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International League News and Notes

June 15, 2006 - International League (IL)

CURRENT INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE LEADERS IN ONLINE FAN VOTING FOR TRIPLE-A ALL-STAR GAM E
Catcher - Shawn Wooten, Rochester Outfield - Lastings Milledge, Norfolk
First Base - Kevin Witt, Durham Ryan Ludwick, Toledo
Second Base - Kevin Hooper, Toledo Josh Rabe, Rochester
Shortstop - B.J. Upton, Durham Starting Pitcher - Jeremy Sowers, Buffalo
Third Base - Josh Fields, Charlotte Tom Gorzelanny, Indianapolis
Designated Hitter - Ernie Young, Charlotte Relief Pitcher - Pat Neshek, Rochester
Scott Strickland, Indianapolis
***Online voting concludes June 23***
BUFFALO BISONS
SOWERS IS PLAYER OF THE MONTH: Pitcher Jeremy Sowers has been named the Topps-International League Player-of-the-Month for May as selected by IL field managers. The left-handed starter was undefeated in six May starts, posting a 4-0 record and a 0.88 ERA in 41.0 innings of work. Included in the month was a stretch of 29.0 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. Sowers threw a complete game, one-hit shutout in the first game of a doubleheader against Ottawa on May 8. On May 24 in Toledo, he threw eight innings of three-hit shutout ball in a no-decision against the Mud Hens. On the season, Sowers is 7-1 with a 1.37 ERA. He currently ranks 2nd in the International League in ERA and innings pitched and is tied for 3rd in wins.

ALFARO'S SOLID DEBUT: Infielder Jason Alfaro began his Bisons career with a bang last Friday. In his first at-bat with the team, Alfaro hit a two-run home run in an 8-5 defeat in Charlotte. Two days later, Alfaro went deep again for the Herd. In his first five games with Buffalo, Alfaro is hitting .278 (5-18) with two home runs, four RBI and four runs scored.

GOING, GOING, GONE: Third baseman Andy Marte is starting to find his power swing. Marte homered in three consecutive days last week, going deep June 10-12 in Charlotte. Then on Tuesday, Marte doubled home both of Buffalo's runs in a 3-2 loss in Durham. In his last 17 games, Marte has hit .339 (21-62) with four doubles, four home runs, 11 RBI, six walks and 12 runs scored. On the season, Marte is hitting .261 with six HR and 21 RBI.

CHARLOTTE KNIGHTS
MR. 300: Not only did Ernie Young's 2-run home run in the 1st inning of Monday's game give the Knights a lead that they wouldn't give back, but it was also Ernie's 300th career Minor League home run. Ernie entered the season with 293 and has since blasted 7 for the Charlotte Knights in 2006. On the season Young is now batting .245 (38-155) with 7 doubles and 30 RBI. Young spent the last two seasons with Buffalo in the IL and was able to hit 20 in 2005 and 28 in 2004.

PITCHING IS THE KEY: So far in 2006 the key to the Knights success has been their pitching. The Knights currently lead the International League with a team ERA of 2.88 which is far below the team's 4.83 ERA in 2005. Two key reasons why the Knights have the lowest ERA in the IL are starting pitchers Charlie Haeger and Heath Phillips. Haeger is currently 1st in the International League with a 1.29 ERA and is tied for 2nd with a 7-0 mark. Phillips is currently 3rd with a 1.94 ERA and is tied for 1st in wins with a 8-2 mark.

RUNNING AWAY FROM THE CROWD: Not only have the Knights extended their lead in the IL South to 14.5 games over 2nd place Durham but they have also taken over 1st place in steals in the International League with 81 as a team. Durham's B.J. Upton is still setting the pace with 27 but Jerry Owens is tied for 2nd with 21 and Casey Rogowski is gaining ground in 5th with 17. With 2 more stolen bases Owens will tie Andres Torres (2004) for the 10th best single season mark of 23 stolen bases for the Knights. In 2005 the club managed just 40 stolen bases all season.

