The bats came to life for Charlotte (22-33) last night against Toledo (17-38), as they were victorious 8-4–salvaging their four-game set with a series split. Both teams would swap zeros for the first four innings, but then two ex-Voyagers would come up with some decisive hits for the Knights. In the bottom half of the fifth inning, Gordon Beckham would drive home the game’s first run with a single. Then, Brent Morel (2008) would belt his fourth homer of the year–a two run shot–and Charlotte would never look back. Toledo would get two runs back in the following inning, but soon another former Voyager would show off his power in the bottom frame, as with the bases loaded, Jim Gallagher smacked a grand slam over the right field fence to give the Knights a 7-2 advantage. Also in the sixth, Morel would once again prove to be productive as he knocked home his third run of the game thanks to a two-out double. On the mound, Andre Rienzo (4-3) would pick up his second win in three starts, as he allowed just two runs (0 ER) over 5 1/3 innings. Charlotte will finish up the month of May tonight, as they remain at home to begin their four -game set against Rochester. First pitch is scheduled for 5:15, and Charles Leesman (0-0, 0.oo) will be making the start for the Knights.
2010 Voyagers pitcher Spencer Arroyo and the Barons (33-20) were outmatched last night by Tennessee (28-24), as they dropped their second game in three days by the score of 5-1. Arroyo (4-3) fell for the second time in three starts, as he allowed five runs and ten hits over 6 1/3 innings. The Smokies picked up a run in the first inning and they would never trail from that point forward. Ex-Voyager Mike Blanke (2010) would drive in Birmingham’s only run of the ballgame in the bottom half of the second on a single that scored Tyler Saladino. After Arroyo was bounced in the seventh inning, 2010 hurler Taylor Thompson came on to finish the game. The righty tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings of one-hit ball to go with four strikeouts. The Barons will be back at it tonight at 6:05 for the fourth game of this five-game series. 2011 Voyager Erik Johnson (4-2, 2.15) will get the nod for Birmingham, as he is coming off one of his strongest starts of 2013. Last time out, Johnson went seven innings without allowing a run and striking out seven.
For the second straight night, Winston-Salem (26-26) fell to Frederick (28-24) by the score of 8-6 in 11 innings. The Dash trailed 6-3 heading into the bottom half of the ninth, but they then sparked a rally to send the game into extras. Winston-Salem was down to their final out when they had runners at the corners with Joey DeMichele at the dish. The second baseman would come through with an RBI double. Then, Chris Curley would next deliver another two-bagger, which scored 2012 Voyager Yoandy Barroso and DeMichele to tie the game at six. Terance Marin (3-4) would ultimately get the loss in his third inning of relief, as he allowed a three-run frame. Despite the loss, ex-Voyager Kevan Smith (2011) knocked in his 28th RBI of the season in the bottom half of the fifth. Winston-Salem has now lost two straight series, and they will look to get back to their winning ways tonight against Carolina. Myles Jaye (2-0, 4.15) will get the nod for the Dash with first pitch scheduled for 5:00.
The Intimidators (19-32) had an unconventional evening of baseball last night against Savannah (31-22), as they were set to complete a suspended game from May 3 and then play in their regularly scheduled game following the make up. The two teams resumed play from the suspended game–which the Sand Gnats would win 8-2–in the top half of the fourth inning with Kannapolis leading 1-0. Savannah would then score at least one run in every frame from there on out and the Intimidators would not be able to bounce back. Adam Lopez (0-1) would get tabbed with the loss as he allowed four runs (1 ER) over 2 1/3 innings. 2012 Voyager Zach Isler would then come on to allow four runs of his own in two innings of work. The second game of the night was only scheduled for the standard seven innings that all MILB doubleheaders follow, but Savannah and Kannapolis needed an extra four to complete the game, as the Intimidators walked off in extras with a 5-4 victory. The Intimidators would jump out to an early 4-1 lead thanks to a four-run second inning. During that frame, 2012 Voyagers Brent Tanner and Micah Johnson each contributed with an RBI. Johnson would also continue to show off the jets on the base paths, as he stole his MILB-leading 47th base of the season. Heading into the seventh inning, Kannapolis would still hold a 4-3 lead with 2012 Voyager Joe Dvorsky called into finish the game. Dvorsky would surrender the lead– his first blown save of the season–as Savannah would tie it up at four (Eudy Pena solo homer). He would then proceed to pitch three more innings, in which he would not allow a base runner. Savannah would win it in the bottom half of the eleventh when Jake Brown would come through with a walk-off RBI single. The Intimidators have now won three of their past four games, and they will be back in action tonight at 5:05 against the Sand Gnats. Euclides Leyer (2-5, 4.71) will be making the start for Kannapolis.
