It's been a relatively quiet couple of days in the minors, with a couple of off-days Monday and a couple rainouts yesterday. Nonetheless, there's plenty worth discussing.
On Monday Conner Greene turned in a second straight quality start against Trenton after a bumpy start to 2017, giving up 2 runs in 7 innings on 6 hits and a walk against 4 strikeouts. It was a very efficient start, as he only needed 88 pitches (57 strikes) and could possibly have come out for the 8th but for a long half inning. He was pitching in the high 90s on the stadium radar, and the Trenton broadcast mentioned checking in with a scout who had a 100 in the early going.
Greene got into some trouble in the first couple innings, giving up the walk, some hard contact, and the pair of runs that were scored off him. From the 3rd onward, he settled in and rolled through the order. Greene kept the ball on the ground (12 of 21 balls in play, 57%) especially late. Of the six hits, only one was well hit, with a couple rollers through the infield, a bunt single and a blooper. Conversely, there were a handful of hard hit balls right at fielders, so that roughly balances out. If there's one quibble, it was a lack of missed bats, just 7 on 44 swings (84% contact). But far better to be in control than overpowering with poor command.
Angel Perdomo has followed a similar path to Greene, in that after a couple uneven outings to start 2017, he's now had back-to-back quality outings. Last night he threw 6 innings, striking out 6 while allowing 1 run on 3 hits and 3 walks. He had some trouble finding the zone early, issuing walks leading off the first two innings - both erased on double plays - and getting into hitter counts.
But in the middle portion of the game, he flat out dominated, setting down 13 of 14 from the second inning to the sixth on 5 strikeouts, and almost exclusively weak contact on the ground. He did run back into trouble in his last inning as he lost the zone, fell behind and gave up some hard contact. Ultimately, he stranded the bases loaded. That's the one criticism of this outing, he threw less than 60% strikes and fell behind 13 of 20 hitters.
On the hitting side, Max Pentecost (playing 1st base) hit his 4th home run of the year, ambushing a first pitch fastball and driving it to just left of straight away centrefield for a grand slam.
Lansing was the only affiliate to play both of the last two nights, splitting a pair of high scoring games with South Bend (no surprise for the league leader in runs scored and allowed). Patrick Murphy started Monday after a brief stint on the DL, and while showcasing premium velocity (apparently touching legit 96, while the unreliable stadium gun had him 100) did not make it out of the 5th inning. He ended up with 4.2 innings, 4 runs on 9 hits and 3 walks against 5 strikeouts. Unfortunately, some of those hits were very well struck.
Last year's 9th rounder Nick Hartman made his 2017 debut after starting the year on the DL, being suspended for involvement in an Easter weekend altercation with Lake County, which forced Lansing to play three games a man down. To compound this auspicious April, he only managed 6 strikes in 19 pitches, though wriggled out by inducing a GIDP on a 3-0 count. He was followed by Jackson McClelland, who pitched two perfect innings with two strikeouts, only needing 20 pitches.
Last night featured a lot of messy pitching, and generally the less said the better. Sidearmer Kirby Snead had a pretty nice extended outing, piling up 4 strikeouts before fading the second time through and ending with a walk and HBP. 2016 3rd rounder Zach Jackson had another pretty messy outing, working 89-93 but struggling to find the zone and giving up some hard contact.
On the hitting side, the Lugnuts piled up 17 runs over the two games, powered largely by the usual suspects. They faced premium pitching prospect Dylan Cease on Monday, and touched him up for plenty of hard contact. The star was Edward Olivares, who hit for the cycle. Vladdy Jr hit got him for a hard double, as did Brad Jones (who added a triple later) and J.B. Woodman (who added a home run later).
Last night the bats were quieter, but Vladdy continued pounding the ball, with two line drive singles early and a walk. There were some fireworks in the 9th, facing Chad Hockin, a college pitcher drafted in the 6th round last year with premium fastball velocity. Bo Bichette ripped a hard double to the gap off him, and then Vladdy destroyed a 1-1 pitch for a no doubt home run.