Legends On Deck

Minor League Pitching Duel of the Day: May 23rd

The Bowling Green Hot Rods pounded out 16 hits on Saturday in a 6-3 win on the road vs the South Bend Cubs, tying their four-game series at one game apiece. Starting pitcher Brent Honeywell survived a bumpy third inning where he allowed three runs to score, all with two outs. He went five innings and got the win (4-2.) Tommy Thorpe took the loss out of the bullpen (0-3.) Hunter Wood pitched four shutout innings earning his third save.

I had a difficult decision for today’s duel as there were three worthy games, (Jose Berrios vs Braden Shipley) (Alex Reyes vs Brandon Leibrandt) and (Jake Stinnett vs Brent Honeywell)

Jake Stinnett, the Cubs secondd round pick in the 2014 draft, hadn’t been pitching well and was on the disabled list missing one start. I wanted to see how he did in his return, especially since he was squaring off against Brent Honeywell, plus duel worthy games aren’t as prevalent in low Class-A so when you get one you have to run with it.

Jace Conrad (six-game hitting streak) got the Hot Rods going in the top of the first with a one out double, then he stole third and scored on a sac fly. In the bottom of the third inning, Cael Brockmeyer (hits in eight of his last ten games) doubled to center driving in two runs. After a wild pitch got him to third base, he scored on an infield single by Yasiel Balaguert to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead.

Ryan McNeil replaced the Cubs starter Jake Stinnett to start the fourth inning. After a long flyout to center Nick Ciuffo (hits in eight of his last ten games) doubled and scored on a single by Mac James (seven game hitting streak). The Hot Rods took the lead in the fifth against new pitcher Tommy Thorpe. Casey Gillespie (eight hits in his last three games) led off the inning with a single, and was driven home on a triple by Justin Williams. Williams then scored on a sac fly to give the Rods a 4-3 lead. They were able to widen the lead with single runs in the sixth and ninth innings.

Brent Honeywell, 5 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K’s. He features a low to mid 90’s fastball with sink a potential plus pitch, a mid 70’s screwball also a potential plus pitch, a mid 70’s curve and a low 80’s change that both grade as average or better. Potential mid rotation arm or more.

Jake Stinnett, 3 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K’s, was likely pulled for pitch count reasons as he was just off of the DL.

Stinnett played third base for much of his college career switching to pitching in 2013 exclusively as a junior. The Pirates drafted him that year in the 29th round, he didn’t sign and returned to Maryland for a senior season. Being new to pitching it was a good gamble. He pitched well and the Cubs drafted him in the second round of the 2014 draft.

He features two potential plus pitches in his low to mid 90’s fastball and a low 80’s slider. The change is fringe average right now as is his command. How they progress will determine whether hes a starter or reliever long term.

The two teams will meet again on Sunday in the third game of the four-game set, and I’ll be back tomorrow with another minor league pitching duel of the day.

John is a contributor for Legends on Deck. A Red Sox fan and Minor league enthusiast, he's usually writing about minor league baseball on his own blog - Notes from the Sally. John also loves Bruins hockey and Syracuse basketball. John is married with two grown daughters and lives in Asheville, NC. you can find John on Twitter @SALNotes

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