Eastern League notebook

News & notes from June 21-27

Hector Rondon improved to 7-4 with a 2.59 ERA in 14 appearances for the Aeros. (Will Bentzel/MiLB.com)

By Stephanie Storm / Special to MLB.com | June 29, 2009 6:13 AM

Akron Aeros (Cleveland Indians)
THE SEASON SO FAR: The Aeros are 50-23 and in first place in the Southern Division, nine games ahead of Reading. Winners of 17 of their last 21 contests, the Aeros own the best record in professional baseball.

WHO'S HOT: OF Nick Weglarz is batting .529 (9-for-17) with four home runs, two doubles, 12 RBIs, five walks, just one strikeout and a whopping 2.059 slugging percentage over his last five games. ... RHP and closer Vinnie Pestano recorded four outs to earn his league-leading 21st save Friday, tying him for the most in baseball. ... The pitching staff has a .189 batting average against and 1.91 ERA over the past 21 games.

THE FUTURE IS NOW: Weglarz (Canada) and C Carlos Santana (Dominican Republic) were named to the World Team at the Futures Game in St. Louis on July 12. Their combined 99 RBIs are the most for any pair of teammates in the Eastern League, while both rank in the top 10 in the league in slugging percentage, on-base percentage and home runs.

RBI MACHINE: OF Matt McBride's third home run of the season as a member of the Aeros was a three-run shot in Saturday's win, giving him 60 RBIs this year between Akron and Class A Advanced Kinston while tying him for seventh in the Minor Leagues.

RONDON ROLLING (AGAIN): With 5 2/3 scoreless innings Friday, RHP Hector Rondon (7-4) is riding a scoreless streak of 14 1/3 frames over his last three starts.

DID YOU KNOW: RHP Josh Tomlin improved to 8-4 on Saturday, notching his team-leading seventh quality start while becoming just the second player in both the Eastern League and the Indians system with eight wins. He limited visiting Binghamton to three runs on six hits while striking out seven in a season-high seven innings of work.

Altoona Curve (Pittsburgh Pirates)
THE SEASON SO FAR: The Curve are 26-49 and in last place in the Southern Division, 25 games behind Akron.

WHO'S HOT: LF Jason Delaney is batting .273 (9-for-33) with two homers, six RBIs and five runs scored over his last 10 games.

WHO'S NOT: 3B Pedro Alvarez went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his Blair County Ballpark debut, then went 0-for-6 as the DH on Saturday. He has struck out nine times in 21 at-bats since joining the team last Monday.

ROSTER MOVES: 1B Jamie Romak, who hit .175 during the first half of the season, was demoted to Class A Advanced Lynchburg on Friday. Despite being a young and promising power hitter in the Pirates organization, Romak struck out 66 times in 211 at-bats. He did hit five home runs with 24 RBIs in 64 games. ... Romak's roster spot went to 1B Miles Durham, who was having a solid season at Lynchburg. Durham hit .296 with seven home runs and 39 RBIs in 65 games.

Binghamton Mets (New York Mets)
THE SEASON SO FAR: The Mets are 27-46 and in last place in the Northern Division, 15 games behind Connecticut.

WHO'S HOT: 1B Ike Davis has doubled three times in his four games with Binghamton, hitting .438 in four games since being promoted to Double-A.

WHO'S NOT: June has been the worst month for the B-Mets this season, as Binghamton has won just six of 26 games and has been outscored 144-85 this month.

STREAK SNAPPED: RHP Josh Perrault blew his first save after going 18 consecutive appearances without an earned run in a 5-4 loss to visiting Bowie on Wednesday. ... The B-Mets' season-high seven-game losing streak came to an exciting end Wednesday as they rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to win, 5-4.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE: The B-Mets matched a season high with five doubles in Saturday's loss at Akron thanks to OF Josh Petersen, 2B/SS Jose Coronado, OF D.J. Wabick and Davis, who doubled twice.

THE WARDEN FILE: When RHP and reliever Jim Ed Warden returned to the mound at Canal Park on Friday night, it was a return to the site of many triumphs with his former team. Warden ranks second all-time in appearances (100) in Aeros history. In firing a scoreless ninth inning Friday against the Aeros, he has yet to allow an earned run in five outings with Binghamton since having his contract purchased from the independent Atlantic League on June 13.