Voyagers Alumni of the Night
Jim Gallagher (2007)
3-4, GS HR (3), 2B, 4 RBI in last night’s 8-4 win over Toledo
After a victory on Tuesday, the Knights (21-33) were back in the loss column last night–falling to Toledo (17-37) 12-4. The Mud Hens scored eight runs in the first four innings, and Charlotte was never able to bounce back, as they were defeated for the fourth time in seven days. 2008 Voyager Brent Morel was one of the few bright spots for the Knights, as he collected two hits and drove in a run. The third baseman now ranks third on the club with 23 RBI on the season. Zach Stewart (3-6) was bounced after three innings, which marked the first time all season that the righty didn’t throw at least five frames. The Knights will look to salvage the four-game set tonight, as they go for a split at 5:15. Andre Rienzo (3-3, 7.47) will be making the start for Charlotte, as he tries to bounce back from the loss he suffered last time out against Rochester.
Birmingham (33-19) was back to their winning ways last night with a 6-3 victory over the Tennessee Smokies (27-24). 2010-11 Voyager Stephen McCray (5-3) led the way for the Barons thanks to 5 1/3 innings of three-run ball. The win marked the first time all month that the righty was victorious. Ex-Voyager Andy Wilkins (2010) raised his season average closer to the .300 mark (.289) with a two-hit night. Wilkins also scored in the ballgame courtesy of a Jared Mitchell RBI single. It was another strong outing for the Barons bullpen, as two pitchers (including 2011 Voyagers Salvador Sanchez) combined to toss 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief. Game three of this five-game set will take place tonight at 5:05. 2010 Voyager Spencer Arroyo (4-2, 2.24) will be on the mound for Birmingham. The southpaw will be looking to build off his last start, where he went five innings, allowed two earned and got the win over Jacksonville.
After sweeping their doubleheader yesterday, Winston-Salem (26-25) fell to Frederick (27-24) 6-3 last night. 2009 Voyager Ryan Buch (0-2) lost for the second straight time, as he was roughed up for five runs in only four innings of work. Offensively, it was another strong day at the plate for ex-Voyager Kevan Smith (2011). The Winston-Salem backstop had himself a three-hit day and scored one of the three Dash runs despite the loss. In his past four games, Smith is 9-18 (.500) with a homer and seven runs batted in. Another member of that 2011 Great Falls team, Mark Haddow, extended his streak of consecutive games with at least one RBI to six thanks to a run-scoring single in the bottom half of the first inning. The Dash and the Keys will close out this five-game series tonight at 5:00 at BB&T Ballpark. Bryan Blough (2-4, 5.66) will get the nod for Winston-Salem.
The Intimidators (18-31) picked up their first series win since May 9-12, as they edged out Lexington (26-27) 1-0 last night. Kannapolis starter Jake Cose (4-3) dazzled by scattering only four hits over seven scoreless innings. 2011 Voyager Stew Brase then came on for a two inning save–his second of the season. A member of last year’s Voyagers team, Micah Johnson, continued to pulverize opposing pitching. The Intimidators second baseman clubbed two doubles and scored the game’s only run off a wild pitch in the sixth inning. Johnson is hitting 18-40 (.450) in his past ten games with three home runs, seven RBI and seven stolen bases. Kannapolis will look to keep the ball rolling tonight in Savannah. The Intimidators and Sand Gnats had their game back on May 3 suspended to due inclement weather, so they will resume it at 3:05. Following its completion, the two teams will play their regularly scheduled game—which is tentatively scheduled for 5:05. Jefferson Olacio (1-7, 8.38) is slated to get the start for Kannapolis, as he goes for his first win since April 24.
Voyagers Alumni of the Night
Micah Johnson (2012)
2-3, 2 2B, 1 R in last night’s 1-0 win over Lexington
The Knights (21-32) won for the third time in five games, as they knocked off Toledo (16-37) 12-3. 2007 Voyager Jim Gallagher contributed an RBI in the Knights blowout win, and ex-Voyager Brent Morel (2008) doubled and scored. Charlotte fell behind early 2-0, but then was lifted with a six-run fifth and sixth innings. Knights starter Jason Berken (4-4) put up seven strong innings, allowing two runs on four hits. 2008 Voyager reliever Dan Remenowsky then would come on to toss two innings of one-run ball to secure the victory. The Knights will be back in action tonight at 5:15 against the Mud Hens in the third game of a four-game set. Zach Stewart (3-5, 4.31) is slated to get the start for Charlotte. The former Blue Jays top prospect has won three of his past four starts and is coming off an eight inning, two-run outing against Rochester.
Oddly enough, the only White Sox affiliate to lose last night was the only team leading their respective division, as Birmingham (32-19) fell to Tennessee (27-23) 3-2. The Barons did strike first in the bottom of the first inning thanks to an RBI double off of the bat of 2010 Voyager Andy Wilkins. That would be the only noise the Barons would make from the plate until they entered the seventh inning trailing 3-1. Marcus Semien would cut the deficit to one with an RBI single, but that would be all Birmingham would get for the rest of the game. 2011 Voyagers hurler Kevin Vance (2-2) would get credited with the loss, as he surrendered two runs in two innings after relieving Barons starter Nestor Molina. The Barons and Smokies will resume their five-game series today at 11:30. A starter from the 2010 and 2011 Great Falls teams, Stephen McCray (4-3, 3.12), will make the start for Birmingham.
