Around the Minors: The week of Sept. 5-11
1 ... 2 ... 3 for the record books
A one-two punch doesn't get much better than Adael Amador and Benny Montgomery.
In Single-A Fresno's 12-10 win over San Jose, the top of the lineup was dangerous and handled business.
Amador, Colorado's No. 3 prospect, got the offense rolling with a leadoff homer to right-center in the first inning. Montgomery, the Rockies' No. 6 prospect, directly followed with a double to left. The Grizzlies batted around, Amador knocked an RBI single and Montgomery brought him home with an RBI double as a part of an eight-run inning. Amador was hit by a pitch to lead off the third, and then Montgomery hit Amador home with his third double of the day.
The three runs scored by Amador helped him reach 100 for the season, which is second all-time for Fresno. Montgomery's third double tied a Grizzlies single-game record. The last Fresno player to record three doubles in a game before that: Yadiel Hernandez on July 12, 2019.
More history was to be made as Amador walked in the fourth, marking his 87th free pass of the season, tying him for the most walks in a Grizzlies' single season.
That milestone was Pfaadt
Batters who've faced Brandon Pfaadt this season have mentally prepared themselves to return to the bench.
Arizona's No. 4 prospect, who leads all of the Minors in strikeouts, eclipsed 200 for the season in Triple-A Reno's 4-2 win over Salt Lake.
The fifth-round selection (149th overall) in the 2020 Draft tossed eight innings, allowing two runs on four hits while fanning 11 batters. This was the fourth time this season that the right-hander reached double-digit strikeouts, giving him 202 in 2022.
The 23-year-old began the year with Double-A Amarillo before being promoted to the Aces on Aug. 2. Since joining his new team, Pfaadt has a 2.52 ERA and a 4-0 record over eight starts.
Nothing rough about these performances
Josh Stowers and Blaine Crim were a two-man wrecking crew for Double-A Frisco.
Stowers made the most of his RBI opportunities, clubbing a pair of three-run homers while Crim capped a big game with his second grand slam of the season. The offensive onslaught was more than enough for the RoughRiders, who rolled to an 18-3 win over visiting Tulsa.
Crim's slam put the icing on a four-hit performance, which equaled his season high with five RBIs. The 25-year-old bumped his slash line up to .295/.363/.508 with 24 homers and a career-best 91 RBIs in 119 games.
Stowers hasn't found quite the same level of success in 2022. After hitting a pro-best 20 long balls last season in Frisco, the 25-year-old entered the tilt with eight in 98 contests. But he got Frisco's offense going with a three-run jack in the third and helped continue the blowout with a two-run dinger in the fifth.
Stowers added an RBI single to give him a career-high six RBIs.
Drafted in the 35th round more than 10 years ago, Wynton Bernard achieved something he's done only one other time since.
The 31-year-old hit a game-tying homer and a walk-off single as part of a five-hit performance in Triple-A Albuquerque's 7-6 win in 10 innings over visiting El Paso. It was the second five-hit game of Bernard's career and his first since Aug. 23, 2015 with Double-A Erie.
The center fielder began his night with a double to left in the first inning and added an RBI double to left in the next frame. Bernard singled again in the fourth before coming through with a pair of clutch hits.
The San Diego native tied the game with his 18th homer to center to lead off the ninth and then walked it off with an RBI single in the 10th.
Bernard made his Major League debut last month with the Rockies after more than 10 years in the Minors. He batted .286 in 42 at-bats and made news when video of his phone call telling his mother of his long-awaited debut went viral.
Early returns are good
It was another positive step forward for
Baltimore's No. 2 prospect struck out seven across 2 2/3 innings in Double-A Bowie's 9-6 loss to Richmond -- including five across two perfect frames to open his day -- meaning all but one of the outs he recorded was via the punchout.
Rodriguez struggled when he came back out for the third frame, walking the bases loaded but then fanning the next two he faced. He was a strike away from stranding them that way, but ultimately conceded an RBI single. Three runs scored after his departure from the game, all on his ledger.
