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Daily Dish Archive: September

By Josh Boyd

September 11, 2003

This year's minor league playoffs have set a stage for a host of prospects to extend their regular season success. Of course, it's only a snapshot of as few as five games for some players, two starts for some pitchers, but we've decided to bring back one of our most popular features The Prospect Hot Sheet--postseason style.

As usual, our lists are based first and foremost on prospect status, but with the PHS, performance weighs heavily into the rankings. We'll continue to present offseason PHS with fall and winter ball prospects. Here's a look at the first-ever Playoff Prospect Hot Sheet:

  1. Jeff Francis, lhp, low Class A Visalia (Rockies)
  2. Alexis Rios, of, Double-A New Haven (Blue Jays)
  3. Andy Sisco, lhp, low Class A Lansing (Cubs)
  4. Casey Kotchman, 1b, high Class A Rancho Cucamonga (Angels)
  5. Matt Peterson, rhp, high Class A St. Lucie (Mets)
  6. Grady Sizemore, of, Double-A Akron (Indians)
  7. Scott Kazmir, lhp, high Class A St. Lucie (Mets)
  8. Kris Honel, rhp, high Class A Winston-Salem (White Sox)
  9. Felix Pie, of, low Class A Lansing (Cubs)
  10. Prince Fielder, 1b, low Class A Beloit (Brewers)
  11. Justin Leone, 3b, Double-A San Antonio (Mariners)
  12. Anthony Lerew, rhp, low Class A Rome (Braves)

Others receiving votes: Danny Wright, 3b, Class A St. Lucie (Mets); Jon Switzer, lhp, Triple-A Durham (Devil Rays); Bobby Wilson, c, Rookie-level Provo (Angels); Erik Thompson, rhp, Class A Stockton (Rangers); Nathan Panther, of, Lake County (Indians); Alberto Callaspo, 2b, Class A Rancho Cucamonga (Angels).


• Tonight's featured postseason prospect matchup: Lake County righthander Fausto Carmona, who will pitch for his second playoff victory after winning 17 regular-season games, faces Rome righty Matt Wright. Wright went 10-2, 1.65 with 53 hits allowed in 82 innings for Rome, finishing his season on a seven-game winning streak. He regularly hit 92-93 mph and shows a good curveball and changeup.

• Rangers righthander Erik Thompson tossed six shutout innings to send Class A Stockton into the California League championship series against Southern Division champs Inland Empire (Mariners). Ryan Ketchner gets the nod for Inland Empire against lefty Sam Narron in the series opener tonight.

• Yesterday's featured matchup recap: New Haven righthander Dustin McGowan struggled for four innings, allowing six hits and six runs. He suffered the loss in what was his last start of the 2003 season. McGowan entered the year as the top-ranked Blue Jays prospect and didn't do anything to relinquish his title (though his New Haven teammate Alexis Rios will give him a run for his money) after opening the season in high Class A Dunedin. McGowan finished the season with 138 strikeouts in 152 innings. He was a perfect 7-0 after a midseason promotion to Double-A. Akron starter Kyle Denney earned the win last night as Akron took Game Two 9-7. Denney surrendered eight hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings.

September 10, 2003

Giants rookie righthander Jesse Foppert needs Tommy John surgery putting his 2004 season in jeopardy. The 23-year-old went 8-9, 5.03 with 101 strikeouts in 111 innings, but his velocity dipped into the high-80s.

Foppert emerged as the No. 1 Giants prospect heading into this season and sat in the low-90s, topping out in the mid- to high-90s last season in the minors.

Foppert left his Aug. 20 start after 3 1/3 innings and was placed on the disabled list with a nerve problem in his right elbow. He tore his ulnar collateral ligament while rehabbing during a simulated game at Pac Bell Park on Sunday.

"I kind of accepted it because I knew when it happened, it was something serious," Foppert told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I'm still kind of in shock. I never had any pain or anything in my arm. I'd kind of like to know if it happened on one pitch or a series of them. I guess we'll never know."

Foppert, the Giants second-round pick out of the University of San Francisco in 2001, allowed 103 hits and 69 walks.


• St. Lucie lefthander Scott Kazmir outpitched Dunedin righthander Vince Perkins to cap the Florida State League playoffs last night. Kazmir allowed one hit over 5 1/3 scoreless innings. He fanned six and walked four to earn his first postseason victory. Kazmir ends his first full minor league season with 157 strikeouts in 119 innings between low Class A Capital City and St. Lucie. Perkins, whose command troubled him throughout the year, dropped both of his playoff starts after working a career-high 129 regular season innings. "He's still in a learning curve," Blue Jays assistant general manager Chris Buckley said. "He's a power pitcher and some nights his command is just off. He's still a work in progress." But Buckley was impressed with Perkins' development this season. The righthander tallied 129 strikeouts and allowed just 77 hits.