Winston-Salem (26-24) took both games of their doubleheader against Frederick (26-24) last night in two completely different fashions. Game one saw the Dash tie a franchise record by putting up eight runs in the second inning en route to a 17-5 victory, whereas game two saw about as much great pitching as game two saw hitting–with Winston-Salem emerging with a 1-0 win. In that record-setting second inning, former Voyager backstop Kevan Smith (2011) blasted a two-run homer for his fifth of the season. Two other ex-Voyagers drove in runs in the second, as Yoandy Barroso had an RBI double and Joe De Pinto tacked on the eighth run of the inning with a single. A member of last year’s pitching staff, Christopher Beck (4-6), picked up the win after allowing two runs over five innings. Ex-Voyager Cody Winiarski (2011) then came on to allow three runs over two innings, but the performance would be more than enough to secure the win for the Dash. The second game of the twin bill would see a huge decrease in offense, as 2011 Voyager Mark Haddow drove in the game’s only run–an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning. Two Winston-Salem pitchers combined to allow zero runs on three hits to give the Dash a sweep of the doubleheader. These two teams will be back at it tonight at 5:00. as 2009 Voyagers righty Ryan Buch (0-1, 3.00) will get the nod for Winston-Salem.
The bats certainly came to life for the Intimidators (17-31) last night, as they won for only the seventh time this month with a 13-1 victory over Lexington (26-26). Kannapolis benefited from a stellar start by 2012 Voyager Kyle Hansen (1-1). The righty tossed six innings of scoreless baseball, only allowing one hit in the process. Ex-Voyager Micah Johnson (2012) continued his tear at the plate, as he homered for the third straight game and drove in four runs. Another member of last year’s Great Falls team, Michael Johnson, would also join the hitting party with his 22nd RBI of the season. Also helping add to the scoreboard for the Intimidators were 2012 Voyagers Patrick Palmeiro (1-4, RBI. R) and Mike Marjama (1-2, 2 R). Kannapolis will go for their first series win since May 9-12 this afternoon as they close out their three-game set against the Legends at 10:05. Jake Cose will make the start for the Intimidators, as he looks to win back-to-back starts for the first time all season.
Voyagers Alumni of the Night
Kyle Hansen (2012)
6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 6 K, 0 BB in 13-1 win over Lexington last night
Charlotte (20-32) kicked off an eight-game homestand last night against Toledo (16-36), and in 11 innings the Mud Hens were victorious 6-5. The Knights took a 5-1 lead into the top half of the ninth inning, but Toledo was able to put up a four-run frame off of reliever Deunte Heath to tie the game at five. The two squads would then swap a scoreless tenth, before the Mud Hens would ultimately come out on top in the 11th. In that inning, with Ben Guez up to the plate for Toledo, Jhan Martinez (2-3) would put runners at the corners with two outs. After a stolen base by Toledo infielder Kevin Russo, Martinez would lose control and toss a wild pitch that scored the game’s go-ahead run. The Knights have now lost five of their past eight games, and they will look to bounce back tonight in the second game of this four-game set. First pitch from Knights Stadium is scheduled for 5:15.
In case you missed it, the Barons (32-18) won for the third straight game yesterday in a matinee against Jacksonville (26-21) by the score of 4-1. You can read up on their victory here (from Monday’s Farm Report). Today the North Division leading Barons will return home for a big five-game series against second place Tennessee. The Smokies enter Tuesday 5 1/2 games behind Birmingham. The Barons, winners of four straight and six of their past eight, have been one of the hottest teams in the Southern League as of late. They will look to keep the ball rolling tonight at Regions Field—with first pitch scheduled for 6:05. The Birmingham website does not have a probable starter listed for tonight, but 2010 Voyager Stephen McCray would be in line to get the nod. Last time out, the righty scattered six hits over five innings of three-run ball to record the no decision in a 5-3 loss to Jacksonville on May 23.
Winston-Salem (24-24) began their five-game series against Frederick (26-22) on a sour note last night, as they fell 8-4. The Dash started off strong with a two-run first inning, which included an RBI single from ex-Voyager Mark Haddow (2011). The Keys would quickly respond with four runs in the top half of the second inning, and they would never look back. Dash starter Chris Bassitt (5-2) would surrender seven runs over five innings en route to his second loss in three starts. Two former Great Falls pitchers would then come on for four solid innings of relief, as Brandon Hardin (2012) and J.R. Ballinger (2009) combined to allow only one run (0 ER) and a hit over that stretch. Winston-Salem has a twin bill set for this evening, as the Keys and Dash will make up their postponed game from May 7. In game one, Christopher Beck (3-6, 2.86) will be making the start, as he goes for his second straight win. First pitch from BB&T Ballpark is scheduled for 4:00. Game two will follow directly after, with Jason Van Skike (2-1, 2.05) getting the nod.
