by Ryan Christoffersen / A’s Farm Beloit Correspondent
The Beloit Snappers took just one of four games from the Quad Cities River Bandits, the Astros’ Midwest league affiliate, at Pohlman Field in Beloit this week.
The River Bandits are far and away the best power-hitting team in the Midwest League this season, with a league-best 64 home runs entering the series. One of the biggest sluggers for the Bandits has been 19-year-old first baseman/outfielder Yordan Alvarez, who’s hitting .397 with 5 home runs in just 22 games in the Midwest League.
The Bandits currently have two of the Astros’ top 10 prospects according to MLB Pipeline – outfielder Daz Cameron (son of former major league outfielder Mike Cameron) and RHP Forrest Whitley. Both players definitely impressed in this series, making life hard for the Snappers.
Game #1: Quad Cities 8 – Beloit 3
*Beloit got off to a hot start in the game, with center fielder Luis Barrera smacking a 2-0 pitch off the center field wall for a leadoff triple.
*The next batter, first baseman Luke Persico, who last year’s 12th-round pick for the A’s, promptly singled home Barrera to put Beloit on the board in the bottom of the 1st inning. It was one of 3 hits on the night for Persico, who has been in a bit of a slump during the month of June.
*Persico got his sixth start of the season at first base in this game. Usually a corner outfielder, having the ability to also play first base should provide Persico with valuable versatility going forward.
*RHP Matt Milburn pitched 2 perfect innings to start, striking out 4. The A’s 29th-round pick in 2016 was displaying a superb cutter early on, but River Bandits batters were finally able to catch on and ended up tagging Milburn for 4 earned runs in 6 innings of work.
Game #2: Quad Cities 13 – Beloit 5
*Shortstop Edwin Diaz slugged his 7th home run of the season for the Snappers. It was a 3-run blast over the center field wall in the bottom of the 1st inning to give Beloit an early lead.
*Two pitchers made their U.S. baseball debuts for the Snappers. RHP Abdiel Mendoza, an 18-year-old from Panama, started the game and finished with a line of 2 ⅓ IP/3 H/4 ER/3 BB/2 K. LHP Jhenderson Hurtado replaced Mendoza, and the 21-year-old Venezuelan had a line of 2 ⅔ IP/4 H/2 ER/2 BB/2 K. Both pitchers struggled with their command, which is understandable considering they only arrived in Beloit about four hours before the first pitch.
*Speaking of time, this 9-inning game labored along at a turtle’s pace – or a Snapper’s pace, if you will! The game clocked in at 3 hours and 35 minutes.
*Believe it or not, both teams actually had a pitcher named “Abdiel” from Panama in this game. While a unique name in the United States, it must be a much more common handle in Panama!
*Snappers first baseman Kyle Nowlin made his third pitching appearance of the season in the game, getting two outs on just four pitches. With the scoreless outing, last year’s 21st-round pick for the A’s was the only Beloit pitcher among five not to give up a run in the game.
Game #3: Quad Cities 4 – Beloit 0
*The Houston Astros’ #5 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, RHP Forrest Whitley, made things difficult for the Snappers in this game by tossing 4 ⅔ hitless innings. The 6’7” right-hander overpowered Snappers hitters all day long. The 19-year-old struck out 7, but did walk 4, which led to him being pulled just one out short of qualifying for the win.
*Beloit batters managed just 2 singles in the game. On the bright side, the Snappers weren’t lacking in base runners since they did draw 7 walks off Quad Cities pitchers.
*Catcher Collin Theroux, the A’s 32nd-round pick in 2016, was back starting again after getting three games off to recover from a nagging injury. It was a rough return for Theroux as he struck out in all four of his at-bats, thus earning himself the “Golden Sombrero.”
*The A’s 10th-round pick in 2016, RHP Mitchell Jordan, was able to get through 6 innings allowing just 3 runs, and that is good enough to be considered a “quality start.”
*First Baseman Miguel Mercedes was called out on a rare batter interference call. Nate Mondou, who was on first base, took off trying to steal second. Mercedes took a called ball but got in the way of Bandits catcher Gabriel Bracamonte, who trying to gun down Mondou at second. In the box score, it’s shown as Mercedes being out 3 unassisted (3U). Oh, the things you learn as an official scorer.
Game #4: Beloit 1 – Quad Cities 0
*LHP Zack Erwin mowed down the mighty River Bandits lineup, throwing 5 scoreless innings of 1-hit ball and striking out 7 to earn the win. While Erwin has just 15 ⅔ innings under his belt this season, he has looked strong since returning from the disabled list. And if he can keep it up, hopefully he can make his way back up the minor league ladder after stumbling in Stockton last season.
*RHP Xavier Altamirano pitched 4 scoreless innings in relief, allowing just 1 hit, to earn his 2nd save for the Snappers. Flying a bit under the radar this season, Altamirano has been tremendous out of the Beloit bullpen. He owns a sparkling 1.88 ERA and currently has a 23 ⅓ scoreless-innings streak.
*Third baseman Trace Loehr walked 3 times in the game. He had taken a total of just 10 walks in his previous 48 games.
*The only run of the game scored on a double play. So, there were no RBIs recorded for either team, which is a fairly rare feat.
Former Snappers Notes:
I want to be sure to give a shout out to RHP Brendan Butler and LHP Dalton Sawyer for their well-deserved promotions to the High-A Stockton Ports. Butler compiled a 2.32 ERA in 54 1/3 innings for Beloit. Sawyer put up a 2.25 ERA in 56 innings for the Snappers, while also recently making an emergency spot start for Nashville. Both pitchers seem to have very bright futures ahead of them, and hopefully we’ll have the chance to see both of the former Snappers pitching for the A’s before long!
A’s Prospect of the Series:
LHP Zack Erwin
(5 IP / 1 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 7 K)
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