With exciting prospects pitching at various levels this weekend, here’s a rundown of what took place in the minors over the last two days. Jays affiliates played 11 games, going 7-5 overall.
Highlights include Brett Lawrie returning to form in Vegas, Anthony Gose tying New Hampshire’s single-season stolen base record, Nestor Molina & Deck McGuire pitching like they want out of Dunedin, Vancouver pulling out some key wins over a division leader, and Noah Syndergaard & Chris Hawkins looking as advertised in Bluefield.
Wins/Losses: 51-49 | Streak: W1 | 2nd in PCL Pacific South (7.5 GB)
July 21: Colorado Springs Sky Sox 11, Las Vegas 51s 4 (LP: Ray)
It’s hard to win a ball game when your starter gives up six runs in the game’s first two innings, as the 51s fell to Colorado Springs in the series finale 11-4 on Thursday.
Brett Lawrie seems to be doing just fine since returning from his hand injury, as he went 3-for-5 with a double, RBI, and a stolen base, Ricardo Nanita also had a 3-for-5, one RBI night, and leadoff hitter Darin Mastroianni went 2-for-5 with a pair of runs scored.
Vegas starter Robert Ray was shelled for six earned runs on seven hits in just two innings of work. He threw 65 pitches (47 for strikes), walked none, struck out one, and allowed a three-run, two-out home run in the second inning.
Rommie Lewis, Wil Ledezma, and Winston Abreu all had scoreless outings, and Ronald Uviedo, the piece the Jays got in return for the Dana Eveland trade who has spent most of his Jays career at Double-A, was hit hard for five earned runs on six hits in two innings of work. Hopefully he gets into a groove with the 51s, as I’d like to see him do well.
July 22: Las Vegas 51s 10, Tucson Padres 8 (WP: Mills | S: Farquhar)
Despite finding themselves down for the game’s first six innings, the 51s were able to churn out 10 runs on 17 hits and stay close to the Padres through it all, eventually taking the lead in the seventh and winning 10-8 on Friday.
Chris Woodward led the 51s’ charge, going 3-for-4 with two home runs and four RBIs, Jayson Nix had three doubles and an RBI, and newly-recalled DH Ricardo Nanita went 2-for-4 with a solo home run and a walk. Danny Perales went 3-for-4 in the 8 spot, and David Cooper hit his 38th double of the season. No, that’s not a typo.
Brett Lawrie went 2-for-5 hitting third, and tacked on valuable insurance runs for Vegas in the eighth when he clobbered a two-run home run.
Showcasing the irrelevance of the pitcher win stat, Brad Mills earned the W despite allowing seven earned runs on 11 hits, walking three and striking out nine. In addition to two hit batters and a wild pitch, Mills surrendered two home runs that accounted for three of the runs he allowed. Even with the rough outing, Mills is sporting a 3.99 ERA on the season.
Wil Ledezma got the hold with a scoreless eighth and Danny Farquhar allowed a run in the ninth but notched his ninth save of the season.
Wins/Losses: 55-43 | Streak: W1 | T-1st in EAS Eastern (0.0 GB)
July 21: Portland Sea Dogs 6, New Hampshire Fisher Cats 2 (LP: Beck)
The Fisher Cats didn’t score a run until the ninth inning, but by then it was too late as they dropped the series opener against the Sea Dogs 6-2 on Thursday.
Catcher Yan Gomes had the Fisher Cats’ only RBIs of the night with a two-run homer in the ninth inning, Anthony Gose went 2-for-4 with a double, and Mark Sobolewski and Callix Crabbe each had a pair of hits.
Normally solid Fisher Cats starter Chad Beck allowed five earned runs on nine hits in 5.1 innings of work, walking none and striking out five. Out of the nine hits he allowed, four were for extra bases (two doubles, two solo home runs).
July 22: New Hampshire Fisher Cats 2, Portland Sea Dogs 1 (WP: Stewart | S: Korecky)
Thanks to a dominant start by Zach Stewart, the Fisher Cats were able to hang on for the close 2-1 win on Friday, a night where their bats fell silent. The win moved the Fisher Cats to 12 games above .500.
New Hampshire only managed to score a pair of runs on five hits, with two-hitter Adeiny Hechavarria getting the only RBI of the game. Travis d’Arnaud went 1-for-3 and hit his 24th double of the season, and Yan Gomes – playing first base – drew a pair of walks.