The Intimidators (16-31) fell for the 13th time in 16 games last night in Lexington (26-25), but that was not the headline following their 7-4 loss. Legends designated hitter Raul Mondesi became the first player ever to hit for the cycle against Kannapolis, as he went 4-4 and drove in three runs. 2012 Voyager Brandon Brennan (1-8, 7.88) got credited for the loss for the eighth time in nine starts, as he tossed five innings and allowed five runs. Despite the loss, there were some bright spots offensively for the Intimidators. Another member of last year’s Great Falls team, Micah Johnson, made some noise from the plate, as he homered for the second straight day and the third time this season in the fifth inning. Ex-Voyager Michael Johnson (2012) recorded two hits on the night–boosting his season average to .320. Kannapolis will play game two of their three-game series against the Legends this evening at 5:05. 2012 Voyager Kyle Hansen (0-1, 7.88) will be making his fourth start of 2013.
Voyagers Alumni of the Night
Scott Snodgress (2011)
7.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 7 K in 4-1 win over Jacksonville last night
After dropping a 4-1 contest to Rochester (20-30) on Saturday night, the Knights (20-31) were able to bounce back thanks to some heroics by ex-Voyager Jim Gallagher (2007). With his team down 2-1 in the top of the eighth, Gallagher slugged his third double of the season and drove in two runs in the process. That would be enough for the Knights, as their ‘pen would preserve the 3-2 lead—resulting in a four-game series split. Yesterday would end on a much lighter note than Saturday, where the Red Wings would score four runs in the first three innings off of starter Andre Rienzo (3-3) and never look back. 2008 Voyager Dan Remenowsky would come on in relief and toss two innings of scoreless ball, but the Charlotte bats were unable put more than one run on the board against Rochester pitching. Another member of that 2008 Great Falls team, third baseman Brent Morel, would have a quiet two days from the plate—as he collected a hit in each game. Charlotte now sits 11 games out of first place in the International League South Division, and they will be back at home tonight to begin a four-game series with Toledo (15-36). First pitch is scheduled for 5:15 at Knights Stadium. Simon Castro (0-6, 6.08) will be going for his first win of 2013.
After splitting the first two games of their five-game set against Jacksonville (26-21), the Barons (32-18) took a stronghold on the series by winning the final three games–including a 4-1 victory earlier this afternoon. The Barons streak of 29 straight innings was finally snapped when Jacksonville picked up their only run of the game in the seventh. 2011 Voyager alumni Scott Snodgress (6-3) paved the way for Birmingham with seven innings two-hit, one-run ball to go along with seven strikeouts. Ex-Voyager Keenyn Walker went yard for the first time this season in the top half of the fifth inning and collected a double in the win. Taking a look back at Saturday, Birmingham was led by 2011 Voyager Erik Johnson (4-2), as he went seven scoreless innings of four-hit ball en route to the Barons 3-0 win. The righty finished with seven strikeouts, which was the fourth time this season that he reached this mark. Former Voyager first baseman Andy Wilkins (2010) drove in two runs, while 2009 Voyager Trayce Thompson belted home a run as well to pace Birmingham offensively. Yesterday, we saw another strong pitching performance, as four pitchers (including 2011 Voyagers Salvador Sanchez and Kevin Vance) combined for a three-hit shutout in the Barons 2-0 victory. Thompson had another big showing at the plate, as he clubbed his 5th home run of the season in the fourth inning. Birmingham now has a six-game lead over second place Tennessee in the Southern League’s North Division, and they will return home tomorrow to begin a five-game series with the Smokies.
After seeing their five-game winning streak snapped on Friday, Winston-Salem (24-23) would lose 8-7 on Saturday night to Carolina (17-31) before bouncing back with a big 11-4 victory yesterday. On Saturday, the Dash would fall behind 5-1, but then they would rack up five runs in the top of the eighth to take a 6-5 lead thanks in part to a three-run homer off the bat of 2011 Voyagers Kevan Smith. The Dash bullpen would be unsuccessful in holding the lead though, as Terance Marin would surrender three runs in the bottom of the frame. The Dash would put the go-ahead run up to the plate in the top half of the ninth, as Smith would double for the fifth time this year and later score on a single by ex-Voyager Mark Haddow (2011). Yesterday afternoon, the Dash would win big, but the runs wouldn’t come until late in the game. With the score tied at two heading into the seventh, Winston-Salem would bat around and bring home eight runs against Mudcat pitching. Haddow and former Voyager Yoandy Barroso (2012) would drive in runs in the monster inning for the Dash. The Dash currently sit in second place in the Carolina League’s Southern division. They trail Myrtle Beach by 4 1/2 games. Winston-Salem will be back in action today at 3:00 against Frederick.
