Three Jacksonville pitchers limited Pensacola to six hits and shut out the Blue Wahoos 4-0 yesterday. The Suns salvaged a split of the four games series after losing the first two. It was a forgettable game for the Wahoo offense; a Didi Gregorius double and a wild pitch were the only two occasions they had a runner advance further than first base. Starter J.C. Sulbaran allowed three runs on seven hits before leaving in the fifth inning. He walked three and struck out seven before losing his third game of the season.
Coming into this season Sulbaran was a consensus top-15 prospect in the Cincinnati system. He began his professional career at age 19 after the Reds selected him in the 30th round of the 2008 draft. The reason he was available with such a late pick was an expectation that the product of American Heritage H.S. in Plantation, FL would opt to resume his pitching for the Florida Gators instead of signing a contract. The Reds thought highly enough of him to offer a $500,000 signing bonus which was a record for a 30th rounder. They also skipped the rookie leagues and started him out at low-A Dayton in 2009 when he represented them in the Futures Game. He’s a native of Curacao and played for the Dutch National team in the 09 World Baseball Classic where he got no decision while limiting the Cuban team to one run in six innings.
As a teenager Sulbaran experienced growing pains during his two seasons pitching for the Dragons. He failed to pitch 100 innings both years and had a low-5 overall ERA. He did maintain a strikeout rate above one per inning. Improving consistency to his delivery for better control was a goal for his continued development at high-A Bakersfield last season. He posted a 4.60 ERA in the hitter-friendly California league but what really got attention was his strikeout rate (10.6/9IP) while reducing his walk rate from 5.6/9IP to 3.3. Improvement over the second half of the season caused his reappearance back on lists of top Reds prospects.
The 6’2”/200# right-hander mixes a low-90’s fastball with a curve and changeup. At first glance it appears the AA level is proved to be very challenging thus far for the 22 year-old. He’s completed six innings only once in five starts. However, it’s still early in the season and one bad game still inflates his overall ERA which is over five. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of the other four appearances. Meanwhile he’s thrown over 90 pitches a couple of times before completing quality starts. Overall he does have a good K/BB of 31/13 over 26 IP. His three-pitch mix projects him as a possible back-end candidate for someone’s rotation someday. For right now we can expect better things to come as he develops mechanics in the Southern League.
Other News from the Farm:
After opening up a series at Norfolk with two wins, Louisville dropped the third game last night 7-4. Neftali Soto had three doubles in four trips to the plate. Leadoff hitter Daryl Jones hit his first homer of the season. Chad Reineke had a quality start and left the game with the Bats leading but did not figure into the decision. The minor league veteran allowed 2 runs (none earned) on four hits over six innings. Carlos Fisher allowed three runs in the seventh and was charged with his first loss. The Tide will try to salvage a split in the series finale tonight.
After winning eleven straight Bakersfield dropped their second in a row at Modesto 7-4. Billy Hamilton’s bat stayed hot as he went 3-4 and raised his average to .398. Chad Rogers navigated around seven hits to limit the Nuts to two runs before being lifted in the sixth. He help himself by striking out six in five innings. Reliever John Holdzkom failed to record an out in the sixth and was charged with his first loss.
Billy Hamilton Theft Watch:
On Saturday Hamilton only reached base once on a walk. Again he made the most of it with another double-steal inning. He came back to single three times on Sunday. He stole second before scoring on a single in the first. His next time on Modesto caught him attempting to steal second. He reached a final time on a bunt single that loaded the bases.
Hamilton now has 29 stolen bases in 23 games while being caught 6 times.
Dayton allowed the winning run to cross the plate in the bottom of the ninth when they lost 3-4 at Beloit. Nick O’Shea and Juan Silva each had a couple of hits for the Dragons. Tanner Robles allowed only two runs in five innings before he was ejected by the home plate umpire in the sixth. Reliever Kyle McMyne failed to record an out in the ninth and was charged with his first loss.