Daily Dish: May 4
See also: Wednesday's Daily Dish
See also: Today's Baseball America Prospect Report
One of the best pitching matchups in the minors on Wednesday was in our backyard in Zebulon, N.C., as Double-A Carolina righthander Anibal Sanchez went up against Mobile righthander Cesar Carrillo.
Neither was particularly sharp, however, but they showed flashes of brilliance at times--particularly Sanchez.
"He didn't have quite the movement on his fastball I had seen before early on, but he mixed his pitches pretty good," a scout from a National League organization said. "But I think with him, the most important thing I came away with was the toughness in some key game situations. That's the thing I was most impressed with.
"The stuff is very good--he got around on his curveball a few times, but he also threw it for strikes when he used it. And the changeup is a plus pitch for me."
Sanchez's fastball command varied in the early going, but his velocity sat in the 91-93 range, topping out at 95. One of those crucial situations came in the first inning, when the 22-year-old righthander had already given up a run. With Brett Bonvechio on first base and one out, Sanchez got Dustin Delucchi to hit a weak comebacker to the mound. He fired to second to get the lead runner, but the Mudcats were unable to turn the double play to get out of the inning.
Sanchez's velocity was in the 90-91 range up to that point, but he turned it up a notch against BayBears left fielder Drew Macias. Facing the Padres' No. 25 prospect, Sanchez threw back-to-back inside fastballs--hitting 94, then 95 and froze Macias on a 78 mph curve.
Sanchez finished with a no-decision, allowing three runs on seven hits. He struck out seven and walked two over five innings.
It was a similar story for Carrillo--at least in the early going.
After a leadoff walk that was followed by a fielding error by second baseman Luis Cruz, Mudcats first baseman Ryan Bear hit an RBI single and Mobile threw Bear--who took a wide turn on the throw home--out at first.
After an RBI ground out, and with Carolina up 2-1, Carrillo worked back-to-back 92 mph fastballs to Mudcats catcher Jonathan Aceves, then froze him with an 82 mph changeup.
But Carrillo wasn't locating well as the game moved along, and he wound up allowing four runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out four and walked two--and allowed two home runs on the night.
"(He had) good deception on the changeup, but his arm speed varied here and there," the scout said. "I thought he used his curveball well at times, spotting it or bouncing it when he needed to. He didn't have very good command of his fastball, and left some pitches up in the zone. And at this level, these guys will sit dead-red on that pitch--they'll be coming out of their shoes."
Penn Dazzles in Rochester
Orioles righthander Hayden Penn was unhittable in Rochester last night, but was pulled after seven innings when he exhausted his pitch count.
Penn, pitching for Triple-A Ottawa, consistently reached 94-96 mph with his fastball and put his much-improved curveball to good use, giving the Red Wings practically no chance. The Lynx won the game 5-3.
"I was throwing mostly fastballs the first four innings," Penn said. "But my curve really came around the last three innings, which I was able to use to keep the hitters off balance."
Penn, 21, struck out six and walked two, and got eight of 15 outs on the ground when the ball was put in play. "There were a couple plays up the middle where my middle infielders saved me," Penn said. In the first inning, shortstop Ed Rogers robbed Jason Kubel of a hit, and Penn also credited second baseman Eddy Garabito with another fine play.
The Orioles No. 3 prospect could not recall ever throwing a no-hitter at any level. "I can remember going seven or eight innings before."
The Orioles have Penn on a strict count of 95 pitches while he's in the minors, in part because he missed time in spring training with a sore shoulder. Penn says he feels good now, but hasn't heard form the Orioles what the timetable might be for a promotion.
"It's really about player development here," Ottawa manager Dave Trembley told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. "We're looking at the big picture."
The start was just Penn's second of the season because he missed his scheduled turn Sunday due to illness.
"But no no-hitters. He had a chance for No. 1 in just his second career Triple-A start," Trembley told the paper. "But since he had pitched only five innings since spring training, there was no way the Lynx brain trust was letting him throw more than the 93 pitches he did."
