.370/.497 with seven homers and 26 RBIs in 167 at-bats. Over the weekend, Moss went 8-for-14 with a pair of homers and five RBIs against New Britain.

Speaking of hot weekends, Double-A Montgomery infielder Fernando Cortez went-8-for-10, upping his overall numbers to .343/.388/.435 in 207 at-bats. Cortez, the Devil Rays' ninth-round pick in 2001 out of Grossmont (Calif.) Junior College, has split time between second base and shortstop this season. While he has the range to play short, he profiles as a second baseman, where he is a much better defender.

Tigers righthander Joel Zumaya might still lead the Eastern League in walks with 39, but his command of his fastball that touches 99 mph has been much better over the last few weeks--and he also leads the league in strikeouts as well. Last night, Zumaya struck out 15 in seven innings in a 4-3 Double-A Erie win against Harrisburg, bringing his total to 99. On the season, Zumaya is 4-3, 3.72 in 68 innings.

Indians righthander J.D. Martin earned his first win since April 30 Friday night in a 5-3 Double-A Akron win against Bowie. Martin, who was on the disabled list for nearly a month with elbow discomfort, made his return to the mound May 29. Friday, the first-round pick in 2001 allowed two runs on four hits and struck out six in five innings. Martin is 2-0, 2.12 with a 46-6 strikeout-walk ratio in 33 innings overall.

Brant Colamarino is not appearing to have any difficulty adapting to Triple-A pitching. After the A's promoted him from Double-A Midland to Sacramento, he has eight hits in his first 24 at-bats and his third home run yesterday. He has also struck out three times and walked twice in the PCL thus far.

The Royals like what they see from J.P. Howell, and they are advancing him quickly--very quickly. The lefthander out of Texas made eight starts at high Class A High Desert and went 3-1, 1.96 in 46 innings before being promoted to Double-A Wichita. Howell made three starts as a Wrangler and was 2-0, 2.50 with 23 strikeouts and five walks in 18 innings. Apparently, that was all the Royals' brass needed to see as the 2004 supplemental first rounder will make his Triple-A debut for Omaha tonight against Nashville. Going against one of the PCL's more prospect laden lineups should be a nice trial by fire for Powell.

With seven homers in his last nine games, Hunter Pence now leads the minors with 21 bombs on the season. The Lexington outfielder homered in each game this weekend against Hagerstown while going 6-for-10. The Astros prospect is now hitting .343/.420/.721.

In his full season debut, Blake DeWitt has been pretty average when you consider he was thought to be the best high school hitter in the 2004 draft. Yesterday; however, the low Class A Columbus third baseman was spectacular. In helping the Catfish outslug Asheville 11-10, the Dodgers prospect hit for the cycle and added a walk while driving in four. The home run was his sixth of the year while the double was his 13th. The 19-year-old is now hitting .267/.316/.429.

Rangers righthander Edison Volquez made a sparkling Double-A debut Sunday, allowing just one run on two hits over six innings, striking out six in Friscos 2-0 Texas League loss to Springfield. The 21-year-old Dominican went 5-4, 4.19 with 77 strikeouts in 67 innings at high Class A Bakersfield.

Royals outfielder Mitch Maier had three hits in his Double-A Wichita debut on Saturday. The 2003 first-round pick was batting .336-8-32 for high Class A High Desert with a minor league-leading 26 doubles.

Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero entered the year as more of an organizational player, but hes putting up some huge numbers at high Class A Lancaster. The 21-year-old Venezuelan was 4-for-6 with a pair of home runs in the Jethawks 16-6 romp over Rancho Cucamonga yesterday, and is batting .362/.422/.629 with a minor league-leading 55 RBIs and has eight home runs in his last 10 games.

It seems we are noting a hot bat almost daily from the Giants affiliate at high Class A San Jose, and today its Todd Jennings. The 2003 second-round pick hit just .186 for San Jose last year, but has put together a 16-game hitting streak to up his season totals to .298-4-32.

A pair of Blue Jays prospects has made a strong impact in the Florida State League. Righthander Casey Janssen, the Blue Jays fourth-round pick last June out of UCLA, is 4-0, 1.38 in five starts for high Class A Dunedin after compiling an equally impressive 4-0, 1.37 ERA in seven game at low Class A Lansing. Recently joining Janssen is first baseman Chip Cannon, who smacked a pair of home runs on Saturday in his Dunedin debut after hitting .268-11-36 in 46 games for the Lugnuts.

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