Greetings from Big Spring. Not often is a start with zero earned runs and nine strikeouts overshadowed, but Martin Perez one-upped Neil Ramirez by throwing a five-inning perfect game.
Stars of the Day:
AAA: Neil Ramirez, Ryan Tucker / Taylor Teagarden
AA: Martin Perez
Hi-A: Chris McGuiness
AAA: Round Rock 6, at Oklahoma City 2
Record: 9-4, +1.0
Neil Ramirez fanned nine batters (nine of his first 17, in fact) and allowed just two hits en route to five innings of one-run ball. Five of the nine Ks came on called third strikes. In AAA, Ramirez has struck out 14 of 40 batters faced (35%) while allowing only nine baserunners. Overall, his 23 strikeouts trail only three other pitchers in the minors.
The only downside was some wildness (three walks and a hit batter) that led to a very high pitch count: 69 after three innings and 96 overall. This isn't uncommon when a young guy, no matter how gifted, is facing veterans who'll take and pitch and can foul off strikes. Martin Perez is a good example (but not last night). Indeed, that's part of what made last week's six-inning, 75-pitch effort so astonishing.
Taylor Teagarden (.389/.476/.944) drew a bases-loaded walk, singled, and doubled. Teagarden has started six games and has a hit in all of them. His strikeout rate of 28% is also relatively benign; recall that it flirted with 40% for long stretches of 2010, even in AA. Ryan Tucker (4.82 ERA) struck out four in two perfect innings. Mark Lowe allowed a run on three hits in two innings in his first AAA appearance. He struck out three.
AA: Frisco 1, at Arkansas 0 (called in top of 6th)
Record: 5-7, -3.0
Martin Perez (1.38 ERA) retired 15 consecutive batters, and rain ended the contest while Frisco batted in the 6th. Despite the perfection, Perez's affair lacked the flash of Ramirez's; he struck out "only" three and missed just four bats in 67 pitches. However, he did throw strikes and let the defense do its job. Perez also tossed four no-hit innings in his first low-A start in 2009, but most of his low-hit outings have included several walks. Ironically, one of his biggest issues has been trying to make perfect pitches, which usually results in soaring pitch counts and early departures. It's too early to celebrate, but Perez's walk rate is 40% lower than in 2010.
Reliever Mark Hamburger has returned, and Ben Snyder is on the DL with a sore hamstring.
Hi-A: at Myrtle Beach 7, Winston-Salem 4
Record: 8-3, -0.5
Once again, Myrtle Beach pillaged an opposing bullpen, tallying five runs in the 8th to win its fifth straight game. Chris McGuiness's double was the only extra-base hit and came earlier in the game; instead, three singles, a walk, and three Dash errors, provided the five runs. Mike Olt singled twice, as did Leury Garcia, Jared Hoying, Santiago Chirino, and Travis Adair.
Spot starter Ryan Kelly (4.50 ERA) lasted four innings, his longest outing since 2008. Kelly allowed three runs on four hits, a walk and three strikeouts.
Doubleheader Thursday. Shortstop Jurickson Profar, who'd missed the last three games, has been DL'ed with a sprained left wrist. It's not considered serious, and he shouldn't miss much more than the minimum seven days.
AAA: Zach Jackson
AA: Jake Brigham
Hi-A: Robbie Erlin
Lo-A: Nick Tepesch