While we’ve had some excitement in the first few days of the minor league season, led by Mike Foltynewicz and Mike Soroka returning from injuries and looking great on the mound, Sunday was not one of those types of days. Not that we don’t have plenty to talk about anyway.
Gwinnett Stripers 4, Norfolk Tides 3
- Travis Demeritte, LF: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI
- Austin Riley, 3B: 0-2, 2 BB
- Touki Toussaint, SP: 3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 1 K
The biggest story line here was the 2019 debut of Touki Toussaint. Toussaint didn’t have his best command, as he allowed just one hit but walked four batters over three innings. It should be noted that of the 60 pitches he threw, only 32 were strikes, so he deserves some credit for limiting the damage against him on a day he really fought his command. Thomas Burrows and Shane Carle followed with a pair of perfect innings. Corbin Clouse came in for the eighth and surrendered a run on a pair of hits, and Jacob Webb earned the save despite allowing a solo homer in the ninth.
Travis Demeritte continued his strong start to the year with a pair of hits, including his first home run of the season. With his two RBI in this one he’s up to four on the year to go with a .400 average so far. Spring training hero Pedro Florimon went 3-for-4 and drove in a run, while the final RBI came from Sal Giardina. Austin Riley was hitless in two at bats, but he did draw a pair of walks on the day. One other guy of note is former All Star Adam Duvall, who went 2-for-3 with a walk.
Probable 4/8 Starter: Kolby Allard
Tennessee Smokies 4, Mississippi Braves 3
- Drew Waters, RF: 1-4, BB, 2B, R
- Cristian Pache, CF: 1-4, 2B
- Patrick Weigel, SP: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 0 K
Patrick Weigel got the start and before you get concerned about the short start, it’s important to know that it was because he reached his very low pitch limit and not injury related. Weigel struggled with his command, but that’s not surprising for a guy on the return from Tommy John as they work their way back. Weigel threw only 12 of his 28 pitches on the day in the strike zone, but the more important thing is that this is just another step in his rehab. He was relieved by Jeremy Walker, who threw 5 1/3 very strong innings and only allowed one run on a solo homer. The Braves were actually looking to get the win here despite needing to turn to the bullpen in the first inning, but Michael Mader gave up three runs in the bottom of the eighth.
Drew Waters continues to hit early on in his aggressive assignment to Double-A, going 1-for-4 with a double and a walk. Despite another solid day at the plate, there was still a learning experience for him after getting picked off at third base. Jonathan Morales was the star for the offense, going 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles, though Alejandro Salazar was a close second as he singled, doubled, and stole a pair of bases. Cristian Pache also added a double, and one of our favorite under the radar guys, Ray-Patrick Didder drew a pair of walks.
Probable 4/8 Starter: Tucker Davidson
Daytona Tortugas 5, Florida Fire Frogs 3
- William Contreras, C: 1-3, BB
- Riley Delgado, SS: 2-5, R
- Hayden Deal, SP: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K
Hayden Deal’s debut couldn’t have gone better for him personally, as he threw six shutout innings, allowing only two base runners while striking out five. Deal is a former undrafted free agent from 2017, and a guy who is a favorite of the Talking Chop minor league staff as one of the many good guys in the system. He was followed by Cutter Dyals, who struggled allowing four runs in his only inning of work. He was replaced by Sean McLaughlin, who allowed a run over a pair of innings.
The bats were quiet for the Fire Frogs with just three runs on seven hits and no extra base hits. Riley Delgado went 2-for-5 to lead the way, but a few other guys also reached base twice on the day including William Contreras, who singled and walked. Izzy Wilson and Drew Lugbauer also reached base multiple times.
Probable 4/8 Starter: TBD
Kannapolis Intimidators 2, Rome Braves 1
- Darling Florentino, 3B: 2-4, 2B
- Greg Cullen, 2B: 1-5, HR
- Trey Riley, SP: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K
Trey Riley made his full season debut and pitched very well, giving up two runs over five innings. Riley surrendered five hits and just one walk while striking out a pair. The high upside 2018 draftee was considered to be very talented, but also a bit raw with some command improvements needed, so this was definitely a good sign for him. Jose Montilla came in relief and pitched three innings without giving up any hits or walks, while striking out two.
Former small college star Greg Cullen homered to account for Rome’s only run. Darling Florentino had a notable performance though, going 2-for-4 with a double. For a 17-year old who hadn’t played above the Gulf Coast League prior to this spring, that was the kind of performance to show why the team felt he could handle such an aggressive assignment to open the season.
Probable 4/8 Starter: Odalvi Javier