• Rockies lefthander Jeff Francis won his sixth straight game for high Class A Visalia, including two straight playoff shutouts. Last night, Francis fanned 10 over nine three-hit innings against Stockton. He carved up the Ports with command of an average fastball and plus slider. His counterpart Kelvin Jimenez pitched well for Stockton, but took the loss. Jimenez, 6-5, 4.73 on the season, was clocked between 91-95 mph and flashed a hard slider and good changeup. He fanned seven in six innings, allowing five hits and two runs.

• Tonight's featured prospect matchup: New Haven's Dustin McGowan vs. Akron's Kyle Denney. McGowan, whose fastball touched 98 mph and slider hit 89 mph in his first postseason start last week, has thrown a career-high 152 innings, not including the seven-inning outing against New Britain in the first round. He worked 148 innings last year in low Class A Charleston. Denney was rocked for nine hits and five runs in 4 1/3 innings against Altoona last week.

September 9, 2003

Tonight's featured prospect matchup: St. Lucie lefthander Scott Kazmir vs. Dunedin righthander Vince Perkins.

Kazmir, 19, and Perkins, 21, started the year overpowering the low Class A South Atlantic League. Kazmir was limited by a strict pitch count in April and May, but earned a promotion to St. Lucie in July after holding opponents to a .185 average with 105 strikeouts in 76 innings. Kazmir, who was regularly clocked at 92-96 mph, punched out 40 in 33 innings while surrendering 29 hits.

Perkins presented more of a mismatch than Kazmir and was elevated to Dunedin by May, after limiting hitters to a .136 average and fanning 60 in 44 innings. Florida State League batters didn't find contact much more frequently. Perkins kept hitters at a .201 clip, allowing 58 hits in 84 innings, though his command wandered as he walked 53 against 69 strikeouts. His 97 mph fastball will assure scouts' radar guns will be working overtime in tonight's Game Four contest.

Kazmir tossed four scoreless innings for St. Lucie in the first round of the FSL playoffs, while Perkins suffered the loss for Dunedin when he gave up five hits and seven runs in four innings.


• Righthander Josh Fields nailed down his fifth playoff save in Winston-Salem's three-game sweep of Lynchburg for the Carolina League championship. Fields earned postseason MVP honors for his dominance in relief. Despite pitching in just 5 2/3 innings, he tied teammate Kris Honel for the most postseason strikeouts (11). Fields went 6-7, 3.10 with 20 saves during the regular season. He relies on a cutter and slider and lives in the strike zone.

• Rockies righthander Ubaldo Jimenez started for high Class A Visalia in Game Three against Stockton last night, not lefty Jeff Francis as reported here yesterday. The 19-year-old went 10-6, 3.46 for low Class A Asheville before being promoted for one start in Visalia. He took the loss last night, walking five in five innings. Francis is scheduled to start tonight against Stockton righthander Kelvin Jimenez.

• Lake County righthander Sean Smith goes to the mound against Rome righthander Blaine Boyer in the SAL championship series. Boyer recovered from a dismal start to the year to finish the regular season on a nine-game winning stretch. The 22-year-old made some adjustments to his approach and was frequently dialing his fastball up to 94-95 mph while showing an improved curveball and changeup. He registered 115 strikeouts in 137 innings.

• Other matchups to watch tonight: Sacramento lefthander John Rheinecker faces Nashville righty Ryan Vogelsong in Game One of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League championship series. In the Double-A Texas League championship series, San Antonio sends power righthander Clint Nageotte to the hill against Frisco righty Juan Dominguez.

September 8, 2003

Ben Hendrickson's first postseason start in Game One of the first-round of the Southern League playoffs put Huntsville in a1-0 hole in the series. The Brewers Double-A affiliate rallied to win in five games, and Hendrickson, who allowed five runs in five innings against Birmingham in last week's opener, will get his chance at redemption tonight in the first game of the Southern League championship series against Carolina.

His counterpart, Trevor Hutchinson, is also hoping to bounce back from an ugly Game One performance against Tennessee last week. He gave up a season-high 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings, before Carolina rallied to win.

