Daily Dish: July 24

Samardzija makes anticipated Low Class A debut

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See also: Today's Baseball America Prospect Report

Cubs fifth-round draft pick Jeff Samardzija made his much anticipated debut for low Class A Peoria yesterday after being promoted from short-season Boise. It was an unspectacular debut, however, as he allowed three runs in five innings. Though he allowed just two hits, he walked three while striking out one. The 21-year-old took the loss as the Chiefs fell to Lansing 4-1.

"I was excited . . . a lot of adrenaline running out there in the first inning," Samardzija told the Peoria Journal Star. "I felt really good, had a few extra days of rest like I had between starts in Boise, but I needed to pull back a bit. I needed to catch my breath out there."

The two-sport star will be with the Chiefs for another start on July 28 against Dayton before reporting to Notre Dame's football camp. Samardzija was a first team All-American wide receiver last year with the Fightin' Irish, setting new single season records for yards receiving (1,190) and touchdown catches (15). Camp opens August 6 for the Golden Domers. 

"You want to look ahead and be excited (about the upcoming football season), but if I do that, I'm not putting anything in the baseball season and improving my skills here," Samardzija told the Peoria Journal Star. "I don't want to gyp anyone. When football comes, we'll worry about that later."

The Lugnuts scored three runs off Samardzija in the first inning as he walked the first two batters and allowed a double to second baseman Anthony Hatch that plated both runners. Two batters later, first baseman David Hicks knocked in Hatch with a double of his own.

Samardzija settled down at that point, and allowed just one baserunner over the next four innings. It was enough to impress manager Jody Davis.

"After a rough first inning, he settled down and threw the ball real well," Davis told the Journal Star. "Hopefully in five years, he'll be in Chicago. That's what we all hope for. The stuff is there, the mentality is there, the approach is there."

Before joining the Chiefs, the Valparaiso, Ind., native was 1-1, 2.37 in five starts. In 19 innings he had a 13-6 strikeout-walk ratio.


Nuts For Stealing Bases

Rockies second baseman Corey Wimberly ran wild in high Class A Modesto's 7-5 win against Bakersfield on Sunday. The speedy Alcorn State product stole five bases, while his mate in Modesto's middle infield and atop the Nuts lineup, Jonathan Herrera, added two steals of his own.

"When they're on base they wreak havoc," Nuts manager Glenallen Hill told the Modesto Bee. "It's a nice combination and they seem to fall into the roles naturally.

"I just let them play. But I encourage them to play to their strengths. I give very few steal signs. I hit-and-run a little bit, but I want them to learn the game and its situations--which counts are the best to steal, or which pitchers are slow to the plate--and we talk to those guys about it."

Wimberly now has 33 stolen bases on the year despite missing 53 of Modesto's 100 games with a hamstring injury. He does not hit for any power (just five extra-base hits in 178 at-bats), but he knows his game--getting on base and disrupting the opposing pitcher and defense.

"I'm going to see a lot of pitches and I know I'm going to see better pitches to hit when Corey's on base," Herrera told the Bee.

For his part, Herrera has earned plaudits from California League managers for his slick glovework, and he has more than held his own with the bat, as well. In addition to stealing 21 bases, the 21-year-old Venezuelan has improved significantly upon his .258/.315/.332 numbers in 310 Cal League at-bats a year ago. Through 353 at-bats this year, Herrera is hitting .295/.365/.397.


Bees Get Stung

Miguel Montero's first weekend in Triple-A was one to remember.

After going 3-for-5 on Saturday, the Tucson catcher doubled to collect his first Triple-A extra-base hit in the fourth inning of the Sidewinders game at Salt Lake on Sunday. He hit his second extra-base hit--home run--the very next inning.

In fact, just about every Tucson batter--many of them Diamondbacks top prospects--got in on the act in a 28-5 drubbing of the Bees. Brian Barden, starting at shortstop with the promotion of Stephen Drew, and center fielder Chris Young both hit grand slams. Barden also hit a slam the day before, and got 10 of his 71 RBIs on the season over the weekend.

First baseman Chris Carter was the only Tucson batter not to collect a hit, but he scored twice and drove in one. DH Scott Hairston collected his first two hits since returning to the lineup after injuring his shoulder with the Diamondbacks, one of them was his 19th home run.

"The ball always jumps out at this park. It's like hitting on the moon," Tucson manager Chip Hale told the Tucson Citizen. "But from pitch No. 1 to the final pitch, our guys we're having great at-bats. We did not give one away."

Righthander Dustin Moseley started for Salt Lake and took the brunt of the beating, giving up 10 runs on nine hits and five walks in his 3 1/3 innings of work. In his previous start, for the parent Los Angeles Angels, Moseley had notched his first major league win.

The Salt Lake relief corps fared little better at quieting the Sidewinders' bats. Righthander Jeff Heaverlo, who followed Moseley in the fourth, let in seven runs in an inning and a third, and the subsequent relievers were all scored upon. In total, they allowed 11 runs in the game's final 3 2/3 innings.

"In the scheme of things, it's one game," Salt Lake manager Brian Harper told The Salt Lake Tribune. "I can testify to the resilience of this team that they'll be back tomorrow."



• In the second game of the Double-A Binghamton-Portland doubleheader on Sunday, Mets righthander Miguel Pinango threw the fifth no-hitter in the club's history. Pinango was just two outs from a perfect game until shortstop Corey Ragsdale had a throwing error. The 23-year-old had seven strikeouts in the seven-inning game. "(Pinango) had everything working today," manager Juan Samuel told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. "He had them guessing. He was starting with sliders and mixing in good changeups."

• Lefthander J.A. Happ won his fourth straight decision in his fifth Double-A start on Sunday, pitching seven scoreless innings in Reading's 6-0 win over Connecticut. The southpaw has 32 strikeouts in 26 innings during that streak, despite a fastball that sits in the high 80s. For Happ, the key is deception, as his delivery does not allow batters to read the pitch as quickly. "He's got that little extra kick on it (late in the strike zone)," manager Tom Filer told the Reading Eagle. "He's got that deceiving fastball that plays so much higher than his velocity numbers."

• Giants righthander Adam Cowart is still dominating the short-season Northwest League. After throwing five innings yesterday of three-hit, one unearned run ball, he lowered his ERA to a league-best 0.46 as Salem-Keizer defeated the Everett 3-1. Cowart is 6-0 this season and has held opposing batters to a .148 average. He has only given up two earned runs in 39 innings this season. He's struck out 20 and has walked four.  Cowart was a 35th-round draft pick out of Kansas State.

• Cubs first-round draft pick Tyler Colvin is  starting to get in the swing of things with short-season Boise. He's on a six-game hitting streak, and he's gotten at least one RBI in those six games. He's up to .284/.349/.516 and has collected 22 RBIs this season.

• Tigers third-rounder Brennan Boesch continued his hot hitting by going 3-for-3 yesterday for short-season Oneonta. The outfielder from California has a nine-game hitting streak (which includes a 1-for-12 effort in the 26-inning game against Brooklyn) and is up to .277/.310/.460.

• Congratulations to Indians righthander Tom Mastny. The former Furman star--who BA ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Coastal Plain League in 2001--earned his first promotion to the major leagues Monday. Mastny went 2-2, 2.01 with 76 strikeouts and 24 walks in 63 innings between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Buffalo prior to his promotion.

Contributing: John Manuel.