Thank goodness for the new fortunes that can be found among the Devil Rays’ farm system. There are strong prospects at every level and as poorly as the parent club is playing right now, at least there is hope in reading minor league boxscores every morning.

Montgomery 7, West Tennessee 0. Normally we would begin with the Durham Bulls, but we need to introduce you to the greatness that has become Andy Sonnanstine. First baseman Michael Coleman hit a 3rd inning grand slam, his 11th home run of the season and that was all the Biscuits needed. Sonnanstine pitch a complete game 2-hit shutout, with 1 walk and 5 strikeouts. Sonnanstine is now 10-6 on the season with a 2.79 ERA. The shutout was his 4th complete game shutout this season. Even more impressive is that the shutout was his 4th in his last 7 starts. Over that span of 7 starts, Sonnanstine has compiled a 7-0 record. In those starts, he has thrown 57.2 innings, surrendering 28 hits, 7 walks and 7 runs, for an ERA of 1.09 and a WHIP of 0.61. He has 39 strikeouts over that span. Sonnanstine is leading all minor league baseball in shutouts (nobody else more than 2). In fact, according to the Bulls broadcast team, nobody has pitched more than 3 complete game shutouts in AA or AAA in the past 3 seasons. Andy was a 13th round draft pick in the 2004 amateur draft out of Kent State University, the same draft that produced Jeff Niemann, Reid Brignac, Wade Davis, Jacob McGee and Matt Walker. Sonnanstine is not a dominating pitcher, but he has dominated at every level and it is probably time to see what he can do at AAA.

Scranton 8, Durham 6. A 9th inning rally came up short for the Bulls last night. After tripling home 2-runs to cut the deficit to 2 with nobody out, Delmon Young was thrown out at the plate on a sacrifice fly by Kevin Witt. Earlier in the game B. J. Upton hit his 7th home run of the year. Upton went 3-4 and scored 3 runs, but he did commit his first error since being moved to third base. Young went 2-5 with 3 RBI. Newly acquired Ben Zobrist continues his torrid streak. He had two more hits last night and is now hitting .417 (10-24) with a 4 to 1 walk to strikeout ratio and a .500 OBP in 7 games with the Bulls. Let’s hope that the franchise’s new shortstop is not teasing us. When the trade was first made, we thought young Ben had the chance to be a serviceable and dependable major league shortstop. Maybe hit .270 and hit a dozen home runs with a solid OBP and sharp if unspectacular glove. It is only seven games, but we love what we see so far. Will Zobrist be the Rays shortstop this season if Julio Lugo is traded? Probably not before September 1st. Unfortunately, we will still have endure a month of Tomas Perez playing shortstop.

Visalia 4, Modesto 1. We sure hope that the players and staff can keep Evan Longoria as far away from any water as possible, because the kid is on fire. Seriously…he can’t keep this up can he? Longoria continues to treat California League pitchers like little leaguers and right now that baseball must look as big as a beach ball. Three more hits and an RBI last night for Evan and he is now hitting .385-6-18 in 17 games with Visalia. James Houser picked up his 7th win, going 6 innings with 3 hits, 1 walk and 1 run. He struck out 6.

SW Michigan 9, Cedar Rapids 3. Another member of that stellar class of 2004 is Matt Walker. Walker, a 10th round selection, struggled in his first season last year. This season has been a different story. Last night Walker improved to 3-2 with 1.76 ERA by striking out 10 over 6 innings with 5 hits, 2 walks and 2 runs.

Mahoning Valley 4, Hudson Valley 3. Josh Hamilton went 1-3 with a single and 2 strikeouts.

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