COLUMBUS CLIPPERS
BIRTHDAY BOYS: Columbus starters Ramiro Mendoza and Steven White both will be celebrating their birthdays today. White, turning 25, just made the second start of his Columbus career last night. In his Clippers debut he allowed one unearned run in seven innings. White received his first promotion to Triple-A after winning three of his last four starts at Trenton, giving up just four runs in 27 innings. Mendoza, in his second stint with the Clippers after coming through Columbus in 1995-97, will be turning 34. He is scheduled to pitch tomorrow night against Ottawa and he sports a 2-2 record in six starts.

YANKEES REHABING: The New York Yankees have sent reliever Octavio Dotel and outfielder Bubba Crosby to Columbus for rehab assignments. Crosby led off the game last night with a home run and has a hit in each game he has played. Dotel has made two appearances out of the bullpen and has struck out three batters in two innings.

WILSON LOOKING TO STAY PERFECT: Kris Wilson, who owns a perfect 3-0 record in four starts at home this season, will take the mound for the Clippers Saturday night. He owns a miniscule 0.30 ERA at the Coop.

DURHAM BULLS
250 FOR WITT: First baseman Kevin Witt hit his 250th Minor League home run on Monday. The blast, Witt's League-leading 17th, came in an 8-2 victory over Norfolk.

SOLID START: Durham has received quality starts (3 ER or less, 6 IP or more) in its last four games, but has split those four contests. In only one of those games has Durham's starter picked up the victory. The Bulls are one out away from seven consecutive quality starts, as Jason Hammel (today's Game 1 starter) was one out shy of such an effort, giving up three runs in 5.2 innings.

RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY: Yesterday's wash out against Buffalo was Durham's fourth rainout this year. Durham has been rained out twice at home and twice on the road. One of those home rainouts will be made up on August 12 as part of a day-night doubleheader against Indianapolis.

DOUBLE DIPPING: In its two previous doubleheaders at Buffalo and Norfolk, Durham won both ends of the twin bill.

DELMON DONE MONDAY: OF Delmon Young is eligible to return to action on Monday when the Bulls host Charlotte. Young is wrapping up a 50-game suspension this week for his bat-throwing incident against Pawtucket on April 26.

INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS
BEEN HERE FOR A WHILE: Indianapolis has been in first place since April 23 -- a span of 54 days. It's the longest streak since April 8-June 4, 2004, when the Tribe sat atop the International League's West Division for 58 consecutive days.

ROAD WARRIORS: Indianapolis owns the International League's second-best road record at 20-11 (.645). Only IL South Division-leader Charlotte (28-6, .824) boasts a better winning percentage away from home.

THEY CAN'T KEEP HIM OFF BASE: Indianapolis INF Chris Richard has reached base safely in 29 consecutive games (.270, 27-100, 8 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 14 R, 19 RBI, 13 BB, 16 SO). Richard's run is the longest active streak in the IL this season. The 32-year-old is hitting .244 with six long balls and 22 RBI in 41 games.

THOMPSON IS SWINGING IT, TOO: Indians OF Rich Thompson enters Thursday evening's tilt with a base knock in 13 of his last 15 games (.333, 17-51, 2 2B, 2 3B, 8 R, 6 RBI, 6 BB, 4 SO). The 26-year-old is batting .299 with 17 RBI in 47 games this season.

GETTING IT DONE AT THE DISH: Tribe C Carlos Maldonado is hitting .393 (13-33, 4 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 9 RBI) over his last 11 games. OF Raul Gonzalez is batting .344 (11-32, 4 R, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBI) in his last 10 contests.

AMONG THE IL LEADERS: Indians LHP Tom Gorzelanny leads the International League in strikeouts (86). OF Rich Thompson is tied for 2nd in triples (5) and 4th in on-base percentage (.409), while OF Rajai Davis is tied for 2nd in stolen bases (21).

