LAKEWOOD, NJ — On back-to-back nights at a small ballpark in New Jersey, two International Week alums showed just how big their impact can be in professional baseball.
FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood was the site for a dream-come-true 48 hours for anyone who’s been following the New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series powered by Program 15 since its inception. On Thursday night, Dominic Pipkin got the start for the Low-A Lakewood BlueClaws, and the Philadelphia Phillies draft pick turned in one of best outings of the season in allowing the Delmarva Shorebirds just one walk and one hit through five scoreless innings while striking out four batters.
Still only 19 and already in a full-season league, much is expected of Pipkin — and we’ll address that in a separate feature story — and he’s worked to put together a solid first full pro season. His K/BB ratio has been a season-long struggle, so to only have one walk and add four strikeouts against a very good Delmarva lineup was a significant step in the right direction for him.
“I think the strikeouts were just from having better command tonight,” Pipkin said. “I was more in the zone, I had less walks. I kept my fastball down, too. My fastball runs and sinks a lot, so I think I was just pitching to my strengths. I kept it down in the zone. I threw high a little bit when they were fouling off early, but as the game went on, I kept my pitches where they were supposed to be, threw some timely changeups, threw a couple good sliders and I got some strikeouts.”
While Pipkin is still somewhat under the radar in prospects circles, Grayson Rodriguez is not, and one of the last starts of the season for last year’s 11th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft was the main attraction for the trip one night later.
He did not disappoint.
With a very limited number of pitches to work with as his season winds down and his innings count drawing closer, Rodriguez dazzled the crowd on Friday night with three perfect innings and command of a fastball that touched 96 miles per hour on multiple occasions, a changeup that broke down and away from righties and a curveball that he used to rack up several of his six strikeouts on the night.
Rodriguez was unavailable for comment — the Orioles have restricted media access to him after the Futures Game — but his outing spoke for itself.
Other alumni notes? We’ve got a few.
Daniel Espino, who was drafted by the Cleveland Indians with the 24th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft after blowing away the competition at 2018 International Week, was promoted from the AZL to the New York-Penn League this past week and made his debut on Saturday, allowing two runs in three innings of work while striking out three.
Speaking of strikeouts, congrats to another ’18 IW alum, Adam Macko, on setting a new career high with seven strikeouts in just three innings of work on Wednesday.
All stats are accurate as of August 18, 2019:
Grayson Rodriguez, Orioles, Delmarva (A-): 9-3, 2.59 ERA, 18 GS, 117 K, 33 BB, 83.1 IP
Noah “Bo” Naylor, Indians, Lake County (A-): 96 GP, .248, 10 HR, 56 RBI
Dominic Pipkin, Phillies, Lakewood (A-): 3-4, 5.22 ERA, 23 GP, 12 GS, 43 K, 44 BB, 70.2 IP
Damon Casetta-Stubbs, Mariners, Modesto (A+): 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 GP, 0 GS, 3 K, 2 BB, 2 1/3 IP + West Virginia (A-) 3-5, 7.11 ERA, 10 GP, 10 GS, 30 K, 12 BB, 38 1/3 IP + Everett (SS-A) 3-2, 4.17 ERA, 12 GP, 12 GS, 23 BB, 50 K, 54 IP
Mateo Gil, Cardinals, Palm Beach (A+): 2 GP, .000, 0 HR, 0 RBI + Johnson City (R): 45 GP, .259, 6 HR, 22 RBI
Sean Guilbe, Padres, Tri-City (SS-A): 43 GP, .240, 6 HR, 12 RBI
Alberto Gonzalez, Reds, Billings (R): 10 GP, 0 GS, 0-0, 7.00 ERA, 18 IP, 11 BB, 24 K + Greeneville (R): 5 GP, 0-0, 7.88 ERA, 5 BB, 7 K
Joel Ibarra, Dodgers, Dominican Summer League – Bautista (R): 38 GP, .179, 0 HR, 10 RBI
Wendell Marrero, Reds, AZL Reds (60-Day IL): 30 GP, .324, 3 HR, 21 RBI
Daniel Espino, Indians, AZL Indians: 0-1, 1.98 ERA, 6 GS, 16 K, 5 BB, 13.2 IP + Mahoning Valley (SS-A): 0-0, 6.00 ERA, 1 GS, 3 IP, 1 BB, 3 K
Xavier Valentin, Rangers, Down East Wood: 0 GP (60-Day IL)
Yeancarlos Lleras, Orioles, GCL Orioles: 9 GP, 1 GS, 1-0, 6.89 ERA, 13.2 IP, 8 BB, 6 K
Dilan Rosario, Giants, AZL Giants Black: 40 GP, .215, 5 HR, 27 RBI
Kyren Paris, Angels, AZL Angels: 3 GP, .300, 0 HR, 2 RBI
Glenallen Hill, Jr., Diamondbacks, AZL D-Backs: 34 GP, .204, 2 HR, 17 RBI
Dasan Brown, Blue Jays, GCL Blue Jays: 14 GP, .222, 0 HR, 5 RBI
T.J. Schofield-Sam, Athletics, AZL Athletics Gold: 6 GP, .071, 0 HR, 1 RBI + AZL Athletics Green: 16 GP, .233, 0 HR, 5 RBI
Adam Macko, Mariners, Everett (SS-A): 1 GP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 IP, 1 BB, 1 K + AZL Mariners, 6 GP, 2 GS, 0-3, 3.65 ERA, 15.1 IP, 11 BB, 24 K
Johzan Oquendo has signed with the Cubs, but has not been assigned a team. Enger Castellanos signed as an international free agent with the Yankees, but has not been assigned a team.