Jul 24, 2008
CATCHING UP WITH THE DURHAM BULLS
This Week’s Schedule: The Bulls will play a doubleheader today in Lehigh Valley to wind up an eight-game road trip. They'll return to the DBAP for an eight-game homestand against Louisville and Buffalo starting tomorrow night.
Ticket Information: Call (919) 956-BULL or order online at durhambulls.com
Bulls Update: The Bulls have maintained a 6 ½ game lead over Charlotte in the International League's Southern Division. Durham came out of the all-star break red hot, sweeping a four-game series from Syracuse, but has cooled down since traveling to Lehigh Valley. After dropping the first two games of the series, Durham will have to sweep today's doubleheader to earn a split with the last-place IronPigs.
Pitching was the story of the Bulls' sweep in Syracuse. Durham pitchers permitted just three runs in the entire series, which was kicked off when righthander Ben Hendrickson tossed seven innings in the opener, allowing two hits and one unearned run. Mitch Talbot picked up where Hendrickson left off and struck out eight in six inning the following night, while allowing only one run on five hits. He was followed by Jeff Niemann, who threw seven shutout innings in the third game.
The finale was started by one of the Bulls' newest additions, righthander Wade Davis, fresh off a promotion from Double-A Montgomery. One of the Rays' numerous promising young arms, Davis, 22, went 9-6, 3.85 in 19 starts for Montgomery before getting the call up. Featuring a mid-90s fastball and a hard curveball at his best, Davis threw seven shutout innings in his Bulls debut, allowing only three hits, three walks and striking out six.
Prospect Watch: Louisville is an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Buffalo is an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.
Josh Roenicke, rhp, Louisville: A former wide receiver at UCLA, Roenicke converted to baseball full-time in his junior year and was drafted by Cincinnati in the 10th round in 2006. Roenicke has ascended through the minors quickly, and could be September callup for the Reds this year. In 20 appearances out of the Louisville bullpen, Roenicke has struck out 21 and walked just four, thanks to his mid-90s fastball that can reach 98 and a high-80s cutter. Command has been an issue for him in the past, but he has a fearless approach and could be a major league closer down the road.
David Huff, lhp, Buffalo: Coming off elbow soreness that caused him miss half of last season, Huff, 23, has been a pleasant surprise for the Indians. A supplemental first-round pick out of UCLA in 2006, he dominated the Double-A Eastern League, going 5-1, 1.92, to earn an early June callup to Buffalo. Command is the name of the game with Huff, who isn't overpowering but pounds the lower half of the strike zone with sinking fastballs, changeups, curveballs and sliders. He's walked just six in 48 innings at Triple-A, while striking out 50.
Bulls Bits: Shortstop Reid Brignac has returned to the Bulls after a two-week stint in the major leagues with Tampa Bay. The top position player prospect in Tampa's system, Brignac went 0-for-10 in four appearances with the Rays.
CATCHING UP WITH THE CAROLINA MUDCATS
This Week’s Schedule: The Mudcats have nine games left on a 10-game homestand. They have four games left in their series with Huntsville, including a doubleheader today, before Jacksonville comes to Five County Stadium for a five-game series starting on Sunday.
Ticket Information: Call (919) 269-2287 or order online at gomudcats.com or etix.com.
Mudcats Update: The Mudcats have climbed within 2 ½ games of first place Tennessee in the Southern League's Northern Division. Carolina is 16-15 in the second half of the season and 54-47 overall.
The Mudcats won the opener of the their series with Huntsville 3-2 behind a strong effort by starter Gaby Hernandez and a trio of relievers that followed him. Hernandez worked six innings and held the Stars' dangerous lineup to two runs on six hits, with no walks and six strikeouts. Hernandez, who went 9-11, 4.22 for the Mudcats last year, was making his third start after being assigned to Carolina from Triple-A Albuquerque a couple of weeks ago. Relievers Jesus Delgado, Todd Doolittle and Chris Mobley came on to protect the one-run lead down the stretch.
The Mudcats' other Gaby, Gaby Sanchez, has been the team's hottest hitter in June. The 24-year-old third baseman hit .389/.470/.694 through his first 72 at-bats in July, and he's gone on quite a streak lately. Not only is Sanchez on a 10-game hitting streak, but he's turned in six multi-hit games in his last seven, including a 2-for-3 effort in the opener against Huntsville. Sanchez, who's been the Mudcats' cleanup hitter most of the year, is hitting .330/.421/.509 in 352 at-bats for the year, and he leads the team in hits, doubles, RBIs and walks.
Prospect Watch: Huntsville is an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. We spotlighted the Stars' potent lineup last week, but we'll post a refresher here as well. Jacksonville is an affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers:
• Mat Gamel, 3b, Huntsville: Gamel was regarded as good prospect entering the year, but he's taken his game to an elite level in 2008. Gamel and outfielder Matt LaPorta had formed one of the minor leagues' deadliest tandems in the first half of the season. But LaPorta has been shipped to the Cleveland Indians for ace lefthander CC Sabathia, a trade that was partly made possible since Gamel's emergence allowed Milwaukee to accept losing LaPorta. With LaPorta gone, Gamel is now the centerpiece of the Huntsville lineup, and he's got a chance to win the Southern League's triple-crown. He leads the circuit in both average and RBIs, but his home run total of 15 is five behind league leader Michael Wilson's 20.
• James McDonald, rhp, Jacksonville: Wins have been hard to come by for McDonald, who has just six decisions in 20 starts this year, but at least the losses have been rare as well, leading his record of only 4-2. McDonald features a low-90s fastball that's made more effective by his ability to vary its velocity. His best pitch is an 11-to-5 curveball that's one of the best in the minor leagues, and he isn't afraid to throw it in any count. He's improved his changeup as well. McDonald hasn't allowed more than three runs in any start since May 1, although the Mudcats tagged for his last loss on June 8, when they put together three runs in five innings against him.
Mudcats Musings: Righthander Anibal Sanchez is rehabbing with the Mudcats. Sanchez, who gained widespread notoriety for throwing a no-hitter for the Marlins as a rookie in 2006, was hampered by injuries for much of 2007. On Friday against Mississippi, Sanchez went six innings and allowed two runs on five hits in his Mudcats return. He made 15 starts for the Mudcats in 2006, going 3-6, 3.14.