AAA Dish: Bruce, McCutchen Go Deep

As we did last year, we’ll look around the minors every weekday with the Daily Dish, a supplement to the Baseball America Prospect Report, which is available by e-mail every weekday.

Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce and Evan Longoria are heating up, while Wade LeBlanc left Sacramento baffled.


Indianapolis (Pirates) 5, Syracuse (Blue Jays) 1

Andrew McCutchen has gotten off to a slow start—again, after hitting .189 last April—and has just four hits in five games. But he’s making those hits count. McCutchen hit his second home run of the season to help make a winner of former No. 1 pick John Van Benschoten. Van Benschoten, back in Triple-A for a fourth season, held Syracuse to two hits in 6 1/3 innings in his season debut.

Pawtucket (Red Sox) 9, Lehigh Valley (Phillies) 3

It’s not been the welcome the IronPigs had hoped for in their International League debut. Lehigh Valley’s Travis Blackley struck out nine PawSox in only five innings and carried a no-hitter into the fifth, but he still was saddled with the loss thanks to a four-run fifth as the IronPigs dropped to 0-5. Catcher Jason Jaramillo homered for Lehigh Valley in the loss. For Pawtucket, Chris Carter showed once again why he loves April. Carter had two hits to raise his average to .444. Last year, when he was still a Diamonback prospect Carter hit .371 in April–his best month of the year. Carter’s sixth-inning double cleared the bases, with Jed Lowrie’s baserunning earning some accolades from Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson.

“That ball was an absolute laser,” Johnson said. “It was a great read by Jed Lowrie. He was running as soon as there was contact. He was right behind Ginter.”

Buffalo (Indians) 6, Richmond (Braves) 4 (10 innings)

There wasn’t much notable happening prospect wise on Monday night in Richmond, but then no one was there to see it anyway. Only 289 fans came out to watch the soon-to-be departing R-Braves who will move to the Atlanta suburbs next year. Francisley Bueno carried a no-hitter into the fifth for the Braves, but his three walks, two hits allowed and an error in the fifth ended his night early.

Louisville (Reds) 9, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees) 1

Jay Bruce hit his first home run of the season and added a two-run triple as well as the Bats gave Yankees prospect Jeff Marquez a very rude Triple-A welcome. Marquez gave up 10 hits and eight runs in four innings for an unsightly 18.00 ERA.

“He kept his pitches up in the first inning and they hit him,” said Scranton/Wilkes-Barre manager Dave Miley. “He made some adjustments after the first inning, but he should have made them in the first inning.”

Justin Lehr carried a perfect game into the eighth inning for the Bats, before his former Southern California teammate Jason Lane broke it up with a solo home run. Lehr also flirted with a perfect game when pitching for Nashville in 2006, but it was broken up by Eric Munson, another teammate of Lehr’s at USC.

Durham (Rays) 11, Columbus (Nationals) 5

Unlike most Triple-A teams, Durham boasts prospects throughout the top half of their lineup, and on Monday, they made Columbus suffer. Fernando Perez had three hits (including two triples), Reid Brignac hit a home run and Evan Longoria added three hits as he climbs out of an early-season slump. Longoria came into the game with an 0-for-14 start.

Rochester (Twins) 4, Norfolk (Orioles) 1

Kevin Mulvey understands the value of making a good first impression. One of the prospects the Twins picked up from the Mets in the Johan Santana trade, Mulvey allowed five hits but no runs in 5 2/3 innings in his Triple-A debut.


Iowa (Cubs) 8, Albuquerque (Marlins) 4

Mark Holliman’s Triple-A debut turned out to be a little shorter than he hoped. Five walks and only 37 strikes in 70 pitches forced him out of the game after only three innings, but the Cubs did top Albuquerque thanks to Bobby Scales’ second home run.

Memphis (Cardinals) 9, New Orleans (Mets) 1

Mitch Boggs allowed only an unearned run in six innings, Brian Barden had a pair of doubles and drove in four and Joe Mather hit his second home run as the Redbirds pounded the Zephrys.

Salt Lake (Angels) 4, Tucson (Diamondbacks) 0

Max Scherzer’s season debut was outstanding, but it wasn’t enough to keep Salt Lake from improving to 5-0 for the first time in franchise history. Scherzer allowed only two hits while striking out seven in five scoreless innings.

"He has a great arm,” said Sidewinders manager Bill Plummer. "He threw some good change-ups and got his slider over, too. He was overpowering at times. He pitched very well. There is no question he has big league stuff. He has to work on his command. Tonight, he had great command.”

Fresno (Giants) 15, Tacoma (Mariners) 2

Brett Harper has been a solid minor league power hitter for years, but he’s never gotten a shot at a big league job. But now, he’s in the right organization. Considering the ineptness of the Giants big league club (16 runs in seven games), Harper might earn a shot if he keeps on hitting. He homered and hit a pair of doubles as part of a four-hit night on Monday as Fresno embarrassed Tacoma. Jeff Clement drove in the only two Tacoma runs with a double.

Portland (Padres) 9, Sacramento (Athletics) 1

Wade LeBlanc’s changeup was working on Monday, or should I say changeups.

"It was a little tough solving (LeBlanc’s) riddle," Sacramento manager Todd Steverson said. "He seemed he had three or four different changeups he was throwing up there."

LeBlanc’s ability to change speeds helped him strike out 11, equalling the Beavers single-game modern record. He allowed one run and four hits in six innings for the win. Landon Powell homered for the only RiverCats run.