Montgomery Notebook: Colome's Comeback

The Biscuits went 4-1 in a week that included two days off. They are now a game above the .500 mark (24-23) based on the recent strength of their starting pitching staff, who will soon be joined by a familiar face. Inside, catcher Mark Thomas and pitching coach R.C. Lichtenstein discuss Alex Colome's progress and his importance to the team. Also inside, Ryan Garko is starting to swing a big stick.

Colome's comeback

Alex Colome, the number five prospect in the Rays organization according to Baseball America, is scheduled to return Saturday and make his first start since he suffered an oblique injury April 11, according to Biscuits manager Billy Gardner.

In two starts this season, the right-hander has pitched eight innings and surrendered five earned runs, eight hits and three walks. He has struck out five. In 28 combined starts between High-A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery last season, Colome was 12-9 with a 3.82 ERA and had 123 strikeouts against 72 walks in 157.2 innings pitched.

Colome, who will be restrained to five innings and 75 pitches Saturday, will take the place of right-hander Merrill Kelly. In two starts, Kelly did not allow a run in eight innings. Colome will join the likes of Matt Buschmann and Kyle Lobstein — two Southern League Pitchers of the Week this month. In two starts last week, Lobstein was 1-0 with a 0.64 ERA, allowing one run over 14 innings pitched.

Biscuits catcher Mark Thomas believes Colome has the stuff to receive similar recognition sometime soon, as long as the hard-thrower stays healthy.

"He's a really impressive pitcher," Thomas says. "He's really been gifted with an unbelievable arm and he's been one of the best pitchers I ever caught."

Learning how to locate his pitches and mix in his off-speed stuff will be keys to Colome's development, according to Biscuits pitching coach R.C. Lichtenstein.

"He has to understand that the guys, who are at the big league level who came through with that power arm that he has, had to learn to understand where to throw the ball, get the ball down and separate speeds," Lichtenstein says.

Kang slumping, Garko starting to slug

The Biscuits were 4-1 this past week, despite the struggles of their left-handed power bat, Kyeong Kang. The outfielder has slumped since he was awarded the Southern League Hitter of the Week May 7.

Kang was 5-21 last week including 11 strikeouts. He drove in only one run. The Korean-native is still third in the league in home runs, eight, but none of them having been hit off of lefties. Kang is 6-35 against left-handed pitching this season and has struck out 17 times against them.

"There's still a lot he needs to work on and that includes his defense as well," said Biscuits hitting instructor Ozzie Timmons.

While Kang has slumped, slugging first baseman Ryan Garko has seemingly found his power stroke. Over the course of the past week, Garko was 5-16 with three doubles and his first home run in a Biscuits uniform. One of his doubles was a game- winning hit in extra-innings May 19.

"That was fun," Garko said. "I've just enjoyed putting this uniform on and helping this team win games. I feel like I'm starting to see the ball real well now."

Due up

After the Biscuits (24-23) conclude their five-game series with the Jackson Generals (28-19), who own the best record in the Southern League, they will go on the road and travel to take on the Mississippi Braves (20-26).

Will Sammon is the Montgomery Biscuits beat writer for Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @WillSammon.


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