September 2008

Oh what a night

And I’m not talking about the Lake County-West Virginia game I was at that took 3 hours and 35 minutes to complete, meaning I didn’t get home to B3 Headquarters in Pittsburgh until nearly 3 a.m. Just take a look around the playoff landscape and you’ll see what I mean…

On Wednesday night, four 2007 first-round picks (I’m talking pitchers) started playoff games for their respective clubs. The combined line of the four: 3-1, 1.42 ERA, 25 1/3 IP, 12 hits, 9 walks and 26 strikeouts. Not too shabby. Here’s the rundown:

No. 1 pick David Price only went five innings for Durham, but he danced in and out of trouble (three walks) to put up zeroes for the win. He struck out six as the Bulls took a 1-0 lead against the Louisville Bats.

No. 9 pick Jarrod Parker got the win for South Bend in a Midwest League playoff battle against West Michigan. Parker went six frames, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits and one walk while striking out five.

No. 10 pick Madison Bumgarner continued his dominance of the South Atlantic League with a 1-0 victory against Asheville. The Minor League’s ERA champ (and thus, the Most Spectacular Pitcher) outdueled Asheville’s Connor Graham (a fifth round pick from a year ago, by the way). Graham gave up just one hit, but allowed a run. Bumgarner went eight shutout innings, gave up just three hits, walked no one and struck out 10.

No. 17 Blake Beavan is the only one who got an ‘L,’ though he pitched well enough to win. The Rangers prospect went 6 1/3 innings, allowing two earned runs (three total) on seven hits and one walk. He struck out four, but Clinton got beaten by Cedar Rapids, 3-0.

That doesn’t even include Rangers 2006 draft-and-follow Derek Holland, who’s certainly pitched like a first-rounder in his first full season. He pitched at three levels, finishing in the Texas League and he got the ball in Game 1 for Frisco against San Antonio. All he did was go 7 1/3 innings, yielding just two hits, one walk and one run, while striking out five and giving the RoughRiders a 1-0 lead.

I’m sure I’m missing some other stellar performances. Want to nominate one or more? Leave them in comments.

Power outage in West Virginia

I’m here in Charleston, West Virginia, for the opening game of the South Atlantic League playoffs between the Lake County Captains and the West Virginia Power. the Captains (Indians organization) won the first half title of the Northern Division, while West Virginia taking the second-half crown.

Things didn’t start off so well for the home team as the Captains jumped out to a 7-0 lead through five as West Virginia’s pitchers had a wee bit of trouble finding the strike zone … or finding too much of it. Things looked bleak, even for Toastman. A great moment: Lake County’s No. 9 hitter, Juan Valdes, awaits on deck for his turn at-bat. For those of you not familiar, Toastman sits near the visiting on-deck circle and basically ridees that player mercilessly. Valdes’ particular crime was that this was his third tour in the South Atlantic League and he was reminded just how well Toastman knew him. Valdes responded by hitting a three-run homer in the third inning. After he crossed home plate, he pointed right at Toastman, which, to his credit, drew a smile from the Power’s biggest fan.

To the Power’s credit, they didn’t give up. Lake County starter Joey Mahalic came out after five shutout innings and West Virginia jumped all over the Captains bullpen for four runs in the sixth. Still a long way to go with the way this thing is going, but at least we have a ballgame now…

By the way, we’re all over the playoffs for the next couple of weeks. Kevin Czerwinski’s covering the IL’s Pawtucket-Scranton series and he’s been blogging about it. And Lisa Winston will be checking out some Florida State Leauge action this weekend and then on to the Texas League. So be sure to check out got milb? for her thoughts when the time comes.

Of course, we’ll have lots of stories and multimedia on as well. Already, Kevin C’s written a story on Pawtucket starter Adam Mills and I’ve contributed a feature on Lake County reliever Rob Bryson, who went from the Brewers organization to the Indians, and thus from West Virginia to Lake County, in the C.C. Sabathia trade. This is his first trip back to Appalachian Power Park since the trade.

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