Daily Dish: June 13

LaRoche makes most of his new environs to homer on first pitch

See also: Monday's Daily Dish
See also: Baseball America Prospect Report

On Sunday, the Dodgers used five hitters who had started the season in the minor leagues. After years of promise, the youth movement has begun in California.

Seemingly, such turnover would be frustrating for a Triple-A manager trying to win games. However, thanks to a farm system built through numerous Logan White drafts, Las Vegas manager Jerry Royster has taken it all in stride.

"(We've had) the loss of (Joel) Guzman, the loss of (Willy) Aybar and the loss of (Andre) Ethier, but our farm system has helped us to replenish," Royster told the Las Vegas Review Journal.

The farm system continued to provide the 51s with ammunition on Monday, when the Dodgers promoted third baseman Andy LaRoche from Double-A Jacksonville. LaRoche, who was hitting .309/.419/.483 with nine homers and 46 RBIs for the Suns, brought power to the Vegas lineup quickly, hitting a home run on the first pitch he saw at the level.

"That's what he's here for," Royster told the newspaper. "He's here to get in the middle of our lineup and help produce some runs."

After a slow start to the season, LaRoche caught fire in Jacksonville, hitting .356 after April. He also showed much improved plate discipline, drawing more walks (41) at the level than strikeouts (32).

Power has always been LaRoche's calling card, as the 39th round pick in 2003 spent time atop the minor league home run leaderboard in 2005. So no one is surprised, LaRoche included, that he hit a home run on his first day moving from a pitcher-friendly park to Las Vegas, where the altitude benefits hitters.

"I was just trying to get a pitch up in the zone," LaRoche told the newspaper. "He just threw a fastball and left it up."


Coming Through In The Clutch

Cardinals righthander Stuart Pomeranz might not have had his best stuff Monday night, but the second-round pick in 2003 picked up his seventh win of the season--a mark that has taken a while to reach.

"I never thought I was gonna get it," Pomeranz told the Springfield News Leader of his outing.

Pomeranz hadn't won since May 22, but put a string of disappointing starts behind him Monday by allowing two runs on four hits over eight innings in Double-A Springfield's 3-2 win against Arkansas.

In his three prior starts, Pomeranz went 0-2, 7.41 and had allowed 30 hits in just 17 innings.

But he turned it around in a crucial situation, as Springfield pulled to within one game of Tulsa for the lead in the Texas League Northern Division with six games remaining in the first half.

Pomeranz struck out three and walked two, pitching without an effective curveball the majority of the night.

"When he's on, he gets ground balls and is effective mixing his pitches," catcher Gabe Johnson told the paper. "He got a couple of strikeouts with his curve, but he was spotting very well with his fastball, which helped him a lot."

Pomeranz is now 7-2, 3.86 in 79 innings overall this season.


O's Take It Slow With Erbe

Fresh off an appearance in the Hot Sheet team photo, the Orioles Brandon Erbe made a case last night that he belonged in the top 10. Though he got a no decision, the righthander was dynamite again last night for low Class A Delmarva as he allowed no runs on four hits over five innings while striking out seven and walking one against Lake County.

In 12 starts this season Erbe has gone five innings in nine of them and four innings in the other three. It is not by accident as the organization is taking it slow with the 18 year old.

"Five innings. That's it," Delmarva manager Gary Kendall told the Daily Times of Salisbury, Md. "That's what the organization wants and they don't want to mount a lot of innings on (Erbe)."

A third-rounder last June out of the McDonough School in Baltimore, Erbe is now 4-3, 1.86 with a 72-18 strikeout-walk ratio in 58 innings. He is averaging 11.17 strikeouts per nine innings, which ranks sixth in the minors.

At 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, Erbe has a fantastic pitchers frame and features an electric fastball that sits in the mid 90s. His secondary stuff is still raw, but the fastball is enough for now.



• Padres righthander Jonathon Ellis has been suspended for 50 games for violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Ellis, a sixth-round pick in 2004 out of The Citadel, started the season at high Class A Lake Elsinore and was promoted to Double-A Mobile earlier this month. He was 0-1, 7.36 in just four innings for the BayBears . . . Cardinals 18th-round pick this year, Amaury Marti, wasted little time signing and making his debut. A Cuban defector, Marti, 31, has decent power. He hit two homers in 29 at-bats for Cuba's Olympic team in 2004, and hit 102 homers in 1,954 at-bats since 1997. Marti played left field Monday with high Class A Palm Beach, going 1-for-3 with a home run . . . Righthander Will Inman has been out since May 21 with a sore right shoulder, and the Brewers are being understandably cautious with him. Though he could be ready to go before then, it is likely he won't return until the second half of the season. In 35 innings this season Inman is 3-1, 1.80 with a 43-5 strikeout-walk ratio. Inman was replaced in the rotation by Steven Garrison, who is 1-1, 4.19 in four starts . . . High Class A Kinston sustained another blow to their club, despite locking down the Carolina League Southern Division first-half title for the third consecutive season on Sunday. Catcher Wyatt Toregas, who is leading the league in batting, is out indefinitely with a leg injury after colliding with Myrtle Beach infielder Greg Creek at home plate on Saturday. The K-Tribe defeated Myrtle Beach, 7-2 to ensure a playoff berth for a league-record sixth consecutive season. Toregas, a 24th-round pick in 2004 out of Virginia Tech, was off to his best season, hitting .336/.418/.514 in 146 at-bats. The team had already lost shortstop Brian Finegan (foot), and outfielder Trevor Crowe (tweaked oblique muscle), but is not expected to miss any time. Crowe, the Tribe's first-rounder last year, will likely head to Double-A Akron for the second half . . . Triple-A Las Vegas lefthander Greg Miller has not allowed an earned run since May 5, dating back to his stint in Double-A. However, Miller has not been immune to baserunners during that time. During his current 12 game scoreless streak, Miller has allowed 16 hits and 14 walks in 15 1/3 innings, while striking out 17 . . . Triple-A Charlotte outfielder Ernie Young blasted his 300th minor league home run Monday in a 9-6 win against Buffalo. Young, who is playing his 17th professional season, hit the home run off righthander Brian Slocum in the first inning … For Mariners outfielder Chris Snelling the plan is simple: "I just want to play in August and September," he told the Seattle Times. "I haven't played in those months since 2000. I think [getting called up to Seattle] is irrelevant for me, because I simply have to prove that I can play and be healthy during that time." Snelling, 25, was off to a slow start with Triple-A Tacoma, hitting just .234/.365/.325 in 77 at-bats, as he comes back from a torn ACL that knocked him out of action last August. He returned to the field May 10 and had reported no pain in the repaired knee . . . Brewers utilityman Vinny Rottino slugged his first career grand slam in a 7-2 Nashville win Monday against Omaha. The inning before, Rottino had shattered a window of a Greer Stadium restaurant when he fouled a pitch straight back.

Contributing: Matt Eddy.