Adenhart starring for low Class A Cedar Rapids
See also: Friday's Daily Dish
When Nick Adenhart walked off the mound Friday after yet another quality start, the Angels righthander had to pause for a second just to make sure all this was really happening.
"It's been going great," the 19-year-old said. "Sometimes you have to kind of pinch yourself--it's been a long road in a very short amount of time."
Adenhart strode into the dugout Friday with seven solid innings in the books, allowing a run on four hits. And after low Class A Cedar Rapids defeated Quad Cities, 4-1, Adenhart found himself leading the minors in wins with 7-0, 1.56 numbers.
"I've felt great and my arm has been bouncing back very well," Adenhart said. "I know there’s that question of being healthy, but honestly, this is the best I’ve felt probably since '04. And I’ve been commanding everything well. I have no complaints with the way things are going."
There might have been reasons to complain two years ago, when, as he ranked with Homer Bailey as one of the top high school pitching prospects when his senior season began, Adenhart blew out his elbow a few weeks before the draft.
Most clubs shied away from him because of the impending Tommy John surgery and the buzz around the scouting community was that Adenhart was headed for college at North Carolina.
But the Angels took a chance and signed him for $710,000 as a 14th-round pick. And while he would have potentially made the UNC rotation that much more formidable with lefthander Andrew Miller and righthander Josh Bard, Adenhart has no regrets about his decision.
"The Angels really sold me on the fact that they were the professionals in the situation--they're the ones that do this for a living," Adenhart said. "There was also a significant money offer on the table, which also made it hard to turn down.
"They sold me on the rehab setup in Tempe, the team doctors and the strength and conditioning staff, as well as the fact that they wanted me to come in and work my way back to being healthy again. They sold me on the fact that they wanted me to get back healthy at my own pace with their help and be a contributor to the organization for a long time."
The organization backed that up by sending Adenhart to classes at Arizona State during his rehab after the draft, and the only spring training he ever experienced in 2005 was on the weekends away from the ASU campus.
That experience would change in his first full spring, however.
After Adenhart aggressively worked his way through rehab, he went 2-3, 3.68 with 52 strikeouts in 44 innings in the Rookie-level Arizona League last season. He was promoted to Rookie-level Orem for one final start, where he scattered three hits over six innings and whiffed seven.
Impressed as much by his poise as the return of his stuff, the Angels invited Adenhart to big league camp for his first real spring training experience. Though he only pitched in three innings against major leaguers, he held his own, allowing just two hits.
Since the spring, Adenhart has taken off in the Midwest League, ranking among the league leaders in nearly every category.
Adenhart's velocity on his fastball has jumped into the 92-93 mph range consistently, topping out at 95 in his last start. Both his curveball and changeup rate as plus pitches, and he's using them in all kinds of situations now.
"My velo started out in the 87-91 (mph) range, but it's started to climb back up there," Adenhart said. "The biggest thing has been the command of it and my curveball and my changeup. My curve been really good, maybe better than it's ever been. It's really become a legitimate out pitch for me.
"I use it with two strikes and I've also been using it to get back into counts when I've fallen behind. I've always had a pretty good feel for it, but I'm using it in situations I tended to shy away from a little bit in the past. But it's been huge for me this year."
The Angels certainly haven't been shy about the way they've used Adenhart this season, pushing him with 90 pitches through April. His pitch count is now in the 100-range, give or take a few. But one thing is certain--the leash isn't nearly as short as it was last year in rookie ball now that he's proven healthy.
"They've been using more of a visual approach to my pitch counts, more or less," Adenhart said. "If I'm at 100 pitches and still repeating well, they'll let you go ahead and start another inning and maybe push it to 115. It's nice to have some kind of freedom within the pitch count, because you can be a little more loose and just go out there and attack."
When In Charleston . . .
Tony Roth now has come to expect the unexpected.
The low Class A Charleston first baseman was called on for emergency relief pitching duties Saturday, earning the win and scoring the winning run in the RiverDogs' 18-inning marathon against Rome. Charleston came from behind to win, 7-6.
