BAPR Plus: Low Class A Roundup

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

Dellin Betances outdueled Jeff Locke, Mike Moustakas made his full-season debut and South Bend had the ultimate downer–the Silverhawks found themself down by 10 runs before it even got to bat

Jeremy Hefner, a 10th-rounder out of Oral Roberts last year, allowed only three hits and no runs in five innings as Fort Wayne (Padres) throttled Lansing 7-1. The Wizards have gone to a tandem starter system this year, so Hefner’s ability to get to five innings was an impressive exercise in pitch efficiency. Allen Harrington followed up by allowing only one run in four innings.

The South Bend fans didn’t have long to cheer during the Silverhawks’ (Diamondbacks) season opener. West Michigan (Tigers) scored 10 runs in the first inning on the way to a 15-2 win. South Bend starter Jordan Noberto was only charged with three earned runs, as an error led to seven unearned runs.

This is why some teams keep their pitching prospects out of the Midwest League in April. Burlington and Peoria played their opener on a 44-degree night that wasn’t helped by 14 mph winds.

"It wasn’t fun. That’s not good baseball weather," Bees first baseman Clint Robinson told the Burlington Hawk Eye.

With the brutal conditions, runs were understandably at a premium. It’s hard to know which Burlington (Royals) pitcher was more impressive Daniel Gutierrez allowed only two hits while striking out eight in five scoreless innings. His replacement Anthony Bradley picked up the win with four hitless innings. Royals No. 1 prospect Mike Moustakas went 1-for-4 in his full-season debut, hitting fourth and playing shortstop.

Remember the name Kelvin de la Cruz, who could climb the Indians’ prospects list this season. The 6-foot-5 lefthander mixes a low 90s fastball with a solid breaking ball and shows a solid feel for pitching. In his full season debut the 20-year-old de la Cruz struck out six in five scoreless innings to beat Lakewood.

One of the better pitching matchups on Opening Day took place in Rome, Ga., where Dellin Betances outdueled Jeff Locke as Charleston (Yankees) beat Rome (Braves) 10-4. Betances was making his return to the mound after missing some of the 2007 season with an elbow injury. He showed little rust as he struck out eight in five innings. Braves outfield prospect Jason Heyward went 1-for-4 for Rome.

While his former North Carolina teammate Andrew Miller is in the Marlins big league rotation, fellow first-rounder Daniel Bard is still in low Class A with the Red Sox. Bard allowed one hit and one walk while striking out two in a scoreless inning of relief for Greenville on Thursday.

Savannah (Mets) almost made the 2008 opener truly memorable. Savannah starter Michael Antonini threw six no-hit innings before leaving when he reached his pitch count. Gregory Sexton broke up the no-hitter in the seventh, but that was Columbus’ (Rays) only hit in the Sand Gnats 2-0 win.

Hagerstown (Nationals) and Delmarva (Orioles) enjoyed Opening Night so much that they just kept on playing. Outfielder David Cash dropped an easy fly ball to allow Hagerstown’s Stephen King to score the winning run in the 14th inning.