Pioneer League notebook

News & notes from July 28-Aug. 3

(Brent Asay/MiLB.com)

By Mike Scherting / Special to MLB.com | August 5, 2009 5:00 AM

Billings Mustangs (Cincinnati Reds)
WEEK IN REVIEW: The Mustangs finished the first half of the season at 12-26, nine games out of first place in the North Division. It's only the third sub-.500 first half for the Mustangs since the Pioneer League went to a split-season format in 1995. They opened the second half with a loss to Great Falls, giving them a 2-5 record for the week.

WHO'S HOT: SS Mariekson Gregorius continues to be one of the bright spots for the Mustangs' offense. He's 7-for-16 in his last four games and finished the first half as the Pioneer League's leading hitter (.364). ... 3B Frank Pfister had one of his best weeks, putting together an 8-for-22 stretch (.364) that raised his average to .239 after spending most of the season at or below .200. ... OF Sean Conner has two home runs in his last four games.

WHO'S NOT: After a hot start since getting called up from the Gulf Coast League, OF Yorman Rodriguez has fallen on hard times. Rodriguez, who will turn 17 on Aug. 15, has one hit in his last 16 at-bats and has struck out 10 times in that span.

SEEKING SUPPORT: The Mustangs have been getting good starting pitching of late, but have nothing to show for it. Three of the last four starters -- RHP Leonardo Astorga, LHP Luca Panerati and RHP Tim Crabbe -- all threw at least six innings, but the Mustangs lost all three games.

Casper Ghosts (Colorado Rockies)
WEEK IN REVIEW: Casper wrapped up the first half with a 12-24 record after going 3-4 on the week. The Ghosts were in last place in the division the entire half, and kicked off the second half with a loss in Ogden.

WHO'S HOT: RHP Chris Balcom-Miller finished the first half with the lowest ERA in the league (1.36) and a 3-0 record. He made two six-inning starts this week, striking out five without allowing an earned runs in each outing to pick up Pitcher of the Week honors for the second time this season. ... C Brandon Whitby went 5-for-9 with six RBIs on the week, raising his average to .386. ... After four straight losses, RHP Ricardo Ferrer finally got his first win, allowing just one run and striking out five over five innings July 31. The win helped lower Ferrer's ERA to 8.16.

WHO'S NOT: SS David Hernandez went hitless in nine at-bats this week, lowering his average to .091. ... RHP Juan Gonzalez continues to struggle. He allowed five earned runs in 4 1/3 innings and took the loss in his Aug. 1 start. Gonzales' ERA is up to 8.33.

BIG-LEAGUE BOOST: The Ghosts capped a dreadful first half with a taste of the big leagues. RHP Mike Timlin, who signed a free-agent contract with the Rockies on July 30, came to Casper to start getting baseball ready. Timlin, who last played in 2008 with the Red Sox, gave his teammates plenty of advice and showed them his four World Series rings. The 43-year-old Timlin won a pair of championships with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and '93, and two with the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and '07. Timlin told the Casper Star-Tribune, "I love to play the game, I love to talk about it with these young guys, and maybe I'm here in Casper to reach one of these guys with a certain pitch or a certain situation that he can use later in his career." Timlin pitched one inning July 31 and Aug. 2 before leaving for Triple-A Colorado Springs. He allowed one hit in the two outings.

Great Falls Voyagers (Chicago White Sox)
WEEK IN REVIEW: The Voyagers went 5-2 on the week, including two victories over Missoula at the end of the first half to clinch the North Division title in a tiebreaker. After finishing 21-17 in the first half, the Voyagers began the second half with a 3-1 win over Billings.

WHO'S HOT: OF Jordan Cheatham went 7-for-17 during the week (.412), including a streak of six hits in his last 10 at-bats. ... 3B Robert Cummings hit .333 (5-for-15) and drove in three runs in a win over Missoula that clinched the first-half title. ... In his last two starts, LHP Matt Wickswat has allowed three earned runs over 11 1/3 innings while fanning 13.

WHO'S NOT: 1B Jose Vargas is 2-for-18 (.111) in his last five starts. ... 2B Jeffrey Tezak is 0-for-12 in his last three games.

IT'S A HIT: When SS Matthew Harughty bunted for a base hit against Billings on Aug. 3, it ended a streak of 27 consecutive at-bats without a hit. The hit was Harughty's first since July 11, and he'd seen his batting average dip from .303 to a low of .169.

Helena Brewers (Milwaukee Brewers)
WEEK IN REVIEW: The Brewers closed the first half with a 4-2 run, but their 20-18 record left them a game short of forging a three-way tie with Great Falls and Missoula atop the North Division. Helena began the second half with a loss to Missoula, dropping its record to 4-3 for the week.

WHO'S HOT: 2B Kyle Dhanani had five hits in 11 at-bats (.455) and drove in three runs. ... 1B Sean Halton also hit above .400, getting five hits in 12 at-bats for a .417 clip. ... RHP Damon Krestalude allowed one run in eight innings against Billings on Aug. 2, striking out seven. He's given up three earned runs over his last 14 innings.

WHO'S NOT: Scott Krieger hit his 10th home run -- good for second in the Pioneer League -- and held on to his lead in the RBI race, but he batted just .160 (4-for-25) this week.

FILLING THE VOIDS: Two of the Brewers' top players, who were among the Pioneer League leaders, earned promotions to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers of the Class A Midwest League. The Brewers will have to get by without SS and leadoff hitter Joshua Prince, who was batting .298 and led the league in stolen bases (26) and was second in on-base percentage (.426). RHP Michael Fiers was also promoted, taking his league-leading eight saves with him. Fiers was 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 21 innings.

