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Minor League Recap: A Tale of Twelve Pitchers

Yesterday was to be an exciting day for prospect fanatics like me. All seven (U.S. based) affiliates were playing, featuring a whole array of high draft picks/good prospects as starting pitchers: Drabek, Jenkins, Molina, Nolin, Nicolino, Sanchez and...well, Tucker Jensen, an undrafted free agent.

Las Vegas (lost 7-16)

Kyle Drabek, unfortunately, could not bounce back from his horrible first start in Vegas the way Cecil did. In fact, he was worse. He walked three, struck out one and completed only 2/3rds of an inning. Dare I say the guy might need a psychologist to work with him a little bit?

David Cooper, who had homered in his past two games, went 0-for-3 but did draw two walks.

Minor league journeyman Kevin Howard homered and doubled in the loss, while Chris Woodward was 2-for-3 with two walks.

New Hampshire (won 4-3)

Chad Jenkins wasn't great, but he was a lot better than Kyle Drabek. He walked four and struck out four in six innings, but minimized the damage by keeping the ball on the ground just short of 60% of the time. This lead to an average performance where he gave up three runs in those six innings, but the bullpen would pitch three scoreless innings to lead the Cats to victory.

Adeiny Hechavarria surprised the world by drawing two walks, while also hitting a single and getting hit by a pitch. He also stole his 16th base of the season, he's been caught 5 times.

Anthony Gose hopefully ended his slump with a 3-for-3 effort which included two doubles and a hit by pitch.

Moises Sierra hit two line drives but saw one caught. He also hit a sac fly and struck out.

Dunedin (won 4-1)

Nestor Molina was finally back on the mound after two weeks out with soreness in his arm. He wasn't his usual dominant self as he struck out only two in six innings and gave up more flyballs than usual. He got ahead of a lot of batters but couldn't put them away with the K. He still didn't walk anybody and gave up just one run on four hits, so it's not like he totally imploded, but the two Ks were a season low for Nestor.

A.J. Jimenez was 2-for-4 with a double and a strikeout. The Dunedin radio broadcaster was very positive about Jimenez' defense this year. But he's also hitting .321/.371/.444 so he's a decent prospect on both sides of the ball.

Kevin Nolan was 2-for-4 with a walk, and is now hitting a crazy .351/.457/.532 for Dunedin (.319/.396/.484 for Lansing). He's been used as a utility player in the Mike McCoy mould, moving back and forth (south and north) between Dunedin and Lansing. I wonder how well he can pitch?

Lansing (won 6-4)

Sean Nolin also wasn't his dominant self, allowing 4 runs in 4 1/3 innings, striking out three and walking two. He also wasn't inducing many groundballs. Hopefully it was just rustiness after a long all-star break.

Marcus Knecht was 2-for-4 with a walk and a double, raising his line to .326/.415/.540. He had been striking out a lot, so the fact he avoided the K in this game is a nice sign.

K.C. Hobson was 2-for-5 and hit the walkoff homer that won the game for Lansing. It was just his second bomb of the year. Bryson Namba also went deep, but he did strike out twice.

Vancouver (won 2-0)

Justin Nicolino had a great debut for Vancouver, but he followed it up with an even better start yesterday, striking out seven in five innings, holding the Everett AquaSox to just one hit, one walk and no runs. Nicolino has now struck out 38.7% of the batters he’s faced in his two starts, and balls hit in play against him have been of the groundball variety almost half the time.

With most of Vancouver's position players being way too old to be considered prospects, Shane Opitz' lineout and walk in an 0-for-4 effort is the most notable from this game besides Nicolino. Opitz went 4-for-4 the day before and is hitting .333/.378/.364 with 3 BB and 2 SO.

Ranking the Rookie ball pitcher's debuts:

I thought it would be fun to rank the debuts of our high school pitching picks from the 2010 draft, plus Cardona. Obviously Nicolino has already made two starts and dominated at a higher level, so he would be number 1 if included. Well, here they are:

1. Noah Syndergaard: four days ago, young Syndergaard opened the Bluefield Blue Jays’ season by pitching four innings of shutout ball. In his limited amount of time on the mound he K’d an amazing 47% of the batters he faced and induced more grounders than balls in the air, while walking one.

2. Adonis Cardona: the very young Cardona pitched just 3 innings in his debut, but he still struck out a third of the batters he faced and was neither a groundballer nor a flyballer in this very small sample. He didn’t walk anyone.

3. Griffin Murphy: Murphy struck out 37% of the batters he faced in a five inning start (7 SO, 1 BB), but the fact he got only 27% groundballs and that he’s a lot older than Cardona makes me put him one spot lower than the young Venezuelan.

4. Myles Jaye: Jaye pitched in relief of Aaron Sanchez yesterday, and he struck out 29% of the batters he faced in 4 1/3 innings. He gave up just one hit and a walk, but the hit was a home run. He did get only a third of the balls in play to be ground balls.

5. Mitchell Taylor: pitching in relief of Syndergaard, Taylor struck out 28% of the batters he faced (5 Ks total, 1 walk). That isn’t too shabby, but almost all the balls hit in play against him were in the air, and he ended up giving up 4 earned in 3 1/3 innings.

6. Aaron Sanchez: Sanchez’ debut was probably the most highly anticipated of them all, but it didn’t go as many hoped it would. Sanchez gave up a staggering 8 earned runs in 2 2/3 innings as he walked two and struck out just one. Two-thirds of the balls hit in play against Sanchez were in the air.

7. Zak Adams: Adams got just three outs while allowing seven earned runs to take the bottom spot on this list. He walked two and struck out one in relief of Adonis Cardona.