Around the minor leagues

Originally Published: July 20, 2005
Baseball America

Compiled by Kevin Goldstein, Chris Kline and Matt Meyers
Mets righthander Philip Humber made his first Double-A start nine days ago, but it will be at least a year before he takes the mound again.

Humber was shelved for the season after having Tommy John surgery yesterday in Birmingham, Ala. Mets general manager Omar Minaya made the announcement before the club's series opener against the Padres last night.

Minaya said Humber, the third overall pick in 2004 out of Rice, showed no signs of elbow problems when the Mets drafted him. But roving pitching coordinator Rick Waits was quoted Tuesday as saying Humber was pitching with bone spurs in the elbow for much of the season at high Class A St. Lucie.

"A lot of people pitch with bone spurs, bone chips, and wait until the winter to have something done because they're back on a mound pitching competitively in three months," Waits told the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin. "If it starts to bother you, you quiet your arm down for a while, then crank it back up. I've known guys who pitched for years and it never affected them.

"We knew about it, but to our knowledge, it wasn't bothering him at all. It's frustrating when a guy like Humber goes down because you start looking at was there stiffness or other red flags we didn't see. But it hadn't bothered him."

There certainly were signs -- at least in Humber's Double-A debut on July 11 -- that something was wrong, however.

Normally pitching in the 90-94 mph range with his fastball, topping out at 97 when he was with Rice, Humber's velocity in his final start dropped to 86-87. He left the game after just four innings in which he had given up three runs on four hits, walking two. He complained of elbow soreness after being pulled, and met with team doctors two days later.

"Guys come back from this, there's good history," Minaya said. "But (Humber) will be out for at least a year."

Humber, who signed for a club-record $3 million bonus and $4.2 million in guaranteed money, went 2-6, 4.99 with 65 strikeouts in 70 innings at St. Lucie this year before being promoted to Double-A.

Dish Pieces
• When the Dodgers moved righthander Jonathan Broxton to the bullpen this season, there was a spike in his velocity -- but this is ridiculous. Broxton, whose fastball sat in the 92-93 mph range as a starter, reportedly hit 98 several times and topped out at 101 mph Tuesday night in Double-A Jacksonville's 2-1 win against Birmingham. Broxton, a second-round pick in 2002 out of Burke County High in Waynesboro, Ga., is 0-1, 3.71 with three saves since moving to the pen. Overall, he' s 4-3, 3.44 with 95 strikeouts in 89 innings.

• Triple-A Buffalo third baseman Jake Gautreau has been a revelation this season for the Tribe. Dealt to the Padres for third baseman Corey Smith in the offseason, Gautreau hit his 17th homer last night in an 11-6 win against Columbus. "He's been solid and one of the steadiest players we've had this season," Bisons manager Marty Brown said. "He's played some second, but really has anchored the infield at third for us. He's short and quick to the ball and is making consistent hard contact, which is leading to a lot of those home runs." On the season, Gautreau is hitting .278/.342/.525 in 316 at-bats.

• Triple-A Rochester lefthander Francisco Liriano keeps rolling along. Tuesday, Liriano tossed seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits and struck out seven in a 3-2 win against Charlotte. And he's earning the praise among International League managers even though he's only been in the league since mid-June. "He's got so much life to the fastball," Durham manager Bill Evers said. "And there's a lot of spike to that slider too. He's got three major-league quality pitches and pounds the zone. What's not to like?" Since being promoted from Double-A New Britain, Liriano is 3-1, 2.31 with 45 strikeouts in 39 innings.

• Pirates first baseman Brad Eldred is again a Daily Dish staple -- as he hit two more homers last night in a 13-0 Triple-A Indianapolis win against Syracuse. Eldred has eight homers in his last nine games and is now hitting .271/.325/.571 in 188 Triple-A at-bats.

• Triple-A Nashville outfielder Corey Hart belted a 12th-inning walk-off homer off Memphis righthander Bill Pulsipher as the Sounds defeated the Redbirds, 5-4 Tuesday. Hart, an 11th-round pick in 2000, has been mashing all season for Nashville, hitting .302/.369/.494 in 344 at-bats. He's also been efficient on the basepaths, especially for a 6-foot-6, 200-pound right fielder. This season, Hart has 23 steals in 29 attempts.

• Phillies lefthander Cole Hamels was effectively wild in picking up his second Double-A win in Reading's 5-2 victory against Portland Tuesday. Hamels, the No. 3 prospect in the Phillies' organization, allowed two runs on two hits, struck out five and walked five over six innings. Since being promoted from high Class A Clearwater, Hamels is 2-0, 2.37 with a 19-12 strikeout-walk ratio in 19 innings.

• Rangers righthander Thomas Diamond delivered his best Double-A start on Tuesday night, allowing one run on four hits over seven innings and striking out eight in Frisco's 2-1 win over San Antonio in the Texas League. The 2004 first-round pick is 2-2, 4.68 in five starts for the RoughRiders with 25 strikeouts in 25 innings.