Charleston catcher Joe Muich, who entered the game as a replacement in the ninth inning, drew a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the 18th to force home Roth with the game-winning run. Roth, who hadn't pitched since high school, hurled perfect innings in the top of the 17th and 18th frames including one strike out.
The game lasted five hours and 42 minutes and ended at nearly 1:00 am Sunday.
At the plate, Roth, 23, is hitting .208/.286/.136 in just 22 at-bats. On the mound, he is now 1-0, 0.00 in two innings.
• According to the New York Daily News, the Mets are considering calling up either Mike Pelfrey or Alay Soler from Double-A Binghamton to start either Wednesday or Thursday against the Phillies. And based on Pelfrey's last outing, the edge goes to Soler. Pelfrey didn't make it out of the first inning on Saturday night, throwing 39 pitches and allowing two earned runs--one of which came when he walked in a run on his final pitch before getting pulled against Altoona. Since being promoted to Binghamton, Pelfrey is now 0-1, 4.03 in 22 innings. Soler, a Cuban defector the Mets signed for $1.4 million in 2004, is 1-0, 2.75 with 22 strikeouts in 20 innings since being called up from high Class A St. Lucie . . . There were a flurry of promotions across the minors prior to the weekend, as the Padres called up righthander Cesar Carrillo to Triple-A Portland; the Cubs called up outfielder Luis Montanez to Triple-A Iowa, and the Pirates promoted outfielder Adam Boeve and righthanded reliever Josh Sharpless to Triple-A Indianapolis. Carrillo, the Padres' No. 1 prospect, wasn't especially dominating at Double-A Mobile, going 1-3, 3.02 with a 43-15 strikeout-walk ratio in 51 innings. "The thing you have to remember is this young man hasn't had a lot of experience in professional baseball," Mobile manager Gary Jones said. "He pitched well here, even though the numbers might not have been tremendous. He's a competitor and he's ready for the next challenge." Carrillo, the 18th overall pick last year out of Miami, is slated to make his first Triple-A start Tuesday in Nashville . . . Mets outfielder Fernando Martinez' thumb injury might be worse than originally expected, as the Newark Star Ledger reported that he could miss up to four weeks. Martinez hasn't played since May 9. The club has not yet placed him on the disabled list . . . The Nationals re-assigned outfielder Edgardo Baez to low Class A Savannah over the weekend after he batted just .103/.197/.221 in 68 at-bats at high Class A Potomac. Baez, 20, takes the roster spot of oft-injured outfielder Justin Maxwell. Maxwell, the club's fourth-round pick last year out of Maryland, spent nearly all of April in extended spring training and went on the DL Saturday with a right foot injury. The 22-year-old was hitting just .163 and had 23 strikeouts in 49 at-bats for the Sand Gnats . . . Orioles righthander Radhames Liz and Indians lefthander Chuck Lofgren hooked up for the second time in a week on Friday night. Lofgren won Round Two at high Class A Frederick. Liz was hit hard, allowing four runs on six hits--including a homer by Kinston center fielder Trevor Crowe--and took his first loss of the season. Lofgren allowed three runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings to earn his sixth win . . . Astros lefthander Troy Patton finally visited the win column Friday, as high Class A Salem defeated Potomac, 9-0. Patton, 20, tossed six shutout innings, striking out seven. Over his last two starts, Patton has allowed two runs on five hits, struck out 17 and walked two in 12 innings. Patton is now 1-4, 3.92 for the season . . . Double-A Frisco lefthander John Danks is expected to be examined by team doctors due to soreness he experienced in the left elbow and forearm area on Monday, when he struck out 12 in six innings. Danks is 3-4, 5.31 with 56 strikeouts in 41 innings for the Rough Riders this season . . . Marlins outfielder B.J. Garbe announced his retirement after Double-A Carolina's 9-4 loss to Tennessee on Saturday. Garbe, the fifth overall pick in 1999 out of Moses Lake (Wash.) High by the Twins, signed with Florida as a free agent in the offseason. Garbe played eight seasons in the minors, never making it above Double-A. He spent last season at high Class A Inland Empire in the Mariners' system, and finishes his career as a .235 hitter with 37 home runs. He doubled in his final at-bat for the Mudcats, and was hitting .184/.243/.327 in 98 at-bats this season.