It almost had to happen that the Sugar Land (TX) Skeeters would pay a price for their great start in the Atlantic League. The Skeeters have lost three players to major league organizations--13 in their first two seasons--with the latest being infielder Chase Lambin, who joined Kansas City's top farm club in Omaha.
Sugar Land sold RHP Sean Gallagher to Colorado and OF Dustin Martin to Arizona earlier this season.
THE INDEPENDENT ROLE IN METS’ SWEEP OF YANKEES
Fourteen-year minor leaguer and major league rookie Scott Rice continues to draw attention, including yesterday’s Independent Baseball Insider column where we pointed out he leads the majors in appearances (now 31 in 51 New York Mets games) and last night when he picked up the last two outs (one on a strikeout) in the eighth inning of the shocking four-game Mets sweep of the New York Yankees.
His ability to get ground balls was praised by Mets Manager Terry Collins as well as by Manager Mark Mason of York, PA, who was Rice’s pitching coach when he was with the Revolution in 2011.
“None of that 95 (MPH) stuff,” Collins said to The Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger earlier this week. “He just makes pitches. He’s certainly been a huge, huge savior for us. The hits he’s given up that have perhaps given up runs have been groundball singles. So you got to like that option.”
In talking to me about why so many Independent Baseball hurlers make it as relievers in the major leagues, Mason said Rice “throws downhill so much.” He described it this way: If a ball is rolled across a flat dining room table it can be easy to hit, but now if that table is slanted down it becomes so much tougher to make contact. “And you don’t have to throw hard,” Mason added.
The Star-Ledger attributed a statistic to FanGraphs this week, saying 69.4 per cent of batted balls off Rice have been on the ground. This ranked as the second best percentage among major league relievers. No. 1? That would be Arizona’s Brad Ziegler, another former Independent leaguer (Schaumburg, IL., then in the Northern League).
The strong start of Independent grad Vidal Nuno (Washington, PA, Frontier League) went to waste for the Yankees in their 3-1 defeat Thursday. The rookie lefty only allowed three hits and two runs in six innings, but one blow was a two-run homer by Marlon Byrd.
CHRISTIAN’S STRONG MAY
The way the St. Louis Cardinals have been playing it may be difficult for a player like veteran Justin Christian to get back to the major leagues, but the outfielder is doing what he can at Triple-A Memphis. Christian, 33, had a 10-game hitting streak end Thursday, but he still is at a .303 clip for May.
Christian, who started his professional career in the Frontier League (River City) and eventually played in the Atlantic League (Southern Maryland), is hitting .275 for the season with three homers, 20 RBI and six steals in 52 games.
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