Mar 12, 2014; Dunedin, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Nathan Karns (51) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

April 18 Minor League Recap


I thought I’d try a different format here today. Rather than summarizing all of the good-to-great performances around the minors, I’m going to select just a few as being worthy of discussion. While this doesn’t reflect a lack of quality of all the rest, it will focus on the best of the best.

There were several outstanding pitching performances:

Lefty Brian Johnson (Salem Red Sox – BOS) was perfect through six innings in the Carolina League, striking out five. The 23-year-old is a little on the old side for the level but the first rounder didn’t get very many innings under his belt in his draft year of 2012. This was Johnson’s first really strong start for Salem but with his excellent 25/6 K/BB ratio, he could a candidate for an early promotion to Double-A Portland.

On the day before his 24th birthday, lefty Brian Flynn (New Orleans Zephyrs – MIA) threw a Triple-A gem, going seven innings of one-hit, one-walk ball with seven strikeouts. Also in Triple-A, Nate Karns (Durham Bulls – TB) was dominant, giving up two hits and one walk in seven innings and racking up nine strikeouts to pick up his second win of the season.

While he’s not necessarily a “prospect” to many, Kendall Graveman, 23, was absolutely dominant for Class-A Lansing (TOR), coming just two outs away from a nine-inning no hitter on Friday. Graveman threw 8 1/3 innings, giving up just one hit and one walk while striking out seven and getting 13 ground outs (and just four fly outs) to pick up his first win of the season. The 2013 8th rounder is a veteran of an excellent college program in Mississippi State and could very well move up to High-A Dunedin soon. I’m calling this the pitching performance of the day.

Another Toronto prospect, Aaron Sanchez, threw six shutout innings for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Double-A), striking out six and giving up just four hits and two walks. Jesse Biddle (PHI) struck out 11 in seven innings, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk.

For the Dodgers’ High-A affiliate in Rancho Cucamonga, Chris Anderson threw six shutout innings, allowing two hits and four walks but striking out seven. Finally, Cubs’ Double-A prospect Ivan Pineyro struck out eight over six and two-thirds innings with just two hits and one walk allowed.

As far as the hitters go, I’m going to be a copycat (h/t to Baseball America) and call Brandon Nimmo‘s game for the High-A St. Lucie Mets the game of the day. He went 4/5 with a triple, a walk, three runs scored and two RBI.

Cesar Hernandez continues to rake in Double-A Reading, hitting his first home run of the season in a 3/4 game that had him score twice and drive in three. Miami’s Austin Barnes (High-A Jupiter Hammerheads) had a pair of doubles and a stolen base in a 3/4 day. San Francisco’s Ryder Jones (Class-A Augusta GreenJackets) was on base five times with three hits and and two walks.

Gregory Polanco continues to mash, going 3/5 with a double and three RBI for Triple-A Indianapolis. Oh, and Mariners’ prospect Patrick Kivlehan hit two home runs for the second day in a row for the High-A High Desert Mavericks. Boston’s Travis Shaw (Double-A Portland) went 4/4 with a home run and four RBI.

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