For the third straight season, Melky Mesa has made his way up from Double-A New Hampshire and on to the Bisons' roster. With the promotion of Junior Lake to the Blue Jays, the 29-year-old has been given the opportunity to get in the lineup regulary and has been making the most it.
"I've been working on everything. I'm basically working more on each at-bat, how to control the situation and all that stuff to put a good at-bat together," said the Bisons' most recent ADPRO Sports Player of the Week.
"Every time I come up I feel like I can be here. Every time they give me an opportunity, I'm going to do what I'm supposed to do - play the game the right way."
Playing the right way has led to plenty of time on base for the Dominican. Mesa has gone 16-for-56 over the last 16 games, and been aboard the bags 24 times.
Equalling Mesa's offensive effort has been his contribution on defense, picking up three outfield assists in his short time with the Herd this year. The work put in on both sides of the ball hasn't been lost on his bench boss.
"He's been swinging the bat well and he's been playing outstanding center field. It's pretty tough to get a ball in out there," noted manager Gary Allenson.
Outfielder Dalton Pompey has been out more than three weeks with a concussion but has now resumed taking regular batting practice and begun to run the bases. There's a chance Mesa may be sent down when Pompey returns, but until then, he's going to keep appreciating his playing time now while making that decision tough on management.
"All I can say is thank you God that these things are happening. It's hard to control what happens, I'm just trying to enjoy the moment. If you enjoy everything you do, then everything is going to be all right."
Another Fisher Cat making the most of opportunity is Danny Barnes. The 26-year-old has posted a perfect 0.00 ERA in four appearances for Buffalo, striking out eight batters in 6.2 innings of relief.
"I think the biggest difference has been, instead of trying to throw the ball into a box, I'm just focusing on the catcher's mitt on one side of the plate, just up or down," says Barnes.
The hard-throwing righty notes that his focus has been better more recently than it was earlier in his career. Locked in with the Herd so far this year, Barnes is yet to walk a batter.
Toronto's 35th round pick in 2010 has also given up a mere three hits over the recent stint, and credits going to his changeup a bit more as a way to keep hitters off balance.
"That really goes back to my little league coach," said Barnes, who feels he may have lived off the heater a bit too much in his early years as a pro.
"He said no curveballs or any of that stuff, just fastballs and changeups here and there. It's pretty much all I threw then and it's helping me now for sure."
With a large volume of pitchers making their way back-and-forth from Toronto over the past week, Barnes has often been leaned on in high-leverage situations, including taking over with the bases loaded in a one-run game in the bottom of the eighth in Indianapolis. The 6-foot-1 reliever induced a 6-4-3 double play to end the frame, then hurled a scoreless ninth to earn his first Triple-A save.
Can't stop Ceciliani
Since being optioned by the Blue Jays on June 25th, Darrell Ceciliani has been on a roll.
The outfielder went hitless in three at-bats while in Toronto, but since coming back to Buffalo, Ceciliani has gone 16-for-47 with 10 runs batted in.
The Mets' 2009 draft pick has also been producing some power in Allenson's order, doing it primarily from the leadoff spot. Ceciliani has five doubles and two home runs across the 12-game stretch and has drawn five walks.
Setting the table at the top of the order, the product of Columbia Basin College has scored eight times.
Ceciliani has also proven himself to be clutch this season, batting .333 in the 30 opportunities in which he's come up with two out and runners in scoring position.
It was somewhat of a slow start for the left-handed batter as he missed a month earlier this year due to injury, but the recent power surge has boosted his average to .251 and his OPS to .685.