Pensacola won a ¬1-0 pitcher’s duel Sunday at Mobile. Billy Hamilton led the Wahoo attack with three hits and scored the only run of the game. Ryan LaMarre and Brodie Greene added two hits each. On the mound five Penscola pitchers combined for a two-hitter. Wirfin Obispo got his first start with the fish and allowed only one hit in five innings while striking out six. Brian Pearl pitched a scoreless seventh and got the win. Curtis Parch threw the final two innings for the save.
Obispo has one of the more interesting histories of all the prospects in the Cincinnati system, or any other one for that matter. A native of the Dominican Republic, he was originally signed by the Red Sox as an eighteen year-old shortstop in 2002. He didn’t last very long before he was let go. Cincinnati picked him up in 2004 and converted him to a pitcher. He debuted on the mound in the Dominican Summer League in 2004 and had a 3.38 ERA while striking out 52 in 40 innings. That performance earned him recognition for being his club’s pitcher of the year. He came back the next year and lowered his ERA to 2.31 with 59 K’s in 50+ innings.
After that things really started taking Obispo off the beaten path. He had trouble when caught in a marriage scam and was denied a U.S. work visa. This meant that despite his dominance in the DSL he returned for a third season in 2006 to lower his ERA again to 2.03 and strike out 93 in 79+ innings. Next he became a free agent and crossed the ocean to play in Japan. He entered the minor leagues there and threw only one inning in 2007 after a late season call-up. Shoulder problems robbed him of any Japan League action in 2008. He came back in 2009 to go 6-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 14 games and won a game in the Japan Series.
In 2010 he struggled for the first time on the mound and his ERA ballooned up over five. His strikeout frequency fell to less than half his innings pitched and his walk frequency doubled his total the previous year. In 2011 when he changed teams to the Nippon Ham and there were rumors of friction with then-teammate Yu Darvish. It’s normally not a good career move for the new guy to be at odds with the star and Obispo only pitched only one inning in the Japanese League that season.
The Reds decided to give him another try before this season and started him out at Louisville. He pitched as both a starter and reliever and struggled with a six ERA in 20 innings. That got him demoted to Pensacola where he’s treating Southern League hitters like he did earlier in the Dominican Republic. He now has a 2.48 ERA with the Wahoos with 31 K’s and 9 BB in 32+ innings.
Obispo stands 6’1”/160# and throws right-handed. His fastball has been clocked at 98 mph. Now 27, he is one of the oldest players on the Pensacola roster. He suffered from a poor decision when younger and wasn’t allowed the opportunity to pitch stateside because of his participation in a scam for a reported $5,000. It’s tough enough competing against other players but he also had an obstacle with the INS preventing advancement. He’s finally throwing his fastball on American soil and it figures the Reds would like to give him another shot at getting batters out at the next level.
Other News from the Farm:
Louisville blew a ninth-inning lead against visiting Pawtucket and allowed six in the twelfth inning to lose 9-3. Denis Phipps had three hits and a home run to raise his average over .200. Chris Valaika had three hits and scored the first run of the game on a solo homer. Willie Harris had three hits and Cody Puckett added two more. Tim Gustafson almost made a quality start by giving up one run in 5+ innings pitched. Kanekoa Texeira allowed the game winner for his second loss.
Billy Hamilton Theft Watch:
It was a rare game when Hamilton had three hits and failed to steal a base. He led off the game with a single and was caught stealing. He doubled in the fifth and was left on second when the next batter ended the inning. He singled in the eighth and scored on a double by the next hitter. He’s stolen 113 bases in 137 attempts in 93 games. He has seven steals in eleven games since his promotion to AA.
Bakersfield took a four-run lead after three innings and cruised to a 10-3 win at Visalia. Travis Mattair had three hits on the night and got the scoring started with a two-run homer in the first. Chris Berset had two hits including a three run homer. Theo Bowe added three more hits. The Blaze also got home runs from Dominic D’Anna and Steve Selsky. Tanner Robles got the start and the win by allowing two runs in 5+ innings.
Dayton was in a 4-0 hole after one and lost 6-2 against visiting Kane County. Kyle Waldrop and Junior Arias had two hits each for the Dragons. Dan Jenson was lifted in the fifth inning and charged with five runs for the loss.
Billings lost a lead after allowing six in the sixth inning at Orem and then came back to put up eight more runs to win 13-8. Seth Mejias-Brean went 5-5 with a walk and three RBI to raise his average to .420. Jeff Gelalich had four hits and a home run. Taylor Wrenn also had four hits. Gabriel Rosa and Fay Sosa added two hits each. Ismael Guillon got the start and allowed one run in 3+ innings. Jesus Adames blew a save and hung around to get the win. Alejandro Chacin threw two scoreless for his first save.
2012 first-round selection Nicholas Travieso made his professional debut in a start for the AZL Reds. He retired the side in order in the first and turned the game over to the pen. The Reds fell behind by three and came back to score four in the sixth before winning 6-4 at the AZL Cubs. Elliott Hargreaves led the offense with three hits. Brent Peterson had two hits and started the sixth inning rally by leading off with an inside-the-park home run. Avain Rachel, Jhimmy Lopez, and Argenis Aldazoro also had two hits each. Richard McCaffrey allowed an unearned run in three innings of relief for his first win.
The DSL Reds were idle and will resume their season Monday by hosting the DSL White Sox.