Hendrickson missed time earlier this season with a sore elbow, but he finished 2-2, 2.67 in August. His fastball tops out at 93 and he'll pitch around 89-90. His go-to pitch is a big breaking 12-to-6 curveball.

Tonight's matchup marks the second time Hutchinson and Hendrickson have met in the last month. Hendrickson won on August 24 when he gave up two unearned runs and fanned five in five innings, while Hutchinson was knocked out after giving up seven runs (three earned) and eight hits in four innings.

Hutchinson, drafted by the Marlins in the third round in 2002, signed late and didn't make his pro debut until this season. The University of Cal product started the year 9-2, 2.77 in Class A Jupiter before a midseason promotion to Carolina, where he went 3-3, 3.86. In 129 innings, the sinkerballer surrendered 109 hits and 29 walks. He struck out 76.

Hutchinson has good command of an 87-89 mph fastball, slider and changeup.


• One of the top pitching prospects in baseball, righthander Edwin Jackson is scheduled to make his major league debut for the Dodgers against Randy Johnson on Tuesday night in Arizona. Jackson went 7-7, 3.70 with 157 strikeouts in 148 innings for Double-A Jacksonville this season. His fastball regularly sits in the mid-90s and he'll touch 97-98 consistently. His slider has developed into a plus offering and his changeup is at least an average major league pitch.

• Beloit righthander Dennis Sarfate and Clinton righty Nick Masset matchup in the deciding Midwest League divisional series playoff tonight. The winner advances to face Lansing in the league championship series. Sarfate won his 10th straight decision in Beloit's playoff opener against Wisconsin last week.

• Friday's featured prospect matchup: Altoona righthander John VanBenschoten couldn't get out of the first inning after allowing six runs in 2/3 of an inning to Akron. Akron righthander Kyle Denney wasn't able to take advantage, though Akron sailed to an 11-6 victory. Denney was knocked out after allowing five runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. Akron eliminated Altoona from the first-round series with a 7-0 shutout behind righthander Kyle Evans on Saturday. Indians star prospect Grady Sizemore hit .400 with five RBIs in 20 at-bats.

• After narrowly missing out on a 30-30 campaign for low Class A Asheville, Jeff Salazar was promoted to high Class A Visalia for the California League playoffs. The Rockies hot prospect hit .284-29-98 with 28 steals for Asheville, but was off to a slow start collecting just two hits in 13 at-bats for the Oaks. Lefthander Jeff Francis takes the mound for Visalia in Game Three of their northern division series against Stockton tonight. He threw six scoreless frames with nine strikeouts in Visalia's opener against Modesto last week.

• Mariners prospect Travis Blackley, coming off a 17-3 regular season, gets the ball for Double-A San Antonio in Game Two of the Texas League championship series.

September 5, 2003

WINSTON-SALEM--Yesterday's featured prospect matchup recap: Kinston's Jake Dittler vs. Winston-Salem's Ryan Wing.

It looked ominous from the beginning for Dittler, who didn’t have the appearance of the same fast-rising prospect who capped his season with a complete game shutout. He struggled to find the zone even in his pre-first inning warm-ups, and his control problems haunted him in a long first inning. He issued just 31 walks in 138 innings between Kinston and low Class A Lake County, but walked two in the first and was falling behind in the count early and often.

Dittler, 20, settled down in the second and third before running into trouble again in the fourth. After allowing back-to-back singles to Norman Martel and Michael Morse leading off the fourth, Dittler misplayed a John Lackaff dribbler to load the bases with no outs.

Dittler showed good poise by punching out the next two hitters on curveballs, but the damage had been done as he was pulled after his 84th pitch.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder didn’t have the same 91-94 mph velocity he carried throughout the season, but showed a promising three-pitch mix including heavy sinking action on an 89-92 mph heater, a biting 82-85 mph curve and occasional plus changeup with good life.

It was a short night for Wing, too. The 21-year-old southpaw was lifted before the fourth inning due to a blister. He allowed three hits, all extra-base hits, including Ivan Ochoa's first career home run (in 985 at-bats) on an 88 mph fastball.

Wing, whose fastball was timed between 88-91 with tailing life, was baffling Kinston hitters with his 78-79 mph curve. He tallied four of his five punchouts courtesy of his tight spinning breaking ball.

Winston-Salem's 6-4 victory eliminated Kinston from the Carolina League.


