THE APPALACHIAN LEAGUE season is under way with a wealth of newly drafted talent spread among its 10 teams, but in the early going, it’s a 2013 Brazilian free agent who is turning heads.
Daniel Missaki burst onto the international scene in 2013 as a 16-year-old starting pitcher for Brazil in the World Baseball Classic. Following the tournament, Seattle snapped him up and sent him to rookie ball in the Arizona League after extended work at the team’s spring training facility.
In seven games in the AZL, Missaki flashed plus stuff but struggled with consistency and location, leading to a 6.23 earned run average. On the bright side, he recorded 15 strikeouts against five walks despite surrendering 17 hits in 13 innings.
In two winning starts with the Pulaski this past week, Missaki has yet to allow a run. In 15 innings, he has permitted just five hits and two walks while fanning 17. His 0.47 WHIP leads all starters as Pulaski raced out to a 6-2 start before losing its past four games.
At the plate, Pulaski has received a pair of superb out-of-the-gate starts. Catcher Wayne Taylor is hitting .441 with a 1.294 on-base-plus-slugging percentage with three doubles and three home runs. Taylor was plucked out of Stanford earlier this month with a 16th round draft pick and he has responded with four multi-hit games in nine starts. His tour de force game against Bluefield on June 26 when he went 4-for-4 with four runs scored, two doubles and a home run.
Meanwhile, teammate Nelson Ward has been no slouch. The 12th-rounder out of Georgia is batting .350 in 11 games with a .959 OPS.
Elsewhere around the league:
— No one is terrorizing the Appy League quite like Danville’s Jordan Edgerton. The Braves’ ninth-rounder has hits in eight of his past nine game and leads the league with 17 runs batted in. Four times in the past week, Edgerton has collected three-hit games, including June 25, when he rapped three doubles and drove in four against Greeneville. He’s batting .441 with a 1.236 OPS, which trails only Taylor and …
— Elizabethton’s Max Murphy currently leads the league with a 1.517 OPS, thanks to three doubles, two triples and three home runs. He’s batting .455 with an on-base percentage of .578. He also has seven walks against five strikeouts.
— Kingston’s Brandon Brosher is tied with Burlington’s Brandon Dulin for the league lead in home runs with four. But whereas Dulin has been somewhat feast-or-famine at the plate (batting .250 in 11 games), Brosher has compiled his total in just seven starts. It’s interesting to note that in just seven games, the 2013 36th-rounder already has surpassed the three home runs he hit in the Gulf Coast League last summer.
— No list of the Appy League’s hot starts would be complete without noting the play of Johnson City’s Casey Turgeon. The 24th-round pick out of the University of Florida is batting .414 with an on-base percentage of .541 and a 1.196 OPS. He has collected four doubles and a home run in just 29 at-bats.
— There are only two qualifying starting pitchers in the league with an unblemished ERA. One of them is Missaki. The other is Elizabethton’s Felix Jorge. He joined the Twins as an underage international free agent signing in 2011. At 20, he already embarking on his fourth professional season and that experience is showing with a 2-0 record and five hits allowed in 10 innings. He has walked four and fanned seven for a 0.90 WHIP.
— Danville’s Alec Grosser leads the Appy League with 19 strikeouts in just 13 2/3 innings of work. It’s a nifty start for the 2013 11th-rounder and the 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings is a significant jump over the 7.1 he managed in five Gulf Coast League appearances last summer.
Tags: Seattle Mariners