The minor league affiliates split the card on a relatively quiet day, individual perfomance wise at least. Memphis and Palm Beach came out victorious while Springfield and Peoria dropped the ball.
Memphis Redbirds 7 @ Omaha Storm Chasers 5
(SP) Harold Arauz - 6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, HR
(1B) John Nogowski - 2-4, HR, 3 RBI, K
(C) Andrew Knizner - 2-4, RBI, BB, K
(SS) Edmundo Sosa - 2-4, RBI
Memphis didn’t hit for much power on Wednesday, but ten total hits and some timely hitting pushed them past Omaha.
The Redbirds’ only home run came via first baseman John Nogowski, continuing his sizzling start to the season. Terrific plate discipline has always been a calling card for Nogowski, but this year he’s taken things to a whole new level in the early going. Through 18 games, Nogowski is hitting .327/.471/.558 while walking at a significantly higher rate than he’s striking out (17.8% vs. 11.8%). His ISO of .231 is noticeably higher than his full-season career best of .141, and his three home runs thus far account for 25% of his total home run output at Springfield last year. I’m hoping to carve out time to catch the Memphis game on MiLB tonight, which would be my first opportunity to get eyes on his AB’s this year. Let’s hope the power bump is sustainable.
Where John Nogowski zigs, Andrew Knizner zags. Knizner is hitting for almost no power in the early going, with only a pair of doubles to his name through 13 games. Am I worried? Not at all. His .340/.426/.383 slash line is wonky, but he’s walking more than he’s striking out, albeit to a lesser degree than
Quad-A Joey Votto John Nogowski (11.1% vs. 9.3%).
The win moves Memphis to 10-9 on the season. They’ll continue the series against Omaha at 6:35pm CDT tonight with the rehabbing Alex Reyes on the bump.
Amarillo Sod Poodles 4 @ Springfield Cardinals 2
(SP) Austin Warner - 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 2 HR
(RP) Luke Gregerson - 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
(CF) Dylan Carlson - 1-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K
Never have I ever thought I’d type out the words “Sod Poodles”, but here we are. A little tidbit of wonderful minor league weirdness: Amarillo, the Double-A affiliate of the Padres, relocated from San Antonio this year. They couldn’t run out the name Missions anymore, naturally, so the hunt was on for a new mascot to strike fear into the hearts of mere mortals. The five finalists were “Bronc Busters”, “Boot Scooters”, “Jerky”, “Long Haulers” and “Sod Poodles”. Time to get me a hat.
I digress. Amarillo bested Springfield on Wednesday, riding to victory on the back of a strong bullpen and a cavalcade of solo home runs. The home runs were the only bugaboo for Cardinals starter Austin Warner, who gave up back-to-back shots to open the top of the fourth inning. Warner was otherwise solid, striking out five and walking none over six innings of work. Reliever Seth Elledge gave up the game in the ninth, surrendering a two-run shot to Hudson Potts to break the 2-2 tie.
Meanwhile, Dylan Carlson put up a two-run blast of his own - and it was a doozie:
He’s come back down to earth a tad in recent days, but not nearly enough to pour cold water on his breakout. The switch hitter is running a 124 wRC+ in the Texas League as a 20 year old, supported by characteristically strong plate discipline numbers and a long-awaited power surge.
The loss drops Springfield to 6-14 on the year. The series against Amarillo will conclude tonight at 7:10pm CDT.
Palm Beach Cardinals 2, Jupiter Hammerheads 1
(SP) Angel Rondon - 6 IP, 4 H, ER, 2 BB, 7 K, HR
(RP) Patrick Dayton - 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
(2B) Rayder Ascanio - 3-3, RBI, BB
It was a low scoring affair at Roger Dean, one that ultimately needed an extra frame to be decided.
