Stop what you’re doing. After a 3-for-4 night with a double and a walk Thursday, 3B Wilmer Flores just finished May by hitting .358/.414/.604 with five doubles, seven home runs, nine walks and 11 strikeouts in 27 games. The 20-year old has even started walking, as he’s drawn four free passes in five games, as I suspect the Florida State League is giving him fewer pitches to hit.
After leaving Wednesday’s game early, Darrell Ceciliani did not play Thursday, but CF Alonzo Harris (.273/.338/.386) reached base five times from the leadoff spot by going 4-for-5 with a double, triple, two runs, three RBI and a walk.
C Blake Forsythe was 2-for-3 with a double and two walks. The 22-year old has hit safely in 11 straight games. He finishes May as .380/.484/.700 hitter for the month with eight extra-base hits, 10 walks and 16 strikeouts and is up to .283/.364/.511 in 29 games. I’m still not sure I buy Forsythe, but it’s hard to argue with the recent results.
A: Greensboro Grasshoppers 2, @ Savannah Sand Gants 0
In a fun pitching matchup of 19-year old 2011 first round picks, the Marlins’ affiliate sent Jose Fernandez (#14 overall) to the mound against Michael Fulmer (#44 overall).
What’s the difference between 30 picks? Turns out a fair amount. Fulmer was pretty good, but Fernandez was great. Fernandez shut out the Gnats through six innings on two hits and two walks while striking out eight. He was working with a fastball that was 93-97 and complemented that with a nasty slider that he could throw for strikes. Sometimes it got away from him, but he snapped off more good than bad. He’s big 6’3″, listed at 230 lbs, and the velocity comes without too much strain. He threw some poor changeups, and one or two good ones. I think he’s the best pitching prospect I have seen against the Gnats in 2012. I liked Kyle Crick this year, and Jameson Taillon a year ago, and Julio Teheran two years ago, but on this night, Fernandez was better than all of them. Fernandez is leading the SAL in ERA (1.50), strikeouts (68), WHIP (0.90) and strikeout rate (11.7 K/9).
Fulmer was solid: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. He is getting better, but it’s a process. To my eyes, he was throwing more sliders and changeups Thursday and was willing to go to them in earlier in counts than he did earlier in the season. He tried a few curveballs, but those were less effective. By throwing more off-speed pitches, and by spotting his fastball better, he has worked more short at-bats.
All four hits he allowed were singles, one on a bunt, and at least two of the others were on fastballs up. On the whole recently, he has done a better job keeping the ball down. In 17.2 IP in April, he had a 0.76 ground out/air out ratio, but that’s increased to 1.69 GO/AO in 21 innings in April. In trouble in the fourth inning, he induced two groundballs. On the first, the Gnats failed to record an out, on the second, Aderlin Rodriguez began a 5-5-3 doubleplay.