Daily Dish: Aug. 8

See also: Monday’s Daily Dish
See also: Today’s Baseball America Prospect Report

The Brewers Will Inman is continuing to show why he was named the best pitching prospect in the South Atlantic League in our recent Best Tools survey. He is also proving to be one of the more mature 19-year-old pitchers around.

The righthander had his longest and arguably most dominant outing of his career on Monday in low Class A West Virginia’s 4-0 victory against Rome. He allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out nine in eight shutout innings. While he was not given a chance to complete his masterpiece, Inman put it in proper perspective.

“I kind of wanted to go back out in the ninth and we had a talk about it, but this isn’t the major leagues,” Inman told the Charleston (W.V.) Daily Mail. “You have to look to the future and my pitch count was pretty high.”

Through eight innings, Inman threw 96 pitches and 70 of them were strikes. After allowing a single to Rome leadoff hitter Quentin Davis to open the game, Inman did not allow another hit until the fifth inning and then retired the final 11 batters he faced.

“You can’t really ask for anything more,” West Viginia manager Mike Guerrero told the paper. “He had a great performance and threw a gem. To do what he did tonight, throwing eight scoreless innings, he was unhittable.”

The victory improved Inman’s record to 9-1, 1.48. In 79 innings he has 90 strikeouts and 19 walks and has not allowed a home run. He has held opponents to a .199 average and has a WHIP of 0.95. He missed a month earlier in the season with a sore shoulder and durability has proven to be the only obstacle thus far in the 6-foot Inman’s career.

A third-round pick out of Tunstall High in Dry Fork, Va., in 2005, Inman works with a fastball that sits in the low 90s and has a slurvy curveball that is a plus pitch. Most important for him last night was that he had his changeup working as well.

“All my pitches felt good out there,” Inman told the paper. “I was able to keep them off-balance with an effective curveball and changeup, mixed in with my fastball.”


Gomez Goes Nuts

When in his early 20s and an emerging five-tool talent with the Royals, Alexis Gomez was noted for the power displays he showed in batting practice. Like many young prospects, though, he struggled to apply the tool in game action.

Prior to this season, he had hit just 47 home runs in seven U.S. minor league seasons, with a high of 14 for Double-A Wichita in 2002.

Naturally, the lefty-hitting Gomez launched four home runs–his fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh of the season–for Triple-A Toledo in a 15-8 win Monday at Columbus. In the process he more than doubled his season total for long balls and became the ninth player in International League history to hit four in a game.

“It was a pretty exciting day, especially because we won,” Gomez told the Toledo Blade. “I didn’t even try to hit it out. This was the most exciting game of my career.”

Gomez has hit .265/.307/.361 in 83 at-bats for the Tigers this season as a backup corner outfielder and pinch runner.

“It was some kind of night for Gomez,” manager Larry Parrish told the paper. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen four home runs before. You’ve got a short porch and there was a little bit of wind out there, and our pitcher and their pitcher weren’t locating well.

“It was just a good night to hit.”


Snider On A Tear

Blue Jays outfielder Travis Snider is hitting .444 with five home runs in six August games for Rookie-level Pulaski. With his two-home run, two-double outburst against Danville yesterday, the 18-year-old leads the Appalachian League in home runs (10) and slugging percentage (.592), and ranks second in RBIs (33) and third in extra-base hits (21).

“I’m still swinging at some bad pitches,” Snider told the Roanoke Times, “but for the most part I’m seeing pitches a lot better and waiting to get a pitch I can drive. I’ve been hitting with two strikes on me and my confidence has been growing . . .  I feel really confident right now.”

Snider pulled his first home run to right, but his second shot traveled 400 feet to dead center and caromed off the batters’ eye.

It was the opposite-field double, though, that most impressed manager Dave Pano. “That’s what we’ve been really working with him on, trying to use the other side of the field,” he told the paper.

 The lefty-batting Snider has hit .340 against southpaws in 50 at-bats, with four of his home runs. He does have 17 strikeouts against them, though, compared with 23 in twice as many at-bats against righthanders.


Ford Tough

Josh Ford has always hit, dating back to his 2003 sophomore season at Baylor, when he swatted 12 home runs and drove in 63. He followed that campaign up with 14 and nine homers in his next two college seasons before the Diamondbacks drafted him in the ninth round last year.