Starter Angel Rondon cruised through the first five innings before getting nicked by a solo homer in the sixth. The Cardinals responded by manufacturing the tying run in the bottom of the seventh. Bryce Denton started things off by ripping a double to right field. Chase Pinder pinch ran to add a splash of speed to the mix with Rayder Ascanio stepping to the plate. Ascanio laid down a sac bunt to advance Pinder over to third, but Jupiter catcher Michael Hernandez committed a throwing error that allowed Pinder to come all the way around. Ascanio made it to second on the error. Michael Perri then singled on a bunt to the third base side, putting runners on the corner with no outs. Jupiter made a pitching change. bringing in Daniel Castano, and Palm Beach countered by pinch hitting Luken Baker for Nick Plummer (ouch, Nick). Baker hit a screamer, but it was right at the third baseman for the first out. Catcher Julio Rodrigues stepped in with a chance to break the game wide open, but grounded into an inning ending double play on the first pitch.
Fast forward to the bottom of the tenth. For context, Patrick Dayton had just finished his second inning of scoreless relief work. It was a sketchy tight wire routine, escaping unharmed after starting the inning with an intentional walk and a hit by pitch to load the bases (minor league extras start with a runner on second). As for Palm Beach, they started the inning with Zach Kirtley on second base. Yariel Gonzalez dug a quick 0-2 hole, then grounded into the first out of the inning. Jupiter then intentionally walked the next two batters and loaded the bases. Please, please, never ever bring the runner-starts-on-second rule to the majors. Rayder Ascanio then made the Hammerheads pay, singling to center to bring home the winning run.
Palm Beach is a stellar 15-5 after the win. They’ll open a four game set against the 12-8 Fort Myers Miracle tonight at 5:30pm CDT.
Quad Cities River Bandits 4 @ Peoria Chiefs 1
(SP) Cole Aker - 5 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 9 K, 2 HR
(CF) Brandon Riley - 3-4
(RF) Wadye Ynfante - 3-4
It was a punchless effort all around for Peoria.
The team tallied nine hits, none of which went for extra bases. They did advance six runners into scoring position on the day, but squandered all six opportunities. The lone run came in the bottom of the fifth, after Edwin Figuera opened the inning by reaching first on an error. Delvin Perez then singled to put runners on the corners, and Lars Nootbaar brought in Figuera while grounding out. The Chiefs still trailed 3-1 at that point, however, and never threatened much moving forward.
Nolan Gorman is doing something very rude - not showing thunder on my recap days. Yesterday, he went 1-4 with no strikeouts while hitting in the three hole. His season line now sits at .315/.378/.589, good for a 173 wRC+ in the Midwest League.
After the loss, Peoria sports a rough 6-13 record. The Chiefs will look to jumpstart their season against Beloit at 6:30pm CDT tonight.
Rising: Alvaro Seijas (SP) - Tuesday was my first chance to catch Seijas start for Peoria this year. I haven’t gotten eyes on him much since signing, which is on me, but I loved what I saw this time around. His arm slot is noticeably lower than it was coming out of Venezuela, now sitting low 3⁄4 rather than heavily over the top. It’s changed the shape on his curveball, now more 11-5 than a true 12-6, but he’s also spinning the ball more consistently than ever before. His breaker is a true weapon, working well to both sides of the plate with terrific depth and power. Stats wise, he’s pitched to a 2.79 ERA with a 11.17 K/9 and a 3.72 BB/9 in four starts.
Falling: Elehuris Montero (3B) - I got roasted for putting him here last week, and let me be clear that I don’t see his prospect status as having changed much at all. He’s 20 years old playing at Double-A without much time above Single-A, so slow starts with small sample sizes should be heavily discounted. That being said, his strikeout rate has exploded to 31.1% and his wRC+ is an abysmal 61. His contact skills and raw power are undeniable, but it seems that Texas League pitchers have exploited his aggressive approach to great success so far.
MEM: Alex Reyes
SPR: Anthony Shew
PMB: Johan Oviedo
PEO: Diego Cordero