Offensively, the night belonged to Anthony Gose who, in addition to going 2-for-4 atop the Fisher Cats’ lineup, stole his 46th base of the season, which tied New Hampshire’s single season record set by Darin Matroianni last season.
The big story was Stewart’s fantastic start, where he allowed just one earned run on six hits in 7.2 strong innings of work. He walked one while striking out eight, and held the Sea Dogs scoreless until the seventh inning when they hit a pair of doubles for their only run of the game.
Wins/Losses: 13-15 | Streak: W1 | T-2nd in FSL North (2.0 GB)
July 21: Charlotte Stone Crabs 4, Dunedin Blue Jays 3 (LP: Garcia)
Despite out-hitting Charlotte 10-3, the 51s allowed the Stone Crabs to tie the game in the sixth inning and walk-off with the 4-3 win in the bottom of the ninth on Thursday.
Jon Talley went 2-for-3 with a double and a solo home run, Sean Ochinko and Ryan Schimpf both went 2-for-4, and Brad McElroy went 1-for 4 with a double and a walk. Kevin Ahrens went 1-for-3 with a walk and committed his 14th error of the season on a throw in the sixth inning.
Nestor Molina has been downright nasty since being converted to a starter, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he joins New Hampshire sometime soon. How good has he been? He did not allow a hit in five innings on Thursday, walking two and striking out four, and the Stone Crabs scored three runs the following inning when he was out of the game.
After allowing the three runs (two earned) in the sixth, Aaron Loup pitched two scoreless innings after that, before handing the ball over to Dumas Garcia for the ninth. After hitting a batter, an intentional walk, and a single, Matt Wright inherited a bases-loaded, one-out situation and was bitten by a sacrifice fly that ended the game.
July 22: Dunedin Blue Jays 3, Charlotte Stone Crabs 2 (WP: McGuire | S: Etheridge)
The D-Jays were able to hold Charlotte scoreless until the eighth inning and it turned out their three runs were enough, as they topped the Stone Crabs 3-2 on Friday thanks to solid pitching overall.
Cleanup hitter Sean Ochinko went 2-for-3 with a solo home run and a walk, Kevin Nolan went 2-for-4 with a double, and Ivan Contreras went 1-for-2 with a walk and a stolen base. Canadian outfielder Brad McElroy went 1-for-3 with a double, stolen base, HBP, and an RBI.
Speaking of possible promotions to Double-A in the near future, D-Jays right-hander Deck McGuire has dominated Florida State League hitters this season. That trend continued yesterday, when he allowed just two hits across six scoreless frames with just one walk versus eight strikeouts.
Matt Wright allowed the game’s only runs in the eighth inning, and Wes Etheridge pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 32nd save of the season.
Wins/Losses: 17-10 | Streak: L1 | T-2nd in MID Eastern (2.0GB)
July 21: Lansing Lugnuts 5, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 4 (WP: Liebel | S: Strickland)
Working around four errors, the Lugnuts were able to score runs early and hold on to defeat the Timber Rattlers on Thursday by one run for the second consecutive night, guaranteeing the series win at home.
Lugnuts starter Andrew Liebel was effective, allowing three runs (two earned) on just four hits in 5.1 strong innings. He was three and struck out four, and is now sporting a 2.38 ERA on the season.
Dayton Marze pitched 1.2 scoreless innings of relief, and Shawn Griffith struck out the side around one unearned run in the eighth. Sam Strickland also struck out the side in the ninth and earned his first save of the season.
July 22: Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 7, Lansing Lugnuts 2 (LP: Smith)
Aside from allowing four runs in the game’s first two innings, the Lugnuts mustered only two runs on four hits and dropped the series finale to Wisconsin 7-2 on Friday.
Michael Crouse hit a solo home run, Marcus Knecht went 1-for-4 with an RBI, and Jake Marisnick went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk. Marisnick’s double was his 19th of the season, and Crouse’s homer was his 13th of the season.
Lugnuts starter Egan Smith didn’t pitch poorly, but was saddled with his fourth loss of the season. He allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits in five innings, walking one and striking out five. After allowing four runs early, Smith settled down to pitch three straight scoreless frames.
Wins/Losses: 23-12 | Streak: W2 | T-1st in NOR West (0.0 GB)
July 21: Vancouver Canadians 2, Eugene Emeralds 1 (WP: Nicolino | S: Permison)
Despite managing just two hits, the Canadians’ pitching was dominant and was the reason for their close 2-1 win on Thursday.