The Intimidators (16-30) continued their slide down the standings this weekend, as they fell Saturday 14-3 and Sunday 6-5 to Hickory (28-20). On Saturday, starter Jefferson Olacio (1-7) was hammered for 12 runs (ten earned) on ten hits in 4 1/3 innings of work. 2012 Voyager Mike Marjama drove in one of the Intimidators three runs via a sacrafice fly, and his teammate in Great Falls last year, Brent Tanner, raised his average to .324 with a three-hit day. Yesterday afternoon, we saw Kannapolis take a 5-3 victory into the seventh inning before they ultimately fell to the Crawdads. Ex-Voyager Micah Johnson’s second homer of 2013 in the sixth inning would give the Intimidators their largest lead of the day, but it proved to not be enough for a Kannapolis team that has now lost 12 of their past 15 games. Two former Voyagers would factor into the loss for Kannapolis, as Zach Isler (2012) would blow the lead in the 7th inning by allowing two runs on three hits, and Joe Dvorsky (0-2) would surrender the game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth off of the bat of Nomar Mazara. The Intimidators now find themselves dead last in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division—13 games behind first place Hagerstown. They will stay on the road tonight at 5:05, as they begin a three-game set against Lexington. A member of last year’s Great Falls pitching staff, Brandon Brennan (1-7, 7.14), will get the nod for Kannapolis.
Voyagers Alumni of the Night
Erik Johnson (2011)
7.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 7 K, 0 BB in 3-0 win over Jacksonville on Saturday night
The Knights (19-30) snapped a two-game skid last night in Rochester with a 4-2 win over Rochester (19-29). Charlotte was paced by 2008 Voyager Brent Morel at the plate, as the Knights third baseman went 3/5 with two doubles and a solo homer in the third. Morel drove in three runs in the winning effort. Ex-Voyager Jim Gallagher (2007) did not get the start, but he would pinch hit in the seventh inning and later come around to score on Morel’s second double of the game and his 13th of the season. On the mound, Zach Stewart (3-5) put together his longest outing of the season, allowing two earned runs and only five hits in eight innings of work. The Knights and Red Wings will be back at it tonight with first pitch scheduled for 5:05. Andre Rienzo (3-2, 7.33) will be making the start for Charlotte.
After dropping the first game of a rare five-game set, Birmingham (29-18) bounced back to take the second game of the series from Jacksonville (26-18) by the score of 5-3. 2010 Voyager Spencer Arroyo (4-2) racked up his first win since May 3, as he tossed five innings of four-hit ball–surrendering two earned runs. Another member of that 2010 Great Falls team, Taylor Thompson, would come on to convert the two inning save–his sixth of the season. Ex-Voyager Trayce Thompson (2010) picked up two hits in the win, and he also belted his ninth double of the season. Former Voyager outfielder Andy Wilkins (2010) contributed with an RBI single, which was his 26th run batted in for 2013. A member of the 2011 Great Falls pitching staff, Erik Johnson (3-2, 2.44) will get the nod for the Barons tonight. The righty is coming off a win in his last start over Jackson, where he threw 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball. First pitch from Jacksonville is set for 5:05.
Winston-Salem’s (23-22) five-game winning streak was snapped last night, as they fell to Carolina (16-30) 5-3. The Dash would fall behind early and trailed 5-1 heading into the top half of the ninth inning. They would pick up two runs to cut the deficit to two and send the tying run to the plate, but the comeback effort would fall short. 2009 Voyagers righty Ryan Buch would pick up the lost, as he only lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing four runs (two earned) en route to his first loss since joining the Dash earlier this month. Ex-Voyager backstop Martin Medina (2011) would drive in a run despite the loss, and former Voyager Joe De Pinto (2011) would rack up two hits and his second double of the season. Winston-Salem will look to bounce back tonight, as first pitch is tabbed for 4:00. Bryan Blugh (2-4, 5.36) will be making the start for the Dash.
Low A: Kannapolis Intimidators
Kannapolis (16-28) won for only the second time in ten games, as they were victorious over Hickory (26-20) 7-5. A member of last year’s Voyagers club led the way offensively, as Micah Johnson went 4-4 with an RBI and his league leading 44th stolen base of 2013. The Intimidators second baseman raised his season average to .320 thanks to his strong performance at the plate. Johnson’s teammate in Great Falls last season, Michael Johnson, picked up a couple of hits (2-4)–bumping his season average to .330. Ex-Voyager Brent Tanner (2012) also contributed with an RBI and his first stolen bag of the year in the Kannapolis win. 2011 Voyager Stew Brase came on in relief to pick up his first save, as he tossed 1 1/3 innings of one-run ball. The Intimidators will try and win back to back games for the first time since May 9-10 today at 4:05 as they resume their series with the Crawdads. Jefferson Olacio (1-6, 6.82) will get the nod for Kannapolis.
Voyagers Alumni of the Night
Brent Morel (2008)
3-5, HR (3), 2 2B, 3 RBI, R in 4-2 win over Rochester
Charlotte (18-30) fell for the third time in four games last night with a 4-3 loss to the Rochester Red Wings. The Knights did enter the bottom of the fifth inning with a 2-1 lead, but a three-run frame would then give Rochester the lead for good. Ex-Voyager third baseman Brent Morel (2008) went 1-3 with an RBI double in the losing effort. Knights starter Jason Berken (3-4) would pitch into the seventh inning, allowing four runs (2 ER) on eight hits. Charlotte and Rochester will resume their series tonight at 5:05. Zach Stewart (2-5, 4.61) will be on the mound for the Knights, as he goes for his third win in four starts.
