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Ernie Masche/Record File Photo: After spending less than a month at High-A Frederick, Hickory native Zach Jarrett has earned a call-up to Double-A ball.

One of Hickory’s own is one step closer to his major league dream.

Hickory High graduate Zach Jarrett jumped another rung up the minor league ladder when he was called up to the Baltimore Orioles’ Double-A affiliate at the end of last month. The promotion highlights what has been a largely successful past few weeks for our local pros. 

Here are the latest updates in this installment of the Pro Baseball Roundup:

(Statistics and records include games through Monday.) 

MLB:

Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants pitcher

“Took my family away from our Carolina home/Had dreams about the west and started to roam.” So begins The Marshall Tucker Band’s “Fire on the Mountain,” but how much longer can Giants fans expect to hear the track that welcomes Bumgarner to the mound? Trade talk continues to dominate any discussion about the left-hander and his future destination. Is he heading south to LA? Crossing the country to NYC? Stopping in the heartland in St. Louis? (As a Cardinals fan, I’d have no complaints about that one.)

Wherever it may be, it seems that this is finally the year San Francisco will part ways with one of its icons from the past decade. The Giants are in the NL West cellar, have one of the worst records in all of baseball and look to be in full rebuild mode. That’s through little fault of Bumgarner, whose record (1-4) and ERA (3.92) deceive the year he’s having. 

MadBum pitched one of his best games of the season May 1. Facing the Dodgers for the second time this season, he held their potent lineup in check over six innings, allowing one run and striking out eight. He set season highs with 114 pitches and 78 strikes and now has 43 strikeouts in 43.2 innings this year. It feels like every start between now and the July 31 trade deadline will be an audition until the Giants decide to make a move. 

Double-A: 

Zach Jarrett, Bowie Baysox (Baltimore) outfielder 

After spending the entirety of last year with Low-A Delmarva, Jarrett earned his next call-up less than a month into this season. He was promoted to Bowie on April 27, joining up with fellow Catawba County prospect Hunter Harvey as well as one of his former teammates at UNC Charlotte, T.J. Nichting (both were drafted by the Orioles 19 rounds apart two summers ago). The promotion comes after hitting .306/.393/.444 with a team-best seven doubles in 21 games at High-A Frederick.

Jarrett then hit safely in each of his first two games with the Baysox, including an RBI double in his Bowie debut. Since then, he’s been stuck in a 3-for-24 slump. But he’s displayed much better patience at the plate this season (24 strikeouts in 30 games) and should be given time to adjust to a higher level of pitching.

Hunter Harvey, Bowie Baysox (Baltimore) pitcher

Monday’s performance has been a long time coming for the Orioles’ once-heralded pitching prospect. Harvey had his best game in years, throwing six scoreless innings with five strikeouts, two hits and a lone walk. At one point, he retired 15 hitters in a row. It marks the first time he’s gone six innings in a game since July 5, 2014 – a string of 1,766 long and injury-filled days.  

The outing couldn’t have come at a better time either. I’ve heard from a couple different people in the know who said that now that Harvey is healthy, his leash has grown shorter as the organization expects to see the qualities that made him their top draft pick in 2013. And after getting rocked May 1 for six runs in 2.2 innings – which included three home runs – Harvey absolutely needed to show that he’s still got the stuff. The challenge from here becomes stringing together more performances like the one earlier this week and reclaiming that top prospect billing. 

High-A:

Hayden Deal, Florida Fire Frogs (Atlanta) pitcher

The next area pro who looks due for a promotion is Deal, who continues to turn in star performance after star performance. Since our last update, he has started three more games and incredibly picked up two losses despite allowing just one run in each. Between those losses, he pitched his best game of the year. In an April 30 start against the Lakeland Flying Tigers, Deal threw six shutout innings with a season-high eight strikeouts for his second win.

Deal’s transition from the bullpen to the rotation can’t have gone much better so far. Through six starts, he has a 1.29 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. Add in a 31-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 35 innings and it shouldn’t be much longer until we see him at Double-A Mississippi.

Tad Ratliff, Wilmington Blue Rocks (Kansas City) pitcher

Ladies and gentleman, meet your Carolina League leader in saves. Ratliff has now successfully closed out eight of his nine save opportunities this season, most with little to no trouble. He did suffer his first-ever professional loss April 24 after allowing three runs (two earned) in a non-save situation. But since then, he’s picked up three more saves, which includes a season-best three strikeouts in 1.2 innings last Thursday against the Frederick Keys. 

As long as Wilmington keeps winning – the Blue Rocks are 18-12 and continue to lead the Northern Division standings in the Carolina League – Ratliff should keep adding to his save total. 

Low-A: 

Justin Dean, Rome Braves (Atlanta) outfielder

After beginning the season with a 12-game hitting streak, Dean fell into a 2-for-23 slump midway through last month. He’s bounced back, however, to hit safely in nine of his past 10, including a pair of two-hit games to close out April. And he’s found the start of May to be kind as well.

Dean put together a fine performance Friday in a 6-3 win over Lakewood. The 22-year-old had a hit and two walks, drove in one run, scored two more, and added a pair of steals to his team-leading total. He now has 10 stolen bases while ranking second on the team in runs (12) and third in on-base percentage (.349).

Matt De La Rosa, Delmarva Shorebirds (Baltimore) pitcher

De La Rosa had a stretch of four straight scoreless appearances after his brief call-up to High-A Frederick. But he’s been roughed up in three of his four outings since, with the lone exception being a perfect ninth inning last Thursday to close out a 1-0 win over Columbia and record his first save as a pro. In the other three games, he allowed a combined seven runs – including three in two separate occasions against Asheville. 

These rough patches can happen though, especially for relievers. The good news is De La Rosa has nearly surpassed his innings total from all of last season as the Orioles organization works to build up his arm strength and stretch him out for longer appearances. Look for him to bounce back soon.

Thomas St. Clair, Peoria Chiefs (St. Louis) pitcher

There’s not much to update about St. Clair because he hasn’t seen much playing time lately. He picked up his first win of the year April 26 after coming in to pitch two scoreless innings of relief. Then on Friday, he entered a 0-0 game and got tagged for a run in one inning of work, though the Chiefs bailed him out of the loss with two runs in the home half of the inning.

And that’s it. St. Clair has made just four appearances totaling 4.1 innings since joining the club from extended spring training April 18. The Chiefs seem to have a logjam in the bullpen. Adding to that issue is that the parent club sent Carlos Martinez down to Peoria for some rehab work. Hopefully St. Clair will get a few more chances over the next few weeks to show what he’s capable of. 

Extended Spring Training:

Still no updates for the five area pros remaining in extended spring training: Julian Smith (LA Dodgers), Landon Whitson (Arizona), Zach Hammer (NY Mets), Josh McLain (LA Dodgers) and Bryce Hensley (Kansas City). Rookie League ball picks up next month, so we should be getting closer to seeing all of these guys on a playing field again soon. ​

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