Idaho Falls Chukars (Kansas City Royals)
WEEK IN REVIEW: After leading the South Division for all but two weeks of the first half, Idaho Falls couldn't beat Ogden to win the title and clinch a playoff spot. The Chukars finished the span with a 20-16 record and were 2-5 on the week after starting the second half with a loss at Orem.

WHO'S HOT: RHP Patrick Keating has been solid in relief for the Chukars. He hasn't allowed an earned run since July 15, and he's given up only three hits in that span. Keating, who has a 2.75 ERA, earned his third win Aug. 1. ... SS Deivy Batista led the Idaho Falls offense, going 8-for-25 (.320) with a couple of doubles, a triple and a home run.

WHO'S NOT: OF Marvin Cooper had just one hit in 10 at-bats (.100). He starts the second half with a .148 average. ... RHP Mitch Hodge Nielsen's ERA rose to 8.31 after he gave up four earned runs in relief Aug. 2. Nielsen faced six batters in the fifth inning without getting an out.

FIRST WIN: RHP Sugar Ray Marimon hasn't had many good outings as a Chukar, but he tossed five innings of two-hit ball to get his first win July 30. Marimon allowed one earned run and lowered his ERA considerably to 6.92.

Missoula Osprey (Arizona Diamondbacks)
WEEK IN REVIEW: It was a disappointing end to the first half for the Osprey, who began the week with a two-game lead. They lost two of three to Great Falls and wound up losing the division race in a tiebreaker to the Voyagers after finishing the half at 21-17. The Osprey bounced back and won their second-half opener over Helena to finish the week 3-4.

WHO'S HOT: It was a productive week for many of the Osprey. OF Keon Broxton hit in all seven games for a .333 average, went deep twice and drove in eight runs. ... 1B Paul Goldschmidt batted .354, homered once and drove in seven. ... 3B Raywilly Gomez drove in five runs while batting .333. ... OF Ender Inciarte had 11 hits during the week and batted .367.

WHO'S NOT: C Errol Hollinger had just two hits in his last 19 at-bats. In his last 12 games, there has been no in-between for Hollinger, who's either gone hitless or collected two hits. During that stretch, he's 8-for-40 (.200).

NO POUTING: The Osprey weren't hanging their heads after letting the North Division title slip through their hands. They scored 10 runs in the fourth inning, two shy of the franchise record, in a 12-2 win over Helena to start the second half. "What happened [Sunday] is in the past," Missoula manager Audo Vicente told the Missoulian, referencing the team's 7-2 loss to Great Falls that cost the Osprey a first-half playoff spot. "It doesn't change our minds with how the guys are playing right now."

Ogden Raptors (Los Angeles Dodgers)
WEEK IN REVIEW: The Raptors clinched a playoff spot with a win at Idaho Falls on July 31 and won the South Division for the first half with a 24-14 record. Ogden closed out the week with a 5-2 mark and started the second half with a walk-off win over Casper at home.

WHO'S HOT: C Gorman Erickson's hot week was highlighted by two three-hit games, including Aug. 2 when he had five RBIs. Erickson was 9-for-16 (.563) on his way to earning the league's Offensive Player of the Week honors. ... C Jeremy (J.T.) Wise hit the Raptors' first walk-off home run of the season to cap a dramatic comeback win Aug. 3. Trailing 6-0, Ogden scored four in the eighth inning and then three on Wise's homer. Wise hit .357 (5-for-16) on the week.

WHO'S NOT: 3B Pedro Guerrero had one hit in 15 appearances (.067), but he did contribute, driving in two runs. ... CF Lenell McGee dropped his average to .210 after going 2-for-14 (.143).

POWER OUTAGE: Following a flurry of home runs in mid-July, LF Brian Cavazos-Galvez hasn't launched a long ball since July 25. Cavazos-Galvez is stuck on 10, behind teammate OF Jerry Sands' league-leading 13 and tied with Helena's Scott Krieger. But he's still hitting. Since swatting his last home run, Cavazos-Galvez is 14-for-41 (.341) with two triples and eight doubles.

Orem Owlz (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)
WEEK IN REVIEW: Orem closed the first half in third place at 20-18, but the Owlz started the second half on the right foot by beating Idaho Falls in extra innings in Orem. They finished the week at 4-3.

WHO'S HOT: OF Richard Cates continued his on-base streak with a 9-for-24 (.375) week. Cates has reached base safely in 28 consecutive games. ... RHP Jeremy Berg got a win in his professional debut July 29 with two perfect innings of relief. The sidewinder has yet to give up a run in 4 1/3 innings with the Owlz and picked up a second win Aug. 3.

WHO'S NOT: LHP Stephen Locke allowed five earned runs in four innings July 31 to record his third loss and raise his ERA to 5.55. ... CF Travis Witherspoon started strong, but ended up going 3-for-18 (.167) for the week. Witherspoon has just 15 hits in 81 at-bats (.185) since joining the team July 5.

STREAK ENDS: 2B Jean Segura's hitting streak came to end one game shy of tying the franchise record of 23, set by Roberto Lopez in 2008. Segura went 0-for-4 on July 30 to end the streak at 22. It's only the second time this season that Segura has been held hitless in a game. After a couple of days off, he picked up another hit Aug. 3.

Mike Scherting 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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