History is made again …

by Ben Catley

Time for a dose of Six Degrees of Separation, Osprey style.

There have only been two cycles hit at the Major League level by former Osprey players, with the second one happening on Friday night in Denver. New York Mets outfielder Scott Hairston, a 2001 member of the Osprey, hit for the cycle in a game which turned into an 18-9 loss to the Colorado Rockies. In part, the win – buoyed by an 11-run fifth inning – was ignited by former Osprey outfielder Carlos Gonzalez (2003), who drove in six runs on the night, five in that fifth inning.

By the way, the first cycle in former Osprey history was hit by … CarGo, two seasons ago, on July 31, 2010.

Some of the similarities between the two:
– Both cycles happened at Coors Field.
– Both played the outfield for the Osprey and still play the outfield for their current Major League team.
– Both had the lone double and triple for their respective teams in the games in which they hit their cycles. Miguel Olivio hit a home run the same night CarGo had his cycle.
– Both finished the game with four hits and scored at least two runs.

A couple of the differences:
– The Mets scored nine runs on just three extra-base hits, all from Hairston; while the Rockies scored six the night of CarGo’s cycle, and had to do it in come-from-behind fashion – winning on a CarGo walk-off home run.
– Hairston doubled to round out his cycle. CarGo went yard.
– And … CarGo’s team won both games.

And you’re last oddity … I wonder how many times a player has hit for the cycle and been lifted in a double-switch. Yes, Hairston was lifted in the seventh inning on a double-switch by the Mets.

The RBI ouburst for Gonzalez lifted his RBI total at the time to 15. Hairston moved his RBI total to six.

There is more good news to be had from that game as well …  Hairston hit .400 in the series (he had two hits and a RBI on Sunday), and is beginning to get more regular at-bats for the Mets.

– David Nick (2009) came off the DL for the Mobile BayBears last week, getting back into the lineup last Wednesday at Chattanooga. On the season, Nick is hitting .310 with four doubles and four RBIs.

– Greg Smith (2005) is currently pitching for Double-A Arkansas (LA Angels) in the Texas League. Smith went seven innings in his latest appearance, and is 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA in three outings so far this spring.

– John  Hester (2006), who was released last week by the Baltimore Orioles, has found a new home with the LA Angels organization. Hester was signed and sent to Triple-A Salt Lake.

– With the struggles of Paul Goldschmidt (2009) in the first month of the season for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Lyle Overbay (1999) has seen more at-bats as of late. However, it’s looking like Goldy may be ready to shake out of it, according to reports.

– And in the opinion of some, the D-backs are ready to repeat their 2011 run, for a number of reasons. (OK, truth be told, I choose this because the lead pic is Miguel Montero (2002-03) and Overbay, but still …)

– Well, just when you think the outfield situation for the D-backs is just interesting enough, this nugget gets delivered by GM Kevin Towers on Sunday. I was wondering where he was hanging out …

Osprey Alumni Minor League Update:
Triple-A Reno (9-15): Yes, it’s true, Adam Eaton (2010) is running wild all over the Pacific Coast League. Four of his 11 hits are for extra bases. He also has four steals, a .438 on-base percentage and an OPS hovering right around 1.000. The 19th round pick two seasons ago is indeed enjoying his time in the PCL, hitting .368 while collecting five multi-hit games. He’s played in 11 games since his promotion from Double-A Mobile on April 18, and the Reno Aces are 6-5 since his arrival, including a current four-game win streak.

Double-A Mobile (14-11): Here’s someone to keep your eye on – Chase Anderson (2009). The former Osprey utility pitcher (he can start or come on in long relief) had made an impact in the BayBears starting rotation. Through his first three starts, Anderson is 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA, has struck out 24 batters in 17 innings pitched, and has a WHIP of 0.94. Derek Eitel (2010) is also improving, allowing just an earned run in a seven-inning outing at Chattanooga, where he picked up his first win of the season (1-2, 3.94 ERA).

Class A Advanced Visalia (10-14): Winning cures a lot of ills, especially when you have a winning streak. And, here we go …

Yup, I had to go there. I had a good friend of mine write me a few days ago worried about how the Rawhide were playing. So much for that … they are 3-0 since that note. The key for the Rawhide is to get enough hitting to support their pitching, which is usually awesome. And it was this weekend, as Visalia swept San Jose in a three-game series. Anthony Meo (2011) had his best start of his young career, while the Rawhide bats managed to give the staff enough to work with and get wins. The top three hitters on the club are former Osprey – catcher Raywilly Gomez (2009) is hitting .318, Jonathan Griffin (2011) is at .301, with Chris Owings (2009) right at .296. Griffin hit a moon shot on Sunday, drilling a four-bagger off of the hitter’s background in straightaway center field, for his fourth home run of the season. And that Eric Groff (2010-11) kid is starting to warm up, hitting .297 over his last 10 games to move his average up to .220. Oh, a pair of left-handers are also currently in Beast Mode – David Holmberg (2010) and Michael Belfiore (2009). Holmberg (2-3, 2.35) has 35 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings pitched, plus has a WHIP of 1.05. He isn’t Andrew Chafin (2011), mind you, but he is very good and could be looked at to move up the line soon. Meanwhile, Bels (0-0, 2.45) has fanned 23 batters in 14 2/3 innings pitched.

Aw, heck … two more mentions – the two lowest WHIPs on the Rawhide staff don’t belong to Bels, or Holmberg, or Chafin … but one of them does belong to a lefty. The are, Raymond Hernandez (2011), who currently has an 0.80 WHIP (and, in five outings, is 2-0 with a 0.55 ERA), and Patrick Schuster (2009-10), who is close to that at 0.83.

Class A South Bend (13-10): Have to love afternoon baseball … the Hawks lost today, 14-3, at Quad Cities. The highlight – Matt Helm (2009-10) had three doubles for South Bend. On the good stuff – Jesse Darrah (2011) has settled down a bit, allowing just an unearned run in six innings of work in his last start, a win over Wisconsin on April 24. In both of Darrah’s wins, he has not allowed an earned run, while in his other two starts, he is 0-1 with nine earned runs in nine innings of work … Tom Belza (2011) has kept whatever he had going for himself in 2011 with Missoula happening in South Bend, leading the Silver Hawks in batting (.342). Ender Inciarte (2009) is right behind him, hitting at a .333 clip … Bobby Stone (2008-10) has driven in nine runs in his last 10 games.

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