Wow, what an exciting Opening Day for the minor league season yesterday. It was punctuated by some of the game’s top prospects showing their stuff but also some lesser-known lights shining their stars. We won’t do a roundup like this every day but we’re going to update individual leagues on a regular basis.
In Triple-A action, Kevin Kiermaier of the Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays) along with Jerry Sands and Wilson Betemit went deep in their 7-6 victory over the Gwinnett Braves. Ernesto Mejia hit a home run for the Braves.
Scott Carroll threw six scoreless innings for the Charlotte Knights while Matt Davidson had three hits including two doubles in a 3-0 win over the Norfolk Tides. Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs starter David Buchanan also threw six scoreless innings while Pawtucket Red Sox starter Allen Webster got shelled in a 4-0 victory for Lehigh Valley.
In the Pacific Coast League, Randal Grichuk went 3/4 with a double and a home run in a 10-2 win by the Memphis Redbirds over the Iowa Cubs. Christian Friedrich struck out nine batters in five innings in a losing cause as the Colorado Springs Sky Sox lost 2-1 against the New Orleans Zephyrs.
Henry Owens started the season with a bang by throwing a rain-shortened no-hitter for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs on Thursday. Despite the game being called after six innings, Owens dominated the Reading Fightin’ Phils by striking out nine batters and walking just two in a 5-0 win that had second baseman Mookie Betts going 4/4 with a home run. The Fightin’ Phils had Phillies’ top pitching prospect Jesse Biddle get hit hard, allowing four runs on nine hits in just three and a third innings.
Also in Eastern League action, the Toronto Blue Jays’ top prospect, Aaron Sanchez dominated the Trenton Thunder by throwing five one-hit innings, walking two and striking out five.
In the Southern League, Kris Bryant notched his first home run of the year for the Tennessee Smokies despite losing 6-5 to the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Jacksonville beat Huntsville 3-1 on Thursday with Anthony DeSclafani, the Marlins’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2013, getting a great start, going six innings and giving up just one run on two hits and three walks with seven strikeouts.
In the Texas League, the Arkansas Travelers (Los Angeles Angels) swung their offense into high gear, scoring 20 times and defeating the Midland RockHounds (Oakland A’s) 20-7. Kaleb Cowart had five hits (including a HR) and five RBI while shortstop Addison Russell had three hits for the losing squad.
Moving down to High-A, in the Florida State League, Matt Boyd threw seven shutout innings, striking out five batters in a Dunedin Blue Jays 7-0 win over the Clearwater Threshers. Dwight Smith, Jr. also had four singles for the Blue Jays. Alex Mejia had four hits (including two doubles) for the Palm Beach Cardinals but was on the losing end of a 6-5 score as T.J. Rivera of the St. Lucie Mets had three hits (including a double and a home run) and five RBI.
In the California League, Carlos Correa went 3/4 with four RBI as the Lancaster JetHawks beat the Lake Elsinore Storm 8-2. Lancaster starter Vincent Velasquez struck out seven batters in just four innings of work. In a losing cause, Visalia Rawhide starter Andrew Barbosa struck out 11 Stockton Ports in just five innings.
In Class-A action, Nick Pivetta struck out seven in five scoreless innings, giving up just two hits and two walks in a 4-0 win of the Hagerstown Suns against the Rome Braves. Rookie Davis struck out five in five shutout innings for the Charleston RiverDogs in a 5-1 win over the Augusta GreenJackets. Larry Greene went 3/4 with a triple and four RBI for the Lakewood BlueClaws while Patrick Biondi went 3/4 with a home run and three RBI in a losing cause for the Savannah Sand Gnats.
In the Midwest League, starter Jonathan Martinez struck out 11 in just six shutout innings for the Great Lakes Loons, allowing only two hits and no walks. The Loons walked all over the Fort Wayne TinCaps 9-0. As the DH for the Burlington Bees, Mike Fish went 3/5 with two doubles. Yes, we all want Mike Fish to play in the same lineup as Mike Trout.
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers squandered a very strong start by Taylor Williams who went five shutout innings, striking out seven and giving up just one hit and one walk. The Timber Rattlers lost 8-4 to the Peoria Chiefs. Yasiel Balaguert had four hits (including three doubles) for the Kane County Cougars in an 8-4 win over the Quad Cities River Bandits.