FLASHING THE LEATHER: Indianapolis is tied for first among International League teams with a .984 fielding percentage (1,759 PO, 708 A, 39 E). The Indians have collected 38 errorless games this season, going 22-16 in those contests.

THE TEAM PITCHING IS SOLID, TOO: Indianapolis ranks second among IL clubs in saves (25) and third in team ERA (3.30).

LOUISVILLE BATS
WINNING WAYS: The Bats have won three in a row and six of their last seven games before getting rained out in Richmond Wednesday night. Louisville is 11-4 in their last 15 games and is 3.5 games out of first place, just 0.5 game behind second-place Toledo. Currently at 31-33, May 2 was the last time the Bats were two games under .500 with a 12-14 record; the last time they hit the .500 mark was April 25 when the team was 10-10. On June 15, 2005, the Bats were 30-36 and in 4th place in the IL West, 10.5 games out of first place.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Bats have won six straight road games beginning with their win May 28 at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and have won eight of their last 11 road games since May 24. The team is currently 3-0 during their 10-game road trip and returns home to Louisville Slugger Field June 22.

RICO TO BILLINGS: Louisville bench coach Ricardo Cuevas has left the Bats to coach the Rookie League Billings' team. Cuevas replaced Alonzo Powell as Louisville's bench coach to start the season; Powell was reassigned as the hitting coach at Single-A Dayton before the season began. Jay Sorg will replace Cuevas as Louisville's bench coach and is set to join the Bats in Norfolk this weekend.

NORFOLK TIDES
RINGING TRUE: Tides reliever Royce Ring has pitched exceptionally well over the past two months. Since April 19, Ring has gone 2-0 with four saves and a 0.00 ERA, turning in 15 consecutive scoreless outings. The southpaw has allowed just seven hits and six walks while striking out 22 over the stretch, which has spanned 18.0 innings, the longest scoreless streak for any member of the Tides this season. The longest consecutive scoreless inning streak in Tides franchise history was turned in by Orber Moreno during the 2003 season, when Moreno did not allow a run over 24.1 consecutive innings.

OFFENSE LIKES MACLANE: Tonight's starter Evan MacLane has pitched exceptionally well since being promoted from Double-A Binghamton on May 12, and he has also been helped by great run support. MacLane is 6-0 with a 2.11 ERA in seven starts with Norfolk this year, and the Tides have helped his cause by scoring 53 runs (7.57 runs a game) in the southpaw's starts. The Tides are averaging 2.81 runs in the 58 games that MacLane has not started this season.
MULTI-HIT MAN: Jeff Keppinger has multiple hits in five of his last seven games, hitting .429 (12-28) over that stretch. The 26-year-old leads the Tides with 18 multi-hit games this season, and his 66 base hits this season is tied for third-most among Mets Minor Leaguers this season.

OTTAWA LYNX
KESTER THAN THE REST: RHP Tim Kester has been a terrific addition to the Lynx pitching staff. Since joining the Lynx from Double-A Bowie on June 2, Kester has gone 2-0 in three starts, posting a 1.00 ERA. Last night Kester struck out a season high seven batters and in 18.0 innings this year he has given up only two runs on 13 hits while walking three and striking out 13.

NO MORE STREAKING: Lynx INF Howie Clark's 16-game hit streak came to an end last night as he went 0-3 with a walk in Columbus. During the streak Clark batted .328 (20-61). The 16-game streak by Clark is the 3rd longest streak of the season in the IL and the longest Lynx hitting streak since Endy Chavez hit in a franchise-best 25 straight games in 2002. Despite having his hitting streak snapped, Clark continues an on-base streak, which is now at 20 games.

BOW(WOW)ERS HAS BITE: SS Jason Bowers is another player who has gotten off to an impressive start as a member of the Lynx. Since joining the Lynx from Lancaster of the Independent Atlantic League, Bowers has hit .400 (10-25) in eight games. Known as a defensive specialist, Bowers has yet to commit an error for Ottawa.

HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW: It was a crazy week for Lynx INF Ed Rogers. On Monday Rogers was optioned to Ottawa from Baltimore when OF Jay Gibbons came off the Orioles disabled list, joining the Lynx in Columbus. Rogers was in uniform Tuesday night for a total of three at-bats before he was removed from the game and told to pack his bags and head to Toronto to re-join the Orioles after Gibbons re-injured himself and was placed on the disabled list.

PAWTUCKET RED SOX
WINNING WAYS: The PawSox have won 8 of their last 10 games (including a season-high 6-game winning streak from June 7-12) and this comes on the heels of a season-high 6-game losing streak from May 28-June 3. During their last 10 games (since June 4) Sox pitchers are 8-2 with a 2.53 ERA (25 ER in 89) as their team ERA has dropped from 3.67 to 3.49 (it was 3.48 on June 11 which was their lowest since May 25 at 3.47). PawSox starters during this stretch are 3-1 with a nifty 1.66 ERA (11 ER in 59.2 IP). Meanwhile, the PawSox offense has come to life over the last week and a half as Sox batters are hitting .288 in their last 10 games (100-347) to raise their Team Batting Average from .230 to .239 (it was .240 on June 12 which was their highest since just after Opening Night). While winning 8 of their last 10 games Pawtucket has nearly doubled-up the opposition, outscoring them by a 52-27 margin.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES (NOT): The PawSox come into play tonight with a 32-32 record and they are in 3rd-place in the IL North (-7.5) after their first 64 games. Last year after 64 games they were also 32-32, also in 3rd-place (and also -7.5 GB).

SURPRISE MOVES: The Boston Red Sox this week sold RHP Jimmy Serrano to the Korean Professional Baseball League. Serrano, who agreed to the deal to play for a club called the SK Wyverns, had been brilliant for the PawSox of late (1 ER in his last 39.2 IP) and was 4-5 with a 2.50 ERA in 13 games (11 starts) on the year (the 6th best ERA in the League). In other PawSox moves, the club released 3B Rodney Nye (.237 in 43 games) after Monday night's game. On Tuesday the PawSox added RHP David Pauley, who was optioned from Boston to Pawtucket after his start on Sunday night at Fenway Park, to their roster. Pauley is slated to make his Pawtucket debut on Friday night in Norfolk. He was 0-2 with a 7.88 ERA in 3 starts for Boston after being recalled from Portland (AA) on May 31. Pauley was 2-3 with a 2.39 ERA in 10 GS for the Sea Dogs. Today the PawSox are adding LHP Mario Pena from Boston's extended spring training club and Pena is slated to start Game 1 of tonight's doubleheader in Norfolk. Pena, 21, is a 6'4", 170 lbs. lefty from Nicaragua. He has made just one start at the Class-A level (with Wilmington back on May 19). Mario was the Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year for the Dominican Summer League in 2003 going 4-5 with a 1.93 ERA in 16 games (12 starts). And finally, this past Monday the Red Sox transferred OF Gabe Kapler to Pawtucket. Kapler, who went 2-5 with a 2B and 2 RBI as the right fielder on Monday in Pawtucket's 8-6 victory over Richmond, is making a valiant comeback from a ruptured left Achilles' tendon suffered while running the bases last September 14 in Toronto. Kapler was on first base in the top of the 5th inning when Tony Graffanino hit a line drive homer to left field. Kapler was running hard around the bases when he suffered the ruptured Achilles' tendon which required surgery on September 20. Since then he has made a remarkable recovery. Gabe, who has a .271 career average in 778 big league games (.273 in 240 games with the Red Sox), had an incredible 6-game stint with the PawSox last July 23-29 (rehabbing a strained back) when he hit .636 in 6 games with Pawtucket (14-22) with 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR & 6 RBI.

