Minor League Report - April 29, 2004

The Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons are blowing away the competition with their pitching. Wednesday night was no exception as Brian Powell and David Coggin strung together 12 shutout innings. At Reading, the numbers are surprisingly weak, but the R-Phils are hanging in there. Clearwater is still looking for power and in Lakewood, they're looking for a way to climb back into the race.

AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre On April 10th, Brian Powell made his first start of the season and lasted 5 2/3 innings, allowing four earned runs on seven hits. Since then though, Powell has been a different pitcher. In three starts since then, Powell has thrown 19 2/3 innings, giving up 10 hits, four walks and striking out 13. He has also allowed just one earned run, resulting in a 0.45 ERA. Powell's latest outing was a seven inning complete game shutout in the first game of a double-header Wednesday night against Syracuse.

David Coggin threw another five shutout innings in the nightcap. Add that to Josh Hancock's five shutout innings on Tuesday and another inning of shutout relief from Jim Crowell after Coggin departed and the Red Barons put together a string of 18 shutout innings. That stretch lowered the team ERA to a stellar 2.93 on the season.

The double-header sweep moved Scranton ½ game ahead of Pawtucket for the lead in the International League's North Division.

AA Reading Phillies Reading's offense came up with 11 hits in Wednesday night's loss to Portland, but they stranded 10 men on base. The R-Phils are 8-10 in last place in the Southern Division of the Eastern League. That's not nearly as bad as it sounds, since last place is just 2 ½ games out of first place.

Reading's catchers went a combined 0-4 last night to continue their offensive struggles. Portland also stole four bases in four attempts last night, meaning that opposing baserunners have been successful in 14 out of 19 attempts (74%).

The Sea Dogs drew eight walks in Wednesday's game. Reading pitchers have walked 71 hitters and struck out 125 this season, not an overwhelming percentage.

You can pull out all of the disappointing stats you want, but Reading is still loaded with talent. Odds are that the numbers will turn around as the season goes along and this team could well be pursuing another Eastern League crown late in the season.

A Clearwater Threshers An error by center fielder Chris Cosbey led to the only run Tampa got off Elizardo Ramirez (2-1, 2.61) and Ryan Hutchinson (1-1, 4.30). Hutchinson also notched his first save of the year. The error was just part of Crosbey's tough night as he went 0-3 at the plate and saw his average drop to .132 on the year.

A small streak was broken Wednesday night. Clearwater had hit homeruns in their last three games coming into Wednesday's contest. Not a huge streak, but keep in mind that this team has just six homeruns in 21 games. John Castellano had extended the streak in the previous two nights with a homerun in back-to-back games, giving him three on the year. Two of Clearwater's previous homeruns came last Thursday to snap a seven game homerless streak.

A Lakewood BlueClaws Lakewood had Wednesday off and comes home to start a four game homestand against Kannapolis Thursday night. Lakewood has started 6-12 and are already 10 games behind Northern Division leader Charleston, West Virginia. Charleston, an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, has won 12 in a row and are 16-2 on the season. Lakewood had three games rained out against Charleston and are 0-1 this season against the Alley Cats. Charleston will host Lakewood May 3rd and 4th.

Scott Mathieson (1-0, 3.00) is scheduled to start Thursday night's game.

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