Daily Dish: May 2

Delmon Young has been quietly tearing apart Southern League pitching, but his emotions got the best of him Friday night.

The Double-A Montgomery right fielder was suspended for three games after bumping an umpire during a 13-0 loss to Carolina at Riverwalk Stadium.

Young, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 draft by the Devil Rays, was ejected and appeared to intentionally chest-bump home-plate umpire Jeff Latter in the ninth inning, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. The feud between Young and Latter then carried over into the runway leading to the clubhouse after the game.

"He shouldn't have done what he did," Biscuits manager Charlie Montoyo told the Advertiser. "It was a bump, but it wasn't like he pushed him to the ground. It was just one of those bumps and that was it. It wasn't like he kept bumping him."

The incident took place after Young was called out on strikes for the third time Friday. He sat out the remainder of the series against the Mudcats and will finish up the suspension tonight.

Young, who is hitting .282/.364/.459 with four homers and 16 RBIs in 85 at-bats, has apparently been aggravated by umpires of late. Last Saturday against Birmingham, he was nearly ejected after being hit by a pitch by Barons righthander Dwayne Pollok. Young turned his back to the mound and flung his bat high in the air, landing about 20 feet from Pollok.

"The kid is 19 years old and he's got to grow up and mature," Mudcats manager Gary Allenson said. "What the kid has to learn is that sometimes people make mistakes--but I'm not saying the umpire made a mistake. It's one thing to get in an argument and to get thrown out, but you have to stay away from contact."



• It doesn't get much hotter than Double-A Altoona first baseman Brad Eldred. Eldred, the Pirates' sixth-round pick in 2002, homered in his fifth straight game Sunday, a 9-5 loss to Trenton. "Big Country" is batting .321/.371/.802 with a minor league-leading 11 homers and 23 RBIs in 81 at-bats.

• Staying in the Eastern League, Akron first baseman Michael Aubrey is heating up. Aubrey, a first-round pick of the Indians in 2003 out of Tulane, went 7-for-15 with six RBIs in a weekend series with Harrisburg. After he moved up to Double-A last July, Aubrey was limited to DH duties due to nagging hamstring problems, but he's been healthy and playing first base this season. Overall, Aubrey is hitting .304/.345/.494 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 79 at-bats.

• Double-A Bowie righthander Hayden Penn picked up his second win of the season against Reading Friday night. Penn, a fifth-round pick in 2002, went seven innings, allowed one earned run on seven hits, struck out 10 and walked one. On the season he's 2-1, 1.55 with 40 strikeouts and six walks in 29 innings. Baysox righthander Chris Ray has moved to the bullpen full time this year and has been impressive. In eight appearances, the Orioles' third-round pick in 2003 is 0-2, 0.87 with four saves. He has allowed just one earned run, struck out 10 and walked three in 10 innings.

• Double-A New Hampshire righthander Josh Banks rolled off his fourth straight win Friday night, allowing three runs on eight hits. He struck out four and did not issue a walk. On the season, Banks is 4-0, 2.05 with 25 strikeouts and two walks in 25 innings.

• Triple-A Norfolk leads the International League in homers with 35, though you wouldn't have known it Saturday night. Braves righthander Zach Miner held the Tides to four singles in six innings, winning his Triple-A debut. "I just wanted to make a good first impression," the 23-year-old told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "I was definitely excited. Being a baseball fan, they have a bunch of guys (Brian Daubach, Mike DiFelice, Benji Gil) that you know who they are. They've had success in the big leagues. That was one of the coolest things, getting to face those guys."

• Double-A West Tenn lefthander Rich Hill has been untouchable over his last two starts. In 14 innings, Hill has allowed just two hits, struck out 26 and walked three. Hill had control problems in the past, walking 72 in 109 innings at high Class A Daytona last year. But this season, his 88-93 mph fastball, 12-to-6 curve and changeup have been all over the zone. "It's a great feeling to know that you've got three pitches working very well out there on the mound," Hill told the Jackson Sun.

• Class A Lynchburg righthander Wardell Starling was perfect through 6 1/3 innings against Myrtle Beach Friday. Starling, a Pirates fourth-rounder in 2002 out of Odessa (Texas) Junior College, allowed just one hit over eight innings and struck out seven. Starling's fastball was in the 88-92 mph range, complemented by a darting changeup and a 70 mph curveball that was consistent all night long. "I've never really thrown that (curveball) hard," Starling told the (Myrtle Beach) Sun News. "It looks like a ball, but then it drops in for a strike. That makes it pretty tough to hit." On the season, Starling is 3-1, 2.36 with 23 strikeouts and six walks in 27 innings.