Bowie Baysox (Baltimore Orioles)
THE SEASON SO FAR: The Baysox are 41-33 and in third place in the Southern Division, 9.5 games behind Akron.

WHO'S HOT: 3B Mike Costanzo Costanzo is hitting .286, with a homer and seven RBIs over a 10-game span, while 1B Eric Crozier has two homers, nine runs scored and seven RBIs ove that span.

WHO'S NOT: LF Jonathan Tucker is batting .219 (7-for-32) with one RBI over his last 10 games. ... SS Robert Valido is hitting a cool .200 (8-for-40) over his last 10 games.

LIZ RETURNS: RHP Radhames Liz tossed seven shutout innings as the Baysox won the rubber match of their three-game set with Binghamton, 2-0, on Friday. Liz allowed only three hits while striking out six. After yielding a one-out double in the first, Liz retired the next 12 hitters to earn his second win in as many starts while lowering his ERA to 3.00 on the season.

DID YOU KNOW: LHP Brian Matusz and RHP Fredy Deza both threw gems Saturday as the Baysox swept a doubleheader from the Curve with 5-1 and 5-0 victories that put Bowie a season-high eight games over .500. ... Deza threw five strong innings, holding the Curve scoreless on three hits and two walks. He allowed a single and a walk in the first inning, but did not allow another batter to reach second base.

HE SAID IT: "I got them to swing at the first pitch," Deza said in a game release from the team. "They have a lot of left-handed hitters, and I worked with my two-seamer down."

Connecticut Defenders (San Francisco Giants)
THE SEASON SO FAR: The Defenders are 42-31 and in first place in the Northern Division, 3.5 games ahead of New Britain.

WHO'S HOT: 1B Brett Pill is batting a healthy .439 (18-for-41) with two home runs and 11 RBIs over his last nine games.

THE FUTURE IS NOW: LHP Madison Bumgarner (5-1, 1.96 ERA) was named to the U.S. team roster for the Futures Game on July 12th in St. Louis.

DID YOU KNOW: OF Mike McBryde was removed from Tuesday's game in the second inning with a mild groin strain and is considered day-to-day. ... 2B Brock Bond extended his on-base streak to 43 games with a sixth-inning single Saturday.

DEADLINE LOOMING: With just over a month remaining until the Eastern League-imposed deadline for a proposed sale and approved relocation of the Connecticut Defenders to Richmond, Va., the Norwich Bulletin reported last week that attempts to secure a long-term stadium have taken a serious blow. The newspaper reported that Highwoods Properties, the developers of the Shockoe Bottom development in Richmond, announced Tuesday it was abandoning its efforts to see the project through.

THEY SAID IT: "Although this creates another twist in the ongoing efforts of the league and Minor League Baseball to move the team in time for next season, it won't hinder short-term plans. There is already a tentative agreement in place to allow the Defenders to play at the already existing stadium, the Diamond, should the team move," according to the Norwich Bulletin.

Erie SeaWolves (Detroit Tigers)
THE SEASON SO FAR: The SeaWolves are 40-33 and in fourth place in the Southern Division, 10 games behind Akron.

BY THE NUMBERS: RF Brennan Boesch has hit two home runs and owns six RBIs over his last eight games, but is batting just .192 (5-for-26) over that span. ... CF Deik Scram has recorded three homers and driven in 10 runs over his last 10 games, but is batting just .220 (9-for-41).

WELCOME ABOARD: 1B Ronnie Bourquin was promoted to Erie on Thursday after a solid start to the season at Class A West Michigan. Bourquin, who hit a three-run homer at the Midwest League All-Star Game last Tuesday, batted .304 with two home runs and 47 RBIs in 62 games with the Whitecaps.

DID YOU KNOW: Former Erie 2B Scott Sizemore was selected to the U.S. roster for the 2009 Futures Game in St. Louis. In 11 games since his promotion to Triple-A Toledo, he's batting .271 (13-for-48) with four doubles, a triple, a home run and three RBIs.

