AAA: Round Rock 8, Sugar Land (HOU) 5
Round Rock: 9 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 6 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 34-31, 7 GB
SP Cole Winn: 4 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 3 R, 4 BB, 6 SO, 89 P / 49 S, 5.43 ERA
RP Yerry Rodriguez: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 5.06 ERA
RP Tyson Miller: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 4.76 ERA
CF Bubba Thompson: 1-4, HR (6), BB, .290/.316/.434
LF Nick Solak: 1-2, 2 BB, 2 SB (2), .263/.385/.438
DH Willie Calhoun: 2-4, 2B, .225/.264/.425
Last week’s one-walk outing became a blip, not the beginning of a trend, as Cole Winn once again struggled with control. The pitch chart reveals the plan — out, out, out to the seven righties in the lineup — but not enough pitches hit the mark. The fastball in particular was essentially a 50/50 proposition for strikes, and per usual he tended to miss high.
Winn allowed just his second homer during this eight-start stretch of negativity, and it wasn’t hit that hard, but any airborne knock to left on a hot night with the wind blowing out has a fighting chance at the Dell Diamond.
Chase Lee’s first two AAA outings have been trying. Last night, he retired one of five batters and was pulled with a high pitch count. Lee’s swinging strike rate in AA was 12.2%, a smidge above the league median, but after 56 AAA pitches, he’s still looking for that first miss.
Pitching much better lately, if still walk-prone: Yerry Rodriguez.
From 2019-present in MLB, nobody has homered at 95 MPH and 22 degrees off the bat. It’s a speed-angle combo that sounds nice but actually results in a surprisingly high percentage of outs. Those balls are caught unless they find a gap. In Bubba Thompson’s case, he homered by finding the gap between what the outfielder tried to do (catch) and what he actually did (belly-flopped).
Seeing lots of discussion about a replacement for Taylor Hearn. The choices aren’t great. The 40-man options are AJ Alexy and Spencer Howard. Alexy is out of the question right now. Howard has two scoreless outings in his last three, but I saw one in person and a fair portion of another on MiLB.tv and was underwhelmed. He struggled with control (8 BB in 10 IP) and was largely a two-pitch guy (FB, SL) with two others tagging along (CB, CH).
The non-40 choices: Winn (no), Kohei Arihara, Tyson Miller (a better pitcher than what he’s shown, but still), Jake Latz (on the IL at present), Cole Ragans (like Winn, I don’t want the short-term needs of a sub-.500 parent club dictating his debut).
Howard is probably the best choice, although I don’t know if he’d be any better than Hearn. When on, he looks like a decent back-end starter. When off, well, get the bullpen ready.
AA: Frisco 5, Midland (OAK) 6
Frisco: 14 hits, 6 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 6 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 31-31, 3 GB
SP Jack Leiter: 4 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 5 R, 4 BB, 6 SO, 86 P / 49 S, 5.44 ERA
RP Grant Wolfram: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 6.17 ERA
2B Justin Foscue: 1-3, BB, HBP, .257/.366/.456
LF Dustin Harris: 3-5, SB (14), .264/.348/.473
DH Kellen Strahm: 2-3, 2B, 2 BB, .263/.404/.376
Jack Leiter’s 1st was elongated by LF Dustin Harris’s drop of a short two-out fly, after which Leiter allowed a walk and three-run homer. In the 4th, catcher’s interference and a walk put two aboard, and a deep two-out double brought them home. So, if a catch is made, or couple of pitches turn out differently, Leiter has a scoreless outing. But regardless of the run total, it was another labored outing. Leiter has walked and/or hit 12 in his last three starts covering 14.2 innings (ignoring the one-inning outing from last week).
Justin Foscue’s potential go-ahead grand slam curled just foul. He reached down to pop a low curve and didn’t even get all of it. He’s got some power. I’m banking on more second-half homers than his current four.
High-A: Hickory 5, Greenville (BOS) 6 (10)
Hickory: 6 hits, 7 walks, 15 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 2 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 36-26, 1.5 GB, elimination number 3
SP Owen White: 6 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 9 SO, 97 P / 64 S, 3.99 ERA
DH Chris Seise: 2-4, .268/.311/.435
2B Thomas Saggese: 1-3, 2B, BB, .293/.342/.434
A tough one. The Crawdads haven’t exactly squandered the division lead because they’ve never held it outright, but if they end up a half-game short, this game will be the reason. Hickory led 4-1 in the 8th, but Greenville scored three on two singles, a walk (that would score), a hit batter (ditto), and a two-out strikeout/passed ball that plated the tying run. Greenville took the lead in the 10th when a single to left eluded Trevor Hauver, allowing both the gift runner and batter to score.
Thomas Saggese and SS Luisangel Acuna collided trying to reach a grounder up the middle in the 9th. Both stayed in, and Saggese doubled off the wall in the bottom half, but he was then pulled for a pinch-runner (Jayce Easley, subsequently thrown out at the plate).
Owen White has three walks and 30 strikeouts in his last 19 innings. He’s been occasionally homer-prone and less occasionally walk-prone, but on the whole he seems to have achieved his high-A goals.
Low-A: Down East 2, at Lynchburg (CLE) 4
Down East: 10 hits, 0 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
Record: 30-32, 3 GB, elimination number 2
SP Mitch Bratt: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 60 P / 34 S, 2.79 ERA
LF Marcus Smith: 3-4, 2B, 2 SB (23), .167/.305/.276
3B Junior Paniagua: 2-3, 2B, .238/.281/.363
Another tough one. Down East’s elimination number dwindled form five to two as Lynchburg rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the 6th while division-leading Carolina swept a doubleheader in Columbia. The Wood Ducks do get to face Carolina next week, but their plight is compounded by two other teams ahead of them (Salem and Fredericksburg) playing each other, meaning Down East can make up ground on one team but not both on any given day.
Mitch Bratt was effective, if not flashy. I believe the strikeout came on a change. He’s thrown as many as 83 pitches before, but the tandem role with Larson Kindreich presumably prevented additional innings. Unfortunately, Kindreich (3 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 3 R) had an off night, as did the defenders behind him. Down East has used just four pitchers the last two nights, almost unheard of in 2022.
Five Years Ago Yesterday
Low-A Hickory finished the first half 27-43, ending an amazing streak of 14 winning half-seasons. High-A Down East’s 24-45 record ended six straight years of first-half winning records.
Sydney did not care.