• Tonight's featured prospect matchup: With the Double-A Eastern League division series knotted at one game apiece, Altoona righthander John VanBenschoten matches up with Akron righty Kyle Denney in Friday night's Game Three of a best-of-five set. VanBenschoten, who was promoted to Altoona after compiling a 6-0, 2.22 mark for Class A Lynchburg, extended his win streak to 12 games before enduring a five game losing streak and finishing 7-6, 3.69 in Double-A. VanBenschoten operates with picturesque mechanics producing easy low-90s gas and a plus curveball. Denney relies more on command and location, but will run it up to 90-91 mph. He went 7-3, 2.42 in 104 innings for Akron, and 2-1, 5.28 in 31 innings for Triple-A Buffalo.

• Blue Jays Double-A catcher Guillermo Quiroz, out since August 21 with a partially collapsed lung, visited a doctor Thursday, and expects to return to action Sunday, which would be the decisive Game 5 of New Haven's playoff series with New Britain. The series is tied 1-1. Quiroz' lung was 80 percent deflated and doctors had a tube in his side for 10 days to blow it back up.

• Orioles lefthander Matt Riley heads to the mound for Triple-A Ottawa in Game Three against Pawtucket righthander Jamie Brown. Ottawa trails 2-0 in the best-of-five series. Riley, who reached the big leagues as a 20-year-old in 1999, has made some impressive strides returning from 2001 Tommy John surgery this season. He went 5-2, 3.11 in 72 innings with Double-A Bowie before a midseason promotion to Ottawa, where he finished up 4-2, 3.58. All told, Riley fanned 150 in 142 innings. His fastball has approached the mid-90s at times, but he's pitching in the 88-90 mph range with a plus curveball. He came away with a no-decision in his only matchup against Pawtucket this season. He gave up eight hits, four runs (two earned) and four walks in the August 15 contest.

• Three months ago Double-A Huntsville righthander Jason Shelley was pitching for the Rockford Rivercats in the independent Frontier League. He quickly emerged as a prospect with an 89-92 mph fastball and nasty splitter, and will try to give Double-A Huntsville a 2-1 series lead over Birmingham in the Southern League playoffs tonight. Shelley went 7-1, 0.85 for Rockford before attracting the attention of Brewers' scouts. A former college shortstop, he was 3-2, 2.63 with 53 strikeouts in 55 innings for Huntsville.

Contributing: Will Kimmey.

September 4, 2003

By Will Kimmey

NEW BRITAIN, Conn.--Extroverted doesn't begin to describe J.D. Durbin. Walking through the New Britain clubhouse chatting up everyone he passes, or rolling around town in his tricked-out Denali with 22-inch rims—you'll notice Durbin.

"I'm one of the most energetic guys," Durbin said. "I come in the clubhouse and people are like "shut up." I have an arrogance and presence that lifts people up and gets them excited to get in the ballgame."

Oh, Durbin's been doing plenty to get notice on the mound as well. The 21-year-old righthander started the year with a 9-2, 3.09 record in the high Class A Florida State League, earning the start and the win in the circuit's midseason all-star game. He and catcher Joe Mauer left Fort Myers for Double-A New Britain shortly thereafter, and Durbin continued his success by going 6-3, 3.14.

For the first time in his career, however, Durbin recorded fewer strikeouts than innings pitched. Armed with a fastball that hit 95 mph every start and a hard, slurvy slider, he led the Midwest League with 163 punchouts in 161 innings in 2002. But Twins officials wanted Durbin to concentrate more on pitching—not just going to the mound with the intent of throwing it by every hitter.

"I don't nibble at all, I go right after your ass," Durbin said, and then added, "You can print that."

"I'm mixing my pitches a little bit more," he said on a more serious note. "In the lower levels and high school I was able to throw my fastball by people, and my fastball's been gaining a couple miles per hour every year, but they can catch up to it here. I need to throw the changeup a little more and breaking ball a little more to keep them off balance.

"The changeup wasn't a strong pitch for me, every time I threw it, it would be a ball or an 85 mph BP fastball right down the middle. Now I'm working on establishing it more."

Along with that changeup, Durbin was also considering adding his hard 87 mph slider back to his repertoire over the offseason. He threw it in high school, but has gotten away from it as a pro, leaning on a more slurvy slider. And Durbin's fastball continues to ebb. He hit 98 mph for the first time in a Double-A game with Twins general manager Terry Ryan in attendance. He had 70 strikeouts and 29 walks in 95 Double-A innings, earning the confidence of New Britain manager Stan Cliburn, who gave him the ball in Game One of the Eastern League playoffs last night against New Haven. Durbin pitched well for seven innings, but suffered the loss. He rung up nine, while surrendering seven hits, three runs and two walks.

