The second best prospect in the Philadelphia Phillies system, righty Aaron Nola took the hill for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs on Wednesday for his second start at the Triple A level. Incidentally, both starts have been against the Buffalo Bisons, and top Blue Jays prospect Daniel Norris.
For the second time, Nola was able to get the best of Norris and the Bisons, this time going 7.2 IP, giving up three earned runs, and striking out seven. In his two Triple A starts, Nola is sporting a 2.13 ERA. Norris was every bit as good, striking out a season high nine batters. As has been the case this season, the Bisons didn’t give Norris any run support. In his last ten starts, the Bisons have averaged a paltry 2.4 runs per game.
Back to Aaron Nola. The seventh overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft has been as good as advertised. Featuring a fastball-slider-changeup arsenal, all three can be used to get outs. Don’t be surprised to see Nola make a few more starts in Lehigh Valley, then get the call to the Bigs. He is ready.
Despite losing six straight decisions, Daniel Norris is proving to be one of the top left-handed pitching prospects in all of the MiLB. Norris has considerably improved his command, repeat his delivery, while learning how to, for lack of a better term, pitch. Bisons skipper Gary Allenson noted that Norris has learned when to use his changeup off his fastball, mix in a curve, or pound the zone with heaters. Norris should end up back in Toronto by the end of the season.
The New York Yankees made some noise this past week, announcing top prospect, outfielder Aaron Judge was promoted to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In 63 games with AA Trenton, Judge had a slashline of .284/.350/.516, with 12 homeruns and 44 RBI. In his three games with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Judge has struggled a bit, going 1-10 with four strikeouts. This is an extremely small sample size, and I expect Judge to figure things out. A first round draft pick in 2013, Judge impressed in Spring Training before being sent to AA. Judge can mash the ball, and while he doesn’t have crazy speed, he is smart on the basepaths.
In Pawtucket Wednesday night, Humberto Quintero sent fans home happy after knocking in the winning run against the Rochester Red Wings (Twins) in dramatic fashion. After allowing the tying run to score in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Red Sox got two scoreless innings from reliever Noe Ramirez. In the bottom of the 11th, Quintero came to the plate with runners on the corners. The Paw Sox catcher laid down a successful bunt up the first base line, scoring Quintin Berry for the walk off safety squeeze.
Syracuse Chiefs (Washington Nationals) outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. provided us with a special moment on Father’s Day. Almost a year since his father, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn passed away, Gwynn Jr. hit a walk off single in the 10th inning to give the Chiefs a 1-0 win over the Buffalo Bisons. Tony Gwynn passed away June 16th, 2014.
**For the week ending June 21, Charlotte Knights (Chicago White Sox) pitcher Erik Johnson was named International League Pitcher of the Week. Johnson went 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA while striking out 20. Kevin Keyes of the Syracuse Chiefs (Washington Nationals) was named Hitter of the Week after going .462/.481/.615, 6 G, 12-for-26, 4 2B, 7 RBI, 5 R, 1 BB.**