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Compiled by Aaron Fitt, Chris Kline and Matt Meyers
August 8, 2005

GREENSBORO--As it's presently constituted, low Class A West Virginia is probably the most prospect-laden team in the South Atlantic League this season. Having featured Hernan Iribarren, Alcides Escobar, Mark Rogers and Yovani Gallardo all season, it recently added Charlie Fermaint and Angel Salome from Rookie-level Helena and 2005 first-rounder Ryan Braun. The Power prospects were in Greensboro yesterday to take on the Grasshoppers and of course, BA was there.

With Gallardo on the mound for West Virginia and lefthander Taylor Tankersley throwing for Greensboro, it offered the opportunity to see a 2004 second-rounder face off against a first-rounder. Tankersley opened the game by getting ahead of Fermaint 0-2. The Alabama product tried to sneak a 2-2, inside fastball by Fermaint and the 19-year-old turned on it to produce his second homer in eight SAL games and give the Power a 1-0 lead.

After that, Tankersley seemed unable to throw his fastball inside for strikes against righthanded hitters. In the second, he walked Salome to lead off the inning, as well as Josh Brady and Josh Miller, all righthanded. He managed to escape with only allowing one run, but he was clearly laboring as he was unable to command his fastball.

Tankersley got himself into trouble again in the third as Iribarren led off with a single and Escobar reached on an error. He got ahead of cleanup hitter Grant Richardson, but hung an 0-2 changeup that was smoked into center to load the bases. The lefthander managed to fan Braun for the second time on a looping inside curveball, but Salome sat on a first-pitch fastball and deposited it into the gap in right center to drive in two and put the Power up 4-0, a lead they never relinquished.

Tankersley's only saving grace was his curveball, a big 12-to-6 breaker around 74 mph he used to fan Braun three times, and six overall in five difficult innings. His fastball was erratic. Although it touched 92, he never seemed to control it and he was visibly frustrated as West Virginia hitters were extremely patient.

Gallardo, on the other hand, was in command from the start. He was using his fastball, which was sitting in the 88-92 mph range (and touched 93) to get ahead of hitters and his cutter to put them away. His cutter, which was coming in around 82-85, was giving righthanded hitters fits. The righthander went six innings and fanned eight while inducing twice as many ground balls as fly balls. The only blemish on his day was giving up a solo shot to Brad McCann with two outs in the sixth.

Gallardo struggled a bit during the first half of the season as he tried to strike everybody out. Now that he is trusting his fielders and challenging hitters with a wicked fastball-cutter combo, he is seeing success and the strikeouts are coming anyway. Since July 1, the 19-year-old is 4-0, 2.41 with 43 strikeouts and 15 walks in 41 innings.



• Although he was better Sunday, Triple-A Durham righthander Jason Hammel continues to struggle in the International League. In his previous start against Norfolk last week, Hammel had trouble getting out of the first inning and battled command problems. His overall line in that game was two innings, three earned runs on one hit, six walks and two strikeouts. Sunday at Charlotte, the 22-year-old allowed three runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out four. Since being promoted from Double-A Montgomery, Hammel is now 1-0, 4.68 with a 19-16 strikeout-walk ratio in 25 innings.

• Righthander Zach Miner made his first start in the Tigers' system since being traded along with righthander Roman Colon for reliever Kyle Farnsworth. Miner, the Braves' fourth-round pick in 2000, tossed five shutout innings for Toledo in his debut, allowing just two hits, striking out five and walking three. Miner went 2-7, 4.23 in 89 innings at Triple-A Richmond before being assigned to Toledo after the deal.

• Mets second baseman Anderson Hernandez has been on fire recently at Triple-A Norfolk. Over the last week, the 22-year-old Dominican is hitting .455 (10-for-22) with five stolen bases. Since being called up from Double-A Binghamton, Hernandez is hitting .314/.368/.425 in 153 at-bats.

• Orioles' righthander Hayden Penn was back to his normal self in a dominating performance Friday night in Double-A Bowie's 7-1 win against Erie. Penn threw seven shutout innings, allowing just two hits and struck out 12. It was the first time Penn posted double-digit strikeout numbers since April 29.

