Differing numbers of games and end-of-season dates across levels is strange after more than a decade of everybody finishing on Labor Day, but the new schedule affords a “bonus round” of promotions. Up to AA Frisco now that Hickory is done are OF Evan Carter and IF Thomas Saggese, per local reports. And 1B Blaine Crim will head to El Paso instead of Springdale, Arkansas, as a member of the AAA Round Rock Express.
AAA: Round Rock 1, Sugar Land (HOU) 5
Round Rock: 4 hits, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts
Record: 74-61, 1 GB
SP Spencer Howard: 4 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 66 P / 45 S, 3.58 ERA
Howard pitched well, in particular getting eight swinging strikes with a heavily employed slider. His velocity was fine. He didn’t throw a change, and curves weren’t in abundance or effective. Podcast mate Sean Bass has been calling for a relief role for Howard for some time, and at this point I’m inclined to agree. The flipside of deciding which prospects to place on the 40-man roster this November is which marginal players to remove. It would be nice to see something out of Howard in these last few weeks, and letting him air out a truncated repertoire might be to his benefit.
AA: Frisco 18, Tulsa (LAD) 3
Frisco: 11 hits, 11 walks, 5 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 6 walks, 15 strikeouts
Record: 35-27, 2 G up, 71-60 overall, magic number 5
SP Ricky Vanasco: 3.1 IP, 5 H (HR), 3 R, 2 BB, 5 SO, 76 P / 43 S, 8.10 ERA
1B Blaine Crim: 4-5, 2B, HR (24), BB, .295/.363/.508
SS Luisangel Acuna: 1-4, 2B, 2 BB, SB (10), .231/.310/.377
DH Trevor Hauver: 1-2, 3 BB, .220/.437/.520
CF Josh Stowers: 3-4, 2 HR (10), BB, SB (22), .228/.337/.383
18 runs on 11 hits? Okay. Frisco put 17 runners on base with something other than a hit, and ten would score. I vaguely recall wondering if Blaine Crim might fall shy of 20 homers. He had 16 entering the last day of August including just six in a span of three months wherein he slugged .358. In 11 games since, he’s gone deep eight times and slugged 1.083.
Ricky Vanasco’s AA debut had some of everything, much like a most of his high-A outings. He allowed a leadoff homer in the 1st and needed 29 pitches that inning, but he also struck out five of 17 batters.
Midland also won to maintain its two-game deficit. Frisco heads to lowly Northwest Arkansas (55-76) to conclude the regular season, while the Rockhounds have the advantage of finishing at home but must face 74-57 Wichita. The victor will face San Antonio (Padres) in the league semifinals. Wichita (Twins) and Tulsa (Dodgers) have locked up the northern playoff spots.
High-A: Hickory 2, Rome (ATL) 4
Hickory: 11 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 5 walks, 16 strikeouts
Record: 38-28, 3.5 GB in first half, 28-37, 11.5 GB in second half, 66-65 overall
SP Dane Acker: 2.1 IP, 3 H (2 HR), 4 R, 2 BB, 6 SO, 66 P / 42 S, 10.66 ERA
RP Ryan Garcia: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 SO, 0.00 ERA
LF Jayce Easley: 1-3, 2 BB, SB (21), .230/.372/.345
LF Zion Bannister: 2-3, SB (1), .222/.417/.222
RF Angel Aponte: 2-4, 3 SB (17), .259/.338/.392
Dane Acker recorded six of seven outs via strikeout but expended 66 pitches getting there. Immediate post-TJ performance is always tricky to assess. Some pitchers act like they were never gone, some have a longer acclimation.
Ryan Garcia finished with three straight scoreless five-inning efforts. He posted a 1.91 ERA for the season with 74 strikeouts in 56.2 innings and held opponents to a .166/.256/.241 line.
Crawdads pitchers struck out at least ten batters in each of the last ten games and 127 total. The team lost seven of those ten, unfortunately.
Record: 33-33, 2 GB in first half, 32-33, 10.5 GB in second half, 65-66 overall
Down East lost its chance at a .500 season, but southern Maryland did need the rain.