Sheets okay in return to baseball: Just a few days after signing, Ben Sheets reported to AA Mississippi to make his first start. After allowing a pair of runs in each of the first two innings, he settled in to throw five decent innings. Although he allowed four runs in five innings, he struck out six and only yielded five hits and a walk. 62% of his pitches were strikes which is just okay, but it’s to be expected for someone who hasn’t pitched competitively in a very long time. Unfortunately for the Braves, they ran into a Buzzsaw in Anthony Fernandez who continued carving up Southern League lineups. He allowed just two runs in seven innings in Jackson’s 4-2 win. Rasmussen doesn’t make it to Jacksonville: Rob Rasmussen was set to make his AA debut with Jacksonville Wednesday, but his trip was rerouted to Texas. After a deal with the Dodgers fell through, Houston traded Carlos Lee to Miami for Rasmussen and third baseman Matt Dominguez. Chris Johnson is an okay hitter, but Dominguez should finally get an extended stint in the bigs to see if he can hit enough to play every day. Rasmussen is a small lefty whose future is probably in the bullpen. In college, he was the Sunday starter behind Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer.
Heathcott remains hot since return: After missing the first three months of the season recovering from shoulder surgery, Slade Heathcott of the Yankees has been very good in his return so far. He’s dealt with injuries and other adversity in his young career, and it’s been a long process to get him to high-A. In 11 games since his rehab ended in the GCL, Heathcott has a .938 OPS with the Tampa Yankees. It’s obviously still very early, but his strikeout rate is down and walk rate is up in the early going. Seven of his 11 hits are for extra bases, and he’s 4/4 in steal attempts so far. Lamb continues turnaround: Former Clemson outfielder and Will Lamb is a bit of a project in the Texas organization, and he’s proved that with his significant ups and downs this year. With a pro body and the stuff to match, Lamb seems to be harnessing that stuff after a rough start to the season. He posted an ERA of 6.03 over the first two months, and he was moved to the Hickory bullpen before returning to the rotation at the end of June. Since being reintroduced to the starting role, Lamb has a 2.25 ERA and .94 WHIP in 16 innings with 16 strikeouts. It’s still a limited run of success, but he is showing positive signs that he can stick as a starter.
State College offense explodes: State College’s offense has stumbled out of the blocks in the 2012 season, but they’re still just 2.5 games behind division leading Auburn. After not hitting a home run in their first 15 games, Samuel Gonzalez finally got them on the board Tuesday in their 6-2 loss against Batavia. Wednesday night, the Spikes rolled over the league best Valley Cats 7-2 with the aid of three more home runs. First rounder Barrett Barnes got the dinger barrage started in the 4th with an inside the parker, and D.J. Crumlich and Walker Gourley followed with two more in the late innings to provide insurance. They’re now tied for last in the league in home runs with three other teams. Maddox homers three times: The Pioneer League is great for hitting, and no one knows that better than Billings’ Robert Maddox, a powerful first baseman spending his third year in the league. Maddox was second in the league in home runs last year with 16, behind Jonathan Griffin who jumped all the way to high-A for 2012. With his three homer night in Billings’ 8-7 loss to Helena, he now has five in 13 games which has him second in the league again. Although the 23 year old does struggle with pitch recognition, he should eventually get a shot in full season ball to see if he can make it.