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  • Brewers Minor League Link Report (4/20): A Tight One, A Comeback, A Slog, and Nashville Cruises


    Julio Muchacho

    Carolina doesn't always score first, but they can still pull out a victory when they fail. Big lefty Russ Smith experiences a rough and frustrating outing in Appleton's wild n' wooly, cold and windy, thrilling comeback affair. Biloxi scuffles and struggles but nearly pulls one out in a long slog for a game. And Nashville does Nashville things scoring many more runs than their opponents.

    Let's get into the recaps!

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    Carolina Pre-Game Media Notes
    Final: Carolina 2, Lynchburg (Guardians) 1
    Box Score / Game Log

    Via the Mudcats' site, game details, please review each of the affiliate write-ups as part of your Link Report routine:

    Perez Hits Go-Ahead Blast in 2-1 Carolina Victory - An Education Day Crowd of 5,652 Watched the Mudcats Defeat the Hillcats 2-1 on Wednesday

    Carolina breaks up their eight-game 'we always score first' streak but still manages to pull out the victory on the go-ahead home run from Hedbert Perez - his second homer. In these past few games, he has been turning on balls and flipping those feet and hips adeptly. Take a look:

    2-1 is the final in Zebulon.

    Both teams were hitless heading into the third inning, and that's where Ryne Moore experienced the only real challenge of his five-inning outing. After hitting a batter, he threw the ball away in a pick-off attempt to first, and the runner advanced. Following that up with a strikeout, he allowed a run-scoring single off a liner that made its way to left field, glancing off his glove. Those mistakes will make you pay more often than not - a tough pill to swallow, and Carolina trailed 0-1. He did manage to advance that base runner on a balk, and it seemed he might run into more trouble as that runner advanced to third on a steal. He walked the next batter, who also stole second base, but left the inning after inducing a weak grounder directly to the mound. Moore finished his outing going five innings, with the one unearned run, punching out five and allowing only two hits. A fine showing from the young righty.  I'm looking forward to his next start.

    Final Viewing Notes:

    • I mentioned Arbert Cipion's improved approach at the plate this season in recent reports. He showcased this improvement again today by lining a rope triple to the deep right field wall scoring Micah Bello to tie the game 1-1 in the fifth inning. Micah had a fantastic at-bat going ten pitches deep from a 1-2 pitcher's count to draw the walk. Good stuff from both young men.
    • As mentioned in the headliner, it was 'Education Day' at Five County Stadium, and let's give a big round of applause to the vast array of kiddos who stayed the full nine innings! Truly a surprise. I imagine the post-game rounding of the bases for the youngsters may have taken longer than the actual game itself:
    • Let's keep an eye on Hendry Mendez, who took a vicious hit to his head and upper body in a bang-bang double play collision sliding into second base. He was seen writhing in pain, face down in the dirt, for several minutes before turning over and sitting up in a daze. He did manage to walk off the field under his own power, but he left the game and gave way to Oswald Leones, who replaced him in right field.
    • Hats off to the Carolina Bullpen: four innings of professional relief work - only two total hits with one free pass and seven strikeouts. The MVP of the game will have to go to the middle-relief work of Karlos Morales, who came in for two innings of work with four punchouts. In total, he threw 23 pitches for strikes in 32 total pitches. You love to see a young 22-year-old in a promotional setting, achieving success and punching the zone. Christian Tripp and Michele Vassalotti (who continues a successful transition to the bullpen) also deserve mention here. Both hurlers continued their scoreless efforts of the early season, with Vassalotti, in particular, getting his second save. He looks the part and has the stuff to overpower these Low-A batters. The move to the bullpen is seeing early favorable results.
    • Tripp, if you recall, was picked up as a free agent after the Mets organization released him (drafted 2018) in July of 2021. He is trending in a much better direction since his Brewers promotion to Carolina in August of last year and seems to have gotten off on the right foot in 2022. Could this be the start of a mini-renaissance for the 6'7" 25-year-old who previously experienced middling and frustrating minor league results? He has pitched seven innings with ten punchouts and zero runs with a 0.86 WHIP. I would guess, that if this keeps up, he will see a promotion to High-A this season. I, for one, would love to see it. 

