Bakersfield scored runs in every inning after the first Sunday and won at High Desert 14-8 in a classic California League slugfest. Their victory maintained a five game lead in the league's Northern Division with less than two weeks left in the first half season.
Seth Mejias-Brean got scoring started when he led off the second inning with a home run. Jesse Winker added two more with a homer in the second before the Blaze built a five run lead the next frame when Zach Vincej singled home a run and Juan plated two with a double.
The Mavericks weren't done because they rallied for four in the bottom of the inning, but Bakersfield went back to work in the fifth when Silva double home two more. Yovan Gonzalez had an RBI double in the sixth and Winker plated three more with his second homer of the game in the seventh. Beau Amaral joined the home run barrage in the eighth by hitting an inside-the-park one and Ryan Wright finished the scoring with a solo homer in the ninth, the team's fifth of the game.
The visitors pounded out nineteen hits in the contest led by Silva with four. Mejias-Brean went 3-5 with a walk; Amaral and Vincej also added three hits apiece. Two hits were contributed to the attack by Wright, Winker, and Gonzalez.
On the mound Ben Lively got the win by allowing five runs in seven innings. Lively has shown he's human the past couple of outings by allowing nine runs in thirteen frames to "balloon" his ERA up to 1.95. Jimmy Moran completed the contest by allowing three runs (two earned) in two innings.
Winker, whom many feel is the top hitting prospect in the Cincinnati system, is now hitting .320 with an on-base percentage of .417 and he's torched opposing pitching at a .452 AVG/.549 OB clip over the past ten games. During that span he's popped five homers to fuel a .881 slugging percentage to bring him up to .558 overall this season.
Like Winker, Mejias-Brean also has nine home runs on the season and both are on the fringe of cracking the league's top ten. He's now over the .300 AVG level and he's and eyelash under .400 OB. He's slugging at .458 and also swiped seven bases while getting caught only once. Now in his third season since Cincinnati drafted him after he helped Arizona to a College World Series championship in 2012, he's flat out hit at every level he's played thus far. While moving up in the system from Billings to Dayton to Bakersfield he's accumulated a career minor league slash line of .305 AVG/.386 OB/.473 SLG.
His power numbers aren't the only thing improving this year because he's flashing good leather in the field too. That's no surprise since he brought a reputation of a good glove at third base with him when he left college. Actually it was a bit disappointing when he committed thirteen errors in 45 games during the short season at Billings in 2012. He split time at that position last year at Dayton, but thus far in 2014 he's been used exclusively at the hot corner and has only eight miscues in 58 games.
He may hit a wall yet during his ascent up the organization, but it does not appear that will happen at the high-A level. He's 23 years old so the Reds might opt to promote him to Pensacola this year, but that probably won't happen until late in the season. Former White Sox prospect Juan Silverio has done a nice job since coming into the Cincinnati organization, so Mejias-Brean might have to wait to index up the pipeline behind him instead of forcing his way early.
Thus far it's been smooth sailing for Mejias-Brean since he's turned professional and he even received the Chief Bender Award in 2013 which recognizes the Reds minor league player of the year. He's looking like a steal for an eighth round selection and it will be interesting to see if he can maintain the power numbers whenever he returns to venues closer to sea level. Right now he'll help the Blaze seal up the first half season championship and a spot in the California League playoffs. If he's still around at the end of the year his collegiate career suggests that he knows how to help his team achieve post season success.
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