Sorry for the delay but the Fourth of July distracted me from updating you on Danny Hultzen and James Paxton, so you may already know the results but I'm going to recount them anyway as if it was yesterday morning. Happy Fourth of July!
Hultzen made his third triple-A start on Tuesday and went 5 innings against Fresno, allowing 6 hits, 2 R, 1 ER, 6 K and 3 BB. The control is still an issue for Hultzen, who now has twelve walks in twelve innings with the Rainiers, but he's racking up strikeouts (15 now) and has lowered his ERA to 5.25. He also picked up his first AAA win as Tacoma won the game by a score of 8-2. Outfielder Mike Wilson homered twice, Carlos Peguero homered once and was called up to Seattle, and Nick Franklin was 1-for-4 with a double and 2 RBI.
Tacoma didn't get yesterday off like most of us did, and they beat the Salt Lake Bees by a score of 6-5. Franklin was 2-for-3 with two more doubles and two walks. The phenom SS/2B is now hitting .222/.300/.444 in thirteen games for Tacoma with five doubles, two triples and a home run. However he has only walked five times while striking out 20 times in 54 at-bats. Plate discipline was an issue for Franklin at lower levels but he had showed immense improvement in that area with Jackson this year, but to be hitting at AAA at age 21, some of these issues are to be expected. He'll have plenty of time to work out the kinks with Tacoma before he gets a call to the bigs.
Meanwhile, down in Jackson, James Paxton made his first start in over a month and went 4 innings, allowing 2 hits, 0 R, 2 K and most importantly, zero walks in the Generals 6-1 loss to Montgomery. Paxton hadn't made a start with 0 walks since his debut this season and was one of the wildest pitchers in the minors before hitting the DL. I'm sure he used some of that time to work on how he could be more efficient and effective when he was healthy again and though he only struck out two batters, it's good to see him have a bit more control. He needed just 53 pitches to make it through four innings.
Anthony Fernandez made the start for Jackson last night after having pitched back-to-back complete games in his first two starts with the Generals and went 7 innings, allowing 7 hits, 2 ER, 1 BB and 4 Ks to move to 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA in AA. Fernandez was the victor over Ben Sheets, who was making his 2012 debut in the Atlanta organization. Stefen Romero, one of the hottest hitters in all of the minor leagues right now, was 2-for-4 with a double, a triple and three RBI. He's now hitting .409/.471/.750 in 12 games for Jackson after hitting .357/.391/.581 at High Desert. It will be interesting to see how quickly the 23-year-old moves up in the organization as he's showing the same kind of surprisingly great production that Kyle Seager had shown a year ago.
Taijuan Walker, who really struggled in June, will be making his 15th start of the season at 5 PST tonight against Mississippi. Walker was 0-3 with a 9.15 ERA in June, but still remains one of the top 10 prospects in baseball. Let us never speak of that June swoon again.