Young Pitchers Prevail in Clearwater and Batavia

While the offense in both Clearwater and Batavia was pretty much non-existant Tuesday night, it gave young pitchers the chance to shine. Four young pitchers took the opportunity to put up strong numbers for themselves as both Clearwater and Batavia found ways to win despite scoring a combined three runs.

Alfredo Simon hasn't exactly had an easy go of it in 2004. At times though, he has looked very good and Tuesday night was one of those times. With the Clearwater offense again doing their disappearing act, Simon threw a complete game shutout against Brevard County to up his record to 6-9. Simon allowed just two hits and didn't walk a batter, but did put down three hitters on strikeouts.

Ryan Barthelemy slammed a two-run homerun – his ninth of the season – to give the Threshers their only offense of the night as Clearwater won 2-0.

Simon had a strong season at Lakewood last season just as he had since signing with the Phillies as an amateur free agent in the summer of 1999. Watching his stats though, there were signs that Simon was definitely encountering tougher competition. His ERA went from 2.91 in his first season in the Gulf Coast League to 3.79 with Lakewood in 2003, rising bit-by-bit with each level that he stepped up.

Luckily for Simon and the Phillies, the 23 year old right-hander was able to overcome personal challenges that kept him from starting his 2003 season until June. In an effort to appear slightly younger, Simon had used his cousin's birth name and information when he signed with the Phillies. With the tighter security restrictions after 9/11, Simon's secret was found out and he was denied a visa in time to start last season.

Simon's strong outing Tuesday lowered his ERA to 3.44 on the season. Simon also ranks fifth in the Florida State League in strikeouts with 105, ten behind Jon Papelbon of Sarasota.

Meanwhile, in Batavia Tuesday night, Kyle Kendrick, who has had a very rough season turned in a brilliant outing, but got little more than a pat on the back to show for it.

Kendrick, who went 3-8, 6.07 in 15 starts for Lakewood before being demoted turned in his best outing of the season for Batavia and may have shown a true turn around in his season. Coming into Tuesday night, Kendrick was also struggling at Batavia, going 0-2, 5.93 in three starts. Against Oneonta, the 19 year old right-hander threw eight innings of shutout ball, giving up just one hit and no walks while striking out 11.

Unfortunately for Kendrick, the Batavia offense was apparently vacationing elsewhere and wasn't able to make an appearance. Eventually, Kendrick had to hand over a 0-0 game to the bullpen.

Another struggling pitcher, Jake Tompkins, came on in relief. While he wasn't as dominating as Kendrick, Tompkins turned in three shutout innings, taking his ERA from 18.00 down to 7.20 on the season. From there, Kevin Rose, who had a 5.79 ERA came to the rescue and added two more shutout innings. The outing dropped Rose to a 5.06 ERA and when John Hardy doubled home the only run of the game in the bottom of the 13th inning, Rose's record went to 3-1.

Overall, Batavia got 13 shutout innings from their pitching staff, allowing just two hits and three walks while striking out 17 Oneonta hitters. The combined line for Clearwater and Batavia was 22 innings, four hits, three walks and 20 strikeouts. The fact that most of the work came from struggling pitchers made the news that much more welcome.

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