by Ryan Christoffersen / A’s Farm Beloit Correspondent
The Beloit Snappers took two out of three games from the Clinton LumberKings, Seattle’s Midwest League affiliate, this week at Pohlman Field in Beloit. The series win moved the Snappers into third place in the Midwest League Western Division. The first half of the season ends on June 18, and the top two teams in both divisions at the end of the first half will clinch spots in the Midwest League playoffs.
A year after going to the Midwest League Championship, the LumberKings are near the bottom of the Western Division standings this season. Their top-rated prospect is third baseman Joe Rizzo, a 19-year-old taken in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft by the Mariners. Another one of Clinton’s top players is outfielder Anthony Jimenez, who’s been having a breakout year in the Midwest League. Jimenez has tallied 6 home runs and 19 stolen bases while maintaining a .307 batting average.
Game #1: Beloit 8 – Clinton 7
*The first game of the series was pretty sloppy all around. The two teams combined for 6 errors, with the Snappers committing 4 of them.
*LHP Dalton Sawyer grinded through 5 innings of work, ending the day with a stat line of 5 IP/4 H/2 ER/4 BB/8 K. The A’s 9th-round pick in 2016 threw just 53 of his 91 pitches for strikes.
*RHP Heath Bowers had his worst outing of the season in relief of Sawyer. Entering the game with a sparkling 1.67 ERA, Bowers gave up 5 runs, 4 earned, on 8 hits and 2 walks in 2 ⅔ innings. He also uncorked 3 wild pitches.
*RHP Yordys Alejo kept Beloit in the game, shutting down the LumberKings with 3 strikeouts in 1 ⅓ innings of relief.
*The A’s 2016 13th-round draft pick, Nate Mondou, went 3 for 5 with a two-out RBI single in the 8th inning. The second baseman continues to do just about anything and everything the Snappers need to win ballgames, and it would come as no surprise if Mondou gets the chance to contribute for the Stockton Ports at some point this season.
*After an epic, 9-pitch at-bat that ended in a walk to pinch-hitter Miguel Mercedes, his fellow Dominican-born teammate, Eric Marinez, came up with the bases loaded, one out and his team down by one run. The Beloit third baseman then proceeded to rocket a single into left field that scored both the tying and winning runs, sending the good guys home happy.
Game #2: Clinton 13 – Beloit 3
*RHP Mitchell Jordan was not fooling anybody in this one. The A’s 10th-round pick in 2016 was tagged for 9 earned runs in 3 innings of work. That included a very rare occurrence in which the same pitcher (Jordan) surrendered 2 grand slams in the same game.
*First baseman Miguel Mercedes went “oppo boppo” to lead off the bottom of the 6th inning for Beloit, but the right-handed batter just barely got it over the wall in straightaway right field. It was Mercedes’ 10th home run of the year, putting him in second place in the Midwest League home run race.
*While he’s shown plenty of home run power, Mercedes still has a lot of room to improve at the plate, as his .215/.270/.436 slash line can attest to. Mercedes might not ever hit for a high average, but he will have to learn to show better plate discipline, taking a few more walks and cutting down on the strikeouts. His power is real though, and he is just 21 years old, so there’s still some time for Mercedes to try to make some significant improvements at the plate.
Game #3: Beloit 9 – Clinton 1
*It was yet another great start from RHP Brendan Butler. He had a great changeup in this game that consistently bewildered the LumberKings hitters.
*RHP Xavier Altamirano shut the door with 3 scoreless innings in relief, earning his 1st save of the year for the Snappers. Altamirano became the eleventh different Snappers pitcher to record a save this season.
*Designated hitter Kyle Nowlin, the Athletics’ 21st-round pick last year, just missed his 6th home run of the season. The ball hit off the top of the left-center field wall and ended up as a 2-RBI double for Nowlin.
*The A’s 32nd-round pick in 2016, catcher Collin Theroux, had his second multi-homer game of the season. His first home run was measured at 414 feet with an exit velocity of 110 mph. That ball was CRUSHED!
*By the end of the series, Theroux had 8 home runs on the season, which is by far the most home runs hit by a catcher in the A’s system this year. The second-highest home run total is 4 by Stockton catcher Sean Murphy.
*At the end of this series, Nate Mondou‘s .339 batting average was good for third-best in the Midwest League. And Mondou absolutely loves to hit at Pohlman Field. He sports an incredible .380 batting average at the Snappers’ home park.
*Infielder Edwin Diaz slashed .362/.464/.507 for the month of May. He also lowered his strikeout rate and improved his walk rate, all great signs that the 21-year-old may be starting to put it all together in his third season with Beloit.
*RHP Brandon Bailey did not pitch in this series, but it’s worth mentioning what a tremendous month he had. Bailey put up an impressive 0.50 ERA and a 0.67 WHIP while walking just 2 and striking out 22 over 18 innings of work in May.
A’s Prospect of the Series:
Second Baseman Nate Mondou
(7 for 12 / 3 RBIs / 1 SB)
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