RICHMOND BRAVES
STORMIN' THORMAN: Scott Thorman had the Braves second four hit game of the season Monday. Thorman is third in the League in hitting (.325). He is second in home runs (15). He is tied for third in RBI (43). He has the IL lead in hits (80). Thorman is third in slugging percentage (.581). He is second in the IL in extra base hits with 31. Thorman has hits in 14 of his last 15 games. His recently ended 11 game hitting streak is the club's longest of the season. Thorman is hitting .442 with six home runs and 17 RBI in 13 June games.

STOCKMAN MOVES UP: RHP Phil Stockman was recalled to Atlanta Tuesday. He is the 11th R-Brave summoned to Atlanta this season. He worked his last 18 innings in nine appearances without allowing a run while permitting just four hits. For the year Stockman was 0-0 (0.91 ERA) in 16 games. The Braves have made 65 roster moves since Opening Day.

BAD PATCH: Richmond has lost five straight games and seven of their last eight. The Braves are a season low 13 games under .500. The 21 games out of first place also is a season low.

WORKING OVERTIME: The Braves played their 12th extra inning game of the season Tuesday. They played 11 extra inning games all of last season. The Braves are second in the IL in extra inning games played (Rochester has played 14). The Braves are 4-8 in extra innings.


ROCHESTER RED WINGS
CARDIAC KIDS: Last night's win was the 13th time this season the Red Wings have won in their final at-bat. So far this season Rochester is 13-3 in games decided in last at-bats. If Rochester can finish the 2006 season with a winning record in games decided in last at-bats, it would be the first time since Red Wings records begin in 1979 that Rochester has had four consecutive seasons (2005 11-6, 2004 11-6 and 2003 10-7) with a winning record in games decided in last at-bats. Since Rochester changed affiliations to the Minnesota Twins in 2003 they've got a 45-22 record in games decided in last at-bats.

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT: Rochester has won six of their last eight one-run games. Of the 66 games played so far this season, 37 (56%) of them have been decided by 1 or 2 runs. Rochester is 13-6 in one-run games and 8-10 in two-run games.

IT'S BEEN A VERY LONG TIME: This season's 41-25 start is the best 66-game start by a Red Wings team since 1974 when the Joe Altobelli managed Red Wings started the first 66 games with a 42-24 record. Since 1970 Rochester has only reached 40 wins in their first 65 games just three times (1974, 1997 and 2006).

EXTRA, EXTRA: With last night's win the Red Wings moved to an International League best 12-2 in extra inning games this season. Rochester has won seven in a row and 14 of their last 17 extra inning games dating back to last season.

SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE
LAST FOUR: Tonight's starter Brian Mazone has pitched great in his last four starts. Since May 24 the lefty is 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA. In 24.0 innings he has allowed just 16 hits and 4 runs.

CONGRATS JIM: Red Barons reliever Jim Crowell and his wife Natalie are the proud parents of a baby boy. Caden James Crowell was born June 14 in Indiana. The little lefty weighed in at 9 ½ lbs and was 19 ½ inches long.

BARONS BITS: Dan Giese's next appearance will be the 132nd in his Red Barons career, matching the mark set by Paul Fletcher from 1992-1995.....Adam Bernero tossed the club's 3rd 9.0 inning CG of the season last night vs. Charlotte. It is the most by the staff since five were tossed in 2002.....The Red Barons offense is averaging 3.4 runs per game this season and is on pace to score 491 runs. The fewest a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre team has ever scored is 547 in 1989. The most is 746 in 1998.......Since April 30 the offense is averaging just 2.74 runs per game....On a brighter note, the pitching staff is on pace to allow only 508 runs in 144 games which would be the 2nd fewest in team history. The 1992 staff allowed 499 in 142 games.

