Lets start with the dude who's smoking hot: RF Cory Vaughn who homered for the fifth time in seven games. Vaughn, who was 1-for-4, is hitting .293/.381/.587 overall. He's leading the Florida State League in homers (7) and is second in slugging, tied for second in extra-base hits (13).
3B Wilmer Flores was 1-for-3 with a walk, his fifth of the season. The 20-year old is hitting .316/.343/.495 in 26 games with a walk rate (4.6%) that is nearly a dead ringer for last year (4.8%). The difference between this year and last year? He's stopped striking out, with just seven strikeouts, he's whiffed in 6.5% of his plate appearances, and hitting for more power as his extra-base hit rate has ticked up (from 6.6 to 8.3%) while his HR rate has more than doubled (from 1.6 to 3.7%).
LHP Angel Cuan: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 2 HR.
This is a story about Domingo Tapia. He dominated through seven innings almost exclusively on one pitch: his turbo sinker. It was mid-upper 90s with life down and armside run.
The 20-year old's line after seven innings: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 67% strikes( 46 strikes/69 pitches).
Tapia was visibly tired in the eighth when he allowed a single and a walk that turned into a run in the hands of reliever Estarlin Morel. His sinker did not have the same bit down. His final line: 7.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K - 65% strikes (58 strikes/89 pitches).
The Shorebirds picked up two ground ball singles in the first, but Aderlin Rodriguez threw out a runner at the plate on the chopper to third for the second out, and that began a string of 14 batters in a row retired by Tapia. The amazing thing was that the Delmarva hitters knew what was coming - the fastball - and still could not hit it. Tapia threw just a handful of changeups, and I do not remember him even attempting a slider until the seventh or eighth inning (but I might have missed one or two from up in the press box).
Tapia's pitch count by inning:
1st - 22
2nd - 6
3rd - 8
4th - 11
5th - 7
6th - 7
7th - 8
8th - 20
Tapia faced 26 hitters and went to three-ball counts on only four: batters 1, 4, 25 and 26 (who walked). Tapia has walked just four batters in 26.2 IP, or 1.4 BB/9.
DH Travis Taijeron stayed hot, going 3-for-4 with a double to push his season line to .284/.418/.580 in 25 games. His double was a screaming line drive that hit about two feet from the top of the fence in straight-away centerfield, 14' up the 16' wall above the 400' sign.
C Albert Cordero is starting to get going. He lined a homerun over the wall in the leftfield corner in his first at bat to give him hits in four straight. Want proof it's still early? He's raised his batting average 75 points in those four games from .105/.205/.132 to his current .180/.254/.300 in 15 games.
The bottom five hitters in the Gnats' batting order, RF Charley Thurber, 3B Aderlin Rodriguez, LF Gregory Pron, C Albert Cordero and CF Tillman Pugh all finished the night batting below .200.
I was impressed too by Shorebirds' RHP Parker Bridwell. A tall slender right-hander, he came into the season ranked in the Orioles Top 10 by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus. He gave up some hard contact early, but found some touch with his two breaking balls, a hard slider and a curve and kept the Gnats off-balance in the third through fifth innings. He fanned four and did not walk a batter.