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EL notes: Squirrels' Stoffel a stalwart
Righty leads club in appearances while sharing closer duties
07/19/2011 10:00 AM ET
Jason Stoffel has a 3.60 ERA and 13 saves in 31 games for Richmond.
Jason Stoffel has a 3.60 ERA and 13 saves in 31 games for Richmond. (Real Life Studios)
Richmond reliever Jason Stoffel was a History major at the University of Arizona and enjoys reading books about military history. A recent read was SEAL Team 6, about the special forces that killed Osama bin Laden.

With the numbers he posted in the first half, going 1-2 with a 3.60 ERA and 13 saves in a team-high 31 appearances, Stoffel seemed to be a candidate for the Eastern League All-Star Game in New Hampshire. He wasn't chosen, however, and instead made the two-hour drive north to visit the National Mall, U.S. Capitol and some museums in Washington, D.C., to feed his history fix.

"Obviously, the hitters are improved at this level," said Stoffel, who recorded 25 saves last year at Class A Advanced San Jose. "They hammer your mistakes at every level or they would not be here, but they have a better approach in the Eastern League."

Stoffel was taken in the fourth round by the Giants in 2009 out of Arizona, where he was part of a bullpen that included Ryan Perry and Daniel Schlereth, both of whom have played in the Majors and are currently with Toledo in the Detroit system.

"I grew up a Dodgers fan, so no one was happy when I drafted by the Giants," Stoffel, who is from Agoura, Calif., said with a smile. "But they are a great organization. Being in Spring Training for the first time this year, it was great being around those guys. It is definitely cool" to be part of the organization that won the World Series.

He began this season as the No. 22 prospect in the San Francisco farm system, according to Baseball America. Stoffel is a solid 6-foot-2, 225-pound right-hander who throws a fastball, slider and "has played around with a change-up," he said.

But as the second half begins, he now shares closing duties with Heath Hembree, who made his first appearance with Richmond on June 16. Hembree, out of the College of Charleston, had 21 saves at San Jose this season and has six saves in his first nine games with Richmond.

Ross Grimsley, the pitching coach for Richmond, said Stoffel and Hembree give the Flying Squirrels one of the best one-two closing tandems in the league.

"He has an overpowering fastball at times," Grimsley said of Stoffel. "Sometimes he can be erratic. He will fall behind and throw a fastball down the middle, but everyone does that at times. He gets too quick in his delivery at times."

Hembree picked up his sixth EL save in a 4-2 win Friday at Bowie.

"He has an overpowering fastball in the high 90s. Now we have two good arms at the end of the game. We just have to get to save situations," Grimsley said.

Stoffel began his pro career in 2009 in the Arizona League and with Salem-Keizer in the Northwest League. Last season, he spent the entire season with San Jose and pitched well in postseason play as San Jose won the California League title. He has three saves since Hembree joined Richmond.

In brief

Family affair at Bowie: The Britton brothers would rather be together a few miles northwest at Camden Yards, but on Friday at Bowie they were both in the starting lineup for the Baysox. Pitcher Zach Britton, sent down from Baltimore earlier in the month, started against Richmond, while brother Buck was the designated hitter. Zach allowed one run in three innings and was tagged with the loss in the 4-2 final. Buck was hitless in three at-bats. "It's nice to see the guys. I played with a lot of these guys last year in Norfolk and here in Bowie, so it was good to get back out there," Zach said.

On a roll: Beau Mills of Akron had three hits Sunday to cap a 10-game stretch in which he hit .457 to raise his season average to .304. Even with the hitting of Mills, Akron fell to Harrisburg, 9-7. Mills, who also had three hits Saturday at Harrisburg, was a first-round pick of the Indians in 2007 out of Lewis & Clark College in Idaho. He was named Eastern League Player of the Week for July 11-17.

Two from The Show: Shane Victorino and reliever Brad Lidge of the Philadelphia Phillies each appeared in Reading's game Sunday on Major League rehab assignments. Victorino led off, played center field and had one hit and one run scored in three at-bats, while Lidge allowed two hits and fanned two in one scoreless inning for his second hold with Reading in a 4-3 win at Trenton. Lidge had faced Trenton four times from July 11 through Sunday.

David Driver is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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