Daily Dish: Aug. 17
See also: Wednesday's Daily Dish
See also: Today's Baseball America Prospect Report
ABERDEEN, MD.--Apparently, it isn’t just in the big leagues where the American League wins all-star games. The AL affiliates defeated their National League counterparts 4-1 Wednesday night at Ripken Stadium in the second annual short-season New York-Penn League all-star game.
It was a game marred by errors and missed opportunities, but the AL did just enough to even the series 1-1, after the NL won the inaugural contest 5-4 last season in Brooklyn.
The American League opened the scoring in the bottom of the first when Aberdeen’s own Miguel Abreu (Orioles) hit one deep in the hole at short and advanced to second when the throw from Brooklyn shortstop Luis Rivera (Mets) went wild on what was the first of four NL errors. Abreu then scored on a bloop single to left from Staten Island’s Mitch Hilligoss (Yankees) off of NL starter Chris Salamida (Astros) of Tri-City.
Hilligoss, the Yankees' sixth-round pick out of Purdue, went on to win MVP honors after going 2-for-2 with the RBI.
“It was a fastball inside and I got kind of jammed and fisted it through,” he said. “It wasn’t crushed, I’ll be the first to admit that. But hey, it’s an RBI single.”
The sloppy play contributed to virtually every rally. The National League tied the game in the second when Tri-City’s Jordan Parraz (Astros) led off with a walk. Jamestown outfielder Hunter Mense (Marlins) hit a sharp groundball that was bobbled by first baseman Chris Vinyard (Orioles). When AL starter Luis Valdez of Mahoning Valley (Indians) picked up the ball and unsuccessfully tried to beat Mense to the bag, Parraz alertly advanced to third and scored on a single to center by State College center fielder Allen Craig (Cardinals).
The game remained knotted at one until the bottom of the sixth inning when Williamsport’s Henry Cabrera (Pirates) walked Lowell’s Zach Daeges (Red Sox) to lead off the frame. Hudson Valley’s Ryan Royster (Devil Rays) followed with a single and with one out, Mahoning Valley’s Jason Denham (Indians) hit a grounder to Batavia’s Zach Penprase (Phillies) at second base that looked like a potential double play ball. Penprase rushed his pivot, however, and lost control of the ball and the bases were loaded.
With Staten Island’s Wilmer Pino (Yankees) batting, Daeges scored on a passed ball by Tri-City’s Max Sapp (Astros). It was a tough evening for Sapp, a first-round pick of the Astros who a year ago was playing on this same field in the Aflac All-American game. Earlier in the evening he was charged with a throwing error and also was unable to come up with a foul ball that should have been caught.
Pino then hit a grounder to short that plated Royster and gave the AL a two-run advantage.
The NL’s best chance to tie the game came in the eighth when Vermont’s Michael Martinez (Nationals) was hit by a pitch and Jamestown’s Jacob Blackwood (Marlins) followed with a single. Oneonta’s Brett Jensen (Tigers) bore down and struck out the next two hitters before Batavia’s Jason Donald (Phillies) crushed a ball to left center that appeared bound for the gap. Royster got a late break on it, but was able to get there in time to make a leaping catch and preserve the lead and the victory.
"I knew he had hit it in the gap, but I thought it was going to be a ball that died," Royster said. "So I ended up cutting the route off and took a terrible route to the ball. The ball stayed up and I just happened to run it down.
"I got kind of lucky, it wasn't the right read, that is for sure."
It was one of many blown chances for the NL, which left 12 men on base. The AL was more efficient, but still had 11 LOB. The AL tacked on a run in its half of the eighth before Aberdeen’s Luis Lebron (Orioles) came on and delighted the crowd of 6,958 by striking out the side to close out the game.
