Daily Dish: May 30

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See also: Baseball America Prospect Report

Brewers second baseman Hernan Iribarren burst onto the prospect scene in 2004, grabbing attention when he won the Rookie-level Arizona League batting title and went on to have a red-hot 15-game stint at low Class A Beloit.

Now in the high Class A Florida State League, Iribarren garnered more attention over the weekend, but not the kind the Brewers would like to see.

Iribarren was ejected by the home-plate umpire in the seventh inning of Brevard County’s 10-9 12-inning win against Daytona after his bat cracked, and pieces of cork came flying out–with farm director Reid Nichols in attendance.

“It really didn’t matter if I was there or not–this was unprofessional from the start regardless of whether anyone from the organization was there,” Nichols said. “We are all very disappointed and this is obviously something we don’t condone.”

It is unclear how long Iribarren, who was 0-for-3 on the night, had been using his corked bat. But it wasn’t helping him generate power, something that has always been missing from the slap-and-dash middle infielder’s game. Through 174 at-bats, Iribarren was hitting .287/.323/.356 with nine extra-base hits, including one homer.

“It was drilled and corked through,” Nichols said. “He apologized to his teammates and the staff, but this is inexcusable. It’s embarrassing to him and it’s embarrassing to the organization.”

Iribarren received just a three-game suspension from the Florida State League for the incident.


Not Even Niese Can Turn Around Skid

Mired in a six-game losing streak, the low Class A Hagerstown Suns turned to their ace, Jon Niese, against Hickory last night. His counterpart, righthander Joe Bauserman, was far more efficient, however, and the Suns’ losing streak reached seven games after a 6-2 loss to the Crawdads.

Bauserman was efficient and allowed just six baserunners through seven innings while striking out two. After walking Joe Holden to lead off the game, he did not go to a three-ball count again the rest of the game. A two-sport star in high school in Florida, Bauserman turned down a scholarship to play quarterback at Ohio State to sign with the Pirates as fourth-round pick in 2004.

The 20-year-old seemed enamored with his curveball as he used it to get ahead and put hitters away. His fastball, which sat in the high 80s, featured impressive arm-side run which compensated for the average velocity. Because the Suns had such trouble with the breaking ball, he only needed to throw his changeup a handful of times.

Niese was solid but unspectacular in his 5 2/3 innings of work. His fastball sat in the 89-90 mph range while touching 92. He showed the ability to throw it inside to righthanders while working his changeup away, but he struggled to command his curveball or throw it with any bite. The lefthander fanned six, but walked four and allowed six hits in surrendering three runs.

Walks have been a consistent problem for Niese, a 2005 seventh-rounder out of Defiance (Ohio) High, as he doesn’t challenge hitters often enough.

“(He is) trying to do it all himself at times,” pitching coach Shawn Barton said after a recent Niese start. “You can see it is the high school mentality where he has got to learn to share the ball and not try and carry the load himself.”


Tata On The Verge?

Entering the 2005 season, Jordan Tata was hardly a blip on the Tigers organizational radar. But after the 13-month run that Tata is on, he now stands next in line for a spot in Detroit.

In spring training, the 2005 Florida State League pitcher of the year convinced new manager Jim Leyland that he was good enough to make the team and he got a spot in the bullpen. He eventually was sent back to Triple-A Toledo to work in a rotation again, and he could be back to help the major league team soon.

Tata recorded his third straight quality start on Monday, just his fourth since joining the Mud Hens. He allowed just four Rochester hits and one run over seven innings, beating Red Wings starter Kyle Lohse. He admitted he wasn’t dominant in the win.

“I really wasn’t on my game all night,” Tata told the Toledo Blade. “I just had to battle. It was a hot night, and I just had to work through it.”

Tata excels with a pair of low-90s fastballs, both a sinker and a cutter. His third pitch, a curveball, entered the year lagging behind the other two pitches. “I never got my curveball working,” Tata said of his Monday start. “I got away with a few pitches that normally they would have hit hard, but that’s baseball.”  

After spending April in Detroit’s bullpen, one of Tata’s largest challenges has been finding the endurance that allowed him to pitch 321 innings in the last two years. The Tigers have gradually lengthened his outings, and he should soon be ready to fill in at the big league level, if needed.

“I’m getting close,” Tata told the newspaper. “I wasn’t that fatigued, although I understand why I came out. In the game before I was definitely tired, so it’s slowly coming back.”



• The minor league umpire strike appears to have reached an end. The umpires union and Professional Baseball Umpire Corp. reached a tentative labor deal Friday, and union membership voted on the deal over the long weekend. If they accepted it (after turning down an earlier deal), the umpires could return to work by June 12. “Minor League Baseball did everything right and our union did everything wrong,” one of the striking umpires said, on condition of anonymity. “I guess we can chalk this up to a learning experience. I’m excited about going back to work because there’s nothing like being between the white lines. It’s when I get back to my hotel that I’ll regret it. We’re getting the same exact money and this didn’t resolve anything. We all just caved to get back for the all-star games.” . . .  The Rangers placed Double-A Frisco righthander Armando Galarraga on the seven-day disabled list with elbow soreness. Galarraga has struggled in the Texas League this season, with 1-6, 5.49 numbers in 41 innings . . . Norfolk righthander Evan MacLane won his fourth game in five Triple-A starts on Monday, allowing just four hits and one run in seven innings. The southpaw got 11 groundouts in his victory, dropping his Triple-A ERA to 1.93 . . . Tony Gwynn Jr.’s prospect status has faded in the three years since the Brewers drafted him in the second round, but the outfielder is making noise at the top of the Triple-A Nashville’s lineup. Gwynn’s three hits on Monday pushed his May average to .343, and he stole his 16th base . . . Luke Scott is no longer highly regarded in prospect circles, but he is having a noteworthy week. In his last five games, the Double-A Round Rock outfielder has hit five home runs, including two in each of his last two games . . . Indians lefthander Chuck Lofgren won his eighth game of the season for high Class A Kinston, moving him into a tie with Athletics righthander Jason Windsor for the minor league lead. Windsor won his eighth Sunday for Triple-A Sacramento. Lofgren held Wilmington to one run on three hits over seven innings Monday to improve to 8-2, 1.77. He handed Blue Rocks lefty Andrew Dobies his first loss of the season. . . . In another Carolina League showdown, Frederick righthander Radhames Liz bested Salem lefty Troy Patton and improved to 5-0, 1.80 by allowing two runs on seven hits over six innings. Patton yielded three runs–one earned–over 4 1/3 to drop to 1-6, 4.01. Liz allowed two home runs after giving up just two in 49 innings entering the day, and his three strikeouts were a season low. “He didn’t have the good stuff that he usually has,” Keys manager Bien Figueroa told the Frederick News-Post. “His breaking ball was not good today. He did throw some good changeups. He threw a lot of fastballs. Every first pitch was a fastball. I want to see him throw breaking balls (on the first pitch). Sometimes, you don’t always have that 95 mph fastball and you have to learn how to be a pitcher.”

Contributing: Aaron Fitt.