One night after Luis Mendoza fired a controversial No Hitter in Triple-A against the Memphis Redbirds, the combo of Will Smith and Kelvin Herrera combined for a No Hitter of their own for the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals against the Arkansas Travelers. Smith went 7 innings allowing no hits, a pair of walks, and striking out five. Herrera closed it out with two perfect innings in the eighth and ninth to close out the no hitter. In addition the Naturals turned a Triple Play after Smith walked the first two batters in the 6th inning. Travelers pitcher Matt Shoemaker was a very tough luck loser as he went 9IP, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 8K’s and got the loss.
The folks at InsideTheRockies.com have put up a phenomenal piece chronicling Tyler Matzek‘s return to Low-A Asheville following nearly a month long return to California to work with his youth pitching coach Lon Fullmer, and return to the hybrid version of the Dr. Mike Marshall pitching style that he had grown up with. See below for the differences in Matzek’s delivery between high school in 2009 and now as a pro in 2011. The pitching techniques taught by Dr. Marshall, the 1974 National League Cy Young Award Winner and a Ph.D. in Kinesiology, are all but blackballed by major and minor league pitching coaches. Among the drills that are part of the program is pitching with 20 pound wrist weights and using an iron ball (see video below). The Inside the Rockies article goes in-depth with Fullmer who describes returning Matzek to the style of pitching he grew up with. The drastic action of sending Matzek home came about after the lefty got off to a 0-5 start with an ERA of 10.71, and 61 walks in 42 combined innings between High-A Modesto and Low-A Asheville. It will be interesting to see what kind of a difference the change in approach makes for Matzek, who was the 11th overall pick in the 2009 draft. Again the Inside the Rockies piece is a must read.
Since being drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the second round of the 2009 draft out of El Toro High School in California, all Nolan Arenado has done is hit. The 20 year old is a career .307 and is currently blistering the California League to a tune of a .310 average with 24 Doubles, 1 Triple, 11 Home Runs, and 74 RBI’s as a member of the Modesto Nuts. Among the most impressive stats from Arenado’s career thus far is that he’s struck out in just 108 of his 924 career at-bats, a rate of just over 11 percent. Equally as impressive is that over 37 percent of his hits go for extra bases. Arenado played in the 2011 Futures Game and did what he does best, hitting a double off Royals pitching prospect Kelvin Herrera. We hope you enjoy our Q&A with Nolan Arenado.
TPA: What was it like being around all of the best prospects in baseball at the Futures Game?
Nolan Arenado: It was a blast. It felt so good being around players you hear and read about, and some of them I know personally, like my high school classmate Austin Romine of the Yankees.
TPA: What were some of the things you will take with you from the Futures Game experience?
Nolan Arenado: We were treated so well. All of the attention on us was nice. Playing for such a big crowd was awesome and Chase Field is a great ballpark. It was an honor representing the Rockies. You never know if an opportunity like this will come up again, so I just tried to enjoy every minute.
TPA: After a slow start to the season offensively in 2011, you’ve been one of the hottest bats in the minors over the last month or so. What adjustments did you make to help lead to your recent success?
Nolan Arenado: I did start out slow but I didn’t panic. I made some small tweaks to my swing. I have since tried to stay consistent with what I’m doing at the plate.
TPA: What type of approach and swing thought do you take with you to the plate?
Nolan Arenado: I want to drive the ball. I look for a fastball to hit. I try to do what the situation dictates, and not try to do too much.
TPA: You did a bunch of Perfect Game events when you were in high school, describe that experience, and how seeing the some of the best prep pitching in the country at the time helped prepare you for pro ball?
Nolan Arenado: Perfect Game was a good experience. The more I did them, the more confidence I got. You definitely improve when you play against better competition.
TPA: What’s been your biggest challenge thus far in your pro career?
Nolan Arenado: It is a long season. So, staying consistent in my hitting is a challenge at times.
TPA: Being from Southern California what has it been like getting to play some of your road games this year in cities close to home?
Nolan Arenado: That’s one of the best parts. I’ve been lucky to have my family and friends come out and watch me play. Their support means a lot.
TPA: What has been your best memory so far as a pro?
Nolan Arenado: I am going to have to say the Futures Game so far. I had extended family come out as well, and it was great seeing them. On the field, meeting and talking to pro players was unforgettable. Also, another highlight was working out with Tulo this past winter.
Check out the clips below to see some of what Arenado experienced while at the Futures Games
The Houston Astros have called up Jose Altuve who has been one of Minor League Baseball’s biggest breakout prospects in 2011. The 21 year old second baseman began the year with the High-A Lancaster Jethawks batting .408 with 13(2B), 7(3B), 5HR, 39RBI, and 19 stolen bases in 52 games. Following a promotion to Double-A Corpus Christi, Altuve continued his hot hitting posting a .361 batting average with 9(2B), 3(3B), 5HR, and 25RBI. He has struck out just 40 times in 357 combined at-bats this season. Altuve will be one of the shortest players in the big leagues, officially listed at just 5’7″, but is possibly a little shorter than that. Altuve went 2-3 with a double during the 2011 Futures Game.
A 50 Game suspension for a violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program has been handed down to Cincinnati Reds pitching prospect Dan Tuttle. The 20 year old was a 5th round pick back in the 2009 draft. Tuttle was a combined 7-4 with a 4.59ERA with 85 strikeouts in 80 innings between the Rookie League AZL Reds and the Low-A Dayton Dragons.
This is the coolest thing you will see today. The guys at Oliver Padilla Studios took a time lapse of AT&T Park during a mid-July San Francisco Giants from the opening of the gates until the last fan leaves. It’s over five hours of baseball cut down to just over two minutes. It’s really cool. You can follow Oliver Padilla on twitter @OliverPStudios
It has been quite a roller coaster season to this point for former Texas Longhorns star Brandon Belt. He’s gone from making the opening day roster of the San Francisco Giants, to being demoted to Triple-A Fresno after hitting just .192, only to be called up again days later, only to break his wrist after being hit by a Trever Miller pitch on May 31st. Now belt is back to being healthy, back in Fresno, and coming off a Pacific Coast League Player of the Week honor. Belt talks about the ups and downs of his season, his desire to get back to San Francisco, and the adjustments he is making as a hitter to make sure his next opportunity in the major leagues lasts longer and is more successful than his first.