In the afternoon, Marcus Stroman pitched 4 reasonably good innings in chilly conditions in Buffalo's home opener. Stroman struck out the first two batters he faced, and then struck out the side after giving up a hit and an error. A leadoff walk in the second came around to score against him as part of a two-run inning. Overall, Stroman pitched 4 innings, giving up four hits to go along with those two runs, striking out four and walking the lone batter.
Stroman was on an 80 pitch count limit, and came out of the game having thrown 73 pitches, 47 for strikes. Bisons manager Gary Allenson told the Buffalo News' Amy Moritz that while he loves Stroman's stuff, "He has a tendency to fiddle around with hitters a little bit too much. … I would like to see Marcus get more outs where he does it in three pitches or less. A nice little ground ball early in the count. He has a tendency to go deep in the count with hitters too much."
In AA, top prospect Aaron Sanchez was dealing against the Yankees Eastern League affiliate Trenton.
Love this tweet from Chris King, who was following Sanchez' performance while watching High A Dunedin's Matt Boyd himself:
Sanchez, who some were clamoring for to fill the fifth spot in the parent club's rotation (despite not having pitched above High A prior to this year), came on strong as the spring progressed, and had a lights out inning against the Mets in the Montreal exhibition series. The righthander allowed only one hit over 5 innings, and struck out 5. His control wavered a bit in the third, but overall he was dominating, missing a lot of bats, and inducing plenty of weak ground ball outs. We missed his final two innings thanks to a techical glitch with Milb tv, but batters appeared to be having a difficult time squaring him up.
The above-metioned CJ Wittman gained plenty of new followers on Twitter last night. He kept up a steady narrative about Sanchez' outing:
Sanchez threw 67 pitches, 38 for strikes. The bump in the command road came when rain hit. The folks in New Hampshire should enjoy Sanchez while they can if he keeps up this kind of level of performance.
The good news continued with the performance of lefthander Matt Boyd of High A Dunedin.
King Boyd threw 7 scoreless innings, surrendering 5 hits, no walks, and striking out 5. King reported that Boyd sat at 89-91 with his fastball, with his command of that pitch and his curve ball sharpening as the game progressed. He also threw in some changeups which kept the opposition off stride. King figures only 2 balls were hit hard against him, and lefthanded hitters in general were having a tough time with him.
Boyd has progressed rapidly since being selected in the 6th round out of Oregon State last year, starting with Lansing after signing, then was quickly promoted to Dunedin. Of a small amount of concern is that Daniel Norris, who one would think would be the ace of the D-Jays staff, was not scheduled to start, although it seems that he will start on Sunday. No reason was given.
And the Low A Lansing Lugnuts played their annual cross-town match against Michigan State, and while the organization has brought in pitchers from extended spring training in the past to take the mound, Canadian Tom Robson, who figures to be a mainstay of the Lugnuts' rotation, got the start, and the righthander gave up only 1 run in three innings, allowing 2 hits, walking none (he hit a batter), and striking out 5. Among the crew of young pitchers who finished up for Robson was 18 year old Jesus Tinoco, who surrendered a run in 2 2/3 innings, allowing 3 hits, walking none and striking out 3.
It's going to be a long minor league season with its share of ups and downs, but it's hard to imagine a better opening day of the season.