Still, the fact that the 22-year-old built himself up to 56 pitches was a positive takeaway. His start for Bowie was his third since returning to game action following the right lat strain he endured on June 1, two for Bowie and one for High-A Aberdeen. Next for Rodriguez could very be well a return to Triple-A Norfolk, where he started the year. After a few outings, talk of Rodriguez's callup to the big league team could start to get more serious.
A crown for Conine
Pensacola has a new single-season home run king in
Conine cranked the record-setting homer on a 1-0 offering in the sixth inning, sending the pitch deep to left-center for a two-run jack. The homer also set another personal milestone for the outfielder -- it was his 87th hit of the season, surpassing the mark of 86 he had achieved in 2019 and '21.
After belting 36 home runs last year across two levels and being in a heated race the Minor League home run crown all season, it’s safe to say Conine has followed up that powerful effort quite well in his first full season with the Marlins’ Double-A affiliate.
Back, back, back, back...
There was no Statcast measurement on the home run that
With a runner on first and nobody out, the catcher took full advantage of a 2-1 pitch right over the heart of the plate and sent the ball into orbit … or, rather, over the screen in left field that separates the ballpark from motor vehicles.
When nobody in the field even takes a step toward where the ball is heading, that’s how you know you’ve just hit a moonshot. It was Casteel’s 16th dinger of the year for the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate.
The Martian has lift off ... twice
This is what the Yankees and their fans signed up for when the team inked Jasson Domínguez to the richest international signing bonus in team history at $5.1 million in 2019.
"The Martian" lived up to the billing as he clubbed his first multihomer game as part of a four-knock effort with three RBIs and three runs scored in High-A Hudson Valley's 7-5 loss to Wilmington at Frawley Stadium. The switch-hitter connected on a home run from each side of the plate.
"There's always a bit of a curve when you come up, but as of late [Jasson] is just really comfortable in the batter's box," Hudson Valley hitting coach Rob Benjamin said. "He knows what he's looking for and he knows what the pitcher is trying to do to get him out and he's just not missing his pitches." Full story »
The 👽 has done it again!— Hudson Valley Renegades (@HVRenegades) September 11, 2022
He homers to right for his second of the game, and has now hit home runs as both a righty and a lefty tonight‼️
Clarke the Crusher makes Shuckers history
Shortly before his late August promotion to Double-A, Wes Clarke’s hitting coach with the High-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Nick Stanley, suggested Clarke adjust his batting stance so that his hands were held higher. The intention was to free up his swing and promote athleticism.
Clarke homered in his first game with the Biloxi Shuckers, so he permanently adopted the change. Less than two weeks later, it paid off in a big way.
After going deep the day before, the 22-year-old turned up the heat with three home runs, leading the way in Biloxi’s 9-1 win over Mississippi.
“It feels great,” Clarke said. “It’s nice to see that the work is paying off. Everything is working, so it’s just really great.” Full story »
Turning two twice
It’s uncommon enough for a center fielder to turn a double play, let alone two in one night. Bowling Green’s Mason Auer showed off in center field with both his arm and his glove, turning two twice for the Hot Rods in their 8-5 win over Greensboro at Bowling Green Ballpark.
With runners on first and third with one out in the top of the first, the Grasshoppers’ Jacob Gonzalez skied a fly ball to shallow center. Auer righted himself underneath and unleashed a perfect throw to nab Dariel Lopez at the plate to help the Rays' affiliate escape an early jam.
In the sixth, Bowling Green again found themselves in a jam with runners on first and second with one out. Greensboro’s Yoyner Fajardo blooped a ball in front of Auer, who dived and barrel-rolled forward to make the catch. Eli Wilson, the runner at second, had taken off on contact and was too far from the bag to run back, and Auer easily tossed the ball to second to complete his second double play of the night.
Launch a homer, LAUNCH the bat
Sometimes you can hit a home run so satisfying, it’s deserving of an epic bat flip.
That’s exactly what
Hinds knew right away that he had just launched his 10th homer of the year, and the 22-year-old responded accordingly by flicking the bat and watching it flip through the air several times before starting his trot around the bases. The Dragons went on to win the contest, 8-4.
In what might be the oddest turned double play this season, High-A Wisconsin found a way to get it done in a 6-5 victory over Beloit at Fox Cities Stadium.
