by Ryan Christoffersen / A’s Farm Beloit Correspondent
The Beloit Snappers managed just one win in their recent four-game series against the Kane County Cougars, Arizona’s Midwest League affiliate, at Pohlman Field in Beloit.
The Cougars entered the series with a total of just 33 home runs, the least of any team in the league. For comparison, the Lake County Captains lead the league with 95 home runs. Outfielder Marcus Wilson has hit a team-leading 8 home runs while slashing .293/.393/.481 for the Cougars.
Game #1: Kane County 5 – Beloit 1
*The Snappers snapped a 29-inning scoring drought when they scored an unearned run in the 9th inning thanks to a fielding error by Kane County shortstop Raymel Flores.
*RHP Jesus Zambrano had his second straight scoreless outing in long relief. After pitching 4 scoreless innings in his last outing, he threw 3 scoreless frames in Friday’s appearance.
*Beloit batters struck out 9 times while managing just 3 singles over 7 innings against Kane County starting pitcher Sam McWilliams. While not known for putting up big strikeout numbers, McWilliams is nonetheless a strike-throwing machine. He attacked Snappers hitters all day, with 70 of his 94 pitches going for strikes.
Game #2: Kane County 2 – Beloit 1
*The A’s 29th-round pick in 2016, RHP Matt Milburn, had a solid pitching line of 5 IP/4 H/2 ER/0 BB/6 K. Milburn has a rather pedestrian 4.36 ERA on the season, but his peripheral numbers suggest he has been much better than that. He sports a FIP of 2.74 and an xFIP of 3.09.
*RHP Heath Bowers, who possesses a wicked slider with a lot of movement, threw 3 scoreless innings of 1-hit ball in relief while striking out 5. The Midwest League All-Star has an impressive 2.17 ERA, but he still needs to cut down on the free passes as he’s walked 27 batters in 49 ⅔ innings of work.
*21-year-old shortstop Edwin Diaz had a big game for Beloit, going 3 for 5 with a triple and an RBI.
*2015’s 33rd-round draft pick for the A’s, outfielder Mike Martin, reached base 3 times, on a pair of hits and a walk.
Game #3: Kane County 10 – Beloit 9
*It was a wild Sunday afternoon, with the Snappers committing 5 errors. The game saw Beloit score the first two runs of the match. Kane County then scored 10 unanswered runs, followed by Beloit scoring 7 unanswered runs.
*RHP Xavier Altamirano has joined the Snappers’ starting rotation after spending the first half of the season as a long reliever. The 22-year-old had his worst outing of the season on Sunday, and it really all fell apart in the 5th and 6th innings, when he surrendered a total of 7 earned runs.
*It appeared that right fielder JaVon Shelby may have been benched for a lack of hustle when he didn’t return to the field in the 7th inning after misplaying a ball in the 6th inning. The A’s 5th-round pick in 2016 looked to take his time to get to a drive down the right field line by Cougars outfielder Anfernee Greer and then chucked the ball towards third base, where it bounced away and allowed Grier to come all the way around to score on what looked like a Little League home run.
*Third baseman Edwin Diaz hit what looked like a line-drive RBI single to left field in the 6th inning. But the ball took a crazy bounce past Kane County left fielder Anfernee Grier and rolled all the way to the wall. Diaz raced around the bases and scored an inside-the-park home run. That’s one way to raise the slugging percentage!
*Oakland’s 32nd-round pick in 2016, catcher Collin Theroux, smashed a double to left-center field in the 8th inning that registered 105 MPH off the bat. Theroux can really hit the ball as hard as anyone in the Midwest League.
Game #4: Beloit 3 – Kane County 1
*LHP Zack Erwin was excellent, striking out 8 in 6 scoreless innings to earn the win. Great fastball location combined with a solid splitter seem to be the keys to his success. And Erwin appears to have taken a big step forward this season. After posting a 6.53 ERA in 80 innings for Stockton in 2016, he’s currently sporting a 2.28 ERA for the Snappers in 2017. So, the demotion to Beloit seems to have really helped Erwin right the ship.
*RHP John Gorman gave up his first earned run as a Snapper on Monday, but he has been impressive out of the bullpen. A 31st-round pick in 2015, Gorman has struck out 16 batters in 10 ⅔ innings between short-season Vermont and Beloit this season. His pitching arsenal includes a fastball that ranges between 88-90 MPH, a changeup and a slider.
*The A’s 21st-round pick in 2016, designated hitter Kyle Nowlin, reached base 3 times. He had an RBI single, an RBI double and a walk, and he also scored a run.
*Catcher Collin Theroux struck out 4 times, earning the “Golden Sombrero,” and he now has an unsightly 43.4 K% on the season. The good news for Theroux is that he threw out both runners who tried to steal on him.
A’s Prospect of the Series:
LHP Zack Erwin
(6 IP / 5 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 8 K)
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