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Perez, Bauer earn promotion
Fans in Chicago and fantasy owners eagerly awaited the arrival of Anthony Rizzo to Wrigley Field. The former San Diego prospect obliterated Triple-A pitching all season long, so expectations were high and a city-wide countdown trumpeted the arrival of his “Super Two” eligibility date. I was waiting for a glitter ball to drop at Sears Tower. I’m sorry. That’s now called Willis Tower.
Anyway, Rizzo received a standing ovation during his Tuesday debut and did not disappoint the home crowd. Rizzo produced two hits and drove in the game-winning run, and then received the obligatory “pie in the face” routine during his post-game interview.
Hey, Bud. Can you work language to ban that nonsense into the next CBA? Can I start a debate on the floor of the House? It wasn’t funny when Bozo did it 30 years ago. Wizzo owned that show, for what it’s worth.
I’ll be curious to see how Rizzo’s approach changed since his last major league run with the Padres. Like probable All-Star Mike Trout was a year ago, Rizzo was overmatched and struck out frequently. Fantasy owners are hoping for a Trout-like breakthrough in Rizzo’s encore. If nothing else, fans’ gloves will get a workout during batting practice. Let’s set the over/under targets at 14 home runs and 51 RBI.
As fantasy owners chew on Rizzo’s arrival in Chicago and what it means in the context of the Theo Epstein rebuilding process, I’ll turn my attention to other news and notes around the minor leagues, including several other intriguing call ups.
Here in Los Angeles, Thursday’s major league debut of Arizona pitcher Trevor Bauer will be watched intently. The former UCLA standout and third selection of the 2011 Major League Baseball draft dominated opposing batters at Double-A Mobile to open the 2012 season and performed well (4-0 with a 2.82 ERA) at Triple-A to prompt his call-up to the Diamondbacks. Bauer’s pregame warm-up exercises have been well-documented. Bauer struck out 56 batters in 44 2/3 innings for Triple-A Reno, though his walk rate (4.4 per nine IP) leaves you wanting. I don’t expect dominance out of the gate, but the 21-year-old righty is a mighty intriguing prospect for the second half of the season given the offensive struggles of the NL West.
Bauer’s former UCLA teammate, Gerrit Cole, also made headlines on Tuesday. The No. 1 overall selection in the 2011 Major League Baseball draft was struck by two line drives in the first inning of his start against Double-A Altoona. A batted ball glanced off of his glove and struck him in the face. Cole pitched to a 2.55 ERA in 13 starts for the Brandenton Marauders (I need a cap) of the Florida State League prior to his promotion to Double-A.
I would be remiss if I failed to note a comeback in the making. In what was expected to be his final rehabilitation appearance before returning to Philadelphia, Chase Utley homered and went 2-for-5. Utley has missed the entire season because of recurring pain in his right knee. He told <i>The Philadelphia Inquirer</i> that his legs feel better than they did in 2011 when he missed 47 games.
Veteran hurler Doug Davis continues to toil in Triple-A for the Royals and pitching well of late. Davis has allowed three earned runs in his past three starts spanning 17 1/3 innings. He’s struck out 12 batters against four walks during this stretch. I know that he doesn’t qualify as a “prospect,” but I thought I should give a nod to the 36-year-old righty.
The Padres will recall Andrew Cashner from Double-A San Antonio to pitch against the Astros on Thursday. Cashner pitched six shutout innings in his third minor league appearance with 10 strikeouts prior to being recalled. Cashner possesses strikeout punch, having struck out 34 batters in 28 1/3 innings for the Padres before his demotion. He comes back as a starter following three years as a reliever between Chicago and San Diego.
Martin Perez was promoted from Triple-A Round Rock to help the ailing Texas rotation. In his final two starts for the Express, Perez allowed two earned runs in 16 innings pitched with nine strikeouts and seven walks, though he allowed only four hits. The 21-year-old lefty offers little strikeout punch in his 15 minor league starts this season, and his walk rate (four per nine IP and 1.37 WHIP overall) is potentially problematic in Arlington. He will reportedly take the bump for the Rangers this weekend against the A’s.
Cody Puckett extended his hitting streak to nine games for Triple-A Louisville with a 2-for-4 effort against Buffalo. Puckett is batting .515 (17-for-33) with eight RBI during the streak. He also earned International League Batter of the Week honors, appropriate for an outfield prospect hitting for the Bats.
Strikeout artist John Ely, a 26-year-old righty, continues to pile up numbers for Triple-A Albuquerque. If he could play third base, he’d be a member of the Dodgers now. Alas, he remains in the minor league ranks awaiting a call up. Ely has struck out 94 batters in 89 innings and possesses a fantastic strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.2-to-1).
Similarly, the Giants have no need in the rotation for 27-year-old righty Yusmeiro Petit. Petit has pitched to a 2.92 ERA in 16 appearances for Triple-A Fresno with 84 strikeouts in 86 1/3 innings pitched (four strikeouts per walk). He’s struck out seven or more batters in six of his past seven starts and anxiously awaits a return to the majors.
When last I checked on Oakland pitching prospect Brad Peacock, it appeared that he’d turned the corner. Alas, the 24-year-old righty has regressed in his past three starts. Peacock has allowed 11 earned runs in his past two starts spanning seven innings. He allowed 13 hits and five walks in these appearances with 12 strikeouts. To take a wider view, Peacock has allowed 85 hits in 70 2/3 innings with 30 walks (3.8 per nine IP) to produce a bloated 5.99 ERA. I’ll simply say that perhaps I was a year or two ahead of the pace on Peacock.
The offensively-challenged Padres (last in runs scored entering Wednesday’s games) have a third base prospect tearing it up at Triple-A Tucson. Jedd Gyorko possesses a robust .329 batting average in 167 at-bats with 23 extra-base hits (nine home runs) and 33 RBI.
Deep preseason “Ninja” target Shelby Miller has yet to find his stride at Triple-A Memphis. The 21-year-old righty has produced a fantastic strikeout rate (73 in 66 innings), but his hit rate has been through the roof (11.2 per nine IP). Miller has been leaving the ball up in the zone and inviting disaster in the Pacific Coast League. He has served up 15 home runs to yield a dismal 6.00 ERA.
Catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud of the Blue Jays tore his PCL while sliding into second base on Tuesday and will miss two months of action. The 23-year-old prospect was dominating in Las Vegas with 39 extra-base hits (16 home runs), 52 RBI and a fantastic .333 batting average at the time of his injury.
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