With the bases loaded and no outs in the third, Beloit’s Brady Allen sent a ground ball to short for what appeared to be a tailor-made 6-4-3 double play.
Martinez stayed with the play and fired the ball back to Acosta with Allen caught between the bases. Allen promptly retreated with a clear path back to first base with Martinez off in foul territory, but right fielder
Corpus Christi comeback crew
The Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks could be excused for a sluggish evening. Entering the home half of the last of 14 innings in a doubleheader, the team trailed Midland, 9-4. Then, the rally started.
After the leadoff man was retired, Will Wagner doubled to get things going.
If you’re a fan of the fabled triple play, this was the night for you. Not one, but two triple plays took place across the Minor League landscape and they happened minutes apart.
In Reading, the Fightin Phils were hanging onto a 4-0 lead in the seventh when the New Hampshire Fisher Cats began their best threat of the night, getting runners on first and second with no outs. But the threat would end right there, as Hugo Cardona hit a ground ball to third and
About 865 miles south, at 121 Financial Ballpark, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp were cruising with a 7-0 lead over Iowa when the I-Cubs loaded the bases without an out in the sixth. That's when Trent Giambrone topped over a 1-0 breaking ball and sent a bouncer to third. Third baseman
Murphy's new law: Innings can (and will) be immaculate
The No. 12 Red Sox prospect tossed the first immaculate inning in Triple-A Worcester history by throwing nine pitches, all strikes, to set down the IronPigs in order. Rafael Marchan, Jorge Bonifacio and Johan Camargo were each sent back to the dugout just as fast as they strode to the plate.
Ironically, strikeouts have not been Murphy's preferred method of attacking batters since his promotion to Worcester in late June. After punching out 10.7 per nine in 15 outings with Double-A Portland, he entered his start against Lehigh Valley with a rate of just 6.4 in 11 games for the WooSox.
Justice has been served
If nothing else, Justice Bigbie’s first High-A homer was memorable.
When the 19th-round selection in the 2021 Draft turned on an inside heater in the sixth inning from Great Lakes’ Ben Casparius, he took off down the first-base line not knowing whether he had hit his first roundtripper since joining West Michigan.
But when Bigbie was thrown out at second base, the Whitecaps’ dugout was up in arms, claiming his single was actually a roundtripper. The Loons, having recorded the third out of the frame, departed the field.
After a brief conference, the umpiring crew determined the Tigers prospect had indeed left the yard. Since Bigbie had remained on the basepaths, he simply continued to circle the bags, even with no fielders at their respective stations, providing a rare glimpse of a batter jogging the bases amid an empty diamond.
The homer carried just above the “Major Fun” Minor League Baseball banner that adorns the left-field wall at LMCU Ballpark. While it was a circuitous -- and somewhat lonely -- journey to get back to the dish, Bigbie ultimately had some unique fun on the deciding knock of West Michigan’s 7-6 win.
Never seen this one: @wmwhitecaps 1B Justice Bigbie's liner to the LF corner is ruled in-play and is thrown out at 2B to end the 6th.— Dan Hasty (@ThatDanHasty) September 9, 2022
After further discussion, the call is reversed to a two-run homer, and Bigbie circles the bases of an empty playing field. Here's how it looked. pic.twitter.com/SKfxiaG9EV
They did the Monster Mash
It was a night that Babe Ruth would have been proud of.
The duo of Sam Hilliard and Brandon Dixon gave the fans at Isotopes Park plenty to cheer about, slugging a pair of homers that traveled a combined 958 feet.
However, it was visiting Triple-A El Paso, buoyed by Dixon's eighth-inning grand slam, which laughed last after finishing off a 9-4 win at Albuquerque.
Hilliard, who has 111 Minor League home runs and 29 more in the Majors on his résumé, provided the first "oohs" of the evening. With the Isotopes trailing by a run in the seventh inning, the 28-year-old launched a 2-0 pitch 114 mph and 478 feet to right-center field.
