AAA Dish: Bulls Bats Heat Up

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.

International League

• Durham (Rays) 5, Toledo (Tigers) 4
You won’t find a Triple-A lineup more prospect-studded at the top than Durham’s. Fernando Perez, Reid Brignac, Justin Ruggiano and Evan Longoria occupied the top four spots last night, going a combined 5-for-16 with four walks. Brignac and Perez doubled, and Longoria drew a crucial walk in the ninth inning that helped put the Bulls in position to win on the road. (Indianapolis’ lineup may be a close second to Durham, with Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker and Steve Pearce.) Making his first Triple-A start, Durham righthander Chris Mason went 4 1/3 while giving up two unearned runs on three hits, striking out four and walking one. Toledo right fielder Matt Joyce drove in two and connected for his first Triple-A double and homer.

• Syracuse (Blue Jays) 5, Louisville (Reds) 3
Jay Bruce didn’t play in this one, but Syracuse left fielder Adam Lind continued his early-season tear with three hits in four trips. He drove in two runs, and reached in the ninth as a precedent to Hector Luna’s walk-off home run. Chiefs catcher Robinzon Diaz went 2-for-4, and is now 5-for-10 on the young season. He makes all kinds of contact, so he could be in the batting race for the long haul. And finally, Syracuse lefty Davis Romero made his first start since 2006, as he missed all of last year to a shoulder injury. He went three innings, giving up two hits, striking out two and walking one.

• Norfolk (Orioles) 2, Buffalo (Indians) 1, 7 innings
• Norfolk (Orioles) 9, Buffalo (Indians) 8, 7 innings

The Tides’ doubleheader sweep obscured a good day by Bisons first baseman Jordan Brown, last year’s MVP of the Eastern League. He was 2-for-6 with a walk and two RBIs. In a system of highly-drafted first-base prospects (Michael Aubrey, Stephen Head), Brown may be the best. The (rainy) day otherwise belonged to the Tides, who staged a final-inning rally, scoring six times, in Game 2 to finish the sweep. Righthander Radhames Liz started the game but finished with mixed results: 4 2/3 innings, six hits, five runs, two walks but seven strikeouts. Norfolk manager Garry Allenson summed it up, telling the Virginia Pilot:

“He needs to establish his fastball better. When you throw 96 miles per hour, you don’t need to trick them.”

• Pirates shortstop Brian Bixler and Twins center fielder Denard Span were both called to the big leagues over the weekend. Both played in Triple-A last year, so let’s review. Bixler batted .274/.368/.396 with 28 stolen bases, and Span hit .267/.323/.355 with 25 steals.

Pacific Coast League

• Memphis (Cardinals) 7, Oklahoma (Rangers) 1
Center fielder Colby Rasmus was star of the game, connecting for his first Triple-A home runs, in a game in which the Redbirds, led by veteran righthander John Wasdin, limited the opposition to three hits. The 2005 first-rounder (Rasmus, not Wasdin—though Wasdin did go 25th overall in 1993) went 2-for-4 with the aforementioned homer and a walk.

• Colorado Springs (Rockies) 10, Tucson (D’backs) 7
Ian Stewart helped power the Sky Sox’ third straight win over the Sidewinders with a pair of hits and a double, marking the third game out of four played this year in which the third baseman has turned that trick. Teammate and first baseman Joe Koshansky crushed a solo home run in a 2-for-4 effort that included a walk and two runs scored.

• Tacoma (Mariners) 3, Sacramento (A’s) 2
The Rainiers and River Cats were slated to play two, but they were lucky to get in even one game—and that contest was interrupted for 80 minutes by rain. Last year’s minor league strikeout king, lefty Gio Gonzalez made the start for Sacramento, his first as a member of the A’s organization, but got in only three innings before the rain. He allowed a run on a pair of hits, striking out three and walking two. Sacramento DH Carlos Gonzalez was 2-for-4 in the seven-inning game, while catcher Landon Powell, who may have the strongest throwing arm in Triple-A, went 1-for-3 with a double. Tacoma second baseman Yung Chi Chen managed a steal against him, in a 1-for-3 effort.