Now for another Week in Review from the always-exciting International League!
The Player of the Week for the International League was Steve Clevenger, a 28-year-old catcher for the Norfolk Tides (BAL) who only recently came back to the minors. Clevenger appeared to have no troubles upon his return to Norfolk, hititng .593/.613/.852 in six games this week, hitting seven doubles and driving in 13 runs while taking three walks. Clevenger has spent parts of the last four seasons in the majors as a big-league backup.
Taking the Pitcher of the Week award was Brad Lincoln, the 29-year-old righty from Lake Jackson, Texas. A starter earlier in his career coming up from the minors, Lincoln has been moved back to the rotation after spending time in the bullpen in the majors and minors in stints with the Pirates, Blue Jays and Phillies. Lincoln made two starts this week, throwing thirteen scoreless innings and allowing just four hits and four walks with 12 strikeouts.
The Syracuse Chiefs lead the North Division by a game over the Rochester Red Wings. The Chiefs parlayed some excellent play against the Buffalo Bisons to make some ground in the division, going 7-3 over their last 10 games (the best 10-game record in the International League). Syracuse is being led by Steven Souza, Jr. (check back tomorrow for our interview with him from this past weekend) and a solid offense as well as solid pitching, coming in the top third of the league in both categories. Don’t count out Rochester with their top flight pitching that includes prospects Trevor May and Alex Meyer.
The Durham Bulls maintain a 4.5-game lead in the South and the Indianapolis Indians have a 5.5-game lead in the West.
Pawtucket Red Sox lefty Chris Hernandez just missed a no-hitter in his last start, thanks to rehabbing big leaguer Joey Votto. Hernandez, 25, had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning (with only one walk) but gave up a single up the middle to the Reds’ slugger. He finished the night with just one run allowed in 7 2/3 innings on just the one hit and two walks and striking out nine, earning his third win of the year.
Another Pawtucket pitcher, Anthony Raunado, had his best game of the season this week, throwing seven scoreless innings against the tough Durham Bulls, allowing only two hits and no walks while striking out seven.
James McCann of the Toledo Mud Hens had a big day, going 4/5 and missing the cycle by a triple. As a catcher, McCann would really have to be lucky to get one of those. He also drove in three runs and scored once (on his home run).
Here at Grading on the Curve, we’ve been tracking Gregory Polanco all year as he’s torn up the International League. We want to congratulate him on his call up to the Pittsburgh Pirates after hitting only .347/.405/.583 in his 62 games in Indianapolis.
Steven Souza Jr. (Syracuse) is still leading the league in hitting at .371 and is now racking up enough plate appearances to qualify for post-season awards. He also leads all of the minor leagues with a .475 OBP.
On the pitching side, Syracuse’s (WAS) Taylor Hill now leads the league in ERA at 1.92 in 79 2/3 innings with just nine walks and 52 strikeouts. Liam Hendriks of the Buffalo Bisons has slipped to second at 2.02 in 62 1/3 innings (he spent a couple of weeks in the majors) with just three walks and 45 strikeouts.
Speaking of strikeouts, Alex Myeer now leads the league with 75 Ks in 62 2/3 innings for the Rochester Red Wings (MIN) while Eddie Gamboa of the Norfolk Tides (BAL) is right behind him with 74, albeit in 77 2/3 innings.
It wouldn’t be right to give a week in review for the International League without mentioning Saturday night’s Star Wars Night in Buffalo. The Bisons’ seventh annual event was a huge success, drawing over 18,000 fans and giving young and old a thrilling night that included the premiere of a new Star Wars production that featured members of a local Star Wars troupe as well as Bisons’ mascots Buster, Chip and Celery, a live fight scene performed on the field after the game and a fireworks show that thrilled the packed Coca-Cola Field. The Bisons were wearing R2D2-inspired uniforms for the match and Darth Vader sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” (and may have been selling concessions).