OUCH, THAT HURTS: The injury bug has bitten the SeaWolves with 1B Ryan Strieby on the seven-day disabled list, 3B Mike Hollimon missing a handful of games with right shoulder soreness and 1B/OF Max Leon missing four games with knee soreness.

Harrisburg Senators (Washington Nationals)
THE SEASON SO FAR: The Senators are 29-2 and in fifth place in the Southern Division, 20 games behind Akron.

WHO'S HOT: LF Leonard Davis is batting .294 (10-for-34) with two homers, three runs scored and 10 RBIs over his last nine games. ... LF Marvin Lowrance is hitting .423 (11-for-26) with two homers, five RBIs and five runs scored in his last nine games.

WHO'S NOT: SS Ian Desmond is hitting a cool .214 (9-for-42) over his last 10 games. ... RF Edguardo Baez is hitting .171 (6-for-35) over his last nine games.

ROSTER MOVES: RHP Carlos Martinez was activated from the disabled list and OF Ricardo Nanita was placed on the disabled with a sore back Thursday.

MAJOR HELP: Nationals LHP Matt Chico joined the Senators on Saturday as he continues his Major League rehab assignment. Chico, who had left elbow reconstructive surgery in July 2008, pitched 11 innings over three games with Class A Hagerstown.

DID YOU KNOW?: Chico previously pitched for the Senators in August 2006 after the Nationals acquired him and Garrett Mock from the Arizona Diamondbacks for RHP Livan Hernandez. Chico went 2-0 in four starts with the Senators in 2006.

New Britain Rock Cats (Minnesota Twins)
THE SEASON SO FAR: The Rock Cats are 38-34 and in second place in the Northern Division, 3.5 games behind Connecticut.

WANTED, RIGHTY HITTERS: New Britain's offense has been vulnerable against left-handed pitching all season, but never so much as they currently are. INF Danny Valencia and C Wilson Ramos were the team's two best right-handed hitters, but Valencia was promoted to Triple-A and Ramos remains on the disabled list. Without their help, Connecticut LHPs Jesse English and Ben Snyder feasted on the Rock Cats in a 3-0 shutout win over host New Britain in front of a record crowd of 8,212 at New Britain Stadium.

HE SAID IT: "We're looking for the approach, not so much for the results," Rock Cats manager Tom Nieto told the New Britain Herald. "(But) we don't make any excuses -- whoever is in our lineup is in our lineup. Danny Valencia's not here. Wilson Ramos is not in the lineup. That's just the way it goes."

ROSTER MOVES: RHP Jeff Manship (6-4, 4.28 ERA) was promoted to Triple-A Rochester last week. In 75 2/3 innings spanning 13 starts, the 24-year-old Notre Dame graduate allowed 72 hits, walked 20 and struck out 45. On May 3, he was named Eastern League Pitcher of the Week after tossing one-hit ball for seven innings against Trenton. Manship was a 14th-round selection in the 2006 Draft and is deemed the 11th best prospect in the Twins organization by Baseball America.

THE FUTURE IS NOW: OF Rene Tosoni was chosen to represent the Minnesota Twins at this year's Futures Game on July 12 in St. Louis. The native of Toronto will suit up for the World Team.

DID YOU KNOW: Former Rock Cats stars Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, Francisco Liriano and Matt Tolbert are among the current Twins who were selected to take part in the Futures Game during their Minor League careers. Last season, INF Luke Hughes, an Australian native, played for the World Team at Yankee Stadium. Former Rock Cats manager and current Rochester coach Bobby Cuellar will serve as the pitching coach for the World Team.

ROSTER MOVES: Valencia, 24, was promoted to Triple-A Rochester. The 19th-round selection in 2006 out of the University of Miami has so far excelled at each level of the Twins' farm system. A 2008 Florida State League All-Star, Valencia was called up to Double-A New Britain for the final 69 games last season and promptly batted .289 while slugging 10 home runs with 32 RBIs. Valencia, New Britain's Player of the Month in May, departs with a .284 average, seven home runs and 29 RBIs in 57 games. ... Returning to New Britain to fill the vacancy created by Valencia's departure was INF Danny Berg. A 24-year-old native of Melbourne, Australia, Berg had appeared in 15 games for the 2008 Rock Cats.