• Injuries and the resulting poor play by reserves have plagued the Indians system this season, but three players are standing out at Double-A Akron. Shortstop Ivan Ochoa and outfielders Brad Snyder and Ben Francisco put up big numbers in the Eastern League over the last week, helping the Aeros hold down first place in the Southern Division. Ochoa, whose glove has always been ahead of his bat, finished the week hitting .450 (9-for-20); Snyder batted .419 (13-for-31) with three homers and 11 RBIs and Francisco hit .375 (9-for-24). And keep an eye on outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, who is finally healthy and heating up and hitting .345 in August since being demoted from Triple-A Buffalo.

• Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis finished up his first full week in Double-A with a seven-game hit streak and drove in 10 runs. Markakis, the O's No. 1 prospect, batted .300-12-62 in 350 at-bats at high Class A Frederick this season prior to his promotion.

• Athletics first baseman Daric Barton hasn't flashed much of his plus raw power since joining Double-A Midland on July 4, but he hit his first home run since July 22 in Midland's 11-7 loss to Frisco yesterday, ending a streak of 52 at-bats without going deep. Oakland's No. 2 prospect also registered his first four-hit game at the Double-A level, after he recorded three of them in an eight-game stretch in June at high Class A Stockton. Barton is hitting .302/.387/.500 with three homers and 21 RBIs in 106 at-bats at Midland.

• Rangers catcher Dustin Smith has been red hot since returning to high Class A Bakersfield from Frisco, where he hit just .238 in 63 at-bats. Smith went 3-for-5 with a double and a triple in Bakersfield's 8-3 win Sunday against Visalia and is hitting .485 in 33 at-bats since being reassigned July 15. He has posted multiple hits in seven of his 10 games back in Bakersfield.

• A's righthander Brad Ziegler has shown exemplary command at high Class A Stockton. He has posted an impressive 136-20 strikeout-walk ratio in 135 innings (he leads the California League in strikeouts) but opponents are batting .291 against him. Ziegler has gotten hot lately, posting his sixth consecutive strong outing in the Ports’ 4-2 win against Lake Elsinore on Sunday. He struck out 10, walked none and yielded just two runs on four hits over eight innings of work. Ziegler, whose season ended last year when he was hit in the head by a Fred Lewis line drive in the Cal League playoffs, has gone at least six innings in each of his last six starts and has allowed no more than three runs in any of them. He improved to 9-7, 4.80 on the year.

• In his fifth start at high Class A Fort Myers, Twins righthander Anthony Swarzak had his best Florida State League outing, limiting Dunedin to a run on seven hits and no walks over six strong innings. The 2004 second-round pick only struck out one batter in the game and did not factor in the decision; he is still looking for his first FSL win. Swarzak is 0-2, 4.71 in 29 innings after going 9-5, 4.04 in 91 innings at low Class A Beloit.

• Dodgers outfielder Anthony Raglani fell a single short of the cycle in high Class A Vero Beach's 9-3 win against Palm Beach on Sunday. Raglani drove in Cory Dunlap with a first-inning triple, then drove in Dunlap again with an inside-the-park home run to center field in the third. Raglani, the Dodgers' fifth-round pick in the 2004 draft out of George Washington, added a double in the seventh inning and finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs. He is hitting .288/.381/.470 with 12 homers and 57 RBIs on the year.

• Diamondbacks righthander Dustin Nippert was solid in Double-A Tennessee's 3-2 loss to Carolina yesterday. The 6-foot-7, 215-pounder allowed a run on eight hits and struck out six over 7 2/3 innings, but the Mudcats scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth on RBI singles by Rex Rundgren and Chris Bass to win the game. In his last two starts, Nippert is 1-0, 1.32 with 13 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings. On the season, Nippert is now 6-3, 2.73 in 86 innings.

• The Royals called up outfielder Billy Butler to Double-A Saturday. Butler, the 14th overall pick in 2004, went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in his debut at Wichita. Prior to his callup, Butler batted .348-25-91 in 379 at-bats for high Class A High Desert.

• White Sox outfielder Jerry Owens continued his recent tear by extending his hitting streak to 14 games over the weekend. A second-round pick of the Expos in 2003, Owens is hitting .460 (29-for-63) during the streak with 12 runs scored. On the season, the Barons leadoff hitter is batting .340/.400/.403 with 73 runs scored in 400 at-bats. Not bad for a guy who skipped high Class A.

