Today I capped off my season ending minor league tour with a trip to see the West Virginia Power take on the Hagerstown Suns in the final game of the season for West Virginia. The Power won 7-3, thanks to some strong offense, and solid pitching from starter Brett Lorin.
Lorin was the main reason I wanted to attend the game, as I wanted to see what he was capable of. Lorin was very efficient in this outing, pitching four shutout innings, allowing two hits, one walk, and striking out two. He threw 56 pitches, with 43 going for strikes, and 13 out of 15 first pitch strikes. Lorin ran in to some trouble in the second inning, needing 27 pitches to get out of the frame, but averaged about ten pitches an inning in the other three innings.
Justin Ennis followed Lorin, pitching three innings and allowing a run on five hits, with no walks and no strikeouts. Marc Baca pitched the final two innings, allowing two runs on two hits, with a walk and a strikeout. The damage to Baca came on a two run homer by Rick Hague in the 8th inning.
The offense was on fire today, with every West Virginia hitter recording at least one hit. Rogelios Noris got things started in the fourth inning, hitting a two run bomb to left field after a walk by Kyle Morgan, making the score 2-0 at the time. Jairo Marquez then hit a two out double, and two batters later scored on a single by David Rubinstein, making it 3-0.
Hagerstown got a run back in the sixth, but West Virginia added to their lead again in the bottom of the frame with two more runs. With Andy Vasquez on, Elevys Gonzalez bunted his way on to first base, moving Vasquez to second. Jarek Cunningham hit a two-out bouncer up the middle, bringing in Vasquez and moving Elevys Gonzalez to second. Evan Chambers then got one of his three hits on the day with a single to left, bringing in Gonzalez, and making the score 5-1.
Hagerstown struck again in the eighth with Hague’s two run homer, but West Virginia responded with a two run shot of their own. Jairo Marquez led off the bottom of the eighth with a triple, thanks to a liner down the right field line which kicked off the wall past the right fielder. Elevys Gonzalez followed that up with a two run homer, with the ball bouncing off the top of the right field wall before sailing over. Gonzalez ended up going 3-for-4 with the homer, his sixth of the year, two runs, and two RBIs.
Evan Chambers had a big night on offense, going 3-for-4 with a walk, an RBI, and two stolen bases, giving him 35 on the season. Chambers did make two mistakes, getting picked off and caught stealing after his third hit of the game, and misplaying a fly ball in the outfield. Cunningham and Rubinstein each went 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI.
On defense, the player I was most impressed with was Elevys Gonzalez. Gonzalez played shortstop today, and showed some skills at the position, with some good range and a decent arm. I don’t like to make an opinion on a player based on one game, but some of the skills I saw from Elevys today (speed, defense at short), combined with his season numbers, have me considering him for my top prospect list. He probably will be low on the list until he performs at a higher level, but that’s an improvement from not being on the list at all this year.
A lot of people like Jarek Cunningham, myself included, but I personally have Evan Chambers as the top player on this team. Chambers isn’t exactly hitting for average, but he’s doing everything else right, getting on base at a good rate, and stealing a lot of bases. Chambers had a .384 OBP, despite his .239 average, thanks to his 92 walks this season. He also stole 35 bases, although he was caught 17 times. Chambers showed some power, with 12 homers, but overall he had a .386 slugging percentage, which needs to improve going forward.
The minor league tour is over, but the coverage of the minor leagues is still going. I will be covering the AA playoffs as Altoona takes on Harrisburg, starting Wednesday. I’ll be in Altoona, covering the games from the press box, with coverage starting a few hours prior to each event. Rudy Owens is scheduled to take the mound on Wednesday for game one, with Jeff Locke pitching game two, and Justin Wilson scheduled for game three in Harrisburg.