Durbin certainly doesn't lack for confidence himself. Before his pro debut in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2000, the second round pick out of an Arizona high school told Twins coach Al Newman he was the Real Deal. He recorded two of his first three outs on strikes, and returned to the dugout to tell Newman that he was true to his word.

"I'm pretty confident, when you step on the mound, you've got to be confident. You cant give up, you cant give in 0-2," he said. "My confidence on the field is pretty high, and that's where the real deal comment came in. It's not going to go away, I think, forever. Everybody keeps bringing up Real Deal this and that."

But the Real Deal is still learning, with pitching coach Stu Cliburn (Stan's twin brother) there to guide him.

"I was in Erie and threw a 2-2 changeup to a little slap hitter guy, he got a single," Durbin said. "The next guy hit a home run with two outs, and they (Stan and Stu) let me hear it. "You throw 96 you're supposed to throw it by that guy." We ended up winning the ballgame, but I got lit up."

Durbin will continue his education in the Arizona Fall League after the EL playoffs. He's at 182 innings so far this year, his most to date in his career, but still feels ready to throw come October and November.

"Eventually, if I want to be a starter in the big leagues, I need to throw 200 innings," Durbin said. "They need to stretch me out."

Prospects match up in Triple-A opener

By Josh Boyd

DURHAM, N.C.-- Durham lefthander Jon Switzer and Louisville righty Dustin Moseley didn't figure into the decision in last night's International League playoff opener, but both turned in strong performances. Switzer left a 2-2 tie after five innings, while Mosley came out in the sixth after Durham catcher Hector Ortiz doubled for the third time.

Switzer operated with an average 89-90 mph fastball with natural two-seam movement, but he wasn't sharp with his command. He touched 91-92. Switzer walked four, and found himself going deep into counts. He had trouble locating his slider and changeup.

Moseley's line is deceptive, as he gave up nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. Durham's first two hitters Jason Tyner and Jason Smith led off the first with infield singles, but Moseley escaped with the aid of a double play. He ran into trouble again in the third when Tyner and Smith followed Ortiz' first double with back to back singles.

Moseley showed good command of three pitches, including an average 88-90 mph fastball with above-average sinking movement, a plus curveball and plus changeup. He won't overpower hitters, but he does a good job of slowing their bats down by mixing in his curveball and changeup in any count. He's effective at moving his fastball in and out and keeping the ball down in the zone.


• Last night's featured matchup: Wisconsin's Bobby Livingston vs. Beloit's Dennis Sarfate. Livingston gave up double-digit hits (10) for the seventh time this season, while Sarfate picked up his 10th straight victory helping Beloit to a 1-0 series lead. Sarfate allowed four hits and a run over six innings. He fanned five.

• Tonight's featured prospect matchup: Kinston righthander Jake Dittler will aim to even up the series with Winston-Salem, who sends southpaw Ryan Wing to the bump in Game Two of the high Class A Carolina League series. Dittler, who started the year 6-4, 2.63 in low Class A Lake County, finished 5-1, 2.40 in eight starts for Kinston. He threw a complete game, four-hit shutout last week against Myrtle Beach, and allowed one run on six hits over seven innings in his previous start against Winston-Salem. Wing went 9-7, 2.98 this season, but enters the postseason with a four-game losing streak. He was 8-2, 1.86 in the first half of the season.

• Postseason Prospect Watch: Dunedin righthander Brandon League hopes to clinch a first-round victory in Game Three, as he'll take on Fort Myers lefty Ken Holubec. Dunedin was shut down by rehabbing Eric Milton and Matt Yeatman last night in Game Two. Emerging Astros prospect Fernando Nieve takes the mound for low Class A Lexington, who fell to Lake County 3-1, yesterday. Lake County righthander Indians prospect Fausto Carmona earned his 18th victory of the year. Nieve, who went 14-9, 3.65 with 144 strikeouts in 150 innings, has been clocked at 95 mph this season.

• The best prospects taking the hill tonight can be found in the Double-A Eastern League. New Haven righthander Dustin McGowan looks to give his team a commanding 2-0 lead over New Britain, while Akron righthander Francisco Cruceta deals against Altoona's Mike Connolly. Akron won 8-2 behind Paul Rigdon last night.

• The A's bolstered their Triple-A Sacramento roster for the Pacific Coast League playoffs by adding righthander Joe Blanton to the bullpen. They've also promoted first baseman Dan Johnson for Double-A Midland.