Staten Island’s Nick Peterson (Yankees) earned the despite allowing three baserunners in his inning of work, though he fanned three. Cabrera was the losing pitcher though neither of the two runs he allowed were earned.ALL-STAR NOTES
• The comical highlight of the game came in the sixth inning when Brooklyn’s Dustin Martin
was made the butt of a classic baseball joke by hitting coach Scott Hunter
. Martin walked to the plate with a giant bubble gum bubble stuck to his helmet much to the delight of everyone in the stadium.
"That joke has been around baseball for a while, but you are always the guy laughing at somebody," Martin said. "I am in the middle of the all-star game, I don’t expect this to happen. So I get up there and all the mascots are going crazy around us and I think everyone is laughing at them, but I'm the joke. We can't even start the game because the umpire is laughing. So I step out and I kind of think about and go straight to the helmet, get the gum and throw it out."
A 26th-rounder from Sam Houston State, Martin is hitting .316/.411/.475 and was able to recover and double to left center.
"I kind of had a feeling I would get a hit because the karma factor was working for me."
• Representing the hometown club, Aberdeen’s Chris Vinyard
took home the title in the home run derby. Though none of the competitors were able to hit more then three in the first round, Vinyard found a groove and hit seven homers in the final round though they were only given six outs. Kyle Larsen
of Staten Island and Brennan Boesch
of Oneonta were the other finalists, though each could only manage one apiece in the final. Vinyard hit six homers this spring in the wood-bat Arizona CC Athletic Conference, tying for the league lead, and has four this summer for Aberdeen to go with a league-high 20 doubles.
--MATT MEYERSBack On Track
James Johnson's initiation to the majors didn't go as he would have hoped, but he has brought back some lessons to Double-A Bowie.
Johnson allowed just two hits, striking out four over seven innings in Bowie's 3-0 win Wednesday night against the slumping Binghamton Mets, to improve his record to 10-6, 4.34. The loss was Binghamton's seventh straight.
Johnson was a surprise callup to Baltimore in late July for an emergency start. It didn't go well, as he allowed nine hits and eight runs in three innings.
That rough start did more than just leave him with an ugly line in next year's Baseball Encyclopedia. It also left him unsure of himself when he returned to Bowie. He allowed 17 hits and 12 earned runs over 12 innings in his first two starts back in Bowie.
But last night, Johnson trusted his stuff.
"He was very aggressive," Bowie pitching coach Scott McGregor told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. "The one thing I noticed after he came back, the first time he pitched he was trying to be too cute out there. He got whacked around up there (in Baltimore), and I think he was thinking, 'I've got to paint this corner and that corner.' Tonight, he threw the ball great right from the start. He pounded the (strike) zone."
Johnson made a loser out of Philip Humber, who pitched well himself in his third start in Double-A. Humber struck out nine, allowing three hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Two of the Rookie-level Appalachian League’s finest batting prospects
have put on a show during their clubs’ extended confrontation.
Bluefield has played Pulaski in each of its last five games, with the
sixth and final showdown slated for tonight at Pulaski. The series
Bluefield’s Bill Rowell,
the ninth overall pick in the draft by the Orioles out of a New Jersey
high school, entered the series hitting .276, and with his 7-for-18
performance the 17-year-old third baseman has upped his season line to
.293/.391/.440. In the series, Rowell has homered, hit two doubles,
driven in two, scored five times and walked three times, though he does
have eight strikeouts.
Pulaski’s Travis Snider
has been equally impressive. The Blue Jays drafted the right fielder
14th overall out of a Washington high school, and he’s delivered in his
debut by hitting .333/.416/.586 and leading the league in home runs
(11), RBIs (40), slugging and extra-base hits (24). In his games
against Bluefield, the 18-year-old has upped his average six points by
going 7-for-18 with a home run, five RBIs and six runs scored to go
with his six walks against just two strikeouts. He’s also 2-for-3 in
--MATT EDDYQUICK HITS
• Devil Rays third baseman Evan Longoria
left Wednesday night’s second game of a doubleheader at Double-A Montgomery with a bruised left shin. The first-round pick this year fouled a ball off his shin in the opener and a large knot developed, which forced him out after three innings of the nightcap. He is not expected to play Thursday and is listed as day-to-day. Longoria began his pro career at short-season Hudson Valley, and went through a short stint at high Class A Visalia before being promoted to Montgomery in early August. Overall, Longoria is hitting .353/.407/.690 with 16 homers and 51 RBIs in 184 at-bats this season.
