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Compiled by Kevin Goldstein, Chris Kline and Matt Meyers
Dan Ortmeier has plenty of respect for fellow Giants farmhand Mike Cervenak. But he’s not looking to replace Cervenak as the de facto Mayor of Norwich, Conn.
Cervenak spent parts of four years in Norwich through two affiliations before finally getting a shot at Triple-A. Ortmeier played for the Navigators last season and has returned this year, but he’s still keeping his Dallas-area area code on his cell phone.
He also seems destined to move up from Norwich, perhaps to the big leagues with a September callup. Healthy after missing time with three different injuries in 2004, Ortmeier has put up big numbers in the Eastern League. He extended his current hitting streak to six games last night and is hitting .275/.364/.478 on the year with 20 homers, 77 RBIs and 33 stolen bases.
BA caught up with Ortmeier to talk injuries, football and more football (hey, he’s from Texas).
On his run of injuries in 2003-2004: “I wouldn’t call them freak injuries; they just kind of happened. The collision with (Jay) Pecci last year, that was a good one. I was hurting after that one. (He had a concussion and missed the rest of the 2004 season.) I ran over (Reading catcher) Carlos Ruiz earlier and hurt my shoulder. I sat out two or three weeks after that and really struggled to get back into a groove. In 2002 I dove for a ball and dislocated my (left) shoulder.
“Well, maybe they are sort of freak injuries. But I play as hard as I can every single day. I guess that’s my football mentality you get growing up in Texas.”
On not being a Cowboys fan: “I don’t know how it happened. My parents are huge Cowboys fans, but I’m a Bears fan. Maybe it’s the underdog thing, or the tradition the Bears have, but I’m a big Bears fan. I was devastated when I heard about (quarterback) Rex Grossman getting hurt.”
On repeating the Eastern League: “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed coming out of spring training. Anything short of the major leagues, I think players are always disappointed to repeat a level. But later, I saw it as a good thing, a chance to redeem myself because I wasn’t happy with how I played last year. In a new league, you have to learn how to see the ball in every park, and I’ve seen all the parks in this league, so there are no surprises. Anything that makes the game a little easier can help.”
On former Texas-Arlington coach Clay Gould, who died of cancer while Ortmeier was helping lead the Mavericks to a Southland Conference title in 2002: “I think about him every day. Without him I know I wouldn’t be where I am in baseball; it gets me a little choked up to think about it. I try to keep up with his family as much as I can, though it’s hard to do during the season. I go and see his wife and his daughter Logan in the offseason, they’re wonderful people. His parents and my parents still get together at Texas-Arlington games. He was a special person, the real reason I went to Texas-Arlington, and it was a blessing that I got to play for him and know him.”
• Braves third baseman Andy Marte slammed two homers—both off Reds righthander Justin Germano—in Triple-A Richmond’s 7-0 win Tuesday against Louisville. Marte went 2-for-4 with four RBIs, and is now hitting .273/.372/.511 with 20 homers in 362 at-bats overall.
• Triple-A Charlotte doesn’t have much in terms of prospects, especially since outfielder Brian Anderson was called up to Chicago two weeks ago. But they still have righthander Brandon McCarthy, and Tuesday, McCarthy dealt in the Knights’ 5-2 win against Toledo. The 17th-round pick in 2002 allowed a run on six hits over 7 2/3 innings, striking out 10. On the season, McCarthy is now 7-7, 3.92 with 130 strikeouts in 119 innings.
• Triple-A Durham scored two runs in the top of the 15th to outlast Columbus, in a game that lasted just over four hours. Right fielder Delmon Young went 3-for-7 in the 7-5 Bulls win, driving in three and hitting his fourth homer since being called up from Double-A Montgomery. Young is now hitting .308/.324/.462 in 169 at-bats since arriving in the International League.
• Pirates lefthander Tom Gorzelanny was again brilliant and again came away with a no-decision in Double-A Altoona’s 3-2 loss Tuesday at Bowie. Gorzelanny, who was held back in extended spring training with minor elbow soreness and did not join the club until May 4, allowed just three hits over seven innings and struck out seven. The second-round pick in 2003 has turned it up a notch in August, with 3-0, 2.67 numbers and a 30-10 strikeout walk ratio over 30 innings.
• The struggles continue for Red Sox righthander Anibal Sanchez. Tuesday, Sanchez lasted just 3 1/3 innings—his shortest outing this season—in Double-A Trenton’s 11-6 win against Portland. Sanchez allowed seven runs (four were earned) on eight hits and struck out three. This month, Sanchez has posted his worst numbers of the year at 1-3, 3.99 over 29 innings.
• Double-A Akron outfielder Ben Francisco is on fire this month. The UCLA product went 3-for-5 with three RBIs in the Aeros 8-0 shutout Tuesday against Erie, upping his August numbers to .430-5-25.
• Double-A Birmingham righthander Charles Haeger fell back to earth Tuesday, allowing 10 earned runs on 11 hits in Tennessee’s 15-5 win against the Barons. Haeger lasted just 3 2/3 innings and walked five, and allowed a two-run homer by Jon Zeringue in the fourth. But maybe it was the 10-day layoff. The 21-year-old knuckleballer was brilliant in his previous start, tossing a five-hit shutout against Huntsville in his last start—Aug. 13.