    ***
     

    Wisconsin Pre-Game Media Notes via their all-encompassing Virtual Press Box

    Final: Wisconsin 10, Quad City (Royals) 9 
    Box Score / Game Log    

    Via the Timber Rattlers' site, game details, please review:

    Wisconsin Comes Back from 9-2 Deficit to Beat Quad Cities - Frelick Goes 5-for-5 and Clarke Hits Grand Slam as Rattlers Stun Bandits

    It was cold and windy, with players in long sleeves covering their faces and the power repeatedly going out in the Timber Rattlers broadcasting booth. It was trending as a bizarre day for the Timber Rattlers and River Bandits from the opening pitch onward. Russ Smith struggled early and often in this one, and his body language spoke to his frustrations - a couple of seeing-eye dribblers and a couple of errors did him no favors. Russ was not a happy camper, and he was not experiencing an ounce of luck to alleviate his location and general pitching struggles. He made it a total of 2 1/3 innings, 60 pitches with only 32 strikes when he gave way to Zach Mort, trailing 2-7 with five of the seven runs earned. 

    Further Viewing Notes:

    • When your young hurler is struggling on the mound, silly errors like the drop by Ernesto Martinez at first base on a soft toss from Smith on a weak check-swing chopper will hurt more times than not. With that runner aboard, the same runner took second base off a high throw from Martinez during a successful pick-off to first, catching the runner leaving early. The next batter launched a 2-run home run over the wall in left field. This was a perfect sequence of plays showcasing the early day's happenings for the Timber Rattlers.
    • Tyler Black and Sal Frelick continue to showcase synergy in the batter's box and base paths. After a lead-off double by Frelick in the bottom of the first, he sped home off a line drive single from the bat of Black. Frelick is an on-base weapon - his speed will play anywhere. Today was when Sal showcased his pre-season #1 Prospect status. More to come...
    • Speaking of the dynamic Sal Frelick, the young man went five of five for the first Timber Rattler to achieve four hits in a game (let alone five) to date in 2022. He is cfouroming into his own offensively and showcasing his talents on the base paths. He actually came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning for a chance to make the record books and go 6 of 6...but the ball didn't bounce his way, so to speak, though it did bounce the way of a walk-off wild pitch. Take a look at his beautiful day at the plate (notice sound off to start...like I said above, a weird day). This young man has talent in spades - he also tallied his fifth stolen base. Electric is the word. Plug him in.
    • It took until the top of the fifth inning for the Rattlers' pitching staff, but Zach Mort got three up and three down to try and change the momentum in Wisconsin's direction. Kudos to the young righty as he came in and held it down for his multiple innings of relief. I always felt Zach's 2021 numbers didn't agree with what I saw from him on the mound. He pitched much better, that is, than the numbers showed. 
    • Darrien Miller cooled off a bit for this one. Batting in the clean-up spot as a DH, he swung under nearly every ball he made contact with, including the pop-up to third base that started the downward momentum of inning number one. However, he managed to rope a hard-hit single down the right-field line held in check by the swirling winds.
    • Tristan Peters had a beautiful diving catch in left field to put out Quad Cities' Herard Gonzalez for the second out in the top of the 6th. The ball was tailing toward the line and shallow, but Peters managed to lay out and get the out. When you're finding your way as a team, plays like this make a difference.
    • It wasn't for lack of opportunities as the Timber Rattlers put two men aboard in four separate innings. With none down (twice), one down, and two down. They were struggling to find the timely hit into the middle innings - so it goes in the game of baseball. Thankfully, they had the rally caps in the dugout and managed to start taking advantage.
    • Tyler Gillies made his second appearance of the season in the top of the eighth. Always good to see the young Canadian coming off his well-known cancer recoveries. It's a feel-good story, and we need to embrace these. Tyler was struggling with what appeared to be a finger or blister issue (?) on his throwing hand. He did have a couple of breaking balls well off the plate, including a wild pitch to the backstop on one that  fourgot away. This will potentially be something to track in the coming days.
    • Wes Clarke hit an absolute no-doubter grand salami bomb over the wall in left-center with the bases juiced in the bottom of the seventh. Thank You, Wes!
      I was beginning to ponder what I was doing watching the cold and windy misery in Appleton - 11 hits and only two runs to show for it at the time - and I was beginning to wonder if the young Rattlers could knock men in with two or more on as it was the fourth such scenario in the game. It was a key hit, and it made things interesting heading to the eighth inning.
    • Our very own @TURBO was in attendance for this one, and, it is rumored, he was wearing a tee-shirt and shorts😎
    • The winds were swirling and unforgiving in this one. Frelick lost a routine fly ball - the lone 'hit' (scored a double) given up by James Meeker in the top of the ninth - in the swirling winds as it tailed away from him in a hurry. Zavier Warren's double in the bottom of the same frame sped past the River Bandits' centerfielder for a double just off the tip of his outstretched glove in straightaway center. For good measure, I saw the impacts of this same uninviting and disruptive arctic front walk-offsw.hAfter the @TimberRattlers 10-9 win on Wednesday, there was a lot to talk aboute.n shingles flew off my house's roof and poly panels on my greenhouse were sent flying to an undisclosed location this past week. Not a force to be reckoned with! Yeesh!
    • Walk-off wild pitch? We don't mind it one little bit:


