Lehigh Valley (vs Rochester):
We are running out of #NolaDays as the deadline approaches, and Aaron Altherr’s stay could also be brief. It also now looks like the big league club will be hanging on to Adam Morgan for a while now. Good news is that David Buchanan is back from injury and pitched pretty well in his first game back which helps the rotation somewhat. Gabriel Lino is now hitting, which makes the lineup a bit deeper. Overall the IronPigs are playing like averagish team and not like their big league parent. And who knows, more help could be on the way.
Reading (@ New Britain – Friday, vs Trenton – Saturday & Sunday):
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Nola, Altherr, Lino, and Ogando are in AAA, Quinn and Perkins on the DL, Eflin is at the Pan Am Games, and Windle is struggling and in the bullpen. They still have Crawford, Dugan, Biddle, and Knapp so they are far from talentless, but Reading isn’t the prospect juggernaut it was a month ago. I am not a believer in Kleven or Leiter as starting pitchers, but I want to see them after a few starts in the league, both leave something to be desired outside of their fastballs. On the hitting side it will be interesting to see which version of Brian Pointer we get in the month of July.
Clearwater (vs Tampa – Friday, @ Brevard County – Saturday & Sunday):
The Threshers ended the first half on a tear and are 6-2 to start the second half of the year. The two pitchers not on rotation this weekend (Ricardo Pinto and Victor Arano) have been very good. Matt Imhof still has been pitching with diminished stuff, even though he is apparently healthy after his arm injury. Rios is probably a reliever long term, but he has really stabilized the rotations with promotions and injuries. The bullpen with Nunez, Ramos, and Joaquin has been lights out over the past month. The hitting and defensive boost from the recently promoted Canelo, Tocci, and Hoskins has also helped to carry the Threshers. Add that to Aaron Brown showing signs of life and Andrew Pullin acting like a slugger and you have a pretty potent hitting core. Brandon Leibrandt and Dylan Cozens likely won’t be back this week, but aren’t far off. It isn’t a bunch of superstar prospects, but the Threshers are very deep with good players right now.
Lakewood (@ Delmarva – Friday, vs Hagerstown – Saturday & Sunday):
The BlueClaws had a thin lineup before losing their three best hitters, so it should be a surprise that offense is still a problem. Scott Kingery and Kyle Martin have done their part, and Cord Sandberg continues to have a bit of a hot streak going, but it is rough some nights. The pitching has been pretty inconsistent, ranging from average to Elniery Garcia’s gem last weekend to Mecias’ meltdown. Speaking of Mecias, it is panic time, the stuff is way down, the control is non-existent. He just hasn’t been the same guy since Tommy John surgery.
Williamsport (vs Auburn – Friday, @ Brooklyn – Saturday & Sunday):
This Crosscutters team might be the best New York-Penn League team I have seen assembled. Their lineup is deep and has guys with speed (Laird, Coppola, Cumana), power (Hayden, Pujols, Hernandez), some of both (Biter, Duran, Tobias), and patience (Amaro). They are aggressive at the plate and on the bases, putting a ton of pressure on inexperienced players. The pitching staff is even better, behind ace Franklyn Kilome they got 6 deep with everyone capable of going 5 solid (or even more on the right night). Behind the starters is a deep bullpen with college relievers and former starters working as relievers to get work. This week they then added 6th round pick Tyler Gilbert and 7th round pick Luke Leftwich to that mix as relievers working on reduced starter workloads. Combined they turn 2 out of every 6 starts into a 3 pitcher game with dominance. There is enough streakiness that the bats have been silenced on occasion, but normally there is enough depth to overcome it. Outside of a few players there are not a lot of players here with big time ceilings, but there are a lot of potential major league pieces on this roster.