But Hilliard's mash was just the appetizer. Minutes after watching his counterpart's jack from his position in right field, Dixon went a step further. Two steps, to be exact. For his first slam since 2017, the 30-year-old sent it 480 feet away into the trees beyond the center-field fence. Full story »
A next-level performance
Yu-Min Lin is starting to get the hang of the Cal League.
After being promoted to Single-A on July 26 and allowing two or more runs in three of his first four outings with Visalia, Arizona's No. 16 prospect has settled down and owned the mound.
His latest performance came in the Rawhide's 7-4 win over Inland Empire. The 19-year-old tossed six scoreless innings, giving up just two hits and three walks while fanning a career-high 10 batters. This marked his third straight start where he's given up only one run.
The Taiwan native was signed to a Minor League contract with the D-backs on Dec. 15, 2021. In his first professional season, Lin has started 14 games, compiling a 2.97 ERA and striking out 91 batters over 56 1/3 innings.
Making himself right at home
It’s only Anthony Volpe’s sixth game at Triple-A, but from the way he’s been swinging the bat, you’d think he’d already be in pinstripes.
MLB’s No. 5 overall prospect cranked his first two home runs at the Minors’ highest level -- one to left-center field, one to right-center -- in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 7-2 win at Durham on Thursday night. It’s his first multihomer performance since June 19 of last year and the second season in a row that the top Yankees prospect has left the yard at least 20 times.
"It felt good just to help the team get a win," Volpe said. "It's a really great clubhouse that's welcomed me in since I got called up this past week, so it felt really great to get a win with them."
No matter if it's Single-A or Triple-A, Volpe said, the Yankees organization makes it easy for players to adjust level to level.
"The common message from one affiliate to the next really helped the transition be pretty seamless," Volpe said. "Everyone's kind of preaching the same stuff, so when you get called up, your routine doesn't necessarily change and you feel like you can hit the ground running." Full story »
The Traveling man
Cade Marlowe had an affinity for the big fly in Double-A Arkansas' 13-4 win over Amarillo.
Seattle's No. 22 prospect hammered two homers and drove in five runs in the blowout win. The 25-year-old began his night with a solo shot to left-center field in the second inning. He quickly followed with a three-run homer to right-center as part of a seven-run third inning. He added to his extra-base hit clinic with an RBI double to center in the seventh.
The 20th round (606th overall) selection in the 2019 Draft ended the evening 3-for-5 with a season-high five RBIs and season-high three runs on top of his fourth career multihomer game, second with the Travelers.
House full of strikeouts
It’s not often that a starting pitcher makes history on the first batter of a contest, but Double-A Erie righty
The Tigers’ No. 9 prospect, passed Seth Etherton (1999) to claim the top spot on the SeaWolves strikeout list. The two hurlers were deadlocked at 153 K’s entering the night, but Olson whiffed Altoona leadoff man, Matt Gorski, on his way to a six-strikeout showing at UPMC Park.
Making history once? Nice. But twice? It made for a downright memorable night for the 23-year-old. With his fourth strikeout in the third of the Curve’s Matt Frazier, Olson helped Erie set the all-time franchise record for punchouts in a single campaign, besting the previous high of 1,262.
With multiple starts still potentially on his ledger in 2022, Olson sits at 159 strikeouts, having lowered his ERA to 4.15 after five frames in which two unearned runs crossed the dish.
Déjà vu all over again
Consider Luis Severino to be Somerset's good-luck charm.
The last time he was rehabbing with the Yankees' Double-A affiliate, the right-hander had a hand in the club's first affiliated no-hitter. With Severino again with the Patriots rehabbing a right lat strain and starting the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader, the team spun its second no-no in the nightcap.
Yoendrys Gómez and Steven Jennings combined on the feat in a 5-0 victory over host Hartford.
Gómez handled the brunt of the work en route to his first Double-A win. The Yankees' No. 12 prospect struck out five and walked one over five innings. He threw 69 pitches, 46 for strikes.
"I didn't really want to come out of the game, but I had already complied with the pitch count I had for the start," Gómez said. "[But] we all had confidence in [Jennings], and he was able to get out and achieve the historical moment." Full story »
Woodpecking away at history
Baseball's evolution has brought about the emergence of what has become known as the "bullpen game." Usually an "opener" starts on the hill before giving way to another short-inning arm, and the pattern continues as nine innings are essentially pieced together. It's proven to be effective at the Major League level, but rarely has it produced extraordinary results.
