Catchers go deep at three out of four levels; lone holdout Adam Hackenberg compromises by reaching base three times
The high hopes hung on Kade McClure to start the season have perhaps been tempered down to merely moderate hopes. The 26-year-old righty has been one of the most solid starters in the Sox minors for several seasons, but the beginning of this year has not gone well. Over five starts, he has been clobbered, and it’s not even walks that are killing him: In 20 ⅔ IP, he’s walked nine, but he’s allowed 33 hits (eight home runs). Today, his line was a microcosm of the season to this point: 4 ⅔ IP, 12 H, 6 R, 0 BB, 5 K (1 HR). JB Olson gave up one run in relief, and although Zach Muckenhirn and Andrew Perez did their jobs, the lead was already insurmountable.
The high hopes hung on Carlos Pérez to start the season are still hanging on at elevation, and the catcher went 3-for-4 with his fifth home run today. The 25-year-old is batting .320/.350/.587 over 18 games this year. Dwight Smith Jr. had a great game as well, scoring two runs on two hits, a double and a home run. Zach Remillard did not follow up his 3-for-3, six-RBI day with a hit of any kind, but he did draw the team’s lone walk, and that’s something.
‘Los is MORE!
Carlos Pérez with a two-run pic.twitter.com/jDcijdJ0Tw
— Charlotte Knights (@KnightsBaseball) April 29, 2022
It was more fun to be in wherever Rocket City is tonight, assuming one enjoys White Sox minor league teams both hitting a bunch and winning. Things started off hot with a Lenyn Sosa leadoff single, followed immediately by Tyler Neslony’s third dong of the year. They struck again in the third when Yoelqui Céspedes mashed his fourth tater of the year, a three-run bomb scoring both Sosa and Neslony.
— Birmingham Barons (@BhamBarons) April 30, 2022
Sosa and Neslony were back at it again in the fifth, Sosa singling and advancing to second on a passed ball, then scoring on Neslony’s double. Neslony himself would be knocked in by José Rodríguez, who does indeed seem to be putting his slow start behind him; after going 2-for-22 to open the season, in 11 games since, he’s slashing a respectable .279/.326/.488 with four doubles, a triple, and a home run.
The penultimate gasp of Barons scoring was in the seventh and neither Sosa nor Neslony were involved in any way, thank you. Céspedes started off the frame with his sixth double, then scored on a two-out single by Alex Destino. Xávier Fernández singled him to third, which ended up not mattering because Raudy Read blasted a three-run shot, putting the Barons up, 11-1. A final run came around in the ninth, Destino doubling with two outs and scoring on a Fernández single. Seven of the nine Barons got a hit, and each of those to get a hit had at least two.
In 18 games, Sosa is batting .343/.427/.457 with eight walks and 12 strikeouts, by far the best stretch at the plate he’s had when it comes to that walk/strikeout ratio. In 16 games, 28-year-old Tyler Neslony is batting .317/.406/.617 with seven doubles, a triple, and three home runs. Alex Destino hasn’t been playing every day, but in 12 games, the lefty left fielder is batting .325/.449/.525.
There was also a pitching performance in this game, and it belonged to Steven Moyers, an offseason minor league signing. This was his fifth start in the org and he hit his pitch count with two outs in the sixth, allowing just one run on six hits and one walk, striking out three. The rest of the pitching was not so good; Félix Paulino is trying to find himself in Birmingham for the fourth season and, while so far it’s not going terribly, he did allow a run today in 2 ⅓ innings. Yoán Aybar gave up a two-out, three-run home run in the ninth.
It was not one of Drew Dalquist’s better outings, but it was an exciting game, a come-from-behind victory with a critical ninth inning in which both teams traded a single run apiece. Dalquist allowed four runs over four innings, walking four; he did get an out in the fifth but half of his runs came in that inning as well. Wilber Perez and Fraser Ellard both had scoreless appearances, then Karan Patel — perhaps relegated back to the bullpen after a few poor starts — took the mound in the ninth with a 6-4 lead. The very first batter cut that lead to 6-5 with a ball into the seats, and Patel allowed a single before ceding to Ty Madrigal, who was able to cut it off there.
The Dash did actually strike first in the first; in a somewhat injury-marred 2021, Duke Ellis was the epitome of a light-hitting center fielder, but repeating the level has so far presented none of the same difficulties for him. He singled to start the game, advanced to second on a Bryan Ramos ground out, then scored on Adam Hackenberg’s single. Ellis ended up 2-for-5 and in 11 games this year is batting .375/.444/.500 with five stolen bases and one caught stealing (he is also playing more left field now that Oscar Colás roams in center, though Colás had today off).
Their next run didn’t come until the sixth, trailing 4-1, Tyler Osik singling Luis Mieses in from his sixth double. Then three big runs came in an inning with three extra-base hits; Jason Matthews was hit by a pitch to start the seventh, Moises Castillo doubled him in, then scored himself when Bryan Ramos hit his fourth home run of the season. The third extra-base hit was another double from Mieses, tying him with Colás and a handful of others for second in the league; he ended up stranded on third though.
The eventual game-saving ninth-inning run came on a few gifts. Mieses singled with two outs, advanced to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored when Harvin Mendoza singled on a normal pitch.
Another big league-esque heartbreaker for the Cannon Ballers, who got an impressive starting pitching performance but were let down by their relievers and offense. Jared Kelley left the bullpen with a shutout after four promising innings, but Moncada (Luis Moncada, obviously) allowed a game-tying run in the fifth and Tyson Messer was the victim of a solo shot, the eventual winning run.
Good outing for Jared Kelley to build on tonight. 4.0 IP on 54 pitches/34 strikes w/ 4 K’s. 2 H’s, 1 BB, 0 R’s. Both hits were on first pitch fastballs knee high. His breaking ball was sharp, and his FB was popping. #Ballers #WhiteSox pic.twitter.com/CHsUMm5z4P
— White Sox Daily (@dailywhitesox) April 30, 2022
Catcher Ivan González hit a home run, so that was cool. James Beard got a hit. Samil Polanco got a hit. Colson Montgomery has not played since April 24. That’s about it.