It’s human nature that after years of seeing someone not do something, we assume they can’t do it. That has been precisely the case with Leslie Anderson in regard to drawing walks and hitting for power. Were we wrong?
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 10, Gwinnett Braves 6
It appears that Leslie Anderson finally got the memo that the only way he’s going to be a productive first baseman or corner outfielder in the major leagues is if he develops better plate discipline and hits for more power. For one game, Anderson looked exactly like the player the Rays had thought they had signed out of Cuba, going 3 for 4 with 2 home runs, 4 RBI, 3 runs scored, and even a walk as fans seeing him for the first time had to think he was a prototypical first base slugger destined for big league greatness. It was Anderson’s first 2-homer game since May 19, 2011, amidst a stretch where he slammed 4 of his 13 home runs on the season in a 4-game stretch, and now we have to wonder whether this was an outlier game for Anderson or a conscious change in his approach at the plate. Only time will tell, but if Anderson has finally made that adjustment and succeeds, he could be in the major leagues by the end of the year. If Anderson has actually changed his approach, though, what took him so long?
Anderson was far from the only highlight in this game for the Bulls. Chris Archer got the start and allowed 4 runs on 7 hits in 5 innings, but that belies just how good he was. He struck out 7 while walking 1 and managed a 6-2 groundout to flyout ratio, with the hits and runs coming across only because of some bad luck. Now back to the hitting. Jason Bourgeois also had a huge game, matching Anderson’s 4 RBI as he went 3 for 3 with 3 doubles and 2 walks, and two of the Rays’ top prospects, Wil Myers and Hak-Ju Lee, both went 2 for 4. Second day in a row that the Bulls won a wild one, but Archer was better than he appeared and it’s always nice to see several hitter come up big.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 4, Jackson Generals (SEA) 3
Matt Buschmann and the Biscuits faced a tough matchup on Wednesday, taking on Mariners top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker. But Buschmann outpitched Walker and the Biscuits got help from seven Jackson errors as they held on to win a tight one, 4-3. After a horrific performance on Opening Day for Montgomery, Buschmann looked as good as ever versus the Generals, going 6 innings allowing no runs on 7 hits, striking out 5 while walking none. C.J. Riefenhauser had a tough time in the 7th inning, allowing 2 home runs, but Juan Sandoval finished what Buschmann started in the final two innings, tossing two perfect frames with a pair of strikeouts for the save. Offensively, Ty Morrison went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI, Kevin Kiermaier went 2 for 4 with a stolen base, an RBI, and a run scored, and Camerson Seitzer went 2 for 5 with a double as the Biscuits got just enough to secure the win. Great to see Buschmann going strong, and it’s always a nice feather in your cap to beat one of the top prospects in baseball.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 4, Bradenton Marauders (PIT) 3
The game was close the whole time, but the Stone Crabs just could never close the deficit. They had been down 3-2 since the second inning as Bradenton pitching had shut they down for six consecutive frames, stranding five runners on base. Their bullpen had been as good as it gets after Parker Markel‘s rocky start, but as we have seen with the Rays so many times, it wasn’t going to matter because they just couldn’t get any more offense and even the one run seems insurmountable. But then in the 9th, they finally came alive. Curt Casali began the frame with a single, and Hector Guevara pinch-ran for him and stole second. Kyeong Kang followed with a walk, and a bunt moved the runners to 2nd and 3rd. And finally, the Stone Crabs got the big hit they had been waiting for, a game-tying single by Kes Carter to knot the game at 3. Then in the 10th, singles by Richie Shaffer and Luke Bailey moved the winning run to 2nd before Kang came through with a walk-off base hit to end it as Charlotte won 4-3. Kang went 2 for 3 with a triple, two walks, and his big RBI and Taylor Motter went 2 for 5 with a double, a stolen base, and a run scored and they were the only Stone Crabs with multiple hits in the game. Bailey’s big hit came after he had entered for the pinch-runner Guevara in the 10th, and he’s actually hitting .300 on the year (3 for 10) after years of struggles. Could he finally be coming around? But we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the shutout relief work of Eliazer Suero and Andrew Bellatti. Suero went 3 innings allowing just a hit and a walk while striking out 3 and Bellatti was even better, allowing just a hit in his 3 frames, striking out 5 while walking none. The Stone Crabs put together an incredible comeback, but it would not have been possible without the efforts of Suero and Bellatti.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 10, Lansing Lugnuts (TOR) 1
Believe it or not, the Lugnut actually led this one 1-0 after the first inning. After that, though, it was all Hot Rods and Bowling Green had themselves quite a time. Blake Snell was great, going 4.2 innings allowing just 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 9 while walking 1, showing a dominant changeup that Lansing hitters couldn’t do anything with. On the offensive side, it was actually the bottom of the lineup that did most of the damage as the 7-8-9 trio of Ryan Dunn, Marty Gantt, and Ben Kline went a combined 9 for 12 with a double, 2 walks, 6 RBI, and 5 runs scored, with each of them collecting 3 hits. Gantt has been unstoppable to begin the year, managing a .526/.625/.842 line with 2 homers, 7 RBI, and 4 walks against 3 strikeouts in 22 plate appearances. Andrew Toles also went 3 for 5 with yet another triple, his third on the season already. Just one other player in the Midwest League has more than 1. It’s hard to find a team playing much better than the Hot Rods are right now, winning their last 4 games while outscoring the opposition 27-7.