Inglett On The Verge?
It might have looked like an odd situation to anyone in the outside world: Indians utilityman Joe Inglett was at Triple-A Buffalo for the majority of April, where he was splitting time at second base, shortstop and even played some center field. In addition to that, he was hitting--which isn't much of a surprise, since the 27-year-old batted .330/.376/.465 in 327 at-bats for the Bisons last year.
In 56 at-bats with Buffalo this season, the eighth-round pick out of Nevada in 2000 was hitting .321/.387/.429. But unexpectedly, Inglett was sent down to Double-A Akron last week.
Then again, just look at the current situation in Cleveland to figure out why. The Tribe is seemingly in need of a utility player in Inglett's mold, and with backup shortstop Ramon Vasquez hitting just .190/.217/.190 for the big league club, a door may soon be opening.
"They want him to go there so he can play short every day," roving infield coordinator Ted Kubiak said. "There's no question about his ability to do it three, four times a week. But the idea is to get him as many reps as possible there on a regular basis and see what the results are. So far, he's been making all the routine plays, as well as turning in some nice plays.
"There's not a question with his bat--the bat will play. He just needs to show everybody what he can do on the left side of the infield at a premium position."
And he's still hitting. Over his first week with the Aeros, Inglett was batting .500 (12-for-24) and already had four extra-base hits.
The organization was raving about Inglett's ability to play short during spring training, which improved his value. A career .304 hitter spanning six minor league seasons, this might finally be Inglett's chance.
"He's shown enough arm over there and the strides he's made--not only there, but also at second base--are part of why we wanted to give him a longer look at shortstop."
Lyman Goes Six Strong
The Braves have always had a knack for developing high school pitchers, so Jeff Lyman should be in good hands. The righthander had his best outing of the season for low Class Rome yesterday as he allowed two runs over six innings with six strikeouts and no walks to earn his first win as a professional.
"Performance-wise and comfort-wise, tonight was the best of the season for me," Lyman told the Rome News-Tribune. "It's a great feeling to get my first win, and it was especially nice to do it at home."
A second-rounder last June out of Monte Vista (Calif.) High, Lyman shunned a commitment to Arizona State to sign with the Braves for $460,000. His pro debut was unimpressive as he went 0-3, 4.24 in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. The 19-year-old features a fastball that sits at 93-94 mph and a curveball with sharp bite; like most teenage hurlers, the changeup is not a pitch he is fully comfortable with yet.
"He didn't throw the change-up much tonight, but when he did, he was effective," pitching coach Jim Czajkowski told the News-Tribune. "When he masters that pitch, it's going to make his curveball all the better. Tonight was a good confidence builder."
Lyman, the No. 27 prospect in the Braves organization, has appeared in five games this season, and yesterday's 6-3 win over Asheville was his third start. The win was Rome's 14th in 17 games and they are now 20-5, the best record in the minors.
• Rome lefthander Beau Jones has left the team to return to his home of Destrehan, La. due to the death of a relative. A first-round pick last year, Jones was put on the disabled list Thursday (retroactive to Saturday) with a strained oblique muscle. The injury was not as severe as originally expected and he is expected to pitch Tuesday . . . The high ankle sprain to Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie was slightly more serious than originally expected, an the club placed him on the seven-day DL yesterday . . . The Devil Rays placed lefthander Chuck Tiffany on the seven-day DL with shoulder soreness. Tiffany was 0-2, 6.89 with 14 walks in 15 innings at Double-A Montgomery . . . The Royals called up first baseman Justin Huber when they put Mike Sweeney on the disabled list. Huber hit .301/.427/.603 with seven home runs for Triple-A Omaha . . . The Angels swapped catchers with Triple-A Salt Lake, calling up Mike Naopli and sending down Jeff Mathis, who had hit just .103 for the Angels.