When you’re good enough to make it to A-ball as a professional baseball pitcher, there’s a pretty good chance that you can dominate opposing batters on your best day. The issue is that your best game may come once per season, and one great game makes nothing if you’re inconsistent the rest of the year. While Jake Odorizzi rolled again, proving that he truly has conquered the Triple-A level and needs another shot at the major leagues, Parker Markel broke a string a tough starts by finally overpowering hitters like the Rays know he ‘s capable. Has Parkel truly done anything or did he just have his best day?
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 3, Columbus Clippers (CLE) 1
Jake Odorizzi should have been the guy. While Alex Colome got hit hard in his last two major league starts, Odorizzi was rolling at Triple-A. In this game, Odorizzi went 6.1 innings allowing just 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 7 while walking 1. In his last 2 starts since his encouraging MLB outing on June 18th, Odorizzi has gone 14.1 innings allowing just 1 run on 7 hits, striking out 13 while walking 2. Overall, he’s 6-1 with a 3.23 ERA and a 73-22 strikeout to walk ratio in 69.2 innings pitched, with the only negative being 9 home runs allowed (1.2 HR/9). He’s making a strong bid for the Rays’ next open rotation spot and we’ll have to see when that comes about. Josh Lueke and Yirby Yates followed Odorizzi with sharp relief work, both striking out 3 working around a hit and a walk, Lueke in 1.2 IP and Yates in 1 IP. On the offensive side, Leslie Anderson went 2 for 3 with a double and 2 RBI (although getting tagged out on a stupid baserunning mistake on his 2-run single showed why he isn’t in the major leagues). Brandon Guyer also went 1 for 3 with a stolen base, his 16th of the year, and a run scored.
Double-A Southern League: Tennessee Smokies 13 (CHC), Montgomery Biscuits 0
The score in this one was pretty lopsided in the wrong direction for the Biscuits, but not everyone had a terrible game. Jacob Thompson and Neil Schenk got destroyed, and by the way, Montgomery got 4-hit, but Erik Hamren and Cameron Seitzer provided some bright spots. Hamren went 3.1 innings allowing just a hit, striking out 2 while walking none, while Seitzer went 2 for 2 with a pair of walks. Just when it seemed like Double-A pitchers had adjusted to Seitzer, he has gone on another hot streak, hitting .352 in his last 58 plate appearances. 17 of his last 19 hits have been singles, but he’s just drilling line drive after line drive the other way and not letting pitchers beat him.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 4, Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA) 1
Undeniably electric stuff is not supposed to go with a 6.30 ERA and 76 hits in 65.2 innings pitched. Maybe Markel’s Saturday outing was a sign that he is finally starting to turn his season around. Markel made Hammerheads hitters feeble, going 6 innings allowing just 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 10 while walking 1 and forcing a 10-1 groundout to flyout ratio. It was the first time that he struck out more than 6 batters in a start all season and just the second time that he struck out 6 or more. Markel had definitely been pitching better of late, managing a 2.37 ERA in his last 4 starts although is strikeout to walk ratio has been just 20-9 even counting his 10-1 mark on Saturday, but hopefully he’s really making strides. Eliazer Suero tossed 2.2 perfect innings for the save, striking out 3. In terms of the offense, Curt Casali, Alejandro Segovia, and Jeff Malm all slammed solo homers and Malm had 3 hits while Segovia and Jake DePew each had 2. Big game for the Stone Crabs, who have been sluggish themselves on the season at 35-42, and you that this could be the type of game that might get them going.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 3, West Michigan Whitecaps (DET) 1