That pattern changed on Wednesday at SEGRA Stadium as six pitchers -- Bryant Salgado, Brett Gillis, Ronny Garcia, A.J. Blubaugh, Zack Matthews and Austin Temple -- combined to toss Single-A Fayetteville's second no-hitter, 3-0, against Lynchburg.
"It's pretty special, every single pitcher that toed the rubber tonight had to be on their A-game and they definitely were," Woodpeckers pitching coach John Kovalik said. "Just a crazy scenario that transpired out there, and I'm very happy and proud of these kids." Full story »
Back for more
After jumping out to an early lead, Charleston needed a few extra innings to secure a second-half division title. Behind a two-homer, four-RBI performance from No. 19 Rays prospect Junior Caminero, the Tampa Bay affiliate defeated Columbia, 11-7, in an 11-inning thriller at Segra Park.
The reigning champions jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the opening inning and tacked on a fourth run in the following frame before the Fireflies answered back with two runs. The RiverDogs extended their lead to 5-2 and Columbia fought back to make the score 5-4 after a Gavin Cross triple and a Dayton Dooney dinger.
Caminero launched his first homer of the night in the top of the ninth to give Charleston some insurance, but Columbia wasn’t going down without a fight. Down to their last out in the bottom of the ninth, Omar Hernandez singled and Cross -- the Royals’ top prospect -- made them pay with a game-tying, two-run jack to keep the Fireflies alive.
Both teams drove in the free runner in the 10th, but Caminero led off the 11th with his second homer of the night to give the RiverDogs a 9-7 lead. Willy Vasquez and Brock Jones both launched solo jacks to cap a four-run frame to propel Charleston to victory. The club earned its 85th win of the season and improved to 39-23 in the second half.
Rehabbing Rays ace Tyler Glasnow pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts in his first Minor League rehabilitation start for Triple-A Durham on Wednesday night.
The most important thing about Glasnow’s first game action since June 14, 2021?
“I feel good,” Glasnow said by phone from Durham Bulls Athletic Park. “It all feels pretty normal.”
Glasnow threw 19 pitches (11 strikes), and his fastball clocked in between 96-98 mph against the top of the Yankees’ Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre lineup. He issued a leadoff walk to top prospect Anthony Volpe then retired each of the next three hitters he faced: A swinging strikeout, a called strikeout and a groundout to rehabbing shortstop Wander Franco. Full story »
Finishing on a high note
Tink Hence has been phenomenal on the bump all year long.
As the regular season comes to a close and Single-A Palm Beach gears up for the postseason as the top seed in the Florida State League East, pitching is a crucial part of any team, and the Cardinals' No. 6 prospect brings reliability heading into crunch time.
In his most recent outing, the right-hander tossed four scoreless innings, allowing three hits and two walks while fanning four batters.
This is the 11th outing in 2022 where Hence hasn't allowed an earned run, garnering a 1.38 ERA over the regular season. He pitched in 16 games, starting in all appearances, tossing 52 1/3 innings and fanning 81 batters.
In 10 of 16 outings this season, Tink Hence did not allow a run.— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 8, 2022
The sixth-ranked Cardinals prospect ended the regular season with 81 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings: https://t.co/8d30zGoRXx pic.twitter.com/VnSkBnguPt
Coming through in the clutch
When Benny Montgomery was up, runs were scored.
The No. 6 Rockies prospect was a run-producing machine when his team needed it the most as he went 2-for-5 with one homer and a career-high five RBIs in Single-A Fresno’s 12-6 win over San Jose.
The 19-year-old’s productive day started with power as he hit a two-run shot to center field in the second inning. Montgomery's production continued late as he had an RBI single that scored two in the fifth inning and an RBI groundout in the ninth inning.
Montgomery's big day helped them sweep the second-half title after they had already won the first-half. The outfielder brought his homer tally to six and improved his slash line to .298/.375/.475 on the season.
