A Minor Slugfest

The high-A California League is known for being an offense-boosting league. Sunday’s game between Lake Elsinore (San Diego affiliate) and High Desert (Seattle) goes to show why you have to take minor-league statistics from players in that league with a grain of salt. Lake Elsinore defeated High Desert by the football score of 33-18. The two teams combined for 58 hits in a single game.

According to the Baseball Almanac, the most runs scored by a single team in a Major League Baseball game is 36, set by the Chicago Colts (now the Chicago Cubs) against the Louisville Colonels (which joined the National League in 1892) on June 29, 1897. The most runs scored by two teams combined at the Major League level was 49. That occurred on August 25, 1922 when Chicago (again) defeated Philadelphia by the score of 26-23. Minor league records are harder to discover, but interestingly, the most lopsided minor league baseball game had Corsicana defeating Texarkana by the score of 51-3 in the Texas League in 1902. Corsicana’s Jay Justin Clarke hit eight home runs in that game (He hit just six in his nine-year MLB career).

Back to the present, let’s have a look at some of the individual players from Sunday’s game. On the Lake Elsinore side, all nine players had at least two hits. Six players had four hits or more. Another Clark(e), this one a first baseman named Matt Clark, had a big game. In just his fourth game since being promoted from low-A ball, he went 5-for-6 with two home runs, seven runs scored, five RBI and two walks. One of the Padres’ top hitting prospects, third baseman James Darnell, was in just his second game since a promotion and he went 4-for-7 with five runs scored, two doubles, a homer, and three RBI. Felix Carrasco, a first baseman who has been in the league all season long, went 4-for-7 with four runs scored, two doubles, a triple, and six RBI.

For High Desert, six players had three hits or more. Designated hitter Joseph Dunigan was the only starter in the game not to get a hit and he went 0-for-5 with one strikeout. Leadoff hitter James McOwen extended his league-record hitting streak to 36 games with a 2-for-6 day. He also homered and drove in four runs. Carlos Peguero went 4-for-6 with a triple, homer, two runs scored and four RBI. Kuo Hui Lo went 4-for-6 with four runs scored, four RBI, a double and two homers.

The biggest prospect on the Seattle team raised his average up to .346. Alex Liddi, an Italian-born third baseman, went 2-for-6 with two runs scored, a double, and two strikeouts. The 20-year-old is having a breakout season (surprise, surprise) and some caution should obviously be used before getting too excited about his offensive numbers in 2009.

Catcher Jose Yepez, a formers Jays farmhand who began the year in independent baseball, went 3-for-4 two runs scored, a homer and four RBI. He then took to the mound for the pitching-thin High Desert club and promptly gave up five hits, including four home runs, and recorded just one out. Another hitter – Deybis Benitez – had to come in to get the final two outs (and he didn’t allow a hit).

Starting pitcher Nathan Adcock had a terrible game, to say the least. He allowed eight runs on seven hits and two walks. Oddly, though, he did not give up a homer, while recording just two outs. Juan Zapata came into the game and gave up six runs in 1.1 innings of work on eight hits and one walk. Natividad Dilone drew the next shortest straw and he allowed eight runs on four hits and five walks during 2.1 innings of work. Travis Mortimore was the only pitcher in the game to go at least an inning without allowing a run. He worked a total of 1.2 innings and allowed two hits and one walk, but otherwise walked away unscathed.

On the mound for Lake Elsinore, starter Jeremy McBryde gave up 11 runs on 13 hits and one walk in 4.2 innings of work. Three long balls were hit against the right-hander. Reliever Allen Harrington had a bad game with four runs allowed on five hits in one inning of work. He gave up two homers.

It will be interesting to see how the pitchers for both clubs recover from the brutal assault. Of the seven legitimate relievers used, only one (Matt Teague at 5.40) now has an ERA below 6.68.

After games like this, it’s no wonder why it’s impossible to judge baseball prospects on statistics alone – especially as long as clubs like High Desert and Lake Elsinore continue to exist.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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How can a 2-6 day RAISE your average to 0.346? ;)


oddly it only dropped 0.000274725