A late game rally from the offense in Rocket City and a pair of excellent debuts by 2021 draftees highlight an eventful Thursday evening down in the Angels’ minor league system:
Player of the Day
Thursday marked the first start in the professional career of 5th round pick Brett Kerry, and he didn’t fail to make a strong first impression, striking out five of the eight Rancho Cucamonga Quakes batters he faced while allowing just a pair of base hits in two innings for the Inland Empire 66ers.
Kerry had success with multiple different pitches in his arsenal in this one, recording three of his strikeouts with his slider and two with his fastball. He is coming off a season in which he struck out a whopping 84 batters in 54.1 innings for the University of South Carolina, and if his pro debut is anything to go off of, he looks to be picking up right where he left off.
Triple-A Salt Lake
In what was the most uneventful game of the night down on the farm, the Bees dropped their evening contest against the Sacramento River Cats after failing to get much going on the offensive end. The team’s sole runs on the night were driven in by new acquisition Chad Wallach, who recorded RBI singles in both the 5th and 7th innings.
On the pitching side, the bullpen impressed after a so-so outing from starter Brian Johnson, with Jake Petricka, Andrew Wantz and Kyle Tyler combining 3.2 innings of four-hit, one-run (which was unearned) ball to keep the team in it until the very end.
Double-A Rocket City
The Trash Pandas’ recent tear with the bats continued again last night, with the group from Rocket City scoring seven more runs to defeat the Tennessee Smokies. Much of their scoring came near the end of the game, though, as they actually trailed 2-1 heading into the 7th inning until David MacKinnon tied the game with an RBI double.
David MacKinnon with an RBI double for AA Rocket City pic.twitter.com/SPB7oIBX19— Angels MiLB (@AngelsMiLB) August 13, 2021
The floodgates opened up the next inning, with Michael Cruz, Luis Aviles Jr. and Brendon Davis all driving in runs that put the Trash Pandas up for good.
The pitching staff held up their end of the bargain, with Ryan Smith pitching six innings of two-run ball in what was his best game since being called up to AA and Connor Higgins following him by striking out five and nearly recording a three-inning save.
Second-rounder Ky Bush was the other recent draftee to make his first pro appearance tonight, and like Kerry, he also impressed, pitching a scoreless outing while recording all four of his outs via the strikeout in a win for the Dust Devils. He was followed by a nice outing from Jack Dashwood, who struck out seven and gave up just one run in his 5.2 innings.
The Dust Devil bats came alive for the first time in a while as well, with eight of the nine starters recording at least one hit. Some notable performers on that end were Livan Soto and Kyle Kasser, who both drove in three runs apiece, and Kenyon Yovan, who hit his second home run and sixth extra-base hit in just his 11th game in Tri-City.
Low-A Inland Empire
Kerry’s outing was the big story for the 66ers, but the Inland Empire lineup also came to play, as every single starter recorded at least one hit for them in their 13-run effort. This group was led by Braxton Martinez, who doubled twice and drove in three runs to improve his OPS on the season to a whopping 1.043 on the year, and Cade Cabbiness, who posted two RBI and tripled for his seventh extra-base hit in just his 12th game for Inland Empire since singing as an undrafted free agent.
The 66ers also got a solid contribution from their bullpen, with John Swanda and Brandon Dufault combining for nine strikeouts and three runs allowed over seven innings of work in relief of Kerry.
Triple-A: Aaron Slegers returned to the Bees from the big league club after Steve Cishek returned from the bereavement list. Matt Thaiss was also assigned to the MLB Taxi Squad, likely in the event that Max Stassi’s forearm injury needs a few more days to heal.
4:00 PM PST: Rocket City Trash Pandas (Davis Daniel) @ Tennessee Smokies (TBD)
5:35 PM PST: Salt Lake Bees (TBD) vs Sacramento River Cats (Matt Shoemaker)
7:05 PM PST: Tri-City Dust Devils (Robinson Pina) vs Spokane Indians (Breiling Eusibio)
7:05 PM PST: Inland Empire 66ers (Jose Salvador) vs Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (TBD)