Scranton Wilkes-Barre and Somerset were able to pick up wins on Thursday night and they will look to carry that success into Friday. The most notable starter for tonight’s action is in New Hampshire where the Double-A Northeast Pitcher of the Week takes the mound for the Patriots. Read about that game and more in Friday’s Pinstriped Previews:
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (6-3) vs. Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (7-2)
PNC Field I 6:35 PM ET
Tonight, their starter, right-hander Brian Keller, will look to continue that success. The 26-year-old right-hander made his first start of the season on May 8 against the Syracuse Mets. He went 2.2 innings, allowed one run on one hit, struck out two, and walked two on 58 pitches (33 strikes) in a no-decision.
Keller’s only start against Lehigh Valley came on August 24, 2019 when he allowed five runs on eight hits, walked a batter, and struck out four over 4.1 innings of work in a loss. In that game, the IronPigs scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth en route to a 7-3 win. While the lineups are different, ironic enough that one of the players that had an RBI single against him that game is now his teammate, Rob Brantly.
The Mets did steal two bases off of Keller in that start. Back in 2019, teams were 10-for-14 in stealing bases against Keller (66.2 percent) with Double-A Trenton and Scranton Wilkes-Barre.
The IronPigs will send Cristopher Sanchez to the mound. The 24-year-old left-hander was acquired by the Phillies in November 2019 from the Tampa Bay Rays. Before this season, he had only made one career appearance in Triple-A back in 2019.
This season, Sanchez has appeared in two games and made his first start with the team on May 8 against Rochester. He allowed two hits, walked three, and struck out three over four scoreless innings. Out of the 59 pitches he threw, 33 were for strikes.
Right now, Sanchez is listed as the 24th ranked prospect in the Phillies organization by MLB Pipeline. According to their website, he has a two-seam fastball that can get up to 97 mph in velocity to go with his changeup and slider. While he only had three strikeouts in his last start, keep an eye on maybe a lot of groundballs from Sanchez if his pitch arsenal is working tonight.
Somerset Patriots (6-3) vs. New Hampshire FisherCats (3-6)
Delta Dental Stadium I 6:35 PM ET
While Luis Gil may be the headliner in terms of the Somerset Patriots rotation, Glenn Otto shouldn’t be overlooked either. This week, Otto was named the Double-A Northeast Pitcher of the Week for his start on May 8 against the Harrisburg Senators.
The 25-year-old right-hander went deep into the game as he allowed two hits, walked a batter, and struck out six over six scoreless innings in the victory. Out of the 81 pitches he threw, 58 were for strikes. He did not allow a single extra-base hit and retired eight of the last nine batters he faced, including striking out the side in the top of the sixth (two of them swinging).
Otto has a tough act to follow after last night when Janson Junk and JP Sears combined to strike out 13 batters in 7.2 innings. After last night’s 6-1 win, Somerset’s pitching staff leads the Double-A Northeast with 105 strikeouts and they have only walked 27 hitters in nine games.
Back in 2015, the Blue Jays signed Castillo in international free agency. The 22-year-old from Venezuela was one of the better pitchers in the Florida State League in 2019 for High-A Dunedin. He went 11-5 with a 2.69 ERA in 24 starts. He struck out 114 batters and walked 28 in 130.1 innings (third in the league in innings pitched).
It was a rough Double-A debut for Castillo on May 8 against Portland. In three innings of work, he allowed five runs (three earned) on seven hits, walked a batter, and struck out two on 64 pitches (44 strikes) in the loss.
According to Jays From The Couch, Castillo has a fastball in the mid-90’s with some sink to go with a slider, curveball, and an occasional cutter. He faced Tampa twice in 2019 and went 1-0 while allowing two runs on eight hits in 11 innings (9 strikeouts, 2 walks).
One hitter to watch against Castillo tonight is Oswaldo Cabrera. The Somerset infielder was 3-for-3 with a double and a RBI against him back on May 28, 2019. Cabrera had his second multi-hit game of the season last night as he went 2-for-4 with a walk. He is hitting .235 to begin the season.
Aberdeen IronBirds (7-2) vs. Hudson Valley Renegades (4-5)
Dutchess Stadium I 7:05 PM ET
TBA vs. TBA
Jhony Brito ended up getting the start for the Renegades on Thursday. The 23-year-old went 3.2 innings, allowed three runs on five hits, walked a batter, hit two batters, and struck out five on 67 pitches (43 strikes) in the loss. While the Renegades did strike out 15 batters last night, they ended up walking nine as well. Seven of them came from relievers Tanner Myatt and Justin Wilson.
Tonight, the Renegades are likely to hand the ball to Jio Orozco. We wrote about him a little bit yesterday, but he is coming off of a short outing against Jersey Shore on May 8. He went two innings, allowed three runs on three hits, walked a batter, and struck out two while having a balk and wild pitch. 32 of his 53 pitches went for strikes.
Orozco will have a tough task in this game against an Ironbirds offense that has scored 16 runs in the first three games. In last night’s 9-5 win for Aberdeen, Toby Welk went 2-for-5 with three RBIs. Welk is 4-for-11 in the series.
As for Hudson Valley, Oswald Peraza’s bat is starting to heat up. The shortstop has homered in consecutive games and is 3-for-7 with three RBIs. He has stolen seven bases in his last five games, so when he gets on base, a stolen base is usually bound to happen. Right now, he is 9-for-10 on stolen base attempts this season. Keep in mind he had eight stolen bases in the entire 2018 season with Rookie-Level Pulaski (36 games).
Tampa Tarpons (6-3) vs. Lakeland Flying Tigers (4-5)
Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium I 6:30 PM ET
TBA vs. RHP Joseph Salazar (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
After the Tampa Tarpons had a fantastic series with the bats against Dunedin, the offense has cooled off a little bit in Lakeland, which is to be expected. In the first three games of this series, Tampa has scored 11 runs.
Thursday night, Tampa had three hits as a team, but two of them came from utility infielder Max Burt. Burt is hitting .409 in five games this season with a home run and six RBIs. The 24-year-old has recorded a hit in each game he has played and three of his nine hits have gone for extra bases.
The Tarpons will face Joseph Salazar tonight in Lakeland. Salazar is a 21-year-old right-hander who was signed as an international free agent in 2016 from Venezuela. From 2017-2019, he pitched in the Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League.
In 2019, Salazar made nine appearances (eight starts) in the GCL and went 2-3 with a 2.25 ERA. He struck out 29 batters and walked 12 over 40 innings while only allowing one home run. Out of those nine games, four of them came against either the GCL Yankees East or GCL Yankees West, but the lineups are completely different.
On May 8 against Clearwater, Salazar had a great Low-A debut. He allowed one hit, walked a batter, and struck out six over five scoreless innings. He threw 76 pitches with 48 of them going for strikes. According to Prospects Live, Salazar has a fastball that is between 92-95 mph to go with a cutter, curveball, and changeup.
As for the Tarpons, their starter has yet to be announced. If they stay on regular rest, there is a chance that Matt Sauer could make his third start of the season tonight, but that remains to be seen.