SYRACUSE SKYCHIEFS
SANTOS STREAK SNAPPED AT 20: SkyChiefs shortstop Sergio Santos went 0-5 Wednesday at Toledo snapping his hitting streak at 20 games. Santos's streak was the 3rd-longest in Syracuse history. Tony Fernandez put 21 games together in 1982 and Robert Perez holds the club record with a 22-game mark in 1994. Santos's streak is also the longest in the IL this season, eclipsing Jason Tyner's previous best of 17 games. During the streak the 22-year old shortstop collected nine multi-hit games, hit .356 (31-87) with ten doubles, a home run and twelve runs batted in and raised his average from .207 to .266.

A.J. A OK: Blue Jays right-hander A.J. Burnett made a Major League rehabilitation start for the SkyChiefs on Monday night versus Columbus. Burnett did not allow a hit in five innings of work, walking just one Clipper and striking out seven and was the winning pitcher in the SkyChiefs 9-3 victory. He will make his next start for Double-A New Hampshire this Saturday and is expected to return to the Blue Jays rotation on June 22 against Atlanta.

DOUBLE VISION: The SkyChiefs lead the International League with 144 doubles and have hit at least one double in 13 consecutive games. With Rochester's Jason Bartlett being recalled by the Twins, SkyChiefs first baseman Kevin Barker is now tied with Charlotte's Josh Fields for the lead among active IL players with 19 two-baggers this season. SkyChiefs outfielder Chad Mottola is just one behind with 18 doubles this season and is currently fourth on the franchise's All-Time list with 105 in his Syracuse career.

TOLEDO MUD HENS
FOR PETE'S SAKE: Hens backstop Brian Peterson has been on the catching end of some masterful pitching performances this season. Peterson caught for Chad Durbin June 12, versus Ottawa; Durbin pitched a complete game shutout, striking out a season-high 10 Lynx batters, in picking up the win. On May 26, versus Buffalo, Peterson again caught for Durbin and again, the dynamic duo produced another complete game shutout in garnering another Hens win. Peterson has had success with other Hens hurlers as well. On May 24, RHP Jordan Tata went six innings, allowing no runs, and picking up the win with Peterson catching. Current Detroit Tigers pitcher and former Hen Zach Miner pitched a gem on April 27, versus Indianapolis, going eight innings, allowing zero runs, on a mere two hits, while striking out eight, and who caught for Miner? You guessed it, Brian Peterson.

ARE YOU GETTING TIRED?: Ryan Ludwick has been one of the Hens most dependable players all season long. Ludwick ranks near the top in all offensive categories batting .283, with 10 home runs and 36 RBI for the Hens and had his 9-game hit streak snapped on Wednesday night versus Syracuse. Most importantly, Ludwick has stayed healthy and is the only Hen to appear in all 65 games playing primarily right field and batting third or clean-up.


CAN'T TOUCH THIS: The Hens pitching staff is on fire! Over the last 68 innings, Hens hurlers have only allowed 12 runs - that's just over 7 games, with an average of 1.59 runs per game. Leading the charge are starting pitchers Wil Ledezma, Chad Durbin, Colby Lewis, Jordan Tata and Humberto Sanchez. The starters have pitched 47.2 innings, allowing seven earned runs, on only 41 hits, while racking up 40 strikeouts. The Hen pen has also been solid over the stretch pitching 21.1 innings, allowing 4 runs, on 13 hits, and compiling 16 strikeouts. Ledezma was awarded for his fine play by being named the IL Pitcher-of-the-Week.

WE ARE A BUNCH OF FLIRTS: The Mud Hens are a bunch of flirts. And we don't mean off of the field. Toledo has flirted with .500 for almost the entire season, but has yet to go above the mark. This latest round of "catch-up" saw the Hens string together four wins to reach the plateau. Through 65 games, the Mud Hens are 32-33, while in 2005, they were 38-25 (13 games over). In addition, the Mud Hens have been at .500 eight times this season and have lost the next game seven times to fall back below .500.

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