Saturday Pebble Report: Jon Gray allows five runs in five innings, Juan Nicasio spreads out nine hits

Doug Pensinger

If you like good pitching, this Pebble Report is probably not for you.

Denver wasn't the only place within the organization that saw a massive offensive outburst. The winner of every game involving a Colorado farm team last night scored at least seven runs, with the surprising exception of Asheville.

Triple-A: Colorado Springs 11, Tacoma 4

Every Sky Sox starter had at least one hit and five recorded a multiple hit game in this one. Tim Wheeler returned to action and went 2-3 with a double and two walks; Delta Cleary Jr. recorded three hits for the first time in Triple-A; and Ben Paulsen continued his impressive season at the plate with a single, a double, and two RBI.

Juan Nicasio got the start for Colorado Springs and he was better at limiting runs than limiting hits. In 5.1 innings of work, Nicasio only allowed two runs while striking out five and walking two, but the nine hits allowed are a red flag that could have been much worse. There was also a Manny Corpas sighting. He allowed two runs (in two innings of work) for his second consecutive outing after putting together a long string of outings without allowing a run.

Double-A: Tulsa 10, Northwest Arkansas 6

For the fifth time this season, Jon Gray gave up at least five runs in a start. After striking out the side in the first, trouble starting in the second inning when Gray allowed a home run, a walk, a single, and a sac fly for two runs. He would then allow an addition three runs the following inning on three hits and a walk. Gray did grab his bearings and managed to hang zeroes on the board in both the forth and fifth innings, but this outing would be hard to classify as anything better than mediocre.

Gray is starting to approach a pretty significant cross roads in his season. If he's going to avoid posting a rather pedestrian ERA for the season (it's at 3.77 right now), he can't really afford too many more starts like this one. Nothing about his time in Tulsa changes Gray's ceiling, but I'd be lying to you if I told you I didn't expect better things than we've seen so far.

Meanwhile, Tulsa's offensive outburst gives us a chance to focus in on a couple of overlooked PuRPs. Both Christian Adames and Ryan Casteel had a pair of hits in this game to continue their hot Junes. Adames was on base three times with two singles and a walk to raise his season OPS to .744, which is really solid for a 22-year-old middle infielder in the Texas League. Casteel, the man batting behind Adames, helped turn his efforts into runs as he had three RBI to go along with a triple and a home run. After a slow start to the season, Casteel has raised his OPS on the season to a solid .777, including a scorching hot .975 mark in June.

High-A: High Desert 7, Modesto 0

Move along, nothing to see here.

Actually, this game wasn't quite as awful as it looked as the score was 2-0 after eight innings (we''ll get to the awful part in a moment). More importantly though, Jayson Aquino (remember him?) worked six innings of two run baseball and struck out 11. In a wacky, abbreviated season so far, Aquino has struck out 27 in 26 innings of work while walking only seven. He also owns an ugly 7.27 ERA however. Time will tell how much of that has to do with the .421 BABIP opposing hitters have against him. Peter Tago also worked a pair of scoreless inning before Raul Fernandez allowed a five spot in the ninth.

Offensively, the Nuts were held to just four hits. Will Swanner went 2-3 with a double, and Trevor Story picked up a hit in his second game back in action with Modesto. Other than that though, the Nuts were completely shut down by Mavericks' starter Dylan Unsworth who, get ready for this, struck out 12 and didn't walk anybody over seven innings of work. Not sure how the Nuts allowed that to happen since this is a guy who allowed 21 runs over his previous three starts.

Low-A: Asheville 4, Augusta 3

Ryan McMahon led the somewhat limited offensive charge as the only player to record multiple hits and the only player to record an extra base hit. So I guess it was fitting that both of his hits were doubles. Raimel Tapia was also on base twice with a hit and a hit by pitch which allowed him to score a pair of runs. David Dahl did not play in this game.

On the mound, Antonio Senzatela limited damage but didn't make it very far into the contest as he allowed two runs on six hits, just one strike out and two walks over 4.1 innings of work. After a strong start to the season, Senzatela now has a 5.68 ERA over his last five starts.

Class A Short-Season: Everett 11, Tri-City 5

This game was not pretty. The Dust Devils had to use six pitchers with the starter only recording ten outs. Why does that sound so familiar? Blake Shouse has now allowed ten runs in four innings over two starts. His ERA stands at 22.50. The best reliever for Tri-City in the game was Huascar Brazoban who made it through three innings of scoreless baseball with four strike outs, just one walk, and no hits allowed.

Offensively, Marcos Derkes recorded three hits from the lead off spot while Sam Bumpers and Miguel Dilone each racked up two singles. Third baseman Josh Fuentes also had a pair of hits; both doubles.

DSL: Giants 10, Rockies 9

Good thing this game didn't happen at the major league level. The Rockies blew a 9-3 seventh inning lead. Elvin Paulino had a home run and a double, Jose Rodriguez came in as a pinch runner early in the game and still picked up three hits, and Manuel Melendez notched a pair of singles from the lead off spot as part of the nine run attack.

Unfortunately, it was not enough. Erick Julio started the game for the Rockies but only made it through 3.2 innings. Still, the two runs he allowed should have been a small enough number to win the game the way the offense was working here. However, Julian Fernandez, Alexander Guillen, and Salvador Justo all allowed a combined seven runs while only getting a combined eight outs to ensure the late game collapse.

Rookie League: Grand Junction 7, Idaho Falls 6 (Ten Innings)

This was by far the most exciting finish of the night. Grand Junction scored two in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game in an inning they didn't record a hit. The inning went error, walk, wild pitch, RBI ground out, Sac Fly, walk, walk, strike out. Grand Junction had a more typical rally in the tenth however. After Yoely Bello allowed a run in the top of the inning, Hamlet Marte singled to open up the bottom of the frame. Two batters later, Luis Castro hit a line drive home run to right for the walk off. What a thrill!

This game was really, really bizarre though. I mean really, really bizarre. The two starters combined to go 3.1 innings, even though neither one of them allowed a run. The two teams combined for nine errors. The two pitching staffs walked a combined 14 men. Oh, and the two offenses went a combined 0-23 with runners in scoring position and still managed to score a combined 13 runs.

Saturday's probables:

Sky Sox: Pedro Hernandez (5-3, 5,92)

Drillers: Carlos Hernandez (1-4, 2.50)

Nuts: Ben Alsup, (0-7, 5.74)

Tourists: Alex Balog (3-3, 3.95)

Dust Devils: Tyler Gagnon (0-0, 5.40)

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