Jacksonville’s Ryan Fisher blasted a two-run homer in the eighth inning , and it proved to be enough as the Suns (26-17) knocked off Birmingham (28-18) 5-3. Former Voyager Stephen McCray (2010-11) pitched five quality innings of three-run ball and left the ball game with the score tied at three. McCray’s former teammate in Great Falls, Michael Earley (2010-11) would help out the Barons offensively with a solo shot in the seventh inning. The former Voyager outfielder’s fourth home run of the season would knot the game up at three, before Ryan Kussmaul would allow the eventual game winner the following inning. Ex-Voyager Andy Wilkins (2010) racked up his 25th RBI despite the loss. Game two of the four game set is scheduled for tonight at 5:05. 2010 Voyagers lefty Spencer Arroyo (3-2, 2.10) will take the mound for Birmingham.
Winston-Salem (23-21) took game one of their scheduled doubleheader over Salem (19-24) 7-4, but they then saw the second game of the twin bill washed away by rain. The Dash would ride the arm of 2012 Voyager Christopher Beck (3-6) for six innings of two-run ball en route to their fifth straight victory. Winston-Salem would bust things open early with a four-run first inning, and ex-Voyager Mark Haddow (2011) would extend the advantage to 5-0 with his third homer of the season in the top of the third. Another member of the 2011 Great Falls club, Kevan Smith collected two hits and two RBI at the plate to help pace the Dash, who now head to Carolina for a three game series against the Mudcats. 2009 Voyager Ryan Buch will be making his second start of the season tonight for Winston-Salem after being demoted from Birmingham. Last time out, the righty tossed 4 1/3 innings of three-run ball in a no decision. First pitch is scheduled for 5:15. The makeup date for game two has been announced for June 3 as part of another doubleheader.
It was a crazy night for the Intimidators (15-28) in Hickory last night, as they ultimately fell to the Crawdads (26-19) 7-6 in 12 innings. In a bizarre sequence of events, with the game tied at two, Jordan Akins smacked what was first deemed a game-winning home run over the left field fence, but the umpires would gather and overturn the call to a foul ball. With new life, the Intimidators would escape the ninth, prolonging the game into extra innings. Not much noise would be heard from either team until the top half of the 12th, when Kannapolis pieced together four runs to give them a 6-2 lead. 2012 Voyager Micah Johnson would lead off the frame with a single, and he would later score thanks to former Great Falls teammate Brent Tanner‘s (2011-12) RBI single. The lead would not hold though, as ex-Voyager Zach Isler would blow his third save of the season and toss a wild pitch that would score the winning run for Hickory–which capped a five-run inning for the Crawdads. The Intimidators have now lost nine of ten, and will try and break out of their slump tonight in game two of their four game set against Hickory at 5:00.
Here is the call by Kannapolis broadcaster Josh Feldman of that wacky ninth inning foul ball that was initially called a home run.
Voyagers Alumni of the Night
Mark Haddow (2011)
3-4, HR (3), 2B, 2 RBI in 7-4 win over Salem
After winning four of their past six games, Charlotte (18-29) had the night off last night. The Knights will remain on the road this weekend, as they head north to upstate New York for a four-game set against Rochester (18-28). Jason Berken (3-3, 3.26) will get the nod this evening against the Red Wings. Last time out, the righty tossed seven innings of one-run ball en route to the Knights 4-1 victory over Louisville. 2007 Voyager alumni Jim Gallagher will be looking to bust out of his recent slump. The outfielder has only six hits over his past 32 at bats (.188) with no extra base hits. Despite a hot start to 2013, Gallagher’s average has now dipped under .300 (.291). First pitch is scheduled from Frontier Field at 5:05.
The Southern League North division leading Barons (28-17) will be coming off a rare two day reprieve, as they are set to begin a four-game series in Jacksonville (25-17) this evening. Ex-Voyager Stephen McCray (4-3, 2.86) will get the start tonight for Birmingham, as he will be looking to bounce back from losses in his past two starts. McCray was the losing pitcher his last time out on May 16 against Montgomery despite only allowing one run over seven innings. The Barons will look for former Voyager Trayce Thompson to continue his hot hitting at the plate. A member of the 2009 Great Falls squad, Thompson is hitting .296 over his past ten games with one homer and seven RBI. Two other Voyagers alumni are expected to be on the mound this weekend for Birmingham. Spencer Arroyo (2010) will get the nod tomorrow night, while Erik Johnson (2011) is set to pitch on Saturday. First pitch is set to get underway from Jacksonville at 5:05.
