So this is one of the weeks where RF Cory Vaughn hits, huh? The RF was 2-4, with a double and a homer. In seven games in July, he's bopping along at .357/.400/.714 with two doubles, a triple and two homers. This recent surge comes on the heels of a .192/.340/.397 June. Overall, the now 23-year old outfielder is hitting .236/.337/.459. For corner outfielders, it really is primarily about the bat. His 16 homeruns in the Florida State League - tied for the League lead - demand attention, but his .236 average is fairly damning. Can he put together a big finish to earn his way to Binghamton?
A: Charleston RiverDogs (NYY) 9, Savannah Sand Gnats 7 (7 innings)@ Savannah Sand Gnats 1, Charleston RiverDogs 0 (7 innings)
The Gnats have won two games in their five game series with the Dogs, both by 1-0 margins. In game two, LHP Jimmy Fuller, making his second start of 2012, and his third appearance, walked the leadoff man and then retired the next 15 batters in a row before hitting his pitch count. His line: 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. Reliever TJ Chism, who's been a rock for Savannah, yielded singles to each of the first two hitters he faced before retiring the next six in a row to the Gnats' bid for a short, combined no-hitter.
Fuller had labrum surgery that forced him to miss the entire 2011 season. Saturday, he mixed his three pitches - fastball, slider and changeup, and kept the Dogs successfully at bay. His changeup looks better to me than it ever did when he was a Gnat in 2010. At the same time, he's spotting his fastball better down, rather than using it as as chase pitch from the letters and higher.
Where did the offense come from in game two? Where else but 3B Aderlin Rodriguez who had two of Gnats' three hits. He singled to right and then clubbed a double off the warning track in left in the fourth, to drive in the game's only run. On the heels of an eight-game hitting streak, the 20-year old is up to .279/.343/.502 in 80 games. He drew a walk in game one, his 29th of the year, equaling 2011's total in 51 fewer games. He needs two doubles and two homers to match his career-highs in both categories also set in 2011.
I've started getting questions in the comments and on Twitter about when the Mets will promote Aderlin. Lets be clear: the timing of promotions is impossible to predict with any precision. Moreover, the most important thing is that he stays in the lineup and plays everyday. Finally, the 20-year old still has plenty to work on both offensively and defensively. There's no reason to rush to promote him off two good (albeit very good) months in a-ball and the Mets might choose to keep him in Savannah all year. All the same, if he continues to make the kind of progress he's made in the last two months, I'd suspect he will earn a promotion to St. Lucie August. In that scenario, he would 1. get some exposure to the level where he should start 2013, 2. help the St. Lucie Mets on their playoff run and 3. get to play a few extra games in 2012.
In game one, the RiverDogs scored seven runs in against the Gnats' bullpen in the final two innings to overcome a 7-2 Gnats lead for a 9-7 comeback win. 3B Dante Bichette Jr. (yes, Jr.) tied the game in the sixth with a three-run homer, his second of the year.