Sunday was an important day for at least one minor league player in the system, Daniel Norris. After a successful outing on Tuesday where he went seven innings Norris was slated to face off against the New York Yankees top prospect Luis Severino.
Buffalo Bisons-1 Wilkes-Barre Railraiders- 8
Norris was given the start on a humid if not hot afternoon in Buffalo. He started well, retiring the first six of eight batters to finish two innings. His fastball was working in the mid-90s and he seemed to be able to locate his breaking pitches (curveball, slider) while mixing in the occasional use of a changeup. Then the third inning happened.
Back-to-back infield singles put runners on first and second with no one out. Norris seemed to battle through it initially, getting the next two batters to make out before making a costly mistake over the middle of the plate to Greg Bird who took the offering deep beyond the right field fence for a three-run home run.
Norris settled in initially before allowing three more runs in the fifth, ending his afternoon on a rather sour note. His final line manifested a disappointing performance with 4.2 IP, 6ER, 2BB and one strikeout. His record now dips to 2-9 with a 4.12 ERA.
All in all, when many major league scouts were watching, Norris continued to exemplify a lack of command (especially on the breaking pitches) as he threw just 52 of his 96 pitches for strikes. It goes without saying that if you are lacking command on the mound, it’s going to be difficult to intrigue hitters to even offer at your off-speed stuff.
His counterpart, Severino was much more exceptional. In his five innings of work, he allowed only a double in the first inning while striking out four. By his exit, the Bisons offence had been depleted beyond recognition despite scoring one ninth inning run to make it a final 8-1 loss.
New Hampshire Fischer Cats-4 New Britain Rock Cats-1
The Fischer Cats seemed to have a much better day than their Triple-A companions. Getting the start was Austin Bibens-Dirkx who had a much better outing than his record shows, throwing five scoreless innings allowing six hits with no walks and no punch-outs.
Through four innings, both the Cats held tight at 0-0 before Dalton Pompey broke the deadlock in the 5th on an RBI single up the middle. The Fischer Cats added another in the frame to take a 2-0, giving Bibens-Dirkx the chance to earn the win.
At that point, Jimmy Cordero took the mound for the Fischer Cats and earned himself a hold, throwing a pair of scoreless innings while striking out one. Scott Barnes took over for Cordero in the 8th to close out the win that was insured by an 8th inning two-run homer by Matt Newman. The final score, 4-1.
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Dunedin Blue Jays-5 Jupiter Hammerheads-2
Jeff Hoffman, arguably the Jays’ top prospect received the start who pitched six and two thirds innings pitched, allowing only one run on a seventh inning home run. Hoffman managed to strike out six on the afternoon without walking a single batter, before handing it off to Brady Dragmire.
The D-Jays offence went out to a hot start in the first inning, breaking the knot to take a 1-0 lead through a combination of strong base running from Anthony Alford and pure dumb luck. Andy Fermin would drive in another run in the 4th to take a commanding 2-0 lead.
Mitch Nay joined in on the offensive stat day with a two-run single in the 6th inning to widen the margin to 4-0. Arik Sikula came in for the save in the 9th, allowing a run but finished the game successfully, winning 5-2.
Hoffman improves to 3-3 in his rookie campaign with a 3.21 ERA. If he continues on his recent trek of allowing less than two runs per outing, he may be banging on the promotional door shortly whether it be for Double-A or higher.
Lansing Lugnuts-9 Dayton Dragons-10
Chase Mallard got the nod for the Lugnuts and was decent in his six innings of work despite giving up three of his five runs allowed in the first inning. He allowed two walks in his outing while striking out three.
The Lugnuts started the game with a three run lead, ignited by a string of singles from Ryan McBroom, Dawel Lugo and Mike Reeves. However the Dragons quickly responded in their half with three of their own.
Lansing, again, responded promptly with back to back doubles by Jason Leblebijian and McBroom to take a 5-3 lead. The two teams played run tag a couple more times in the following innings before handing the ball off to Mark Biggs in the 7th inning.
He would pitch two and a third innings, earning the hold before handing off to Carlos Ramirez. Unfortunately Ramirez, Jose Fernandez and Phil Kish couldn’t hold three separate leads and the Lugnuts fell by a final score of 10-9.
Vancouver Canadians-5 Salem-Keizer Volcanoes-10
Jon Wandling started for the Canadians and went six and two thirds innings pitched, allowing four runs on with four strikeouts. His biggest errors were his two extra base hits allowed as he allowed two doubles and two home runs to cost him significantly on the score board.
Offensively, the Canadians were led by 2015 draft pick, recent signee and nominee for the best name ever award Earl Burl III who went 2-for-4 on the day with a double and an RBI. Burl is now hitting a somewhat impressive .227/.301/.320 after being the 30th round selection in this year’s first player draft. James Lynch had a similar line as Burl but without much assistance the Canadians were well short of what their American counterparts produced.
The Canadians used Daniel Young and Stuart Holmes in relief of Wandling but were still short after a bad start falling 10-5 for their 17th loss of the short season.
Bluefield Blue Jays-1 Princeton Rays-2
Juliandry Higuera started for the Jays and went five and two thirds scoreless innings, with two strikeouts, six hits and one walk.
Offensively, the Jays were stymied by Princeton’s starter Jose Alvarado who went five scoreless innings while striking out five. The relief core combined two allow only one more hit on the afternoon which was a homerun by DJ McKnight.
The extra innings loss dropped the Blue Jays record to 7-13 on the short rookie season.