Oropesa, Dobson continue powerful start to season

BOX SCORES: SAC / RIC / SJ / AUG (1) / AUG (2)

Ricky Oropesa is working on those call-up stats. Beginning his third full season in Richmond, Oropesa has homered four times in his team's first six games. I'm sure he's itching to promote sometime this season to Triple-A, where he'd be back in his home state playing ball for the first time since 2013 with the San Jose Giants. His three-run bomb on Tuesday broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth, crucial in a 7-5 victory over a talent-laden Reading team. Oropesa had 17 home runs a year ago in what was an Eastern League all-star season.

Meanwhile, down in the South Atlantic League, GreenJackets first baseman Dillon Dobson knocked his third ball out of the park in Tuesday's second game, which took place after Augusta and Lexington finished their rain-suspended game from Monday. Dobson, the 23rd-round pick from Appalachian State, is slugging .818 in 22 at-bats, with a double and a triple to go along with his three homers. 

There were a plethora of things going on in the Richmond game other than Oropesa's bomb, including the first start since June 25, 2015 for Kyle Crick. There was good and bad to take from Crick's season debut.

First, the bad. He gave up four runs on five hits and two walks, and only struck out two. The good is better than the bad, though. None of the classic Crick bingo squares from 2014-2015 were checked, including high pitch count, high ball count, and high walk rate. He was generally efficient, throwing 73 pitches in five innings, including 48 for strikes, which equates to an average of five balls per inning. Coming from the Eastern League leader in walks a year ago, two free passes in five frames is a major improvement. 

Crick, usually a major swing-and-miss type pitcher, only managed to tally five swing-throughs on Tuesday, but did so entirely with a beautiful changeup. The fastball was over the plate most of the day, and was fouled off frequently. I saw maybe seven or eight breaking pitches, which is interesting because his curveball has always been his hammer pitch. It was a heavy fastball day for the organization's former No. 1-ranked prospect, featuring solid sink when located in the lower half of the zone.

OTHER NOTES

— Ray Black brought straight heat to his first save of the 2016 season. Reading's radio announcers noted his first pitch of the ninth inning at 100 mph, but the real buzz came from a tweet after the game from Flying Squirrels play-by-play man Jay Burnham.

Black clearly had a wild hair up his nose during the closing inning, striking out the side, producing seven swinging strikes, and throwing two wild pitches.

Austin Slater went 2-for-3 with a home run, a double, and two walks while Christian Arroyo had two hits again, including his second double of the year.

Jordan Johnson pitched for San Jose and was solid. Five innings, 70 pitches, 49 strikes, and five strikeouts along with zero walks. He allowed three runs on five hits, and got 12 batters to swing and miss at his stuff. The non-television broadcast camera at Municipal Stadium makes it difficult to see pitches, so I don't have much for you on Johnson until I see him live.

Johneshwy Fargas now has three triples in his first three (and a half) games, compared to surprisingly just two in Augusta last year. He also stole his first of many bases. And one more note from San Jose: Chris Shaw has a California League batting average, breaking out of an 0-for-8, three-strikeout mini slump by going 3-for-4 with a double.

— Out in the dreaded ballpark of the Las Vegas 51s, Ty Blach displayed rare strikeout stuff with a six-inning, seven punchout performance to push the River Cats to their first win of the season, snapping a five-game losing streak. Blach struck out more hitters than innings pitched in a game just once in 2015. 

TOMORROW'S STARTERS


TOP-30 PROSPECT ROUNDUP

  1. Christian Arroyo: 2-for-5, R, 2B, RBI, SO
  2. Tyler Beede: DNP
  3. Phil Bickford: DNP
  4. Lucius Fox: 1-for-8, 3 R, BB, 3 SO, 3 SB
  5. Chris Shaw: 3-for-4, 2 R, 2B, RBI, SO
  6. Sam Coonrod: DNP
  7. Mac Williamson: 3-for-5, R, 2 SO
  8. Aramis Garcia: 3-for-4, 2 R, RBI
  9. Andrew Suarez: DNP
  10. Adalberto Mejia: DNP
  11. Clayton Blackburn: DNP
  12. Jalen Miller: 4-for-9, R, 2 RBI, SO, SB
  13. Ray Black: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
  14. Chase Johnson: DNP
  15. Jordan Johnson: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
  16. Steven Okert: DNP
  17. Kyle Crick: 5 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
  18. Jarrett Parker: 0-for-4, 3 SO
  19. Hunter Cole: 0-for-4, SO
  20. Austin Slater: 2-for-3, 3 R, 2B, HR, RBI, 2 BB
  21. Joan Gregorio: DNP
  22. Michael Santos: DNP
  23. Ty Blach: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
  24. Mac Marshall: 4 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 3 K
  25. Ronnie Jebavy: 0-for-4, BB, 2 SO
  26. Derek Law: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  27. Chris Stratton: DNP
  28. Ian Gardeck: DNP
  29. Jake Smith: DNP
  30. Dylan Davis: 3-for-8, R, r3B, 3 RBI, SO

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