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Great starts for Landon Knack, Ben Casparius; baby steps for Andre Jackson

Los Angeles Dodgers v Kansas City Royals Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The Dodgers got a great performance from a 2020 draftee on Friday night, but I want to focus on a 2017 draft pick who has gone through a rough patch but showed signs of life in Triple-A.

Player of the day

Andre Jackson allowed his first four batters to reach base, three of which scored to continue a disturbing trend on Friday, but then recovered to have his most encouraging outing in a month.

Since getting optioned to Triple-A on April 30, Jackson through those first four batters on Friday — which included two singles, two walks, and a balk — allowed 18 runs on 15 hits and 12 walks while recording only 13 outs.

But after the balk brought home the third run Friday, erasing the two runs Oklahoma City scored in the top of the first, Jackson recovered to get nine outs in 10 batters. The only batter who reached in that time was a missed catch at first base on a comebacker to the mound. Jackson struck out four, which marked the first time in five starts that he struck out more than he walked.

Jackson threw just 10 of his first 24 pitches for strikes before the balk. But after that, he threw 26 of 42 pitches for strikes (62 percent). He’s not out of the woods yet. But this is at least something.

To put Jackson’s struggles this season in perspective, he walked 36 batters in 107 innings between the minors and majors in 2021, an 8.2-percent walk rate. This year he has 21 walks in 18 innings, a 23.1-percent walk rate.

Triple-A Oklahoma City

Those three runs off Jackson in the first were enough for Oklahoma City to lose to the Sugar Land Space Cowboys (Astros). OKC managed just two runs on three hits. One of them was a double by Michael Busch.

Caleb Ferguson faced three batters in the fourth inning. He walked two, and struck out one.

Double-A Tulsa

Landon Knack struck out nine in five scoreless innings, helping the Drillers to a shutout of the Amarillo Sod Poodles (D-backs). Knack allowed a double and two singles but stranded them all, and struck out half of his batters faced.

Kody Hoese had two hits, including an RBI triple. James Outman doubled, singled, walked, and scored. Jeren Kendall hit his first home run of the season.

High-A Great Lakes

Catcher Ryan January was instrumental in both three-run rallies in the Loons’ home win over the Lansing Lugnuts (A’s). January hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning, then doubled and scored in the eighth.

First baseman Imanol Vargas also homered for Great Lakes. Second baseman Jorbit Vivas had a two-run single, one of his two hits on the night to go with a walk.

Robbie Peto struck out four in 3⅓ scoreless innings of relief to earn the win.

Low-A Rancho Cucamonga

Ben Casparius struck out eight in five strong innings in the Quakes’ win over the Fresno Grizzlies (Rockies). The Dodgers’ fifth-round draft pick last year out of UConn, Casparus allowed only one run and walked one in his five innings. The right-hander has a 34.3-percent strikeout rate in eight games this season. Casparius picked his first professional win.

Luis Rodriguez had three hits, including a two-run home run. Alex De Jesus, the designated hitter on Friday, doubled twice and scored twice, and also singled and walked.

Friday scores

Saturday schedule

  • 3:05 p.m. PT: Great Lakes (Nick Nastrini) vs. Lansing (Joey Estes)
  • 4:05 p.m.: Oklahoma City (Michael Grove) at Sugar Land (Chad Donato)
  • 5:05 p.m.: Tulsa (Bobby Miller) at Amarillo (Bryce Jarvis)
  • 6:50 p.m.: Rancho Cucamonga (Maddux Bruns) at Fresno (Victor Juarez)

Michael Grove makes his Triple-A debut after his major league debut.