Minor League opening day is here, and so we start another year of minor league recaps. The recaps will be in a similar format as last season, except that they are going to be front page material this year. Another new feature will be that I'm going to start off each post with minor league player of the day, which will highlight the player who had the best performance.
Also, I realize that I'm not known for my overabundance of comments on this site, but I will definitely monitor my minor league posts and answer any questions that anyone has throughout the season.
Minor League Player of the Day – Dee Gordon - 2 for 5, 3 RBI's, 1 Run. This was a tough night to start selecting a Dodger minor league player of the day as there was no real clear choice. Dee Gordon gets the nod despite two strikeouts and an error because he was the only player on this night to record multiple hits and drive in multiple runs. In addition, he was making his AAA debut
AAA – The Isotopes picked up the only Dodger affiliate win of the day as they doubled up the Omaha Storm Chasers (Royals) 10 to 5. Starter Dana Eveland was pretty average, allowing 7 hits and 4 runs (2 earned) through 5.1 innings, but that was good enough to pickup the victory. The Albuquerque bullpen was impressive as they gave up just 1 run over the final 3.2 innings. Travis Schlichting was perfect for two thirds of an innings, and Scott Elbert allowed two singles but got through his inning unscathed while recording two punch outs. The Isotopes combined for 10 runs on 11 hits, and got contributions from basically everyone in the lineup. Dee Gordon and Jerry Sands both had two hits in their AAA debuts, and Gordon's day was especially memorable because he also drove in three runs. In addition, Jay Gibbons seems to be seeing the ball better in his rehab assignment as he walked and had a bases clearing double in four plate appearances.
AA – Somebody forgot to tell Chris Withrow that the calendar says 2011, because he's still pitching like he did in 2010. Withrow got through the 1st inning without much trouble, but stalled in the 2nd when he allowed 6 hits and 4 runs to the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs) . Chris also allowed a homer in the 3rd, which is a problem that plagued him last season. After Withrow left David Pfeiffer threw 3 innings of solid relief as the Lookouts chipped away at the lead, but then things really got out of hand when Justin Miller got shelled in the 8th and 9th innings for 7 earned runs. Last year, Miller didn't even allow his 7th earned run of the season until sometime in late June, and only gave up 18 total earned runs all year through 77 innings. What a difference a year can make. The Lookouts offense was relatively quiet, although Pedro Baez did know in two runs with an RBI double. Corey Smith also picked up where left off in spring training with a 2 for 4 effort.
HiA – The Quakes offense was gifted with 12 walks on Thursday night, but they stranded 15 runners in a frustrating 6 - 2 loss to the Inland Empire 66ers (Angels). At the end of the day the loss was a direct correlation of the team's inability to get hits as Quakes only had 5 base knocks. In addition, Allen Webster had a fairly rough outing as he wasn't able to make it through the 5th inning. Webby gave up 7 hits and 4 runs while walking 3, but did show some promise with 5 strikeouts. Jake Lemmerman doubled in his first at bat in the California League, but was held hitless for the rest of the night. Angelo Songco and Blake Smith also struggled and went a combined 0 for 8 in their HiA debut. The only player on Rancho who had a decent night was DH Tony Delmonico, who went 2 for 4 with a double and a walk. One final interesting point is that the Quakes got their first run of the season on a double steal in which Nick Buss stole 2nd base while Rafael Ynoa stole home.
LoA – The Loons started off their 2011 season with a thud as they fell to the Lake County Captains (Indians) at home 13 to 3. Starting pitcher Red Patterson took the lion's share of the beating as he allowed the first 5 batters to reach base and was charged with 7 runs in just two innings of work. Luckily 25 year old Bret Montgomery stepped up and threw 5 innings of relief so the bullpen didn't get completely destroyed on the first day of the season. Robert Boothe also threw out of the bullpen for the Loons on Thursday, but he showed why he was back in LoA as he walked 5 batters in 1.2 innings. The Great Lakes offense was just as dismal as their pitching as the team managed just 4 hits in the game. Nick Akins recorded the team's only RBI, while Blake Dean had the Loons only extra base hit of the game; a double. Leon Landry and Jonathan Garcia combined to go 0 for 7 in their full season debut.