Last night’s game between the Dash (22-21) and the Salem Red Sox was washed out, so that means there will be a twin-bill in store for both these teams today. A member of last year’s Voyagers team, Christopher Beck (2-6, 2.80) will get the start in game 1 for the Dash, who have won four straight. In game 2, we’ll see another former Great Falls pitcher get the start, as Ryan Buch (0-0, 2.08) will be going for his first win since being demoted from AA Birmingham. After today’s doubleheader, Winston-Salem will stay on the road for a three-game series against the Carolina Mudcats. The first game this afternoon is scheduled for 1:05, and game 2 will follow directly after.
The Intimidators (15-27) were the only White Sox affiliate in action yesterday, falling to West Virginia (24-22) 8-6. 2012 Voyager Brandon Brennan fell for the seventh time this season, as he allowed four runs over 5 2/3 innings. Despite the loss, a member of the 2011 Voyagers did shine at the plate. Intimidators backstop Brent Tanner belted his second home run of the season and drove in two runs. Kannapolis will now head to Hickory for a four-game series, as they try and get back to their winning ways after dropping eight of nine. Another member of last year’s Voyagers staff, Kyle Hansen (0-1, 11.70), will take the mound for only the fourth time this season. First pitch is scheduled for 5:00.
Voyagers Alumni of the Night
2-5, HR (2), 2B, 2 RBI in last night’s loss to West Virginia
Ok, Voyagers fans: we’re working through this thing as we go. Here’s your weekly/periodic/whenever-I-say-so update on the activities of the Birmingham Barons. AAA Charlotte is coming, I promise. I promise it will be before the next full-system recap. Maybe.
Birmingham Barons, AA (24-29)
The second rough week in a row for the Barons as a trip to Huntsville to Play the Stars treated the team very poorly and the struggles continued into the start of a home series with Chattanooga. Ultimately drawing a 2-6 record since the last post, Birmingham is now one more rough week away from reaching the cellar of a tight-packed, highly competitive Southern League.
Like the system’s lower level teams, discussed in this space on Tuesday, Birmingham saw its share of roster changes in the last 8 days. A pair of players had their injury status changed as Jon Gilmore went onto the 7-day DL and 1B Andy Wilkins was reactivated off it. Gilmore was eligible to return yesterday, though he hasn’t yet, so his problems were at least serious enough to warrant longer time out. Wilkins’ struggles before he hit the DL were documented here previously, and it will be interesting to see how he performs over the next few games.
The Barons swapped a few played with the AAA Charlotte Knights as well. Pitcher Matt Zaleski spent a single day on the Birmingham roster before he returned to Charlotte to play with the AAA squad. Zaleski has been struggling for Charlotte, but he didn’t join the rest of the Barons team, much less pitch in any games, so the White Sox may have simply changed their minds or decided Zaleski was still needed in AAA. Jose Quintana also earned the first AAA callup of his career. That seems to make sense as Quintana has spent two separate, successful stints in the majors this season – he has a 1.76 ERA in 15.1 major league innings – but had never pitched in AAA before. After middling performance in the low minors and two franchise changes while still a teenager in the Dominican summer leagues, the 23 year-old has built a bright future for himself. Don’t be surprised to see him getting more chances in the majors this year and getting included in the White Sox long term bullpen plans.
Another member of the White Sox recent rash of signings out of independent ball, 25 year-old outfielder Jon Gaston joined the team. He left the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks of the American Association, for whom he’d played in only 6 games (but mashed 10 hits). Gaston was a Houston Astros farmhand until this last offseason, but managed just .720 and .646 OPS’s over two years in AA Corpus Christi. Still, his big start in independent ball showed Gaston is fully capable of playing well enough in the mid minors to help a farm system, and he’s getting a well-deserved chance to try his luck in a different organization.
The Barons finish their series with Chatanooga tonight and tomorrow before visiting the 1st place Mobile BayBears for a 5-game series starting Saturday.
Things are starting to get crazy in Voyager land as we prepare for the oncoming season. With the home opener on June 20 (and the seasons 1st game on June 18 in Helena) there are many programs to print, tickets to distribute, questions to answer, and things of every kind to clean. As a result, there isn’t enough time in any given day to write the entire Monday Minors Recap, so I’ve decided to break it up into 2 pieces. Today, I’m passing along the word on 2 White Sox A-ball teams and tomorrow I’ll dig into the teams higher in the system.
Kannapolis Intimidators, A-ball (22-28)
Kannapolis righted the ship this week after their dreadful 1-7 run in week 7 and put up a nice 5-2 record to sneak a few games closer to .500. The definitely took advantage of a week opponents by beating up on the division worst West Virginia Power during a 4-game visit to the Pittsburg-affiliated franchise. The Intimidators then won game one against the Rome Braves to start a 3-game home series against the worst team in the South Atlantic League.
The Intimidators had a huge batch of roster moves over the holiday weekend starting with an extended spring swap on Friday. 2011 Voyager lefty Brandon Parrent struggled mightily in his first run in full-season ball and was finally replaced on the roster and sent back to Glendale, AZ. Parrent had 34.1 innings in 8 starts but had walked 22, allowed 40 hits, and held a 7.34 ERA. The 21 year-old is still quite young and has plenty of time to recover, return to season play, and continue on his way after a good 2011 in Great Falls.
