Much like the temperature around these parts in recent weeks, some of our local baseball pros are heating up while others have cooled off.
Perhaps no area player is hotter than Hayden Deal, who keeps fooling hitters and impressing anyone who watches him pitch. He’s been rewarded appropriately with a midseason All-Star nod, and it looks like he is in line for a really hot summer.
Zach Jarrett had gone quite cold at Double-A, but a return to the High-A level seems to have brought his sunshine back out. Meanwhile, Justin Dean’s incredible year saw a cold front move in, specifically in the form of an injury that’s kept him off the field.
One other thing to keep an eye on: the MLB draft wraps up Wednesday and we could see this list grow by a few more names.
(Statistics and records include games through Monday.)
Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants pitcher
Since our last update, Bumgarner has made two more starts, both against N.L. East competition. He didn’t factor into the decision May 23 after allowing two runs to Atlanta and striking out six in six innings. But it was his most recent start, coming six days later at Miami, that raised some eyebrows.
Bumgarner again went six innings and allowed two runs. But he was pulled after allowing the leadoff hitter to get on in the seventh, having thrown a season-low 81 pitches. Reports suggested that MadBum was fatigued and the Giants had no reason to risk leaving him out there. He wound up on the hook for his fifth loss of the year.
With the uncertainty around his future and who will step up as a trade suitor, “fatigue” is the last word I’m sure anyone wants to hear. The trade deadline isn’t until the end of July though, so there’s no reason to sound any alarms just yet. Bumgarner can easily go back out in his next start (scheduled for Tuesday night) and remind everyone why he is one of the top arms on the market this summer. But we are getting closer to the point where San Francisco will need to make a decision, and the organization will try to get as much as it can to help with this rebuild. A few strong starts from the South Caldwell graduate would do him and the Giants a lot of good.
Hunter Harvey, Bowie Baysox (Baltimore) pitcher
The roller coaster that is Harvey’s 2019 season continues to plunge up and down. In a start May 25 at the Erie SeaWolves, the Bandys grad need 78 pitches to get through just 2.1 innings while allowing three runs and issuing four free passes. But as has become his trend over the past month and a half, he bounced right back with a sterling performance.
Against the Hartford Yard Goats last Friday, Harvey threw a season-high 7.1 innings, giving up two runs (one earned) and five hits while striking out five. Unfortunately, he got little run support and picked up the loss to fall to 2-4 this year.
Consistency still seems to be Harvey’s biggest issue at this point – well, that and the 13 home runs he has already conceded to opposing hitters. I think if he could just string together back-to-back solid performances, that would do wonders for his confidence.
Zach Jarrett, Frederick Keys (Baltimore) outfielder
After struggling in 20 games at the Double-A level, Jarrett was sent back to Frederick to rediscover his swing. Since joining the Keys on May 23, he’s doing just that. Through his first 11 games back, he is hitting .295 (13-of-44) and has homered three times.
The Hickory High School alum marked his return to Frederick by snapping a 30-game homerless drought with a game-tying three-run shot in the ninth inning of an eventual 8-7 win against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. He also hit home runs against the Lynchburg Hillcats on May 29 and 31 for his third and fourth of the season.
The promotion to Double-A might have been a bit rushed – especially considering that Jarrett spent all of the 2018 season at Low-A – but he appears to be taking this demotion in stride. If he can maintain a consistent stroke at the plate, I could see him getting another shot in Bowie before the end of the year.
Hayden Deal, Florida Fire Frogs (Atlanta) pitcher
On a more positive note, Deal’s stellar year received another boost a couple weeks ago when he was one of four Fire Frogs named a Florida State League midseason All-Star. It’s a well-deserved honor considering the numbers the lefty out of Bandys has produced in 2019.
Though his record stands at just 2-3 through 10 starts, he has held opponents in check with a 1.65 ERA and .201 batting average against. Incredibly, both of those stats went up following his past two starts. He went 6.1 innings against the Dunedin Blue Jays on May 24 and then six innings last Thursday against the Fort Myers Miracle, allowing two earned runs in each game.
Despite that little blip, Deal’s first season as a full-time starter couldn’t be going much better. He’s pitched six or more innings in all but two starts, and hasn’t given up more than two runs in any start. It will be fun to watch how he builds on this All-Star nomination.
Tad Ratliff, Wilmington Blue Rocks (Kansas City) pitcher
Ratliff’s streak of converting six consecutive save opportunities came to an unfortunate end with blown saves in back-to-back appearances. He came in against the Salem Red Sox on May 21 and worked a scoreless eighth inning but gave up the tying run with two outs in the ninth. Five nights later against Myrtle Beach, the Lenoir-Rhyne man entered with a runner on third but allowed that runner to score.
Ratliff later picked up his first win of the season after Wilmington walked off against the Pelicans. He then got back on the save train Friday night by closing out a 5-3 victory over the Fayetteville Woodpeckers. He’s now 12-for-15 on save opportunities this year, which easily outpaces the rest of the Carolina League as the saves leader. Don’t be surprised if we see him earn an All-Star nod in the coming days as well.
Justin Dean, Rome Braves (Atlanta) outfielder
Fresh off his inclusion in Atlanta’s top-30 prospect list, Dean has found himself on a different list – and this one isn’t good. He was replaced in the sixth inning of a game May 24 against the Augusta GreenJackets and was put on the seven-day injured list the following day with an undisclosed injury. Dean has yet to make his return, which is a shame because he had really been tearing it up lately.
Last summer’s draftee out of Lenoir-Rhyne had his second three-hit game of the year May 23, including his fourth triple of the year. It was his sixth multi-hit game in his past 11, which had raised his batting average to .283 – the highest it has been in a month and a half. Hopefully this injury is just a minor setback and Dean will return to dazzling in the field and at the plate soon.
Matt De La Rosa, Delmarva Shorebirds (Baltimore) pitcher
Another guy from Lenoir-Rhyne who is seeing a lot of success this season, De La Rosa continues to impress. He has already set new career highs with 18 appearances and 29.2 innings thrown in 2019. He’s kept opponents scoreless in six of his past eight outings as well.
De La Rosa worked three flawless innings May 25 against the Hagerstown Suns for his second save of the year. He did give up two runs in two innings to the Suns three days later, but bounced back with a scoreless frame Saturday to help the Shorebirds beat the Greenville Drive. His success is one of the many reasons Delmarva has the best record in the South Atlantic League.
Thomas St. Clair, Peoria Chiefs (St. Louis) pitcher
A year removed from his midseason All-Star nod, St. Clair is a far cry away from replicating anything close to that. Following a rough outing May 21 that saw the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers score six runs against him in two-thirds of an inning, St. Clair’s ERA nearly doubled to 9.26. He walked four hitters in that one, and through 12 appearances this year, has struck out just as many hitters as he has walked (17).
In his most recent game last Friday, he allowed two hits and two walks in one-plus inning of work but wasn’t charged with any runs. But it left his WHIP (2.09) in bad shape too, so the Lenoir-Rhyne draftee is going to need to rediscover some of his form from last season to get those stats down to more respectable numbers.
Extended Spring Training:
There’s still nothing to report for four of our local pros working out in extended spring: Julian Smith (LA Dodgers), Landon Whitson (Arizona), Zach Hammer (NY Mets) and Josh McLain (LA Dodgers). As for the fifth, Bryce Hensley, he was assigned to Kansas City’s Double-A squad on Monday. He hasn’t appeared in a game for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals yet, but this has to be a promising sign. Look for those other four to be assigned pretty soon now that we’ve reached the draft.