A couple Royals affiliates broke through for victories during the 2nd minor league day of the season as the Kane County Cougars and Northwest Arkansas Naturals each came out victorious.
Daily Tap Hitter of the Day Christian Colon 2-3 2b, BB, HBP, 2 SB, 2 RBI off to a great start and filling the box score.
Daily Tap Pitcher of the Day Mario Santiago 4 IP 2 H 5 K 0 BB
Cougars Recap - A strong night with the bats helped the Cougars overcome some so-so pitching and shaky defense from the catching position. Alex Llanos paced the offense with a couple RBI and two extra base hits while scoring a run himself, Geulin Beltre had two more hits on the night while Brian Fletcher tossed in a two RBI double. On the mound Sugar Ray Marimon ran into trouble in the 5th inning and had to be relieved by Matt Mitchell who allowed all three runners he inherited to score he stopped the damage from there and worked one more inning striking out 3 in 2 innings while giving up 3 hits and 1 walk. Chase Boruff a non-drafted free agent worked the next two innings allowing a run while striking out four to cut the lead to one but Chaz Byrne closed it out in the 9th with 2 K's in a perfect inning. Matt Mitchell equaled his win total from last season in the victory. Brett Eibner left the game early with a thumb injury that he sustained while diving for a ball. He tweeted me that he didn't think it was broken.
Brett Eibner 1-3 Bb
Rocks Recap - Tim Melville the 24th rated prospect in my rankings struggled to begin the season again for the Rocks as he struggled to control the zone early giving up 3 walks and 8 hits over 4 innings while also allowing 3 runs. Those 3 runs would be all the Pelicans would needs as the punchless Blue Rocks managed only 6 baserunners (5 hits) for the game while striking out 16 times in the contest. Melville was touted by the organization to have improved his control and gotten better at controlling the running game two things he did poorly last year, both of which didn't see much improvement in this first game of the year.
Rey Navarro 1-3
Naturals Recap - John Lamb and Casey Kelly squared off in a matchup of highly touted starting pitchers but neither were able to take hold of this contest. Lamb it appeared still suffering from lower velocity (85-88 reported) due to a muscle strain was limited to 3 innings on the night giving up 4 hits, 2 walks while striking out 2 and allowing 2 runs to cross. Kelly didn't fair much better giving up 3 over 4.1 innings. The Naturals lead til late in the game when Patrick Keating gave up a 2 run HR to tie the game that eventually went to extra innings. In extras Salvador Perez drew a walk and was pinch ran for by Anthony Seratelli who eventually came around on a Nick Van Stratten RBI single. Lamb's velocity isn't much of a scare to me as it is well documented he's experienced this strain with his muscle, Keating on the other hand has experienced a velocity dip all spring going from mid 90s to low 90s. That type of dip out of a bullpen arm is huge and could really hurt his ability which looked to be at the top of the rung of bp arms in the system prior to the season.
Wil Myers 1-4 SB
Chasers Recap- The Chasers pitching again was knocked around with some more help from bad defense behind them. Moustakas made two more errors while Hosmer committed one also combined with the seven hits and six walks allowed lead to 10 Albuquerque runs which was a few too many for the Chasers offense to overcome. For the second night in a row the Chasers outhit the Isotopes but were less timely in their results.
Mike Moustakas 1-4 1 BB, Eric Hosmer 3-5 2b
Omaha Storm Chasers Danny Duffy
Albuquerque Isotopes Randy Keisler
Danny gets his first start of the season after a spring in which his control was spotty at best. Having seen him a couple times this spring he definitely has the stuff to be a mid of the rotation or higher type starter at the major league level if he can harness that mid 90s fastball. Like Montgomery on Thursday night Duffy could learn that he needs to use the change up and curveball more against upper level competition especially in a high run environment like Albuquerque.
Keisler is a former Yankees 2nd rounder that has appeared in 55 major league games (20 starts) with little to no success. He's a lefty which means he could pitch in the minors for the next 20 years if he so desires. Control has always been Keislers problem as at his peak he had a low 90s fastball combined with an average change up but averaging 4.5/9 BB/9 is difficult to handle for someone without truly elite swing and miss stuff.
Storm Chasers need to salvage one game in this series but they are going to need to play better defense to get that handled.
NW Arkansas Naturals Will Smith
San Antonio Missions Jorge Reyes
Will Smith gets his first AA start of the season as he is trying to for the Naturals. Smith was impressive during the Futures game against the AAA squad changing speeds with his fastball while spotting his curve well. I look for his agressive strike throwing nature to lead to good results in AA this year with a possible move to AAA not far away.
Reyes started his college career about as well as one could hope earning the Most Outstanding player award during the 2007 College World Series as a freshman. From there he was pretty up and down posting a 7.08 ERA as a sophomore and the rebounding to a 4.20 his junior year. Being represented by Boras Corp didn't help his draft stock much as he fell to the 17th round where the Padres selected him. His college scouting report listed him as a fastball/slider guy with neither being above average and no third pitch to speak about. He seems to be no more than organizational filler at this point since he isn't listed in any of the BA, Friar Forecast or John Sickels list.
The Naturals have the better lineup and starting pitcher in this matchup.
Wilmington Blue Rocks Tyler Sample
Myrtle Beach Pelicans Robert Erlin
Sample is one of the most intriguing prospects in the Royals in the system as he has some solid tools in terms of size and speed on the fastball but he just hasn't been able to keep the ball in the zone. Sample gets good downhill plane on his fastball which should lead to success if he can develop that control. I think Sample's future is as a bullpen guy myself so these first few starts should be big test on the season for the 6'7 righty. '10 Stats 121 IP 105 H 95 BB 115 SO 4.69 ERA
Erlin was a possible trade piece that the Royals could've been looking at when the Rangers were said to be hot on Greinke as he is one of the Rangers top pitching prospects. Erlin is a a crafty lefty who relies on pitchability and offspeed stuff as opposed to a overpowering fastball. Jason Parks at Texas Farm Review says that his change and curve both have plus potential while his fastball is average at best.
Blue Rocks lineup doesn't excite me much and I can't imagine too many games they'll be favored in.
Kane County Cougars Leondy Perez
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Jimmy Nelson
Perez in his first start at the A ball level is a 2007 Dominican signee who struggled in his Pioneer league season last year despite a increase in strikeouts (10.17 K/9). Leondy gave up over a hit per inning for the Chukars, numbers that will need to decrease significantly to have any sort of success at the A ball level but as a 21 year old without much of any hype around him seems to be battling a few other Cougars starters for a shot in the rotation if and when the young guns arrive (Adam, Yambati, Ventura) in warmer weather.
Nelson is another of the Rattlers 2010 college draftees was ranked 10th by BA prior to the Odorizzi and Jeffress trades meaning he's comfortably ranked in their Top 10 currently. The big bodied right hander (6'6 245) was used as a reliever in Alabama and in his first season in the minor leagues. The Brewers have decided to switch the righty over to a starter in hopes of him discovering a third pitch to team with his plus fastball and slider. He'll likely get relieved by Manny Para who is on a rehab assignment for Milwaukee.
It's likely Eibner sits out because of the thumb injury which probably give the Rattlers the edge in this one.