The minor leaguers keep hitting longballs, 13 in two days and there was a late entry in the Cubs’ Home Run Mania. In the bottom of the 17th inning last night, Rock Shoulders delivered a walk-off Grand Slam home run. The game also included homers from Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras and excellent relief appearances from Stephen Perakslis (four scoreless innings, two strikeouts) and Yao-Lin Wang (two scoreless innings, four strikeouts).
Lost in all of the publicity the home runs were generating was the fact that the organization was also receiving some outstanding pitching performances. In Iowa, Dallas Beeler tossed seven shutout innings and struck out four batters Thursday, while Friday Tsuyoshi Wada fanned ten and allowed an earned run in six innings. Tennessee saw Corey Black strike out eight and give up an earned run in six innings Thursday. Black is second in the Southern League with a 2.63 ERA, eighth with a 1.24 WHIP, and third with 91 strikeouts. While down in Kane County, the Cougars received back-to-back gems from Duane Underwood and Jen-Ho Tseng. On Thursday, Underwood had three strikeouts in six scoreless innings. Tseng carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning Friday and ended up allowing only one hit with three strikeouts while shutting down the Lansing Lugnuts for six innings. The surprise performance came from Gerardo Concepcion as the reliever struck out three in three scoreless innings to preserve a shutout for Kane County on Thursday.
Tennessee closer Frank Batista achieved a milestone on Thursday as he recorded his 80th career in the Smokies’ 7-5 victory. It was the sixth save of the season for the two-time minor league All-Star (2011, 2012), who has bounced between Iowa, the Mexican League, and Tennessee this season.
Big Zack Godley appears to be close to locking down the closer role for Daytona. In his last ten appearances, Godley has a 2.13 ERA with 17 strikeouts and two saves in 12.2 innings. Opponents are currently batting .200 against him.
Some have questioned as to why 2014 third round selection Mark Zagunis has been limited in appearances at catcher, but that has been mainly due to the fact that Boise has a probable Northwest League All-Star at that position in Justin Marra. Drafted way back in 2011, the 21-year old left-hander has been a slow developing prospect, languishing in the rookie league and Boise the past three seasons. Marra seems to have tapped his potential this season as he is hitting .317/.386/.564/.950 with four home runs and 21 RBI in 26 games. Marra has made great strides on defense and is currently fielding .994 with a 24 percent caught stealing average.
The Boise Hawks also have a set of very intriguing infielders in Chesny Young, Jason Vosler, and Alex Tomasovich. The 21-year old Young has burst on the Northwest League scene and the second baseman is hitting .429 with seven RBI in 11 games since his promotion from the AZL Cubs. Twenty-year old Vosler was assigned directly to the Hawks after signing following the 2014 draft. The lefty is batting .341 with a homer and nine RBI in 11 games and is developing good chemistry with Young as a shortstop. The organization hasn’t decided exactly what they have in the 6-foot-3 Tomasovich, who has seen time at all four infield positions. Recently showing up a great deal at first base, the 22 year old is hitting .273 with five RBI in 16 games.