Results tagged ‘ Bengie Molina ’
The San Francisco Giants showed the world last year how far a young rotation can take you, riding the arms of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Jonathan Sanchez past the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers on the way to the World Series title. With eventual NL Rookie of the Year Buster Posey emerging as their catcher of now, the Giants were able to move veteran backstop Bengie Molina to the Ranger team they’d face for the title in exchange for a bright young arm from the Texas system.
That arm is 2007 first-round pick and 2008 LumberKings right-hander Michael Main. The DeLand, Florida native was moved along with right-hander Chris Ray in exchange for Molina’s services on July 1. No question Molina’s expertise aided both staffs tremendously in 2010, and his bat proved pivotal for the Rangers against the Rays and Yankees in the playoffs.
Ray was a proven relief commodity and would go 3-0 with a 4.13 ERA over 28 relief appearances with the Giants, but Main can still be considered the key piece of the deal. The second of Texas’s two first-round picks in 2007 (24th overall, seven spots after Rangers-turned-Mariners prospect Blake Beavan), Main entered last season as the #21 prospect in the Rangers’ system according to Baseball America despite relatively average career numbers (9-10, 4.39 ERA, 68 walks, 153 strikeouts and a .258 opponent average in 148 innings) and a propensity to miss time (he’s been through a rotator cuff injury in high school, cracked ribs in 2008 and a two-month bout with mononucleosis in 2009).
Last season, Main looked to be on track to stay healthy and enjoyed his best season since 2008 with Clinton (2-2, 2.58 in 10 starts), going 5-3 with a 3.45 ERA, 21 walks, 72 strikeouts and a .250 opponent average in 91 innings with high-A Bakersfield.
Then came the trade.
Main was already headed to double-A Frisco when the Rangers moved him, so the Giants didn’t interrupt his promotion as they sent him straight to double-A Richmond. Who knows if it was a change in pitching philosophy, lingering jet lag from changing coasts or just jitters with a new organization, but his time as a Flying Squirrel wasn’t positive. He went 0-3 with a 13.83 ERA and walked twice as many as he struck out (14 walks compared to seven K’s) over just five games before injuring his hip in late July and missing the rest of the season.
What does the future hold for Main? It’s uncertain if the highly-touted athlete can finally shake free of the injury bug and find the 96-97 mph fastball and power curveball that got him drafted so highly. The Giants will certainly give him time to do both, probably inviting him to Major League camp before sending him back to Richmond for a full season.
While we wait to see what unfolds for the man we used to call “The Main Event”, let’s revisit the good old days in Clinton when he was part of a rotation that featured Beavan, Ryan Tatusko (also traded by the Rangers in 2010 to the Washington Nationals) and Michael Kirkman.
The right-hander arrived from the AZL near the start of July, replacing right-hander Neftali Feliz, who jumped two levels to double-A Frisco. Main really never encountered trouble over his 10 starts with the LumberKings, stifling opponents to a .228 average while never allowing more than three earned runs in any of his outings. His signature start came on July 31 against South Bend when he worked six innings of three-hit, one-run baseball, walked none and struck out four.
My featured interview with him took place after his first Clinton start in West Michigan on July 10, a 4.2-inning effort in which he scattered seven hits and allowed just a run in a no-decision (a 6-1 LumberKings’ win). We discussed the start, his fastball/curveball/change arsenal, rehabbing the fractured rib, teaming up fellow first-rounder Beavan in the rotation, learning to pitch under pressure while on the national stage with Team USA, his bat and more.
That’s all for The LumberBlog before the Christmas holiday, but keep an eye out for another entry of “The Interview Vault” on Tuesday, January 4. Until then, happy holidays!
Less than a week after first-baseman Mitch Moreland (’08) became the third former King to make a big-league debut, right-hander Thomas Diamond (’04, pictured left) stepped to the mound for the Chicago Cubs to make his first Major League start last night against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Diamond struck out 10 of the 27 batters he faced over 6.0 innings, but also allowed three runs on seven hits as the Cubs lost, 4-3 to the Brewers at Wrigley Field. He became only the second Cub in 90 seasons to strike out 10 in his debut.
Amongst his seven seasons in the Minors (all in the Texas chain until this year) was the 2004 season with Clinton, in which Diamond went 1-0 with a 2.05 ERA in seven starts. He walked only eight while fanning 42 batters over 30.2 innings as a LumberKing. Diamond joins Moreland, first-baseman Justin Smoak (’08) and right-hande Omar Beltre (’03) as former LumberKings who have made Major League debuts this season.
Diamond isn’t the only former Clinton pitcher moving up in recent days. Right-hander Blake Beavan, a member of the 2008 Kings, moved up to triple-A Tacoma and earned a win in his first start with the Rainiers.
Recently acquired by the Seattle Mariners in the deal that sent Cliff Lee to Texas, Beavan was denied his triple-A debut with Oklahoma City but did not have to wait long to get his shot in Seattle. The Irving, TX native and former first-round pick worked 6.0 innings, yielding two runs on seven hits and striking out two in a 9-3 win over Reno.
Right-hander Josh Lueke (’07-’08) has also joined Beavan in Tacoma and has pitched well so far, going 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA, no walks and five strikeouts over 3.0 innings. At least for now, infielder Matt Lawson (’08) has not moved up to Tacoma despite hitting .365 with four doubles, two HR and 14 RBI in just 15 games with double-A West Tenn.
Elsewhere, right-hander Evan Reed (’07-’08) made his first outing as a Florida Marlins farmhand last Saturday, pitching in relief for the double-A Jacksonville Suns. Reed worked 1.2 innings and struck out one of the six Carolina Mudcats’ hitters he faced. The former Clinton starter was shipped by the Rangers along with right-hander Omar Poveda (’06-’07) in the deal that brought them Jorge Cantu. Poveda is still coming back from Tommy John surgery.
Through five games, four starts with double-A Richmond, left-hander Michael Main (’08) is 0-3 with a 13.83 ERA in what has been a rough introduction to the San Francisco system. The former first-round pick has battled control issues with 14 walks and seven strikeouts over 13.2 innings so far. Main was acquired by the Giants in the deal that sent catcher Bengie Molina to the Rangers.
With our bus to the Quad Cities leaving in less than an hour, that’s all the time I have for today. I’ll hopefully have a new interview and game notes prior to the 7:00 PM game against the River Bandits tonight.