Apart from that exhilarating play and a few walks here and there, the only other excitement was leadoff hitter Jonathan Berti going 2-for-4 and hitting his first home run of the season.
In case you haven’t heard of him, there’s a guy named Justin Nicolino that is just toying with opposing hitters for the Canadians. In his latest masterpiece, Nicolino improved to 5-1 after holding the Emeralds without a hit in five shutout frames. He walked just one while fanning nine, and is sporting a crisp 1.32 ERA this season.
Taylor Cole allowed the only run of the game in the seventh inning, and Alesone Escalante pitched 1.2 scoreless frames thanks to Drew Permison, who inherited two runners with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, but retired the two batters he faced to earn his seventh save of the season in impressive fashion as the Canadians were clinging to a one run lead.
July 22: Vancouver Canadians 7, Eugene Emeralds 1 (WP: Nicolino)
One night after managing two hits, the Canadians’ offense awoke for seven runs on 16 hits to provide more than enough help for the Canadians pitchers, who held the Emeralds to just three hits. With the win, the C’s moved into a tie with the Emeralds for first place in the West division.
Balbino Fuenmayor led the charge with a two-run home run, Kevin Newman went 2-for-3 with a walk and a double, and Nicholas Baligod went 2-for-5 with a double of his own.
Aside from Stephen McQuail and Randy Schwartz, every C’s hitter had at least two hits, but the team could have put more runs up on the board if they had done a bit better than 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
Canadians starter Blake McFarland allowed just one run on three hits in six strong innings to earn his fourth win of the season, striking out four and walking two.
The C’s bullpen took over from there, led by Bryan Longpre who pitched two scoreless frames and lowered his ERA on the season to a cool 0.44. Three C’s pitchers combined to hold the Emeralds without a hit in the game’s final three frames.
Wins/Losses: 18-13 | Streak: W1 | T-1st in APP East (0.0 GB)
July 21: Pulaski Mariners 5, Bluefield Blue Jays 4 (LP: Kadish)
Despite holding the lead for the first seven frames, the B-Jays gave up two runs in the eighth to tie the game before one more in the ninth to hand the Pulaski Mariners – the city of the Blue Jays’ last Appalachian League affiliate from 2003-2006 — the walk-off win.
Chris Hawkins continued his torrid pace at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double, two-run homer, and three RBIs. Right fielder Carlos Ramirez went 1-for-4 with an RBI, batting ninth.
Center fielder Kevin Pillar might have gone 0-for-4 at the plate, but he was active in practically every other aspect of the game, as he was caught stealing after reaching on a throwing error, he committed an error, but also notched a pair of outfield assists, one at second base and one at third.
Bluefield starter Ajay Meyer had to settle for a no decision after allowing two earned runs on just four hits in six strong innings of work. He walked three and struck out four, and his only real mistake was the solo home run he allowed in the fourth inning.
July 22: Bluefield Blue Jays 10, Pulaski Mariners 3 (WP: Syndergaard)
With a strong start by Noah Syndergaard, the B-Jays cranked out ten runs on 11 hits to top Pulaski 10-3 on Friday and split the series through two games so far.
Gustavo Pierre — hitting second as the DH — went 4-for-5 with a double, walk, and RBI, Art Charles went 1-for-4 with three RBIs, Kevin Pillar went 2-for-5 with an RBI, and Daniel Arcila went 2-for-5 with a double and a walk as the leadoff hitter.
Pierre, who hit .187/.244/.262 with 36 errors in 56 games for Class-A Lansing, started off slowly with Bluefield but has turned it around as of late, hitting .291/.358/.442 in 21 July games so far.
Syndergaard continued to impress, improving to 3-0 on the season after allowing just three hits in five shutout innings of work. He did not walk a batter and struck out four, and his season ERA is now 1.33 in 27 innings of work.
Wins/Losses: 10-19 | Streak: W1 | 6th in GCL North (8.5 GB)
July 21: GCL Braves 11, GCL Blue Jays 10 (LP: Vargas)
Matching the Braves with 13 hits and scoring ten runs of their own, the GCL Jays came awfully close to pulling out the win with a five-run eighth inning, but ultimately dropped a close one 11-10 to the GCL Braves on Thursday.
Jose Vargas was hooked with the loss after allowing six runs (five earned) on seven hits in just three innings of work. Through two GCL starts, Vargas has allowed 11 earned runs on 13 hits in 3.1 innings.