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Southern League notebook05/18/2010 10:00 AM ET
By Guy Curtright / Special to MLB.com
Mike Minor's 1-3 record couldn't me more misleading. The Mississippi left-handers' 3.43 ERA also doesn't tell the true story.
"Take away about six pitches all year and he's been nearly perfect," Atlanta general manager Frank Wren said. "He could come very fast."
Minor, the seventh overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, leads the Minor Leagues with an eye-popping 65 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings and has been nearly unhittable lately.
The 22-year-old former Vanderbilt standout allowed just one single over six scoreless innings at Chattanooga in his lone victory and followed that up by surrendering only two hits in eight shutout innings against West Tenn, getting a no-decision.
Minor had 19 strikeouts and four walks in the two starts, throwing 112 pitches against West Tenn after 101 against Chattanooga.
Tom Glavine, a special assistant with Atlanta, saw Minor pitch against the Lookouts and left impressed.
"He was extremely dominant," said Glavine, who won 305 Major League games. "He can pitch and he has a good idea of what he's doing. He's definitely on his way."
Some likened Minor to Glavine when he was drafted, but the future Hall of Famer never had a 94-95 mph fastball like the Tennessee native does.
"I obviously didn't ever throw as hard as he does, but I think the comparison comes about because we're both left-handers and the style he goes about pitching," Glavine said. "He establishes his fastball as his foundation and then brings out his off-speed stuff to complement it.
"When he gets to the Majors, I don't think he'll be a real power guy, although he does have a good fastball. I think he's going to be the kind of guy who gets people out by locating and making good pitches."
Some people thought the Braves goofed by taking Minor with the seventh pick and giving him a team-record bonus of $2.42 million. Wren never understood where the critics were coming from, though.
"I couldn't believe how some people thought we overreached on him," Wren said. "He wasn't just a finesse college guy. He was a pitcher with a great arm, too."
Minor has a slider and curveball, but has mainly been using an effective changeup to complement his fastball, which has been sitting at 92-94 mph.
"His velocity has been good all year, but commanding the fastball is the key," Mississippi manager Phillip Wellman said. "He's really been doing that lately. If you can throw hard and command it, you've got something."
One bad pitch or inning had hurt Minor in many of his first six starts.
"I'm feeling real good right now," Minor said. "I've been able to avoid that bad inning, which I needed to do."
Wellman wants everyone to remember that Minor is still a work in progress, despite his recent brilliance.
"He only pitched a few innings at the end of last season," the manager said. "He's not a finished product yet. But he's learning fast."
Hensley wins duel: West Tenn's Steven Hensley matched Minor's eight scoreless innings and got the 1-0 victory when the Diamond Jaxx scored in the ninth inning. Hensley, 23, allowed three hits and struck out five while improving to 4-1 and lowering his ERA to 1.03. The right-hander was a fourth-round pick by Seattle in 2008.
Pitching duel II: Montgomery left-hander Alex Torres gave up three hits over seven scoreless innings, out-pitching Huntsville's Amaury Rivas in a 2-0 victory. Torres, 22, is 4-2 with a 2.75 ERA and has 38 strikeouts in 36 innings. Right-hander Rivas, 24, is 4-2 with a 2.23 ERA.
Mixed results: Josh Vitters got off to a good start at the plate after being promoted by the Chicago Cubs from Daytona of the Florida State League to Tennessee, batting .333 with three doubles in his first six games. The third baseman wasn't as good in the field, though, committing four errors. Vitters, 20, was the third overall pick in 2007.
Johnson connects: Mississippi outfielder Cody Johnson homered in three consecutive games, driving in eight runs during the power surge. A first-round pick of the Braves in 2007, he was third in the league with 10 homers and 28 RBIs. Johnson, 21, is also second with 50 strikeouts while batting .250.
Klinker clicking: Carolina's Matt Klinker (3-3) allowed three singles and a walk over seven innings in a 2-0 victory over Jacksonville. The 6-foot-5 right-hander is 2-0 with a 0.47 ERA in three May starts, striking out 17 and walking two in 19 innings. His 1.86 ERA is fifth among Southern League starters.