• Also emerging in the Carolina League is Wilmington righthander Jose Vaquedano. The 23-year-old Red Sox prospect earned his second win of the season after shutting out Winston-Salem over six innings. He allowed three hits and struck out five. Vaquedano is 2-0, 3.00 with 15 strikeouts in 21 innings.

Casey Kotchman is finally above the Mendoza line. With a 2-for-4 performance against Tacoma on Sunday, the Angels' top prospect raised his average to .207. Kotchman has managed 18 walks, so his on-base percentage is still a formidable .363, but his slugging percentage is .244.

Adam Wainwright continues to impress at Triple-A Memphis. The 6-foot-8 righthander allowed two runs over 7 1/3 innings against Iowa yesterday. He did not figure in the decision but has a nifty 2.10 ERA in 34 innings while striking out 27 and walking four.

Jerome Williams was sent down to Triple-A Fresno after going 0-2, 6.48 in three starts with the Giants, and his first start in Fresno was not encouraging. He lasted 4 1/3 innings on Saturday while allowing five earned runs, nine hits and four walks and striking out two. Williams gave up four extra-base hits, and his fastball rarely got over 90 mph. Of the 92 pitches he threw, 57 were strikes and he often fell behind early in counts. "The velocity, I'm not so concerned," Grizzlies manager Shane Turner told the Fresno Bee. "It's the command. You can't get behind in the count at any level. His ego is probably bruised a bit. He's got to keep his head up. Coming in here, we knew there were things he needed to iron out. And we'll do that."

• With three stolen bases on Saturday, Marcus Sanders now leads the minors with 15 on the season. Sanders isn't just a speed player, either. After going 5-for-13 with two walks on the weekend, the Giants second-base prospect is now hitting .351/.402/.485 at low Class A Augusta.

• Some scouts were concerned with Philip Hughes' lack of velocity in the early going, but it wasn't a problem yesterday. The Charleston righthander threw six no-hit innings while fanning eight to raise his record to 2-1, 1.06. The Yankees pitching staff has looked mediocre and old this season, so fans should be encouraged by the performance of this young arm.

• Astros shortstop prospect Ben Zobrist looked shaky in the SAL early on, but with a 2-for-3 performance yesterday, he is now hitting .250/.376/.321. His .376 on-base percentage is encouraging, particularly if he continues to steal bases at a 90 percent clip. He now has nine swipes in 10 attempts.

• Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick continues to put up great numbers at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga. Kendrick went 6-for-12 over the weekend, including a two-home run game yesterday in the Quakes' 5-2 win against Inland Empire, raising his season totals to .413-7-20 in 104 at-bats. Kendrick leads the minor leagues in hits (42), runs (32) and total bases (74).

• Athletics righthander Dallas Braden may be a trick pitcher, but it's one nasty trick. A 24th-round pick last year out of Texas Tech, Braden had 63 strikeouts over 42 innings in his pro debut last year thanks to a devastating screwball, and put an exclamation mark on the season by striking out 15 in the Midwest League playoffs. Bumped to the California League for 2005, Braden struck out 11 last night over seven innings in Stockton's 6-3 win over Lancaster, improving to 4-0, 3.14 with 42 strikeouts in 29 innings.

• Entering the season, the Cardinals were convinced that outfielder Cody Haerther could hit, shown by his career .322 average. Now, he has added power to his game, homering in all three games over the weekend while going 8-for-13 for high Class A Palm Beach. At .349-5-21, he has already equaled last year's home run total. Also raking for Palm Beach is shortstop Brendan Ryan, who is 16-for-31 (.516) in his last eight games and batting .354-1-11 on the season.

• Look out, but 2004 No. 1 overall pick Matt Bush may be getting into a bit of a groove. Bush hit his second home run of the year in low Class A Fort Wayne's 5-3 win against Beloit and is hitting .310 in his last eight games with eight runs scored.

• Cubs righthander Sean Gallagher has been the most dominant pitcher in the minors over the past two weeks. For the second time in three starts, the 2004 12th-round pick pitched six no-hit innings for low Class A Peoria, as the Chiefs topped Kane County 1-0 yesterday. Gallagher also fired six no-hit innings against Fort Wayne on April 20, and in his start in between the two no-hit outings, he struck out 10 over 6 1/3 shutout innings, allowing two hits. For the season, Gallagher has yet to surrender an earned run, going 2-1, 0.00 with 37 strikeouts in 29 innings while allowing 10 hits.