    ***

    Biloxi Pre-Game Media Notes via the Shuckers' Virtual Press Box 

    Final: Birmingham 6 , Biloxi 5
    Box Score / Game Log   

    Via the Shuckers' site, game details, please review:

    Late Rally Comes Up Short in 6-5 Loss to Barons - Wiemer Records Three Hits for Shuckers

    Starting game number two of a six-game series, typically reliable Andy Otero took the mound for the Shuckers amidst several batting order adjustments for the Brewers' Double-A club. After the Shuckers managed two runs to start the tilt on a Brent Diaz two-run single (plating Mitchell and Wiemer), Otero gave up three hits to start his first inning. The first two of these were legitimate well-hit ropes into left-center field, but after a weak hit chopper in front of catcher Brent Diaz, the first base umpire missed a clear out on a bang-bang play down the first baseline. This missed call mattered as the runner stole second (Birmingham's first successful steal on the season). The runner, scored when the next batter found second base after a throwing error by typically spot-on and reliable Cam Devanney. The throw bounced past Thomas Dillard on what was another weakly hit chopper. One might question whether Joey Wiemer should have been there backing up Dillard, but this is precisely how the ball is bouncing for the Shuckers these past two nights. Otero left the inning by striking out the next batter, but it was already knotted back at 2-2. This was a sign of the game to come.

    Further Viewing Notes:

    • Is Joey Wiemer heating up? He ended last night's game with a double, and through two at-bats early, he had another double, a single, two runs, and a stolen base. A sight for sore eyes as the self-proclaimed number one Wiemer Fan Boy. Joey made things exciting when he ripped a single up the middle of the infield in the top of the ninth. More below.😬
    • Props are due for Otero, who gathered himself for a clean inning - three up and three down, including a punch out - to keep the game level through three innings and still only 55 pitches. He managed to battle his way through five, conceding only the four runs - three earned - on the evening while allowing a rather lofty ten total hits and one free pass. Not efficient. Not pretty. But, he kept his bullpen fresh and his team in the game. 
    • Last night's Shuckers vs. Barons contest lasted two hours and 21 minutes. Tonight's affair was quite different, Shuckers' with runners on in most innings, deep counts, and a 4-4 game headed into the fourth.

      It isn't just a pitch clock that keeps game times down, as several other factors have to align to meet those low marks. This one felt like a slog...boy did it ever.
    • I was highly impressed with Birmingham's lefty curveball specialist (and former Kansas City Royal fourth-rounder), Garrett Davila. This now 25-year-old lefty has a nasty sweeping curve that must be a nightmare for left-handed batters when it is on like it was this evening. I think the three up and three down strikeout crew of Holt, Mitchell, and Wiemer would agree (though, at least Joey worked to a complete nine-pitch count). 
    • When the Shuckers field is ugly, the Shuckers field is ugly. A slow-rolling routine grounder left of second base and, in the hole, unfairly put two on for Luis Contreras in the bottom of the sixth. It would have and absolutely could have been the end of the inning - at the very least, a force out at second base for two down. But, the inexplicably extremely inconsistent Freddy Zamora fielded it poorly and then tossed an absolute flub dribbler on the ground to Gabe Holt. The latter showed little urgency in retrieving the ball. It was almost as if the entire play happened in slow motion. This one had to have driven the skipper, Mike Guerrero, a tad crazy. Luis struck out the next batter but, on a 1-2 pitcher's count, threw a very wild pitch to the backstop advancing the runners to second and third. With the count 2-2, the same batter ripped a single to right field, scoring both runners, and, just like that, it was 4-6. Biloxi was down. In sports, as in life, it's the little things. And, (coughs) Mr. Scorer: that was an E6, not two earned runs for Contreras, whose ERA will suffer.
    • Lucas Erceg pitched his first scoreless inning tonight to close the eighth. Well done, Lucas. Let's hope for more of that in future contests.
    • A fitting end to this game was the bases loaded ending to close the game: Trailing 4-6 and red hot Joey Wiemer at the plate, he scorched a single up the middle of the infield. One runner in but a controversial call at the plate saw home plate umpire Ben Fernandez tossing Mike Guerrero and Gabe Holt back to the lockers - both vehemently argued the call. The generally cold-hitting 2022 Thomas Dillard proceeded to go down looking on four pitches, watching strike two and strike three breezes over the center-cut of the outer half of the plate. Mitchell and Wiemer were left stranded on third and second base, respectively; the Shuckers fell 5-6, giving up 15 hits. They are now 8-3 on the season. 
    • Though the Shuckers came roaring out of the gates to start the season, grabbing an impressive 8-0 record, they are not playing good baseball in their most recent outings. Sloppy defensive miscues, a potential lack of urgency in critical moments, and poor strikeout numbers are ugly. Let's hope they can find some balance and focus and play better games ahead as they look to finish their six-game series in Birmingham with four remaining games.

