Four Charlotte Knights played in the AAA All Star Game, including Erik Johnson getting the starting nod. In other action, the Birmingham Barons have won seven straight games, without Jacob May or (for most of it) Courtney Hawkins.
Erik Johnson continued his comeback tour with a decent, if uneven, start in Omaha. The final line was good: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K. What’s not reflected there though is that he struggled with command and control, as well as getting that good snap on his breaking pitch. His fastball did hover mostly around 92-93 and touched 94, but his recent time off and/or nerves may have had an effect here as his command (of both FB and breaking ball) has been pretty good this season. Trayce Thompson got the start in center field, going 0-2 with a K. Matt Davidson also started, at 3B, and played the full game – 0-4, 2 K. LHP Zach Phillips, who has major league experience and has done well in Charlotte this year, had a rough 2/3 of an inning: two earned runs on two hits and a walk.
The Barons won their seventh straight game in a game that wasn’t even as close as the score indicates, as it was 14-2 going into the 9th. Rob Brantly went 3-4 with a home run and a walk, and he’s finally been doing lately what was expected of him this year – pounding AA pitching. Keenyn Walker had his best game in AA ball, with a 3-for-5 day (raising his average t0 .196) including his first HR of the year, and he stole a base. Four players had 2-hit days, including Tim Anderson (2-6, K, SB #31). Danny Hayes did something you don’t see every day, walking four times in five plate appearances. Hayes has 55 walks to lead the Southern League, giving him a .381 OBP despite a .258 average.
On the pitching side, Tyler Danish had a so-so outing that skirted the outer edge of “quality start” (6 IP, 3 ER), while giving up a pair of home runs and walking three. This year has been a bit of a struggle for Tyler, but he’s quite young for AA and he’s not getting completely overmatched either. Nolan Sanburn pitched to four batters in the 9th, and walked all four – sort of a carnival mirror for Hayes’ performance. Matt Albers made another rehab appearance, throwing two perfect innings including four strikeouts.
Note: The Birmingham broadcast mentioned that Hawkins was in a walking boot at the park, and we are trying to get an update on his injury. No official word yet.
The Dash rode yet another strong performance from Matt Heidenreich to a win, as the once and current Sox prospect continues to look ready for a promotion. He threw six innings giving up just an unearned run on eight hits, walking one and striking out six. Keon Barnum, who has been scuffling for much of the year, led the offense with a double, single and a walk in four plate appearances. Adam Engel went 1-4 but stole second and third after that one hit, giving him 34 swipes on the year. Nate Jones made another rehab appearance, giving up a solo homerun and striking out one in a single inning. Brian Boesch of the W-S Dash reported on Twitter that his fastball hovered right around 100.
The I’s didn’t have it on this night, and were the only affiliate to lose. Thaddius Lowry labored through 5.1 innings allowing a whopping 12 hits and 6 earned runs, throwing two wild pitches. The big 20-year old right-hander has made a leap forward this year as a prospect, though the results have been somewhat inconsistent. He’s young for full season ball and has intriguing stuff. Brett Austin and Michael Suiter led the offense with a pair of hits including a double each.
The Voyagers put themselves back into a tie for first place in their division with another win behind Tanner Banks‘ 6 shutout innings, and he now owns a 1.37 ERA on the season in a hitter’s league. It was a little surprising to see the 23-year old assigned to rookie league after opening with Class A Kannapolis in his draft year, and he’s been quite effective there thus far getting a ton of ground ball outs and showing stellar control (2 BB in 26.1 IP). Landon Lassiter had a pair of hits from the leadoff spot, as did Frank Califano from the 9th slot, as both are hitting well over .300 in their draft year. Jake Jarvis hit a double but also earned the golden sombrero (4 K).
The Dominican team won a beat-down with their 16-hit attack, aided by four errors from Arizona’s affiliate. Maiker Feliz added another pair of hits and a walk to his season resume, as his .993 OPS at age 17 is getting some serious attention. Usual caveats for DSL stats apply. But even at this level, having nearly as many walks as strikeouts and a hilarious .493 OBP despite being younger than most of his peers, it’s probably time for a promotion state-side.
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