Although Down on the Farm will normally come out each Friday, this edition was delayed due to weather, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
I am currently on vacation in Myrtle Beach, and while here attended a Pelicans game to look at some of the team’s prospects in the lower levels.
Thursday, I stayed at BB&T Coastal Field for two hours of rain, watched the tarp get taken off the field, and then had the umpires decide that the outfield was unplayable.
But Thursday’s bad weather led to an extended viewing of the Pelicans on Friday, July 31, 2009. With two seven-inning games scheduled starting at 6:05, more baseball was on the horizon than originally expected.
The First Game
The first of the two games against the Kinston Indians had Eric Cordier on the mound for the Pelicans.
Cordier has risen on the Braves prospect list after a strong first half of the season with Myrtle Beach. With an ERA under 3.40 at the start of the game, Cordier looks like a solid prospect although lack of control has led many to believe his future could be in the bullpen.
True to form, Cordier quickly walked two batters in the first (as well as scattering a double) although he escaped the inning unharmed.
The Pelicans started off with a bang, and scored two runs in the first inning. Cody Johnson was out of the lineup, and it was good to see the Pelicans offense producing without him.
Center fielder Cole Miles had three hits and two RBI in the game, although he is still only hitting .263 on the season. He has some speed, and despite his 5’8” size has potential to possibly be a fourth outfielder at the major league level.
On the day, Miles legged out two infield singles and showed tremendous hustle.
Second basemen Michael Fisher and right fielder Chris Shehan also had terrific games at the plate with two hits each. Fisher also had a stolen base and a walk. Both of Shehan’s hits were for extra bases (a double and home run).
Fisher was selected by the Braves in the sixth round of the 2007 draft, but struggled hitting in 2008 and is hitting only .240 thus far in 2009.
Shehan has hit well thus far in Myrtle Beach, but he has shown little power or speed. On the year, he is hitting .294 in Myrtle Beach but just .257 overall as he struggled in Rome earlier this year.
Although the Indians closed the gap to one run at one point, the Pelicans quickly got the lead back up to three and stayed in control for most of the game.
Eric Cordier pitched five solid innings, striking out three to go along with three walks and five hits. He allowed two earned runs. With a pitch count of only 84, Cordier likely would have gone further into the game had it not been for a rain delay in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Cordier’s fastball was typically in the 89-93 range, although he hit as high as 94 in both the fourth and fifth innings.
Lee Hyde pitched 1.2 scoreless innings but loaded the bases in the final inning, making the game interesting.
Relief pitching prospect Cory Gearrin got the final out of the game, securing the win for the Pelicans in game one.
Gearrin pitched reasonably well at Mississippi earlier this year, and has dominated at the beach with a 1.04 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 17.1 innings. More impressively, he has walked just one batter over that stretch, and he has 11 saves over that time.
A former fourth round draft pick in 2007, Gearrin could make an impact in Atlanta late in the season in 2010 if he continues to excel at this rate.
The Second Game
Brandon Beachy made his third professional start in the second game and continued to pitch well in Myrtle Beach. He struck out two in the first inning and pitched four shutout innings, allowing only a hit and two walks while striking five.
With 30 strikeouts and only eight walks in Myrtle Beach, Beachy has been impressive and could eventually wind up in a major league bullpen. Throughout the game he was hitting 91-93 and has had great strikeout to walk ratios throughout his professional career.
As an undrafted free agent, it would be a surprise for the Braves if down the road Beachy could help the team.
There wasn’t much offense in the game, as the Indians totaled just three hits. The Pelicans Chris Shehan was the only player in the game with multiple hits. He followed up his 2-for-3 performance with a 3-for-3 game in which he hit two doubles and was intentionally walked.
He also showed great hustle as one of his doubles likely should have been a single.
However, neither team was able to score for the first eight innings (the game was scheduled for seven, so even though nine innings is a standard game, the last two were played as extras).
Benino Pruneda and Tommy Palica both pitched 2+ shutout innings for the Pelicans.
Despite being selected in only the 31st round, Pruneda has continuously pitched well in his seasons with the Braves. Striking out more than a batter per inning at every minor league stop, Pruneda could be on his way up the Braves list as he has major league speed with a fastball that tops out at 95.
Palica has also pitched well at the beach, as he has a 5-1 record and 2.77 ERA in Myrtle Beach. He has already pitched in AA and has had an ERA under 4 at every stop in his professional career.
Michael Fisher had another good game for the Pelicans. He was only 1-for-4 but had two of the day’s top defensive plays with impressive backhand grabs that saved hits and possibly runs.
Shortstop Robert Marcial was the key player of the game. In the fifth inning he failed to lay down a sacrifice bunt, which could have potentially led to a run (the next batter hit a would-be sacrifice fly).
After grounding into a double play in the bottom of the seventh, the Indians intentionally walked Shehan to get to Marcial with two out in the bottom of the ninth.
At about 12:30 in the morning, over seven hours after I arrived at the park, Marcial shocked everyone by knocking a three-run home run that won the game for the Pelicans.
The win went to Tommy Palica and the Pelicans swept the double header.
Other Game Notes
The win improved the Pelicans to 17-18 on the season, just two games out of first place.
Cody Johnson didn’t play either game of the double header, and again is not in the lineup today (Aug. 1).