Low-A Dish: Chacin Dominates

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.

Weather forced the postponement of four Midwest League games, but there was still plenty of great action in Low-A on Tuesday night. There were heroics by Todd Frazier and several noteworthy pitching performances, but all of them were upstaged by the gem thrown by Jhoulys Chacin.

South Atlantic League

Asheville (Rockies) 2, Kannapolis (White Sox) 0

Asheville righthander Jhoulys Chacin put up the best pitching performance of the young season in Low-A. After finishing 2007 by going 5-2, 1.20 in his last 10 starts in the Pioneer League, Chacin has picked up where he left off in 2008. He tossed six shutout innings in his first start, though he battled some wildness to the tune of five walks, and was even better in start number two. On Tuesday night, Chacin threw eight shutout innings, allowed only three hits, walked one, and struck out nine. Chacin took a perfect game into the sixth before running into some trouble, as the Intimidators loaded the bases with two outs, but he got Christian Marrero to ground out to end the inning. After a 1-2-3 seventh, there was more trouble in the eighth. The Intimidators loaded the bases with no outs thanks to a walk and back-to-back singles, but Chacin got out of the jam by striking out Sergio Morales and Dale Molllenhauer, both looking, and getting Marrero to pop up. Craig Baker finished the game for Asheville, posting a perfect ninth.

Charleston (Yankees) 7, Savannah (Mets) 3

A prospect match up in Charleston between Dellin Betances and Savannah’s Mike Antonini turned out to be pretty one-sided. Betances, making his second start coming off an elbow injury, was generally solid for 5 1/3 innings but struggled with his control. Betances allowed only two runs on two hits with eight strikeouts, but issued six walks as well. Antonini, on the other hand, struggled in allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits and three walks before being pulled in the third. The Charleston offense was led by second baseman Justin Snyder and DH Bradley Suttle, each of whom went 3-for-5.

Columbus (Rays) 14, Rome (Braves) 1

Another match up of mound prospects that turned out even more lopsided took place in Rome, where Braves no. 8 prospect Jeff Locke was roughed up while Columbus’s Alex Cobb cruised. Locke allowed nine hits and 10 runs (eight earned) in just 3 1/3 innings. Meanwhile, Cobb turned in a workmanlike six innings, allowing only one run on three hits. The decisive rally came in the top of the fourth, when Columbus scored seven times. Already leading 4-0 through three, the Catfish opened the game up with five hits in the inning and were aided by a key fielding error by Rome second baseman Cole Miles. The big blow came off the bat of Columbus left fielder Reid Fronk, who hit a bases-loaded double to make the score 9-0 and knock Locke out of the game.

Hagerstown (Nationals) 5, Lakewood (Phillies) 2

Former Cuban defector Hassan Pena tossed five shutout innings for the Suns as they downed Lakewood. Pena was noted for his wildness in the New York-Penn League last year, but control was not an issue last night, his first start of 2008, as he allowed only one walk to go with four hits. Michael Burgess, the No. 4 prospect in Washington’s system, hit his second home run of the year.

Greensboro (Marlins) 6, Hickory (Pirates) 1

Greensboro used a four-run second inning to even their series with Hickory. Greensboro starter Brett Durand turned in five two-hit shutout innings. Three relievers took it the rest of the way, holding the Crawdads to only one unearned run on one hit over the final four innings. Right fielder Mike Stanton homered for the Grasshoppers. Stanton, Florida’s 2007 second round pick, now has hits in five of Greensboro’s six games and is quickly erasing any memories of his struggles during his pro debut last year when he hit .161 between the Gulf Coast and New York-Penn Leagues.

Augusta (Giants) 6, West Virginia (Brewers) 4

Augusta first baseman Thomas Neal hit a go-ahead home run in the top of the seventh, his second consecutive game with a homer, to lead the GreenJackets over the Power. After a solid showing in the AZL in 2007, in which he hit .308/.413/.462, Neal has opened 2008 on a six-game hitting streak.

Lexington (Astros) 13, Greenville (Red Sox) 2

Lexington used a seven-run fourth inning to rout Greenville. Three Lexington players had three hits, including catcher Max Sapp who went 3-for-5 with a double, a homer, and three RBIs, and every member of the Legends’ lineup had at least one hit.

Lake County (Indians) 5, Delmarva (Orioles) 3

Lake County second baseman Karexon Sanchez hit his first home run of the season. A 20-year-old Venezuelan native, Sanchez had a brief but strong showing the the NY-Penn League in 2007, hitting .333/.488/.515 in 11 games. Lake County closer Vinnie Pestano struck out the side in the ninth to preserve the victory.

Midwest League

Great Lakes (Dodgers) 5, West Michigan (Tigers) 1

Great Lakes handed West Michigan its first loss of the season, as the Whitecaps’ hot bats were cooled off by Loons righthanders Justin Miller and Robert Blevins. The Whitecaps had reached double digits in runs three times in their first five games, including an 11-1 rout of Great Lakes on Monday night. Miller, noted as a groundball pitcher thanks to his sinking low-90s fastball, was true to form last night in inducing 10 groundouts in five innings of work. Blevins came out of the bullpen in the sixth and took it the rest of the way, retiring the final 11 hitters he faced. Offensively, the Loons were led by left fielder Andrew Lambo, who went 3-for-3 with a double, a triple, and three RBIs.

Lansing (Blue Jays) 9, South Bend (Diamondbacks) 3

Lansing first baseman Manuel Rodriguez continued to swing the hottest bat in Low-A, going 2-for-4 with four RBIs (yet his average actually dropped 20 points from .611 to .591). A three-run homer by Rodriguez highlighted a six run first inning, in which all six runs were scored with two outs, as Lansing put the game out of reach early. Trystan Magnuson was strong on the mound for the Lugnuts, working 3 2/3 shutout innings allowing only one hit. It was the fifth straight win for the Lugnuts, while the Silver Hawks dropped to 0-6 and are the only team in low Class A team yet to win a game.

Dayton (Reds) 5, Fort Wayne (Padres) 4

Dayton shortstop Todd Frazier hit two home runs, including a walk-off shot, to help the Dragons overcome an early 4-1 deficit for their second straight one run victory over Fort Wayne. Frazier’s heroics were set up partly by the Dayton bullpen, where three relievers kept the Dragons in the game by pitching 5 2/3 shutout innings, and by third baseman Brandon Waring who hit a game-tying two run homer in the bottom of the seventh. Righthander Jeremy McBryde took the loss for Fort Wayne. McBryde allowed only two hits over 3 1/3 innings of relief, but both of them left the ballpark.