The 6-foot-2, 235-pound catcher batted .282 in 163 at-bats at short-season Yakima in his pro debut last summer, and he has continued to hold his own this year despite skipping a level to high Class A Lancaster. Ford collected his second straight two-hit game Monday against High Desert, emerging from a slump that saw him go 15 consecutive games without a multi-hit performance. The 23-year-old is batting .275/.336/.351 through 305 at-bats.

“I didn’t know much about him, but he can hit,” said an American League scout who covers the California League. “Then I hear that he hit at Baylor, so his track record and his swing say he can hit. I also saw a good catch-and-throw guy, the arm was average when I saw him, maybe fringe average.”

The arm strength is a good sign that Ford is all the way back from 2004 shoulder surgery that limited him to DH duties in his junior season at Baylor. While Ford can clearly hit, it remains to be seen if he’ll hit for the kind of pop in pro ball that he showed in college.



• Indians lefthanders David Huff and Dan Cevette both threw simulated games for short-season Mahoning Valley while the club was on the road at State College on Monday. Huff, the 39th overall pick this year out of UCLA, signed for a $900,000 bonus in late July and is expected to make his first start next week for the Scrappers. Cevette, on the other hand, is coming back from labrum surgery he had last November. The third-round pick in 2002 spent the bulk of last season at low Class A Lake County, where he went 5-4, 2.73 with 85 strikeouts in 82 innings.

• Double-A Tennessee lost two members of its rotation on Monday when the Diamondbacks completed the deal for Livan Hernandez, sending righthander Garrett Mock and lefthander Matt Chico to the Nationals in return. And with former Arizona scouting director Mike Rizzo now in Washington, Tennessee manager Bill Plummer wasn’t surprised Rizzo went after the two arms the Nationals received. “Not with Rizzo there,” Plummer told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “He knows our whole organization, and when you have a guy like that who leaves the organization, he isn’t going to miss.” This season, Mock went 4-8, 4.95 and allowed 144 hits in 131 innings for the Smokies. Chico, who started the year at high Class A Lancaster, was 10-6, 2.81 in 131 innings combined between the two stops. As far as filling the two holes in the rotation, righthander A.J. Shappi will fill one of the spots. Shappi, a ninth-rounder in 2004, went 8-7, 5.58 with 18 home runs allowed in 122 innings for the JetHawks.

• The Yankees made two moves yesterday, activating righthander Justin Pope from the disabled list at Double-A Trenton and placing outfielder Brett Gardner on the DL retroactive to Aug. 3. Pope, a first-round pick of the Cardinals in 2001, came over to New York with lefthander Ben Julianel for Sterling Hitchcock in 2003. The 26-year-old started the year at Triple-A Columbus and is 2-2, 3.33 in 54 innings combined this season. Gardner went on the DL with a left knee injury. A third-round pick last year out of College of Charleston, the 22-year-old was hitting .308/.407/.390 in 354 at-bats split between Trenton and high Class A Tampa.

• Phillies righthander Kyle Drabek earned his first win as a pro last night as he threw five shutout innings in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. The first-rounder from The Woodlands (Texas) High struck out five while walking one and allowing three hits to defeat the GCL Braves. Drabek is now 1-2, 7.20 in 15 innings.

• The short-season New York-Penn League had one of its more enticing pitching matchups of the year as Hudson Valley’s Jeremy Hellickson squared off against Aberdeen’s Pedro Beato. Neither was dominant though, and both took no decisions as Hudson Valley won 4-3. Hellickson, a fourth-rounder of the Devil Rays in 2005, went five innings and allowed two earned runs on four hits while fanning six. Beato, an Orioles supplemental first-rounder this year, also went five innings and allowed three earned runs (including two solo homers) on six hits while striking out five.

• After opening the season 0-7, things looked bleak for short-season Brooklyn, but the Cyclones have put together a turnaround that would make Lou Brown and Jake Taylor proud. After a 3-0 victory over rivals Staten Island last night, the Cyclones are now 29-18 and have won 14 of their last 15 games to move up to first place in the short-season New York-Penn League’s McNamara Division. Righthander Jacob Ruckle fanned 10 over eight-shutout innings to improve to 4-1, 2.41 while Dustin Martin, a 26th-round pick from Sam Houston State, continued to carry the offense by going 3-for-4 with two doubles. He is now hitting .338/.432/.510 and is second in the league in OBP and slugging.

Contributing: Chris Kline.