The entire Sacramento River Cats lineup was essentially stymied by soft-throwing right-hander Alex Blackford of the Salt Lake Bees on Thursday night. That included 12-game hit streak owner Christian Arroyo, who went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Arroyo, and many others, had trouble connecting with Blackford's curveball, which at times dropped to 69 mph but was normally in the 71-73 range. Austin Slater, though, did take what looked like a changeup left up in the zone and smashed it down the line for his third double of the year.
Joan Gregorio had his usual stuff, but lacked the command necessary for a lengthy, productive outing. He featured the sinking fastball in the 91-93 range, touching 94 on rare occasion, but consistently missed up, as well as armside to left-handed hitters. This put him behind in counts often, making him vulnerable to hittable pitches and walks, of which he had four of each.
His best pitch, as it typically is, was the slider. Of the four strikeouts Gregorio totaled during his five-inning start, three were courtesy of the 82-84 mph vertically-oriented breaking ball — all swinging. The fourth was another swinging strikeout, but with the fastball.
Chris Stratton and Dan Slania were assigned charting duties on Thursday, and Stratton was able to confirm what I suspected. The knock on Gregorio has always been that he only has two real pitches — fastball and slider — thus why many, including me, see him in the bullpen if/when he puts on a major league uniform. His third offering is a firm changeup that has never fully come to fruition. I thought I noticed it one, maybe two times in the 85-87 range to left-handers. Stratton said he recorded Gregorio throwing it four times.
Two of Gregorio's four earned runs came off the bat of Eric Young, Jr.'s well-connected home run in the third inning. This fastball lacked the usual sink and was left on a tee for Young, who is batting .403 after going 2-for-4.
The highlight of the evening was a two-inning relief outing from Chase Johnson. He came out of the pen pumping 94-96 with his two-seam fastball, and though he failed to throw his slider for a strike in the 6th, the pitch was vital while he struck out the side in the seventh. Johnson's slider features sharp, diagonal movement with almost identical arm action to his fastball. All three punchouts were of the swinging variety, and in that seventh inning, Johnson was racking up swinging strikes with both the fastball and slider, including a 96-mph heater he blew by Dustin Ackley to end the inning.
— Miguel Gomez went 3-for-5 with his second home run of the year, raising his isolated slugging percentage to .173 through 54 plate appearances. Gomez is striking out 12.9 percent of the time in 2017, which is 1.6% higher than 2016. Still, 12.9 is stellar and it should have probably been expected that his strikeout rate would climb a bit facing more talented pitching in Double-A.
TOP-30 PROSPECTS ROUNDUP
- Tyler Beede: DNP
- Christian Arroyo: 0-for-4, 2 SO
- Bryan Reynolds: 0-for-4, SO
- Steven Duggar: DNP
- Chris Shaw: 2-for-5, R, 2 RBI, SO
- Sandro Fabian: DNP
- Heath Quinn: DNP
- Joan Gregorio: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 4 K
- Jordan Johnson: DNP
- Andrew Suarez: 7 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 4 K
- Ty Blach: DNP
- Steven Okert: DNP
- Sam Coonrod: DNP
- Matt Krook: DNP
- Aramis Garcia: 0-for-2, SO
- C.J. Hinojosa: DNP
- Reyes Moronta: DNP
- Rodolfo Martinez: DNP
- Austin Slater: 1-for-3, 2B, RBI, SO
- Kelvin Beltre: 1-for-3, R
- Dan Slania: DNP
- Cory Taylor: DNP
- Chris Stratton: DNP
- Chase Johnson: 2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K
- Jalen Miller: 2-for-3, R, 2B, BB
- Melvin Adon: DNP
- Garrett Williams: DNP
- Dylan Davis: DNP
- Ryder Jones: 0-for-3, R, BB
- Hunter Cole: 1-for-5, 2B, RBI, SO