Source of Nationals pride
With a magic number of two entering action, the FredNats took care of their own business while getting the help they needed to punch their ticket to the postseason with the Carolina League North second-half crown. Fredericksburg handily defeated Salem, 15-5 behind an eight-run first inning and some web gems at Carillion Clinic Field. Geraldi Diaz capped the offensive outburst in the opening frame with a three-run homer and finished the game with a game-high four RBIs.
Washington's No. 12 prospect Jackson Rutledge improved to 8-6 after allowing four runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out seven in five frames. Peyton Glavine, son of two-time Cy Young Award winner Tom, followed with a scoreless frame, and Marlon Perez closed out the rout with a scoreless ninth.
The FredNats also needed a loss by Carolina, which came via a 5-4 walk-off win by Myrtle Beach. Fredericksburg improved to 72-54 on the year and 39-21 in the second half. This postseason berth marked the first for the franchise since its relocation to Fredericksburg in 2020. The team will host Lynchburg in the divisional round playoff game to open the postseason on Sept. 13.
Bo knows how to go yard
When Bo Naylor hits the ball, it can travel a long, long way.
The No. 5 Guardians prospect showed off the pop in his bat, producing his first multihomer game of the season in Triple-A Columbus’ 6-5 loss to Louisville.
The 22-year-old’s day started off rough as he struck out in his first at-bat. Naylor’s showcase of power came when he hit a solo shot to right field in the third inning and a two-run tater to left-center field in the eighth inning.
The catcher's night raised his homer tally to 16 and improved his slash line to .262/.400/.481 on the season.
Zach Daniels has no shortage of power in his bat.
The No. 29 Astros prospect went on a power surge, producing his second career multihomer game as he went 3-for-5 with two long balls in High-A Asheville’s 7-5 win over Greenville.
The 23-year-old’s display of pop started early as he crushed a solo shot to left-center field in the first inning. Daniels continued it with a solo blast to center field in the fourth inning, then capped it off with a single in his next at-bat.
The outfielder brought his homer tally to 22 and improved his slash line to .290/.372/.530 on the season.
Looking at Greener pastures
The 23-year-old hurler struck out six while allowing one run on one hit across two innings for Triple-A Louisville. Greene threw 48 pitches -- 28 for strikes -- in his second rehab outing from a right shoulder strain.
The first-round pick in the 2017 Draft ran into issues early in the outing after giving up a triple to leadoff hitter Will Brennan (the Guardians' No. 21 prospect), who scored on a wild pitch. Greene dealt the rest of the start, fanning six of the last eight batters he faced.
The California native displayed his trademark velocity, hitting 100 mph on the radar gun, as well as his ability to rack up strikeouts. He has whiffed 10 hitters over four innings of his two rehab starts. Greene is continuing down the road back to the Reds, for whom he has posted a 5.26 ERA and struck out 127 in 102 2/3 innings this season.
Rodriguez keeps rolling
Another rehab start, another positive step forward for Grayson Rodriguez.
Baseball's top pitching prospect struck out four across two innings for Double-A Bowie, throwing 40 pitches -- 22 for strikes -- in his second rehab outing from a right lat strain. Rodriguez told reporters at Prince George's Stadium that he expects to pitch again for the Baysox on Sunday. After that, he could see a return to Triple-A Norfolk, where he started the year before enduring the injury on June 1.
It was a tale of two innings for Rodriguez in his latest outing. He needed just 11 pitches to retire the side in order in the first, striking out a pair. But he needed 29 for the second, walking two, allowing a double and seeing a run charged to him on a wild pitch. Rodriguez told reporters that he feels energized after the long layoff, saying it's the best his arm has felt, "honestly, since I was in high school."
Should all go as planned, Rodriguez could see himself back with Norfolk as soon as Sept. 16, when the Tides are back home. After a couple outings there, talk of his promotion to the big league team could become more serious.
The week that was
There were more milestones aplenty as the last month of the season got underway. Among them, the first no-hitter for Double-A Rocket City, Minnesota native Matt Wallner delivering the first cycle in Triple-A St. Paul's history (yes, even before affiliation) and High-A Lansing narrowly avoiding a repeat of a no-hitter loss. Not to mention the fact that