• Speaking of tears, Nationals outfielder Frank Diaz has been lighting up the Carolina League. Diaz has a nine-game hit streak, during which he's batting .547 (23-for-42). On the season, the 21-year-old Dominican is batting .323/.345/.513 with 13 homers in 452 at-bats for high Class A Potomac. Diaz also leads the league with 15 outfield notes.

• Mariners infielder Yung-Chi Chen also has started off the month of August red-hot. Chen, who has split time this season at second and third base at low Class A Wisconsin, went 5-for-11 over the weekend and is hitting .433 in 30 at-bats this month. On the season, the 22-year-old Taiwan native is batting .296/.343/.403 in 429 at-bats for the Timber Rattlers.

• After tying the Appalachian League home run record in 2004 with 24, Mitch Einertson was having an awful year in the South Atlantic League, hitting .224-6-30 through July 10. The outfielder went home to Oceanside, Calif., to deal with personal issues and did not return until Sunday. For one day, he seemed to have things back in order as he went 2-for-4 with a home run for low Class A Lexington.

Eric Campbell is abusing Appalachian League pitching. The Danville third baseman was 8-for-12 on the weekend including his 11th homer. The 20-year-old (and 2003 Aflac All-American) is now hitting .313/.377.609.

• The Red Sox tried out lefthander Adam Blackley at low Class A Greenville this season, and the results weren't pretty. In 60 innings, the 20-year-old Australian went 2-7, 6.15, and managed just 42 strikeouts while allowing 75 hits. Boston sent Blackley down to short-season Lowell, and since mid-June, the results have been much better. Friday night, the younger brother of Mariners lefthander Travis Blackley tossed six shutout innings, allowed just four hits and struck out 10 in the Spinners' 4-0 win against Williamsport. In 48 innings, Blackley is 4-1, 3.59 with a 51-12 strikeout-walk ratio.

• Righthander Mike Madsen, a fixture in Ohio State’s rotation during his college career, has taken to pro ball well with short-season Vancouver. The Athletics’ 21st-round pick improved to 4-0, 1.15 with eight two-hit, shutout innings to beat Spokane on Friday. Madsen didn’t issue a walk and struck out six to beat Spokane and has walked just eight in 47 innings while limiting hitters to a .182 average.

Helena, with an eight-game winning streak, continued to dominate the Rookie-level Pioneer League, and it’s not just because of its hitters. Friday, four Brewers pitchers combined on a no-hitter in an 11-0 win against Billings. Sunday, righthander Will Inman, the Brewers' third-round pick in June, struck out 10 in seven hitless innings, and the Brewers finished with a combined one-hitter in a 5-1 victory against Billings. Inman, who walked one, improved to 4-0, 2.40 in his longest outing as a pro. The stocky 6-foot-1, 205-pounder, has a low-90s fastball and swing-and-miss curveball that helped him set the state of Virginia's all-time high school strikeouts record.

Casper righthander Chaz Roe, the Rockies' supplemental first-round pick, has gotten on a roll, winning his last three starts. Saturday, Roe struck out eight in six innings and gave up only one run while walking two to beat Ogden. Overall, Roe is 3-1, 2.81 with 27 strikeouts and 18 walks allowed in 26 innings.

• White Sox catcher Francisco Hernandez, the organization's No. 9 prospect when the season began, has found his hitting stroke again in the Pioneer League, extending his current hitting streak to six games. Hernandez hit just .222 in the low Class A South Atlantic League to start the year but has improved to .304/.364/.522 with six homers and 17 RBIs for Rookie-level Great Falls since being sent down.

• Outfielder Jay Bruce, the Reds' 2005 first-round pick, continues to put all five tools on display in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. Bruce hit safely in every game this weekend, punctuated by a home run (his third) and a double Sunday in a 5-1 win against the Twins. However, Bruce also was picked off at first base and caught stealing for the third time in four attempts. Bruce, who missed a week in mid-July with a bruised thumb, has 11 extra-base hits among his 23 hits total and is slugging .500 while batting .274.

• The Cubs signed 12th-round pick Yusuf Carter, a catcher out of El Paso Community College, and he made an impact in his first weekend in the Rookie-level Arizona League, going 3-for-9 for the weekend and swatting a home run in his third game Sunday in an 11-2 win against the Angels. Carter was drafted for the third time this year--the Mariners drafted him in the 38th round in 2003 out of a New York high school, and the A's drafted him in 2004 in the 34th round.

Contributing: John Manuel.

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