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Toronto Blue Jays)
THE SEASON SO FAR: The Fisher Cats are 32-43 and in fifth place in the Northern Division, 11 games behind Connecticut.

WHO'S HOT: 1B Bran Dopirak is batting a whopping .429 (18-for-42) with five homers, 13 RBIs and nine runs scored in his last 10 games. Dopirak is the league leader in home runs (18), RBIs (57), hits (89) and extra-base hits (42).

THE FUTURE IS NOW: LHP Luiz Perez will participate in the Futures Game in St. Louis on July 12. Perez, a native of the Dominican Republic, will represent the Blue Jays on the World Team. Perez is 4-6 with a 3.46 ERA this season and shares the Eastern League lead in innings pitched (83 1/3), is tied for the team lead in starts (14) and has held opposing batters to a .226 batting average.

DID YOU KNOW: Perez is the sixth Fisher Cats player in six years to be selected for the Futures Game. ... Aaron Hill won the game's MVP award in 2004. ... The other Fisher Cats to play in the showcase are Zach Jackson (2005), Davis Romero (2006), Robinzon Diaz (2007) and Scott Campbell (2008).

SOLID PITCHING: In his first start since coming off the disabled list Saturday, RHP Rey Gonzalez (3-5) tossed six solid innings and Dopirak connected on his league-leading 18th home run, but it wasn't enough as New Hampshire fell to visiting Portland, 3-1.

RECORD CROWD: Saturday's loss came in front of a standing-room-only crowd of 8,126 at MerchantsAuto.com Stadium, marking the second highest attendance of the season and the fifth largest ever at MerchantsAuto.com Stadium.

MR. 400: RHP Marty McLeary, 34, made his 400th career Minor League appearance Wednesday. He has played for 11 different Minor League teams in 13 seasons. McLeary appeared in 12 games for San Diego and Pittsburgh and has also has pitched for the Lotte Giants in South Korea.

Portland Sea Dogs (Boston Red Sox)
THE SEASON SO FAR: The Sea Dogs are 35-38 and in fourth place in the Northern Division, seven games behind Connecticut.

WHO'S HOT: 3B Jorge Jimenez is batting .316 (12-for-38) with three home runs, seven RBIs and four runs scored over his last 10 games.

WHO'S NOT: Portland is batting just .211 (79-for-374) over the teams last 11-games, averaging just 2.6 runs. ... The Sea Dogs have scored five or more runs only five times this month. ... Friday the Sea Dogs stranded a season-high 15 runners on base.

THIS IS HOW WE DO IT: SS Argenis Diaz belted a run-scoring double in the top of the 12th inning Friday to hand Portland a 5-4 win over host New Hampshire in the series opener at MerchantsAuto.com Stadium. PH Reid Engel had tied the game, 4-4, in the ninth inning with a leadoff, pinch-hit homer to ignite the extra-inning battle. ... The last pinch-hit homer for the Portland franchise came June 28, 2004 by Jeff Bailey against the Norwich Navigators.

THE FUTURE IS NOW: RHP Junichi Tazawa was selected to play in the Futures Game in St. Louis on July 12. Tazawa, 23, is 7-4 with a 2.92 ERA in 14 starts for the Sea Dogs. He ranks second in the Eastern League with 71 strikeouts and is tied for second with seven wins. His 2.92 ERA ranks 10th in the league. Tazawa was signed by the Boston Red Sox as an amateur free agent in December 2008. He joined the Red Sox organization after a four-year amateur career in the Japan Industrial League.

DID YOU KNOW: RHP Adam Mills (3-5) tossed seven strong innings and LHP Dustin Richardson notched his first Double-A save in Portland's 3-1 win over host New Hampshire Saturday.

ROSTER MOVES: LHP Kason Gabbard joined the Sea Dogs last week from extended spring training, RHP Bryce Cox rejoined the team from Short-Season Lowell and LHP Felix Doubront was placed on the disabled list retroactive to June 13.

