Back Home, Riding High

THE MIDWEST LEAGUE’S HOTTEST TEAM

Coming into play today against the Dayton Dragons, the TinCaps have won 11 of their last 12 games, dating back to May 26th. Here’s how well they’ve played offensively during that time–they’ve outscored the opposition 72-49, averaged six runs per game and 9.9 hits per game (119 hits in 12 games). Fort Wayne went a perfect 9-0 against Lansing in the first half , and of the 23 runs they scored in their most recent three-game series, 12 of them were unearned. Thanks, Lugnuts!

Tonight’s game presents a primo pitching matchup, as two former first-round picks square off at Parkview Field. The TinCaps’ Joe Ross, taken 25th overall by San Diego in 2011, faces the Dragons’ Robert Stephenson, taken 27th overall by Cincinnati in 2011. Not only were they two picks apart in the draft, but they were also summer baseball teammates in northern California, playing for NorCal Baseball. Ross is from Oakland, California, and Stephenson is from Martinez, California, which are about 30 minutes away. Although they never played against one another in high school, they would have faced each other in college, as Ross had committed to UCLA and Stephenson had committed to the University of Washington. Stephenson leads the Midwest League with 77 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings, and can hit triple  digits on the radar gun. We’ll have our eye on that tonight.

First pitch is at 7:05, and we’ve got fireworks scheduled for after the game. We hope to see you at the park, but if you can’t make it you can watch the game on XFINITY 81 or listen on The Fan 1380 or TheFanFortWayne.com.

THE ROSTER IT IS A CHANGIN’

The TinCaps made a roster move, something they’ve hardly done this year when compared to last year, on Friday, placing outfielder Jeremy Baltz on the disabled list. It’s tough news to bear for Baltz, who was selected as the starting designated hitter for the Midwest League’s Eastern Division in the All-Star game. But, you’ve got to be on the active roster to play in the All-Star game, so it’s up to Midwest League President George Spelius to choose a replacement. The fill-in, unfortunately, does not have to come from the TinCaps roster.

As a corresponding move, Fort Wayne received outfielder Wynton Bernard from the Eugene roster.  The 22-year-old Bernard played in four April games with Advanced-A Lake Elsinore of the California League, going 3-for-14. Last season, after being selected in the 35th round out of Niagara (N.Y.) University, he hit .232 with one home run and nine runs batted in over 23 games with the rookie-level Arizona League Padres. A three-year starter at Niagara after transferring from Riverside (CA) Junior College, he hit .314 in 2012 and led the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) with 32 steals.

This leaves the TinCaps with four players on the disabled list: Baltz, Tayron Guerrero, Ruben Mejia and Gabriel Quintana. Their success with those players on the DL is remarkable, considering that Baltz leads the team with 33 runs batted in (and hasn’t played since May 28) and Quintana, who hasn’t played since May 27th, is third on the team with 27 RBI.

PODCAST

To hear my full pre-game chat with reliever Matthew Shepherd from yesterday, during which we talk about his long-relief appearances, the team’s success against Lansing, and his draft day memories from last year, listen to today’s TinCaps Report Podcast:

MUSICAL GUEST

David Bowie…take it away!

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

MCsig

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