It has been quite the last year for Hak-Ju Lee. First, a dirty slide by Travis Ishikawa led to Lee tearing his ACL and missing most of 2013. If that wasn’t bad enough, a calf strain caused him to miss the first month of this season. Lee has struggled in his few games back so far this year, and rightfully so given his long hiatus from the game. But finally Lee broke out with a 3-6 performance in Durham’s win on Saturday, and hopefully it is the start of Lee re-establishing himself as one of the game’s most promising young shortstops.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 9, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (NYY) 2
As mentioned, Lee’s 3-6, 3 RBI performance led the Bulls, but the rest of the offense did plenty as well. Lee’s bat has always been his biggest question as he has moved up the ladder, but it has the potential slightly above-average, and that combined with his plus defense should make him a solid player in the future. He will likely be with the big league club in a utility role in 2015, but with Ben Zobrist scheduled to be a free agent after the 2015 season, Lee could find himself in a much greater role down the line. Vince Belnome had a nice performance as well, going 2-3 with 2 walks, an RBI, and a run scored. Jerry Sands added a trio of RBIs himself with a 2-4 performance, and Kevin Kiermaier and Justin Christian also had two hit performances in a great day for the offense.
Pitching-wise, Matt Andriese gave up just one run, but he wasn’t particularly efficient, lasting 5.0 innings and throwing 91 pitches. Andriese has been inconsistent so far this year, but the main reason for his slip is that his normally stellar command has not been great, and one would have to think he will improve it as the season continues on. Recently called-up pitchers Jake Thompson and Braulio Lara combined to go the next three innings, with Thompson allowing a run and Lara throwing 2.0 scoreless innings. Jeff Beliveau and Juan Sandoval combined to throw a final scoreless inning. It was a nice day all-around for the Bulls pitching staff.
Double-A Southern League: Mississippi Braves (ATL) 6, Montgomery Biscuits 3
The Braves and Biscuits would each net 11 hits on the game, but the Biscuits would not come up with as many key hits as the Braves. Ryan Brett and Taylor Motter both went 2-5 on the day to lead the offense. Both have impressed so far this season in Double-A, and could be in the big leagues as soon as mid-late 2015. Jeremy Moore, signed to a minor league deal this offseason, also added a solid 2-4 performance. Three runs scored isn’t the end of the world, but you still need to have a good pitching performance to win, and the Biscuits could not come up with one. Matt Neil started and struck out 4 while walking none, but he gave up two runs in 3.0 innings. Recently promoted Kevin Brandt came on in relief and gave up three runs in one inning of work, the first runs he has given up all season. Bryce Stowell then allowed a run in his inning of work, and Matt Ramsey and Santiago Garrido finished things off with a final two scoreless innings.
High-A Florida State League: Port Charlotte Stone Crabs 4, Bradenton Marauders (PIT) 1
The Stone Crabs faced a tough assignment from the get go in Pirates’ top pitching prospect Tyler Glasnow, but their offense lived up to the challenge. Leonardo Reginatto led the way with a 3-3 performance with a pair of walks as the Stone Crabs tagged Glasnow for a trio of runs. Reginatto doesn’t hit for much power, but he makes good contact and is versatile, so a future big league utility role is a possibility down the line. Kes Carter‘s two RBI double added to the offense as well, though it wasn’t necessary thanks to great pitching from the Stone Crabs’ staff.
Alex Colome started in his second “rehab” appearance as he works his way back from a 50-game drug suspension. This time around he looked much sharper, throwing 4.0 innings while allowing just one hit and one walk. The 50-game suspension was an obvious disappointment, but Colome still may be in the big league club’s plans soon after he returns from suspension. Behind him, Parker Markel threw the next 3.0 innings of one run ball, and Jose Molina threw the final two scoreless innings.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 6, Lake County Captains (CLE) 3
Blake Snell showcased his dominant stuff once again, but this time with better control, going 6.0 innings and gave up 3 runs (2 earned) while striking out 9 and walking 1. He is close to a promotion to High-A after repeating Low-A to start the season. Brad Schreiber threw 3.0 perfect innings behind him. Offensively, Ariel Soriano led the way with a 2-4, 2 RBI performance. Kean Wong also continued to impress with a 2-4 performance to raise his season’s average to .339. No other Hot Rod had multiple hits, but all 6 runs were scored by a different player in this solid all-around performance.