Reading Phillies (Philadelphia Phillies)
THE SEASON SO FAR: The Phillies are 41-32 and in second place in the Southern Division, nine games behind Akron.

WHO'S HOT: 1B Kevin Mahar is enjoying the last days of a stellar month of June, hitting .345 (19-for-55) in 16 games. Five of his seven home runs and 11 of his 24 RBIs have also come this month.

WHO'S NOT: 3B Neil Sellers went 0-for-3 with a RBI and a walk Thursday as the 27-year-old is now 0-for-15 over his last four games with two RBIs, one strikeout and three walks. ... The R-Phils pitching staff has given up more home runs (72) than any other team in the Eastern League.

STREAK SNAPPED: LHP Joe Savery saw his scoreless innings streak end at 15 earlier in the week when Trenton's Austin Krum doubled to lead off the first inning, stole third and came home on Eduardo Nunez's groundout.

THE FUTURE IS NOW: RHP Kyle Drabek was named to the Futures Game on July 12 in St. Louis. Drabek is 4-0 with a 2.43 ERA in five starts for Reading. In 33 1/3 innings he has struck out 26 batters and issued 13 walks.

DID YOU KNOW?: The R-Phils have been represented in four previous Futures Games by Pat Burrell (1999), Brett Myers (2001), Gavin Floyd (2004), Gio Gonzalez (2006), Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, Jason Donald and Greg Golson (2008). Former R-Phils managers Gary Varsho and Greg Legg participated as coaches in 2000 and 2002, respectively.

Trenton Thunder (New York Yankees)
THE SEASON SO FAR: The Thunder are 38-35 and in third place in the Northern Division, four games behind Connecticut.

WHO'S HOT: 1B Jorge Vazquez is batting a beefy .560 (14-for-25) with three homers, nine RBIs and five runs scored in his last seven games.

WHO'S NOT: RHP J.B. Cox (0-2, 8.31 ERA) suffered a pair of losses in relief last week during a three-game series at Akron, including walking in the winning run in a 4-3 loss in the finale Thursday afternoon at Canal Park.

JOHNSON'S COMEBACK: RHP Jason Johnson took the mound Saturday in the second game of a four-game series with Reading, his first start for the Thunder after signing as a Minor League free agent by the Yankees this off-season. The Major League veteran, who is diabetic and wears an insulin pump on his belt, has been battling cancer of the retina in his right eye. He appeared in 16 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, going 1-2 with a 5.22 ERA. However, he spent a majority of the year with Triple-A Las Vegas, going 11-5 with a 3.82 ERA in 20 games (16 starts). Johnson owns a 56-100 mark with a 4.99 ERA in 255 Major League games (221 starts), having pitched in the big leagues in parts of 11 seasons with Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland, Boston, Cincinnati, and Los Angeles.

THE FUTURE IS NOW: C Jesus Montero and Thunder manager Tony Franklin will represent the Yankees organization in the Futures Game in St. Louis on July 12. Montero is batting .276 in his first 16 games for Trenton since his call-up from Class A Advanced Tampa on June 3. In 48 games for Tampa, the Venezuela native batted .356 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs. The No. 2 prospect in the Yankees organization and "Best Power Hitter," according to Baseball America, was signed as an undrafted free agent in October 2006. ... Franklin will be one of six coaches for the U.S. team along with manager Ozzie Smith.

DID YOU KNOW?: The selection to the Futures Game is the second for both Franklin and Montero as they were chosen for the 2007 and 2008 Futures Games, respectively. Montero went 1-for-2 for the World Team in last year's game, and Franklin made the trip to San Francisco in 2007 along with then Thunder RHP Joba Chamberlain.

MORE FUTURES MISCELLANY: Montero is the 12th Thunder player to appear in the Futures Game, joining RHPs Sun Woo Kim and Toma Ohka (1999), INF Luis Garcia (2001), LHP Jorge De La Rosa and RHP Seung Song (2002), RHP Chien-Ming Wang (2003), C Dioner Navarro (2003), 2B Robinson Cano (2004), RHP Phil Hughes (2006), RHP Joba Chamberlain (2007) and INF Ramiro Pena (2008).

Stephanie Storm 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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