Major league baseball got a jolt of energy when two of the most highly touted prospects in the game were called up from the minors – Bryce Harper by the Washington Nationals, and Mike Trout by the Los Angeles Angels.
Now the Pacific Coast League is seeing a similar effect, with promotions of key prospects from the Double-A ranks.
The Tacoma Rainiers are seeing it firsthand in Omaha, Neb., this weekend. Wil Myers was promoted to Omaha after the Kansas City Royals’ top hitting prospect tore through the Texas League, batting .343 and hitting 13 home runs. Myers went 5-for-9 in his first two Triple-A games against Tacoma.
Kansas City also promoted highly regarded pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi after he reeled off a pair of 11-strikeout games in Double-A. He earned no decision but delivered a quality start (meaning at least six innings pitched, no more than three earned runs) in his Triple-A debut against Tacoma on Friday night.
The biggest name to make his Triple-A debut this week was Reno starting pitcher Trevor Bauer.
Arizona selected Bauer with the third pick of the 2011 draft, right after the Mariners drafted Danny Hultzen. Like Hultzen, Bauer opened the season at the Double-A level.
Bauer was nearly unhittable for Double-A Mobile, going 7-1 with a 1.68 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 48 innings.
His Triple-A debut Friday in Reno was sensational. Pitching in one of the PCL’s most hitter-friendly ballparks, Bauer held Oklahoma City to four hits and one run over eight innings, striking out 11.
“That was one of, if not the best, pitching performances I have seen in our ballpark,” said Ryan Radtke, who has been Reno’s broadcaster for every game since the franchise moved to Nevada for the 2009 season.
Radtke said that players from both teams stopped to watch Bauer’s unusual warm-up routine, which includes a foul pole-to-foul pole long-toss session that requires an extra relay man to throw the ball back to him.
The Rainiers make a trip to Reno in two weeks, and they may not face Bauer. If he pitches every fifth day, he will be the lone Reno starter Tacoma misses in a four-game series.
There’s no telling if Bauer will still be with Reno when the Aces make their first visit to Cheney Stadium on June 19.