    ***

    Nashville Pre-Game Media Notes       

    Final: Nashville 8, Charlotte(White Sox) 1 
    Box Score / Game Log 

    Via the Sounds' site, game details, please visit and review:

    Sounds Take Down Charlotte for Fourth Straight Win - Scoreless Inning Streak Comes to an End at 31 2/3 innings, Sounds Cruise 8-1

    Sinker baller Jason Alexander took the mound for the Sounds hoping to keep the scoreless innings going for the Nashville, and through one three-up and three-down inning, he certainly did (two flyouts and a weak ground out first base side). The Sounds went to work offensively right off the bat with a well-hit double to left field by lead-off man Garrett Whitley who ultimately advanced to third on a chopper to second base by Bryce Turang. After a full-count walk taken by red hot Tyler WhiteJon Singleton came to the plate and lined a well-hit fly ball to right field, and, with Whitley tagging, it was 1-0. Alexander was dialed through four innings with a mere one hit and many a ground ball, 

    Final Viewing Notes:

    • Let's recognize 'game': Blake Rutherford (LF) of Charlotte has hit safely in 10 of his last 15 trips. That is quite the hot streak - including two opposite-field singles to get things going for the Knights in the early going. 
    • I do not know if you will find a better bullpen in all of Triple-A baseball. The Sounds are legitimately trotting out an MLB-level bullpen every night in those crucial make-or-break innings. Tonight, we watched Luke BarkerJ.C. Mejia, and Miguel Sanchez eat lunch. Six strikeouts total and zero runs across home plate over four beautiful and efficient innings. What more is there to say? This pitching staff is on another level - a true joy to watch.
    • Corey Ray broke the 1-0 game open with this bases-clearing triple to deep right-center field in the bottom of the fourth. Way to go, Corey!
    • David DahlTyler WhiteGarett Whitley, and Bryce Turang had multi-hit evenings. The Sounds batters are starting to put solid at-bats together up and down the line-up. Dahl and White, in particular, are suddenly very hot.
    • While the scoreless innings streak came to an end a mere five innings short of the 2003 Sounds record, another flawless streak came to an end as well on this beautiful Nashville evening: Bryce Turang was caught stealing in the sixth inning, knocking the Sounds record to 17 of 18 successful stolen base attempts on the season.
    • Perhaps, we should be talking about Garrett Whitley more: He has appeared on base in all ten contests he has played in. It's beginning to be an embarrassment of riches down in Nashville. This is an excellent problem, but Garrett deserves some recognition for his steady, smooth play and picking it up at the plate. 
    • The Sounds improve to 10-4 overall and are now tied atop the West Division of the International League with Columbus.

    ***

    That is a wrap for our organizational matinee and night games. All in all, we should be pretty content with winning baseball across all levels. It might not always be pretty, well, Nashville might protest this assertion, but it is mostly winning Brewers organizational baseball. And, that, my friends, is always a plus.

    Please peruse tomorrow's docket of games and organizational stats across the board: 

    Organizational Scoreboard, including starting pitcher info, game times, MiLB TV links, and box scores

    Links for affiliate audio

    Standings and sortable stat pages

    Current Milwaukee Brewers Organization Batting Stats and Depth

    Current Milwaukee Brewers Organization Pitching Stats and Depth

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