Author’s Note: Apologies for the late post so close to game time, life got in the way this morning, as it tends to do.
The farm system was full of action on Wedneday. Every affiliate was in play, with Peoria doing double duty to make up for a rained out contest. The affiliates went 4-1 on the day.
Memphis Redbirds 5 @ New Orleans Baby Cakes 1
(SP) Anthony Shew - 5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
(CF) Lane Thomas - 1-3, 3B, RBI, 2 K
(2B) Max Schrock - 1-3, RBI, BB, K
(PH) Tommy Edman - 1-1, 2B, RBI
25-year old righty Anthony Shew made his Triple-A debut on Wednesday, impressing over nearly six innings of work. Shew joined the system as an undrafted college senior in 2016 after splitting time between Saddleback JC and the University of San Francisco. He was better as a junior than a senior in the West Coast Conference, making his living by limiting walks and striking out a modest amount of batters. It been more of the same in pro ball, albeit with more strikeouts in the lower minors against less developed competition. He’s been stellar across his fix six outings this year, posting the following line:
Anthony Shew - May 1
Stuff wise, Shew works with a low 90’s sinker, a potentially above-average fading changeup, and a short, late-breaking slider. Everything breaks late, really, allowing him to navigate lineups via soft-contact by mixing speeds and location. He’s defied the odds and reached Triple-A, and could be useful organizational rotation depth.
(Fun fact: Shew is cousins with once-good MLB starter Ian Kennedy.)
Offensively, Memphis’s bats woke up late to pick up Shew’s strong debut. Lane Thomas started a two-out rally in the sixth, tripling to deep center and scoring Adolis Garcia from first. Max Schrock brought Thomas around with a liner to left, adding a bit of insurance to the light lead. The Redbirds entered the ninth leading 2-1, where they’d add three more mainly fueled by a Tommy Edman double.
The win improves the Redbirds’ record to 14-12. The series against New Orleans will conclude tonight at 7:00pm CDT.
Springfield Cardinals 9 @ Amarillo Sod Poodles 6
(SP) Williams Pérez - 6 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
(SS) Kramer Robertson - 2-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI, K
(CF) Dylan Carlson - 1-3, BB, 2 K
(RP) Junior Fernandez - 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Springfield was stymied through the first three frames before jumping on Amarillo starter Emmanuel Ramirez. The Cardinals found their power stroke in innings four through six, piling on two home runs by Kramer Robertson and one from Conner Capel. They piled on four more in the eighth inning thanks to an Evan Mendoza single and a Chris Chinea home run.
Kramer Robertson is off to an undeniably strong start, hitting for more power while simultaneously improving his plate discipline:
Kramer Robertson - May 1
His slight frame doesn’t hint towards this level of power long term, but any development in that department is a boost to his extremely disciplined, skills-over-tools package.
Wednesday also featured another debut, with Junior Fernandez getting his first 2019 taste of the Texas League. He’s moved to the bullpen full time now in the wake of multiple injury marred campaigns. The strikeouts still don’t jive with his level off pure stuff, but at just 22 years old there’s still plenty of time to harness his fastball-change combo in short work.
The win helps Springfield scratch its way to a 9-17 record. They play Amarillo again tonight at 7:05pm CDT.
St. Lucie Mets 2, Palm Beach Cardinals 0
(SP) Angel Rondon - 5 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 8 K
(RF) Justin Toerner - 1-4, 2 K
(C) Dennis Ortega - 1-2, BB, K
(1B) Zach Kirtley - 1-3, BB, K
Palm Beach was uncharacteristically quiet at the plate on Wednesday, scraping together only three hits on the day. Despite lacking the system’s big name prospects, the Cardinals are tied atop the Florida State League with the Bradenton Marauders (PIT) while sporting the 4th best offense by runs scored and best pitching staff by ERA. At the plate, outfielder Justin Toerner, catcher Julio Rodriguez, and infielders Luken Baker and Zach Kirtley have formed the offensive engine. On the mound, the staff has dominated on the back of 21-year old starters Johan Oviedo and Angel Rondon and several blistering starts from lesser heralded relief prospects.
The aforementioned Rondon stuck to his 2019 script on Wednesday, walking a concerning amount of batters but striking out more than enough to ride a depressed BABIP to success. His 2.03 ERA is definitely unsustainable with a .161 BABIP and 86.2% LOB%, but there’s enough raw stuff and baseline performance here to get excited. Palm Beach needs to start streaming games on MiLB TV so I can get eyes on him this year.
The loss drops Palm Beach to 17-9. The series against St. Lucie continues this evening at 5:30pm CDT.
Peoria Chiefs 6, Dayton Dragons 0
(SP) Tommy Parsons - 5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
(3B) Nolan Gorman - 1-2, HR, 2 RBI, BB
(1B) Brady Whalen - 2-3, 2B, HR, 3 RBI
(C) Ivan Herrera - 1-3, RBI
Peoria Chiefs 7, Dayton Dragons 3
(SP) Kyle Leahy - 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
(RF) Lars Nootbaar - 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI
(2B) Josh Shaw - 1-2, 2B, RBI, K
Peoria put the screws to Dayton, sweeping the double header after a rain and snow filled week. Each game only went seven innings.
The offense came from all around on Wednesday, combining for seventeen hits including five doubles and two home runs. The home run towards the end of the first game was Nolan Gorman’s third in his last four games, raising his total to seven on the season. Here’s where we find ourselves in this edition of Nolan Gorman Doing Ridiculous 18 Year Old Things:
Nolan Gorman - May 1
That, my friends, is bonkers.
Meanwhile, Lars Nootbaar is still finding success by putting the ball in the air more often. He’s putting up power numbers that finally fit with his physicality, all while walking more than he’s striking out.
The Chiefs sit at 10-13 after sweeping the double header. They’ll take on Dayton again tonight at 6:35pm CDT.
Rising: Brady Whalen (1B)
I so badly want to believe that Brady Whalen is breaking out, but there are markers pouring cold water on my optimism. First off, he’s running inflated line drive, HR/FB, and BABIP numbers, pointing to a step backwards probably sooner rather than later. Then there’s his walk rate which is nearly half his career average, along with only a minimal decrease in strikeouts. I’ve always believed in the tools, with raw power from both sides and a mature approach, even though the left handed swing is well behind the right. Still, I will give credit where credit is due, and Whalen is putting up numbers worthy of the upper-echelon of the Midwest league.
Falling: Evan Kruczynski (LHP)
Since showing well in his Double-A cup of coffee last year, Kruczysnki has struggled to find his footing in the Texas League. Striking out more batters than ever before is great, but it doesn’t matter much if you’re walking everyone in sight and getting hit hard in the process. I’m going to go back and rewatch his last start prior to tomorrow’s outing, but for now the arrow is pointing down.
MEM: Austin Gomber
SPR: Evan Kruczynski
PMB: Edgar Gonzalez
PEO: Cole Aker