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Blue Sparks 4/28 - 5/4

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Previous Weeks Blue Sparks

Blue Fire

Clayton Kershaw is living up to the hype as he has now thrown 18 1/3 shutout innings for Jacksonville. On Friday he did his act in front of Ned Colleti and Diamond Leung breaks it down for us . Sounds like the Minatour will be pitching in relief to minimize  his innings so that he will be able to help the big club at some point this season.

Brent Leach was promoted from High A ball to AA and had an excellent weekend as he replaced the recently promoted Cory Wade & Yhancey Brazoban at the back end of the Sun bullpen. On Friday he notched his 1st AA win and on Sunday he came back to get the save. All told he threw 4.1 innings of 1 hit ball with 5 strikeouts. Leach was a 6th round pick in 2005 draft and was moved from the rotation in 2005 to relief in 2006. Leach missed most of the 2007 season with a strained chest muscle or he probably would have started the season in AA. The 6'5 lefty has shown an ability to get hitters out and has a career K/9 rate of 10.72. At 25 years old he is no spring chicken but lefties with live arms are always worth paying attention to.

Terry Tiffee is among the PCL offensive leaders in just about every category as he continues to shred the PCL pitchers. He had 14 hits for the week, and has an ops over 1.200. While Tiffee had once been a decent 3rd base prospect for the Twins the most he ever ops'd before in the minors was 879 when he was 25 back in 2004.

Luis Maza is another retread from the Twins organization who has been playing professional ball since 1999 and unlike Tiffee has never sniffed the major leagues. As a ballplayer he is nondescript but last week he pulled off an interesting trick. Starting on April 28th he got one hit, on April 29th he got 2 hits, on April 30th he got 3 hits, and then because there was no April 31st, he decided to get five hits on May 1st. For the week he ended up with 13 hits and 9 rbis. Not knowing a lot about Maza, I'm going to go out on a limb and say this was his Marlon Anderson moment. At this point he is hitting over 400 with the expectation that this will be the last time he ever makes this list.

Carlos Santana knocked out 10 hits and 5 doubles for the week and is now sporting a .921 OPS on the year. He's now the leading hitter for the Inland Empire team in the triple slash stats 421/500/921. He barely edged out his competition to be Russel Martins future backup as Lucas May also had a strong week with 7 hits which included 4 doubles and a home run. May only trails the much ballyhooed Matt LaPorta in OPS in the Southern League and he's doing it as a catcher.

Xavier Paul didn't have a great week but he did have a great game. On April 29th he banged out 5 hits and hit his only two home runs of the season. It was enough to bring his numbers up over the Mendoza line and hopefully he'll get going from here as his adjustment to AAA had not been going well.

Justin Orendorf tossed one hit ball for 7 innings on Sunday and struck out 8 batters. It was easily his best outing of 2008 after struggling in April. Justin has become an after thought so it was great to see him come up with this kind of effort.

Blue Ice

Ramon Troncoso has been used as a punching bag for the hitters of the PCL since his demotion. Last week he gave up 9 hits in 2 innings with walks and ZERO k's. Hard to believe he was setting down major league hitters just two weeks ago.

Several weeks ago in a Blue Spark column I highlighted the fact that Andrew Lambo had seen his average fall below 300. He quickly got hot and moved it up to 350. Since that time he has gone into a tailspin that has seen him go 4 for 32 and drop his average down to the .260 level. He did hit a home run today and maybe that will get him going out of his 1st professional slump.

Jamie Pedroza had a great year last year and everyone told me not to read to much into it. So far this year he's proving his critics right as he has been completely overmatched in High A ball. He was moved from SS to 2nd base and has been a big zero in an offensive league.

The Great Lake Loons have been so bad offensively that they deserve their own column. Seven players with over 50 at bats are hitting less then .210 with 5 of those hitting below 200. They aren't walking either as none of them except Parker Dalton have a .300 OB%. Yuck