• Righthander Luke Hochevar
began his pro career with a bang, striking out South Bend outfielder Justin Upton
(he got him looking on a 95 mph fastball) in a matchup of the last two
players drafted No. 1 overall. In his first start for low Class A
Burlington, Hochevar--whose first pitch registered 94 mph, according to
the Kansas City Star--pitched two scoreless innings for the Bees and
struck out two. "My goal was to execute as many pitches as possible,"
Hochevar told the Star, which also had a photo gallery at its website
of Hochevar's two-inning, 32-pitch debut. "I
felt like if I did that and I worked hard and really got after it and
competed hard, the rest of it would take care of itself. And it did.
And that’s the same thing I’m going to say as I start my professional
• Diamondbacks righthander Jason Neighborgall
is having a very bad August. How bad? A third-round pick out of Georgia
Tech in 2005 who signed for $500,000, Neighborgall gave up three more
runs without getting an out Wednesday in the Osprey's 11-8 victory,
giving him a streak of 16 consecutive batters faced without recording
an out. In five appearances this month, Neighborgall, one of baseball's
hardest throwers, has recorded just two outs. He's walked 16 without a
strikeout. His ERA for the month is 175.50, and for the year it stands
at 21.09 in just 10 2/3 innings over 17 outings. His 20 wild pitches
(including three more last night) are tied for fourth in the minors;
the pitchers ahead of him have all thrown at least 68 innings this
• Giants righthander Tim Lincecum
picked up his first professional win in high Class A San Jose's 5-2 victory against Bakersfield. Lincecum, a first-round pick out of Washington in June, allowed two earned runs on three hits and a walk while striking out seven over six innings.
• Cubs outfielder Ryan Harvey
hit a game-winning home run in the top of the 12th inning in high Class A Daytona's 5-4 victory against Sarasota, spoiling a big day by Reds shortstop Paul Janish
. The 21-year-old Harvey's towering homer to left field was his 19th of the year, continuing his second-half turnaround. After batting .173 through the first two months of the season, Harvey hit .257 in June, then .316 in July with nine home runs, and is now hitting .382 through 15 games in August. Janish has been hot in August as well, batting .347 through 14 games. He went 4-for-6 in the loss to Daytona with a pair of doubles and a triple. The 23-year-old Janish, a fifth-round pick out of Rice in 2004, was hitting .279/.359/.428 in 290 at-bats in the Florida State League after getting a promotion from low Class A Dayton, where he was raked at a .398/.435/.612 clip.
• Speaking of Reds shortstops, Billings' Chris Valiaka
extended his Pioneer League-best 23-game hitting streak with a 1-for-3 night on Wednesday, as he raised his overall stats to .322/.390/.538. Valaika, a third-round pick out of UC Santa Barbara, has shown the solid bat he was projected to have coming out of college, and he's stuck at shortstop, although some scouts believed he'd be better suited to serve as a utility infielder or second baseman because of his fringy range.
• After trading both Eric Hinske
and Scott Schoeneweis
this week, the Blue Jays called up Guam-born third baseman John Hattig
and Panamanian lefthander Davis Romero
from Triple-A Syracuse. Hattig was hitting .276/.341/.394 with 30 doubles for the SkyChiefs, while Romero was 10-9. 3.27 overall with a sterling 106-26 strikeout-walk ratio in 118 innings.Contributing: J.J. Cooper, Aaron Fitt, John Manuel, Chris Kline.