The Hot Rods lived on the edge a little bit on Saturday, but pair strong if not dominant pitching with a few hits with runners in scoring position, and you have yourselves a winning formula. Reinaldo Lopez had a nice outing, going 6 innings allowing 1 run on 6 hits, striking out 2 while walking none. Nick Sawyer and Ryan Garton worked around 4 walks and a hit to toss 3 shutout innings to finish the game, striking out 4 in the process. The run support came from Justin O’Conner and Luke Maile, who had an RBI double and RBI single respectively. Leonardo Reginatto upped his average to .309 with a 3 for 4 day while Joey Rickard went 1 for 3 with a walk, his 14th steal, and a run scored.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Hudson Valley Renegades 9, Brooklyn Cyclones (NYM) 0
The Cyclones have owned the Renegades for most of the season, but the Renegades were finally able to take some frustration out as they rolled in this one. Aaron Griffin continues to prove that sometimes how you start has nothing to do with anything. He allowed 3 runs in 1.2 innings in his first pro appearance but lowered his ERA to 3.23 with 4 shutout frames against Brooklyn, working around 3 hits with 4 strikeouts. He hasn’t walked a single batter in 13.2 innings pitched. Eli Echarry followed with 4 more shutout innings, working around 4 hits with 2 strikeouts, and Jamie Schultz finished the 7-hit shutout with a perfect 9th inning. Renegades didn’t walk a batter all game. Now to the offense. Oscar Hernandez went 2 for 5 with 2 stolen bases, 2 RBI, and a run scored. Despite being a catcher, Hernandez is second on the Renegades with 5 stolen bases, getting caught just once. He also happens to be hitting .349 in 45 plate appearances. Pat Blair kept the team stolen base lead by stealing his 6th base as part of a 1 for 4 day, doubling and walking twice and scoring 2 runs. James Harris also went 2 for 3 with 2 walks and 2 runs scored while Jonathan Quinonez went 2 for 5 with a double, a walk, a stolen base, and 2 runs scored.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Princeton Rays 6, Johnson City Cardinals 2
One of the biggest issues with looking at Rookie Ball stats is that a ridiculous amount of groundballs turn into hits as the middle infielders have no idea what’s going on. That inflates the averages of groundball hitters and makes pitchers who are doing their job and forcing contact on the ground look pretty bad. Take German Marquez. Marquez pitched pretty well in this game, going 5 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 6 while walking 3. He also forced a 7-1 groundout to flyout ratio. He now has a 3.40 groundout to airout ratio yet just a 5.59 ERA (although we’re only talking 2 starts). Stone Speer followed with 2.2 hitless innings, working around a hit and 2 walks with 2 strikeouts (by the way, he got 5 of his 8 outs in the air) before Josh Kimborowicz worked around a hit in the last 1.1 IP to nail down the save. I honestly can’t tell you how in the world the P-Rays scored 6 runs while going just 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position and not a single home run, but that’s exactly what they did. The Rays’ second round pick from 2012, Spencer Edwards, finally had a nice game, going 3 for 4 with 2 stolen bases, an RBI, and a run scored. He’s still hitting just .143 in 33 PA’s, so he has a long way to go. Coty Blanchard also went 2 for 4 with a run scored.
Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Orioles 10, GCL Rays 9
Do you know what this game came down to? Pitching? Looking at the score, absolutely not. Hitting? Nope. So what? Which team got more lucky on the timing of the opposing team’s 3 errors. Jose Mujica got the start for the GCL Rays and went 2.1 innings allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 5 hits, striking out 3 while walking none and forcing a 2-o groundout to flyout ratio. Let’s focus on the strikeouts and groundballs and ignore everything else. Jose Castillo followed with 2 innings allowing 1 run on 1 hit, striking out 1 and walking 1. His groundout to flyout ratio was 3-1. Jhefferson Hurtado somehow managed to allow 6 runs, 2 earned, in 1.1 relief innings before Hyrum Formo tossed shutout ball with 3 strikeouts in the last 2.1 innings. On the offensive side, Hector Montes slammed a solo home run, Riley Unroe went 2 for 5 with a triple, a walk, an RBI, and 3 runs scored, Kean Wong went 2 for 5 with 2 RBI and a run scored, and Alexander Simon went 2 for 5 with a double, a stolen base, an RBI, and a run scored. The most telling stat about this game: the GCL Orioles allowed 9 runs yet struck out 16 while walking just 2. I really don’t know.