• Boston promoted catcher Kelly Shoppach to Triple-A Pawtucket for the postseason. He finished the regular season hitting .282-12-60 with 30 doubles for Double-A Portland.

September 3, 2003

St. Lucie righthander Matt Peterson, recently demoted from Double-A Binghamton for the Florida State League playoffs, turned in the top performance of the first night of full season minor league postseason. Peterson, one of the Mets top prospects, punched out a season-high 11 in seven innings. Peterson led St. Lucie to a 5-1 victory of Jupiter.

Each day throughout the playoffs, the Daily Dish will highlight an intriguing prospect matchup. Tonight, Wisconsin lefty Bobby Livingston, 15-7, 2.73, faces Beloit righthander Dennis Sarfate, 12-2, 2.84 in Game 1 of the Midwest League playoffs.

Livingston, 20, finished 10th in the circuit in ERA and second in wins. A fourth-rounder out of a Texas high school in 2001, Livingston isn't overpowering, but shows an advanced knack for pitching at his age. While his fastball topped out at 87-88 mph this season, and he pitched around 84-85, Livingston was hitting the low-90s coming out of high school.

After going 6-5, 3.02 in 80 innings for short-season Everett in his pro debut season last year, Livingston logged 178 innings for Wisconsin this season. He walked 28 and fanned 105, while holding opponents to a .259 average.

Livingston's changeup is his best pitch and he throws a good curveball for strikes.

Sarfate, 21, entered this year with just 38 innings on his resume. He missed most of the 2002 season recovering from elbow surgery, but bounced back this spring and has dialed it up to 97 mph this year. He consistently tops out at 95-96 and pitches in the 91-92 neighborhood. Sarfate, who finished second in the Midwest League with 140 strikeouts, also works with a developing curveball and changeup. He was fifth in the league in walks (66), but held hitters to a .227 average in 140 innings. He needs to be more efficient with his pitch counts, and tends to overthrow. He does, however, bring a nine game win streak into the postseason.


• Altoona, the Pirates Double-A affiliate, will be without lefty Sean Burnett for the postseason after he was placed on the disabled list with a sore left elbow. He went 14-6, 3.21 this season. Altoona sends Landon Jacobsen, Mike Connolly and John VanBenschoten to the mound against Akron in the Eastern League playoffs tonight.

• The Diamondbacks promoted 2003 draftees Conor Jackson and Jamie D'Antona to low Class A South Bend for the Midwest League playoffs. Jackson, drafted 19th overall out of Cal, hit .319-6-60 with 35 doubles for short-season Yakima, while D'Antona, a second-rounder from Wake Forest, hit .277-15-57 in 271 at-bats.

• Twins lefty Eric Milton will make his second rehab start tonight for Class A Fort Myers in Game 2 of against Dunedin in the Florida State League postseason. Milton will be limited to 50 pitches. Last night Dunedin righthander Jesse Harper, who has emerged as an interesting prospect this season, hurled seven scoreless innings in a 3-2 Game 1 win. Harper, a draft-and-follow sign in 2001 out of Galveston (Texas) JC, throws 88-92 with a slider, curve and good changeup. His slider is a good pitch, and he mixes in an occasional splitter. Harper went 13-4, 2.54 with 100 strikeouts in 131 innings this season.

• Other prospect matchups to watch tonight include 17-game winner and rising Indians prospect Fausto Carmona going to the hill for low Class A Lake County against Lexington's Chris Sampson, 4-3, 1.39. Also in the South Atlantic League, Hickory righthander Jonathan Albaladejo (12-5, 3.15 with 19 walks in 139 innings), who emerged after leading the Puerto Rican League in ERA last winter, faces Rome righty Anthony Lerew (7-6, 2.38 with 112 hits in 144 innings). Reds Triple-A righthander Dustin Moseley gets the nod in Game 1 for Louisville against Devil Rays lefty Jon Switzer and Durham. Moseley went 2-3, 2.70 after a promotion from Double-A Chattanooga, where he was 5-6, 3.83. Switzer traveled the same path, starting the year 8-8, 3.43 for Orlando before winning his first and only Triple-A start last week.

• The Angels promoted shortstop Erick Aybar and second baseman Alberto Callaspo to high Class A Rancho Cucamonga for the California League playoffs. Callaspo (.327-2-67) and Aybar (.308-6-57) will backup the Quakes double play combo of shortstop Tommy Murphy and second baseman Justin Turner.

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