Stars of the Day:
AAA: Martin Perez, Tanner Scheppers / Leonys Martin, Brad Nelson, Joey Butler, Mike Bianucci
AA: Miguel de los Santos / Mike Olt
Hi-A: Cody Buckel, Randy Henry, Chad Bell, Joe Van Meter / Tomas Telis, Jake Skole, Jared Hoying
Lo-A: Luke Jackson, Randol Rojas / Luis Sardinas, Zach Cone
AAA: Round Rock 4, at Iowa 3
In his first start as a 21-year-old, Martin Perez capably handled the Cubs for six innings on an economical 70 pitches. Perez allowed a lone run on four hits, a walk and three strikeouts. Last year, Perez reached six innings ten times but never on fewer than 85 pitches.
Michael Kirkman lacked the strong form of Monday's exhibition appearance, allowing five baserunners and three runs while retiring only two batters. Tanner Scheppers replaced him in the 8th with two out and two on; he would walk his first batter before retiring Adrian Cardenas for the third out. Scheppers then pitched a clean, one-strikeout 9th.
Leonys Martin had himself a game. Martin was 2-4 with a walk and two steals, and he gunned down two runners from the outfield including the potential game-tying run in the bottom of the 8th. 1B Mike Bianucci homered again and singled, and RF Joey Butler hit his first homer and walked. DH Brad Nelson doubled twice.
Perez's repertoire has expanded from his standard four-seamer/curve/change, as you can read here: http://bit.ly/Ind9XE.
Note that starters are usually limited to the vicinity of 75 pitches in the early going. The Spring Training intersquad schedule is brief, and rotation members aren't fully stretched out. This also provides the opportunity for regular work by all the relievers.
AA: Frisco 1, at Springfield 4
Repeating last year's opening assignment, Miguel de los Santos struck out eight against two walks in five innings and 77 pitches. De los Santos allowed two runs and four hits. Strikeouts have never been an issue; what's mostly hurt him has been faulty control and command of his fastball resulting in too many walks and hard-hit balls. Wilfredo Boscan allowed the other runs in three innings.
In the 7th, Mike Olt homered off John Gast, whom Texas drafted but could not sign in 2007. Olt also singled. LF Ryan Strausborger singled, sacrificed and stole his second base in as many days. Jurickson Profar was 0-4.
Texas signed Brad Hawpe to another minor-league contract and assigned him to Frisco. OF Val Majewski is on the seven-day DL.
High-A: at Myrtle Beach 6, Wilmington 0
Known mostly for his contact skills, switch-hitting catcher Tomas Telis began 2012 with his first two-homer game, one from each side of the plate. CF Jake Skole was 2-3 with a walk in his first high-A game, and RF Josh Richmond singled and hit a solo homer. Last year, only 76 homers were hit at Pelicans Ballpark, led by Mike Olt's nine.
Cody Buckel struck out seven and walked three in four scoreless innings. The three walked tied a career high. In 2011, he struck out 4.4 batters for every walk. Randy Henry's Texas debut consisted of two scoreless innings and a strikeout. Chad Bell retired five of six batters faced, three via strikeout, and Joe Van Meter fanned two in 1.1 innings.
MILB.com had added individual pitch counts for all games, not just AA and AAA as in the past. Unfortunately, the counts below AA are wildly inaccurate, so don't rely on them.
Low-A: Hickory 5, at Kannapolis 1
RF Zach Cone homered, walked and was hit by a pitch in his full-season debut. I barely mentioned him during my March visit because, well, he didn't do anything worth mentioning. Scout.com's Jason Cole tells me he looked better toward the end of camp. SS Luis Sardinas singled twice, walked and stole two bases. CF Jordan Akins singled and stole two bases. 2B Rougned Odor doubled home a couple of runs. All told, Hickory drew four walks, which is a nice start because (on paper) this is a low-walk, high-strikeout lineup. The Crawdads struck out 13 times.
Luke Jackson fanned eight and allowed a run on three hits and a walk in five innings. Jackson began 2011 at the same level and pitched erratically, sometimes dominating but often struggling with his control toward the end of the season. Randol Rojas struck out five in three scoreless relief innings. Unlike the fireballing Jackson, Rojas is a finesse pitcher with pretty well-developed secondary pitches. Phil Klein handled the 9th.
The teams will play a doubleheader today. These games will be shortened to seven innings.
Five Years Ago Yesterday
Sent all the way down from the Majors to high-A Bakersfield to improve his mechanics and mental outlook, Edinson Volquez gave up six runs in four innings at high-octane Lancaster. Chris Davis hit a grand slam. Eric Hurley pitched five scoreless innings for AA Frisco. Reliever Eric Gagne pitched a rehab inning. In his first AAA start after essentially skipping AA, Doug Mathis allowed four runs in five innings. Low-A Clinton was postponed by snow.
AAA: Neil Ramirez
AA: Barret Loux
Hi-A: Roman Mendez
Lo-A: Victor Payano / Jerad Eickhoff
Newberg Report (newbergreport.com)