• Felix Hernandez got his shot, is Matt Cain next? The Giants righthander pitched off his fastball and touched 94 mph as he looked ready for the big leagues last night as he threw six scoreless innings while fanning seven to lower his ERA 4.39. The 20-year-old's stuff has never been in question, just his command and ability to adjust during games.
• The Dodgers’ Scott Elbert is quietly putting together a fantastic full season debut in pro ball. A first-rounder in 2004, the lefthander allowed one run and one hit over five innings while fanning 10 to improve his record to 8-5, 2.72 for low Class A Columbus. The 20-year-old has shown no signs of fatigue either as he has a 1.64 ERA in 22 August innings.
• It is a modest six-game hit streak, but the Mets’ Sean Henry is coming alive in the Rookie-level Appalachian League. A 2004 20th-rounder, Henry had been an unsigned draft-and-follow in 2003 by the Tigers and had played on the same U.S. junior national team as Billy Butler and Neil Walker. On the season, the 20-year-old middle infielder is hitting .262/.358/.428 for Kingsport.
• The Rangers moved righthander Edison Volquez’ start up on day at Double-A Frisco so he could pitch in front of GM John Hart, and the 22-year-old Dominican was up to the challenge, allowing one run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings while striking out seven Corpus Christi batters in a game that ended after 10 innings in a 2-2 tie due to rain.
• With rumors concerning his addition to the major league roster for the stretch run, Angels first baseman Kendry Morales is showing the team why that might be a good idea. The 22-year-old Cuban went deep Tuesday as Double-A Arkansas dropped a 9-8 decision to Wichita. For Morales, it was his third home run in the last five games, and he is now batting .262/.319/.472 in 229 at-bats for the Travelers.
• Rick Ankiel update: The former Cardinals pitcher went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs in Double-A Springfield’s 8-2 win over Tulsa last night, as is batting .280-5-18 in 17 games since returning to the Texas League. In 280 at-bats spanning time also spent in the Midwest League, Ankiel is batting .257-16-63.
• Being No. 1 on the Prospect Hot Sheet has been a curse at times this year, but nobody told that to Angels shortstop Brandon Wood. Wood had yet another monster game on Tuesday, going 4-for-4 and blasting two home runs in High Class A Rancho Cucamonga’s 6-4 win over High Desert. Wood, who leads the minor leagues with 41 home runs and a number of other offensive categories, is 8-for-14 with five home runs and 13 RBIs in his last three games.
• Already seen as the best defensive infielder in the system, Dodgers shortstop Chin-Lung Hu is making his case with the bat this year. The 21-year-old Taiwan native went 3-for-5 with three runs in high Class A Vero Beach’s 9-8 win over Brevard County, raising his season averages to .310/.346/.427 in 464 at-bats, including a .352 mark in his last 50 games.
• In a rarity for short-season leagues, we had an All-Star game in August on Tuesday, as the National League all-stars topped the American League 5-4 in the inaugural New-York Penn League All-Star game played in front of more than 9,000 fans at KeySpan Park in Brooklyn. Jamestown catcher Gaby Sanchez, the Marlins fourth-round pick this June out of Miami, was named the game’s MVP as his two-run single in the fifth capped a four-run fifth inning off Hudson Valley (Devil Rays) righthander Wade Davis. Vermont (Nationals) lefthander Wendell Yost got the win with a scoreless inning of relief. Earlier in the day, Hudson Valley’s Garrett Groce, a 41st-round pick out of Columbus (Ga.) State , won the home run hitting contest, topping Auburn’s (Blue Jays) Ryan Patterson in the final round.
• Diamondbacks lefthander Ryan Schreppel, an eighth-round pick in June out of Cal State Fullerton, has his best professional outing in short-season Yakima's 5-1 win against Eugene. Schreppel struck out nine while allowing just two hits and three walks over 6 2/3 shutout innings, improving his season line to 2-2, 4.13 in 33 innings.
• After posting a 10.66 ERA in 13 innings at high Class A San Jose, Giants righthander Gregorio Martinez has rebounded nicely since being sent back to the Rookie-level Arizona League. The 23-year-old Dominican gave up just one run on three hits and no walks while striking out eight over six innings of work, improving to 3-2, 2.15 in 38 AZL innings. He outpitched Cubs first-rounder Mark Pawelek, who allowed only a run while striking out five in four solid innings of work. The lefthander from Springville (Utah) High has yielded more than two runs in an outing just once in 13 appearances this season, but he has yet to pitch more than four innings in a start, so he is still waiting for his first professional win.
• Rookie-level Helena third baseman/shortstop Michael Bell continued his late-summer tear with three hits in the Brewers' win Tuesday over Casper. Bell was drafted in the 15th round this year out of Grayson County (Texas) CC. After batting .320 in June to start the season, the 20-year-old cooled in July but has nine hits in his last 23 at-bats and is batting .382 in 17 games in August.
Contributing: Aaron Fitt, Alan Matthews.
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