AAA Dish: Bruce Bashes Braves


Prospect Of The Day

It’s a measure of how good Jay Bruce is that his strong April (.316/.340/.561) generated more yawns than notice. But since May began, Bruce has made it hard to ignore his production, and likely hard for the Reds to keep him in Triple-A much longer. Bruce had four hits, including two doubles and a home run in the first game of a doubleheader with Richmond last night. In the second game he added another hit, raising his averages for May to .425/.457/.725. As impressively, he’s raked against lefthanders (.370/.354/.609 in 46 at-bats) just as well as he has against righties. (.337/.385/.609).

The only thing that Bruce hasn’t done during this recent hot streak is steal bases. He was 6-for-6 on steals in April, but has stolen only one base (in one try) in 12 May games.

Prospect Nuggets

In the first game of its doubleheader with Richmond, Louisville lefthander Matt Maloney (Reds) carried a no-hitter into the seventh before giving up two hits. He did finish off the inning for his first complete game and shutout of the season. Maloney has struggled this season, but he has allowed only two runs in his last 14 innings, lowering his ERA to 5.23 . . . Don’t worry Yankees fans, Ian Kennedy isn’t hurt. He threw only one inning because the Yankees are planning to call him back up for a start on Friday . . . Brett Gardner (Yankees) had a stolen base in the first game, and a double and triple in the second game of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s sweep of Indianapolis . . . Triple-A continues to be a struggle for Neil Walker. The Pirates third base prospect went 1-for-7 on Monday, dropping his averages to .200/.246/.392. He also committed his third error of the season . . . Back from Boston, Jed Lowrie homered, singled and walked twice for Pawtucket.

“That ball was pretty well smoked,” PawSox manager Ron Johnson told the Providence Journal, referring to Lowrie’s homer that cleared everything and landed in the parking lot behind left field. “He’s always kind of amazed me with how much power he can generate when you look at his body size (6-feet, 180 pounds). He’s not an extremely large, bulky guy, but he can put a charge into the ball from both sides of the plate.”

The Providence Journal also noted that one-time prospect Abe Alvarez was released by the Red Sox . . . Jeremy Sowers (Indians)  was pulled after four innings because he’s expected to start for Cleveland on Friday . . . Bobby Brownlie was once one of the Cubs top prospects. But that was a long time ago, before he ended up in the  independent leagues. Back in Triple-A for the first time since 2006, Brownlie, now pitching for Columbus (Nationals) not only threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings, but also hit a pair of doubles . . . If you’re looking for this year’s version of Craig Brazell, it’s Mike Hessman. The 30-year-old former Braves prospect hit his 17th home run of the season, and his sixth in the past six games, for Toledo (Tigers). Hessman has topped 20 home runs in eight different minor league seasons, but he’s on pace to top his previous career high of 31, set last year. He’s now only 29 home runs away from 300 minor league round-trippers  . . .  Teammate Jeff Larish hit his 11th home run of the season . . . Life isn’t getting much easier for Dontrelle Willis in Triple-A. Despite Larish and Hessman’s home runs, he took the loss as he gave up five runs in 5 2/3 innings. Brad Eldred hit his fourth home run in the past three games for Charlotte (White Sox).

What To Watch For Today

Richmond’s Charlie Morton (Braves) has been one of the surprise stories of the International League season. He’ll take his 1-0, 1.76 record to Indianapolis to face Bryan Bullington today . . . Eldred will try to extend his streak of three straight games with a home run when Charlotte hosts Syracuse.


Prospect Of The Day

A shoulder injury limited  Will Venable to playing as a designated hitter for much of the past month. But his shoulder has healed enough to allow him to slide back into center field for Portland. The Padres are hoping that Venable can handle the position despite average speed, because his lack of power (he has never hit more than 11 home runs in a season) doesn’t profile well for a corner outfielder.

Venable’s shoulder issues have also affected him at the plate, but he was back in the swing of things on Monday, hitting a pair of home runs, his first two of the season, as part of a three-hit night. The Padres prospect raised his average to .300/.333/.488.

Prospect Nuggets

Mitch Maier’s second swing at Triple-A is going better than his first. Last year Maier saw a late-season slump drop his final numbers to .279/.320/.428. With a home run on Monday, Maier is now hitting .377/.398/.623 for Omaha (Royals) this season . . . Teammate Mike Aviles added two more hits for his sixth multi-hit game in the past 10 games . . . Right fielder Travis Buck threw out a runner at third to end the game as Sacramento (Athletics) beat New Orleans 3-2. Buck also hit a double for the River Cats . . . John Mayberry is enjoying the Triple-A life. Mayberry hit his third home run in 14 games since being promoted to Oklahoma (Rangers). He’s now hitting .370/.404/.722 for the RedHawks.

What To Watch For Today

Gio Gonzalez has struggled for Sacramento (0-2, 5.18), but he’ll get another chance to turn things around against New Orleans.