Friday in A-Ball: Rainy Lara Is Too Good for the SAL

A+: Palm Beach Cardinals 7, @ St. Lucie Mets 3 

Angel Cuan started in place of RHP Domingo Tapia who was placed on the Disabled List earlier in the day with a burn on his non-pitching hand.

About the only notably good performance came from DH Dustin Lawley who was 3-for-4 with a triple, a homer (his seventh) and two RBI. The 24-year-old Lawley’s hit .317/.356/.610 in his last 10 games to pull his season line to .238/.291/.485. There’s some power and strength in here, but he’s 24, in a-ball, and a left-fielder.

Every St. Lucie reliever either gave up a run of his own or an inherited runner as the Mets could not hold a 3-2 lead heading into the seventh inning. Oh well.

 

A: Rome Braves 3, @ Savannah Sand Gnats 2 

Lara Delivery (Devyatkin)Rainy Lara: 7 IP, 5 H (all singles), 2 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 0 BB, 8 K. He earned run came in the top of the first on two singles and a stolen base. The unearned run in the fifth was set up by a SS Philip Evans error. With a runner at first and one out, Lara induced a bouncer to short. The runner from first was going, but I still think had Evans fielded cleanly, the Gnats had a chance to turn two. At the very least, Evans could have taken the easy out at first. Instead, he overran the ball for his 11th error this year, and the Braves had runners at the corners with one out and used the following batter to squeeze to bring home the run.

Lara was mostly 90-91 with his fastball, although he got to 92 and 93. His changeup was 79-82 and his slider was 79-81. The slurvy slider is the key pitch for Lara. He throws it a lot, and because he can throw it for a strike, or bury it, he can dominate a-ballers.

The 22-year old is really close to pitching his way to advanced-A St. Lucie. His 1.42 ERA is fourth in the SAL and his 0.89 WHIP is third, including HBP – he has none – he has allowed the fewest baserunners by innings among qualified SAL starting pitchers. His K/BB ratio is 9.5 (38 K/4 BB) in 38 innings. His last three starts: 21.1 IP, 14 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 23 K. That’s a  0.42 ERA and a .187 opponents’ batting average. At 6’4″, there’s plenty of frame here. He could be a back-end starter option or middle reliever option in a few years.

Beck Wheeler gave up a run that should not have happened in the eighth when a slow grounder trickled up the middle off of 2B Yucary De La Cruz’s glove into centerfield. It looked like either De La Cruz or Evans could have reached the ball, but both hesitated with the other closing behind the second base bag and neither could make the play. Wheeler was 92-93 with his fastball and 82-83 with his splitter. At 6’3″, with 21 strikeouts against 1 walk in 14.2 innings, if you’re looking for a deep bullpen sleeper in the Mets system Wheeler qualifies.

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