Jon Gray is still having trouble going deep into games, but the fact that it has been his lone problem as of late is a good sign.
Gray struck out seven batters and allowed only one hit in 5⅔ scoreless innings, leading Double-A Tulsa to a 2-0 win over Northwest Arkansas on Wednesday. The Rockies' No. 1 prospect walked a couple of batters and needed 93 pitches to get as far as he did, but that didn't make his performance any less of a step in the right direction.
One promising thing is that Gray induced as many ground-ball outs as he did flyouts. That hasn't been the case for the majority of the season for the 2013 No. 3 overall pick. Gray's GO/AO ratio is a paltry 0.74, suggesting he might get into some trouble at the next two levels depending on the quality of contact on those numerous fly balls.
Still, Gray has bounced back from a late-June/early-July rough patch to not allow an earned run in 11⅔ innings spanning his last two starts.The 22-year-old right-hander has given up only three hits and has 12 strikeouts over that time.
Trevor Story led the Drillers' offense with a couple of hits, including his first home run since being promoted to Double-A. Brian Humphries added a pair of hits and drove in a run. Nate Striz and Cole White combined for six strikeouts in 3⅓ innings of scoreless relief.
Asheville ace Senz-ational in win
Right-handed starter Antonio Senzatela allowed only four hits and a walk in seven shutout innings in Asheville's 6-3 victory over Savannah.
Senzatela whiffed six batters and threw 59 of 92 pitches for strikes en route to improving his record to 11-1. The 19-year-old Venezuelan has stepped up his game considerably over his last 10 starts, compiling a 7-0 record with a 3.22 ERA. After striking out fewer than 4.0 batters per nine innings during his first eight outings, Senzatela has upped his strikeout rate to more than 6.0 per nine and lifted a previously mediocre K/BB ratio to almost 3.00.
David Dahl had three more hits, including his 33rd double of the season, and Ryan McMahon added his 32nd two-bagger of the year as part of a two-hit performance. Correlle Prime, Jordan Patterson and Michael Benjamin joined the hit parade, collecting two hits apiece.
Inland Empire 2, Modesto 1: Rosell Herrera had a couple of hits, as did Francisco Sosa, who homered in the seventh to drive in the Nuts' only run. Modesto starter Ryan Carpenter allowed a run on four hits and a walk in eight innings. He struck out eight.
Hillsboro 7, Tri-City 4: Third baseman Josh Fuentes hit a three-run homer in the first inning, but the Dust Devils went down without much of a fight after that. Notable pitching prospect Joel Payamps made his first appearance of the season and was a mixture of dominant and erratic out of the bullpen, striking out five and walking four in two hitless and scoreless innings.
Grand Junction 5, Missoula 3: Yonathan Daza hit a three-run homer in the top of the fifth that wound up making the difference. Daza's shot was his third of the year, and the 20-year-old outfielder is now hitting .400/.446/.633 in 60 at-bats. Sam Howard, the Rockies' third-round pick in 2014, struck out three in 3⅓ scoreless innings. Rafael Betancourt, who made his fourth rehab appearance with Grand Junction, did not look good in his lone inning of work. The 39-year-old right-hander allowed three runs -- though only one was earned -- on two hits and a walk while recording only two outs.
DSL Rockies 4, DSL Yankees 3: Jonathan Piron had three hits, including a triple, to lead the Rockies. Jose Gomez doubled as part of a two-hit performance and Juan Pena allowed only one unearned run in seven innings of four-hit ball.