The Undercards: Jesse Hahn Rolls Again, Jeff Malm Homers Twice, But Stone Crabs Fall to Hammerheads
By Robbie Knopf
When a player has a great game, fans react differently based on how good that player has been touted to be. For one player, greatness is expected while for another, the reaction might be “boy, he’s getting lucky today.” Even with the latter option, though, there’s always hope that one great one can be the start of a turnaround. Jesse Hahn dominating was expected, but the Rays have to hope good things are ahead for Jeff Malm.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 4, Pawtucket Red Sox 1
Wil Myers went 0 for 4 with a walk, and hitters 6 through 9 in the Durham lineup went 0 for 14 with 2 walks. Can’t be perfect, but those were the only things wrong with a great Bulls win. J.D. Martin got the start and didn’t miss any bats but pitched great, going 6 innings allowing 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 2 while walking 1. Martin is nothing special, but in another organization he might get a look for a starting job. He had a rock-solid 4.32 ERA in 24 starts with the Nationals in 2009 and 2010. Josh Lueke struck out 2 and got 3 groundouts walking around a hit to nail down a 2-inning save for the Bulls. On offense, Leslie Anderson had a first inning 2-run double and Jason Bourgeois, Chris Gimenez, and Rich Thompson also had multiple hits. Best effort of the game, though, has to go to backup catcher Craig Albernaz. Albernaz did a great job handling the pitching staff in this one, but after walking with 1 out in the 9th, Albernaz caught the Red Sox off-guard by stealing second base, keeping the Bulls out of the double play when the next batter grounded out and later netting Durham an insurance run. Albernaz has never really been a prospect, but having a guy like him around the Bulls’ pitching staff and entire team is valuable for everyone.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 8, Pensacola Blue Wahoos (CIN) 3
Enny Romero pulled a Matt Moore (in a bad way), but survived, and Tood Glaesmann and Riccio Torrez both slammed home runs as the Biscuits pulled away from the Blue Wahoos on their way to an 8-3 win. Romero went 5 innings allowing 1 run on 5 hits, striking out just 3 while walking 5. That K-BB ratio won’t cut it–but like Moore against the Rangers a few times out ago, Romero’s fastball was moving so well that Pensacola hitters could do nothing with it when it looked anything like a strike. Romero’s groundout to flyout ratio in the game was a solid 7-2 because of that. But the most encouraging pitching performance of the game goes to Zach Quate, who delivered his best outing since 2010 as he struck out 2 in a scoreless 9th. Quate was once a very promising relief prospect for the Rays before injuries took their toll, but maybe this outing could be Quate finally being healthy and getting back on track. In terms of the run support, Glaesmann’s homer was just part of his great game as he went 3 for 4, but no other Biscuit had multiple hits. Cameron Seitzer did continue his hot start, going 1 for 3 with a walk, an RBI, and 2 runs scored. Crazy game, but the performances of Quate and Glaesmann made it all happy by the end.
High-A Florida State League: Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA) 8, Charlotte Stone Crabs 6
Lefty Jacob Partridge has been the Stone Crabs’ Jake McGee, only worse. He now has an 11.08 ERA in 8 appearances including runs allowed in just a third of an inning in this game as the Stone Crabs blew leads of 4-0 and 5-1 on their way to a 8-6 lost. Jesse Hahn continues to be limited to 3 innings for the Stone Crabs and also continues to be unchallenged, going 3 innings allowing just a hit and a walk, striking out 3. Jake Floethe was not nearly as good, allowing 3 runs on 9 hits in just 4 innings, although his groundout to flyout ratio was a good 8-2 and maybe bad defense made his outing look at lot worse than it was. On the offensive side, though, there was much more to be happy about. Jeff Malm entered this game with just a .125/.220/.188 line in 91 plate appearances, striking out 27 times against just 8 walks and managing just 2 doubles and 1 home run. But in this game, everything finally came together as Malm went 3 for 4 with 2 homers, a double, and 3 RBI, finally having the breakthrough game Charlotte has been waiting for him to deliver all season. Also homering were two other slumping players, Hector Guevara and Drew Vettleson, and Kes Carter and Brett Nommensen both went 2 for 4. It’s a shame that a bullpen collapse ruined a strong offensive effort by the Stone Crabs.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 3, Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 2
Marty Gantt tied the game with an RBI double and Granden Goetzman came through with a go-ahead 2-run home run as the Hot Rods rode a 3-run 7th inning to a 3-2 win over Clinton. Eduar Quinonez got the start for Bowling Green and pitched well, going 5.1 innings allowing just 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 4 while walking 3. Brandon Henderson was sharp over the next 3.1 innings before collapsing with 2 outs in the 9th, allowing 2 walks and a hit, but Nick Sawyer was able to escape a bases-loaded jam to end this one. The 7th inning was basically the only spark of life for Bowling Green in this one–they got 2-hit in the game other than that inning, but they seized the opportunity was opposing pitchers left pitches over the plate and came away with a win. Goetzman’s home run was his first of the season and second of his brief professional career.