• Another recent graduate to the Texas League is Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick, and the minor-league batting leader is showing no signs of slowing down against better competition. Kendrick went 4-for-5 with his first Double-A home run in Arkansas 10-7 win over Tulsa on Monday, raising his season average to .391. Kendrick is 6-for-10 in a pair of games for the Travelers after going 12-for-22 in his final five games at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga.

• After missing more than two weeks with a strained quad muscle, Rockies 2005 first-round pick Troy Tulowitzki returned to the high Class A Modesto lineup in a big way Tuesday night. The seventh overall pick out of Long Beach State went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles, a home run and four RBIs in the Nuts' 12-9 win over Stockton, raising his season averages to .270/.357/.514 in 37 at-bats.

• Righthander Homer Bailey has been struggling with his control at low Class A Dayton. Despite a fastball that sat in the mid-90s, the Reds' 2004 first-round pick lasted just two innings Tuesday, surrendering six hits and six runs in two innings; the Dragons rallied to beat Quad Cities 11-7. Bailey is now 2-4, 4.86 in 18 starts, and just 0-1, 8.80 in four July starts with more walks (11) than strikeouts (10) in 15 1/3 innings.

• Orioles righthander Radhames Liz had a night to remember in the New York-Penn League, striking out 15 in just six shutout innings of work, allowing just two hits as the Iron Birds topped Vermont 4-2. The 22-year-old leads the circuit in strikeouts with 45 in 31 innings and is second in ERA (1.16) after going 1-1, 6.00 in six games at low Class A Delmarva.

• Double-A Harrisburg righthander Armando Galarraga was brilliant in a 7-0 win against Trenton. The 23-year-old Venezuelan threw a nine-inning complete game shutout, striking out seven and walking one in his first Double-A win. Galarraga retired the first nine batters and didn't allow a hit until Yobal Duenas doubled to lead off the sixth. Since being called up from high Class A Potomac, Galarraga is 1-0, 1.29 in 28 innings for the Senators.

• Double-A West Tenn righthander Jae-kuk Ryu had his best outing of the season Tuesday in a 3-1 win against Tennessee. The 22-year-old Korean allowed a run on four hits and struck out six over eight innings. On the season, Ryu is now 8-4, 3.34 in 113 innings for the Diamond Jaxx.

• Pirates lefthander Kyle Bloom picked up his first win since being promoted to high Class A Lynchburg. Bloom, a fifth-round pick in 2004 out of Illinois State, allowed two runs on seven hits and struck out three over five innings. Bloom went 4-1, 1.87 in 63 innings at low Class A Hickory this season. For the Hillcats, Bloom is now 1-1, 5.93 with nine strikeouts in 13 innings.

• Greg Golson had a great night Tuesday in an 8-4 win over Lexington. Golson went a perfect 4-for-4 with a double, three runs scored, an outfield assist, and two stolen bases. "Earlier in the season, Greg wasn't getting off the base enough," Phillies outfield and baserunning coordinator Jerry Martin said. "He didn't give himself an opportunity to steal. Tonight he was a lot better." The 19-year-old is now hitting .274/.353/.381 in 215 at-bats and is 17-for-19 in stolen base attempts with low Class A Lakewood.

• Orioles righthander Luis Ramirez has been pitching well at low Class A Delmarva this year and just had his streak of 24 straight scoreless innings snapped last night. Ramirez, a 23-year-old Venezuelan, allowed one run on five hits while striking out six in 6 2/3 innings of work in Delmarva's 4-1 win against Lake County. His scoreless streak, which spanned three starts dating back to July 2, was snapped by a Fernando Pacheco RBI single in the second inning. Ramirez won his fifth consecutive start to improve to 7-4 on the season, and he is second in the South Atlantic League in strikeouts (106) and seventh in ERA (2.51) in 111 innings.

• White Sox first baseman Josh Hansen hit his 19th home run of the year at low Class A Kannapolis, a tie-breaking solo shot in the top of the ninth inning to give the Intimidators a 6-5 win against Columbus. Hansen, a 24th-round draft pick in 2004, hit five homers in 145 at-bats a year ago in the Rookie-level Pioneer League, but his 19 longballs this year are tied for third-most in the South Atlantic League. Hansen also ranks second in the Sally League with 70 RBIs, to go along with a .285 average.

• Red Sox outfielder Jeff Corsaletti, a sixth-round pick this year out of Florida, continues to tear up the Sally League. Corsaletti went 2-for-4 with a double and triple in Greenville's 6-5 loss to Hickory last night, boosting his season numbers to .413/.493/.603 in his first 63 professional at-bats. Corsaletti has hit safely in each of his first 15 pro games.
Contributing: Aaron Fitt, John Manuel, Matt Stucko.