Parrent was replaced on the roster by a player I’d pegged as a very exciting potential 2012 Voyager: righty fireballer Jeff Soptic. Drafted in the 3rd round after pitching two years for Johnson County Community College, the 6-6 hurler is reported to have a serious arm. Boasting velocity in the high 90’s and solid mechanics, his upside had scouts drooling. His control is what could turn that nuclear arm into a full blown meltdown: he walked 72 hitters in 100 innings against weak JUCO competition. Very little professional knowledge is available on Soptic – he pitched only 2 innings for Bristol last year – but apparently he’s done enough good work in spring to get his chance at the A-ball level. TO be honest, I’m disappointed the Voyagers may miss out of seeing this kid as he guaranteed excitement with his “rear back and just throw” approach.
The Intimidators experienced a bit of a roster clear-out on Sunday as space was made for incoming signings. Voyager favorite Jo De Pinto was sent back to Arizona as he again failed to prove himself in limited playing time. Pitcher Jason Van Skike travelled to Glendale with De Pinto. Outfielder Dusty Harvard, a 2010 Voyager who struggled mightily in Bristol and Kannapolis last season, had continued to struggle in Kannapolis this year – he had just a .190 batting average – and was given his release at the same time De Pinto and Skike were sent to Glendale. The Casper Wyoming Native may be done in affiliated baseball if he cannot catch fire with an independent team. Last, one player was added to the team on Sunday as Steven Upchurch was sent to Kannapolis from Winston-Salem. Upchurch has just been sent up to the Carolina League but didn’t fare well in his first appearance and was sent back to the Intimidators for more seasoning.
All these moves left the Intimidators with two empty roster spots and the team filled those the next day with a pair of independent league signings. Outfielders Cyle Hankerd, from the Amarillo Sox of the American Association, and William Rice, from the Camden Riversharks of the Atlantic League, will have their chance in 2012 affiliated baseball. Rice, a 23 year-old played 68 games in the Phillies minor leagues last year where he hit .313 with a .837 OPS. News on why Rice was not with the Phillies again this year after those solid numbers isn’t available, but the Intimidators hope to reap the rewards of that curious fact. Hankerd is quite a bit older than Rice at 27 years old and has minor league experience dating back to 2006. Once a hot prospect as a 3rd round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Hankerd has played as high as AAA but has bounced around independent leagues for the last couple of years. Hankerd hit .355 with 10 homers and 30 doubles for Amarillo last year, so he can definitely hit against weaker completion. He was generally a very strong hitter in his days at the A level as well, so the Intimidators should be able to expect some major offensive help from the new addition.
Kannapolis continues its 3 game series with the Rome Braves tonight before the Lakewood BlueClaws come to town to play 4 games over the weekend. Neither of those opponents is within 10 games of .500, so the Intimidators have a golden chance to continue their momentum from last week and pick up a bunch of home wins against struggling teams.
Winston-Salem Dash, High A-ball (29-20)
The Dash had another good week as the recovered from 2 quick losses to rattle off 4 wins in a row and finish with a 5-3 record. The Dash did lose 2 of 3 to the 2nd place Salem Red Sox, but Salem struggled as the Dash beat up on the Carolina Mudcats over the weekend so the Dash come into the day with a 2 game lead in the division.
Much like Kannapolis, Winston-Salem experienced a rash of transactions, but many of the Dash’s were for very different reasons. The injury bug bit in Winston-Salem this week as shortstop Marcus Semien hit the 7-day DL with a right shoulder injury. The injury is a definite blow to both the team and the player as Semien has been excelling as the everyday shortstop with an excellent .823 OPS. Hopefully the 21 year-old California native will return soon and continue to succeed in the Sox system.
One day after Semien, pitcher Taylor Thompson also hit the 7-day DL. The nature of Thompson’s injury was undisclosed, but it may help explain his struggles this season. After being a dominant setup man for the Dash last season – he had a 2.52 ERA in 53.2 IP – Thompson has allowed 10 runs in 11.2 IP so far in 2012. His high strikeout numbers were still there as he had 13 K’s, but the sudden jump is still a statistical red flag. The Dash will be watching for his return closely as Thompson returning to form would bolster an already strong bullpen.
The Dash received one player from a somewhat unexpected source as 3B Kyle Shelton was assigned to the Dash from AAA Charlotte. Shelton is back in A-ball after spending all his time since early last year in AA and AAA, and it has to be considered a humbling move for the 26 year-old. Shelton was playing very little in AAA and was only 8 for 56 over 2 seasons there, so the move may ultimately be positive in Shelton can get on track with more playing time. There will be some pressure on the veteran to produce if he wants to return to the gateway to the majors in AAA.
The Dash continue their long home series with the Frederick Keys through Thursday before the Carolina Mudcats come to town for a weekend set.