Birmingham (19-22) @ Biloxi (25-16) – Game #2 Preview

Last Night’s Recap

The Barons used a furious ninth-inning rally to force extra innings against the Shuckers on Thursday night, but ultimately fell in the 12th, 5-4, in what was the first ever meeting between the two teams.

After failing to gain any sort of momentum throughout the first eight innings, the Barons headed to the ninth down 4-0, but found a way to stay alive. Catcher Adrian Nieto started the comeback by leading off the inning with a solo home run, his second of the season, making it a 4-1 game. But the big hit came from Courtney Hawkins, who came to the plate with two on and two out and cranked a game-tying home run.

Birmingham had a chance to go ahead in the top half of the 12th, but left the bases loaded.

Kyle Hansen and J.B. Wendelken both pitched fantastically out of the Barons bullpen, combining for six hitless innings with eight strikeouts.

Raul Fernandez (2-4) took the loss after allowing the game-winning run in the 12th.

You can read the full recap here.

Game 2 Probable Pitchers

  • BIRMINGHAM: Mark Blackmar (0-2, 4.15 ERA) – Blackmar, who will be making his eighth start of the season, has consistently given the Barons a chance to win. Unfortunately, he hasn’t received anything in the way of run support, and is still looking for his first win of the season. Despite allowing more than three earned runs only one time (in his first start of the season against Mobile), the Barons have gone just 3-4 in his starts.
  • BILOXI: Brent Suter (2-1, 2.78 ERA) – Suter will be making his seventh appearance, but only his third start. He’s allowed just seven earned runs in 22 2/3 innings, and has yet to allow a home run this season. Suter’s last appearance came against Jacksonville, when he pitched three scoreless innings, allowing only two hits while striking out one.

Barons Spotlight: Courtney Hawkins

In the newest “Barons Spotlight” segment, broadcaster Curt Bloom sat down with outfielder Courtney Hawkins to talk about his first year at the Double-A level.

Birmingham (19-21) @ Biloxi (24-16) – Series Preview

Last Time Out

The Barons began their 10-game road swing in Mobile and came away with a series victory, winning three of five games against the BayBears. Birmingham had a chance to do even more damage, but fell flat in Wednesday afternoon’s loss, falling 10-2. The Barons have continued to play better on the road than they have at home, and now sport a 10-9 road record compared to a 9-12 record at Regions Field. Birmingham and Mobile will not meet again for the rest of the season, unless they face off in the Southern League Championship Series.

The Biloxi Shuckers, in their first season of existence, have gotten off to a fantastic start and currently lead the South Division at 24-16. The only team with a better record heading into Thursday’s games is Chattanooga, with a 25-15 record. Biloxi has an identical 12-8 record at home and on the road, and will enter its series against Birmingham on a four-game winning streak after taking four of five from Jacksonville. Because the Shuckers’ stadium is not yet open, the series will take place in Huntsville.

Southern League Standings

Southern League North
Club W L PCT GB ELIM # Home Away L 10 Streak
Chattanooga Lookouts (MIN) 25 15 .625 13-6 12-9 7-3 W2
Tennessee Smokies (CHC) 22 18 .550 3.0 28 13-7 9-11 6-4 L1
Birmingham Barons (CWS) 19 21 .475 6.0 25 9-12 10-9 4-6 L1
Jackson Generals (SEA) 17 21 .447 7.0 24 9-9 8-12 5-5 W1
Montgomery Biscuits (TB) 17 23 .425 8.0 23 8-12 9-11 3-7 L2

 

Southern League South
Club W L PCT GB ELIM # Home Away L 10 Streak
Biloxi Shuckers (MIL) 24 16 .600 12-8 12-8 6-4 W4
Mississippi Braves (ATL) 21 18 .538 2.5 29 12-9 9-9 7-3 W1
Mobile BayBears (ARI) 21 19 .525 3.0 28 11-8 10-11 3-7 W1
Pensacola Blue Wahoos (CIN) 17 23 .425 7.0 24 8-13 9-10 6-4 L1
Jacksonville Suns (MIA) 15 24 .385 8.5 22 9-10 6-14 2-8 L4

Shuckers to Watch

  • ORLANDO ARCIA, SS: As evidenced by their record, the Shuckers have a lot of talent on their roster, led by the Brewers’ top two prospects, Orlando Arcia and Tyrone Taylor (see below). Despite this being Arcia’s third full season of professional ball, he’s still just 20 years old, and has continued to get better at every level. Last year with the Brevard County Manatees (high Class-A), he hit .289/.346/.394 in 121 games, which was a healthy improvement over his 2013 batting line with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (low Class-A). The improvement led the Brewers to promote him to Double-A, and he hasn’t disappointed. Through 39 games with the Shuckers, he’s hitting .354/.406/.493 and has struck out only 11 times in 161 plate appearances. It’s been a meteoric rise for a player who was signed by Milwaukee as an undrafted free agent in 2010.
  • TYRONE TAYLOR, CF: Like Arcia, Taylor has turned himself into a huge prospect in Milwaukee’s organization. Baseball America has him listed as the #1 prospect in the Brewers organization, while Baseball Prospectus has him at #2 (Arcia is the opposite – BA at #2 and BP at #1). Taylor was drafted in the second round (92nd overall) in 2012 out of Torrance (Ca.) High School, and has quickly advanced to Double-A by the age of 21. He spent most of last season with Brevard County and hit .278/.331/.396 while stealing 22 bases. He got a quick taste of Double-A at the end of the season (when the team was still the Huntsville Stars), but went just 1-for-13. He’s currently hitting .262/.314/.310, but 27 out of his 33 hits have been singles.
  • TYLER WAGNER, RHP: Wagner is one of two top-ten pitching prospects on the Shuckers (Jorge Lopez being the other), and has dominated the opposition so far in 2015. The 2012 fourth-rounder out of Utah has made eight starts and has allowed just ten earned runs in 47 innings, good for a 1.91 ERA. He’s also received plenty of run support, as shown by his 5-0 record. Wagner has walked only 13 batters while striking out 34. His fast start probably isn’t a surprise to Brewers fans, as he finished with a 1.86 ERA last season with Brevard County.

Who’s Hot for the Barons?

  • ADRIAN NIETO, C: After getting off to a sluggish start, the former White Sox backstop has finally shown some signs of coming to life at the plate. He’s currently riding a five-game hit streak, and in the three games he played in at Mobile, he went 5-for-11 with a home run and six RBI. His average is now up to .215 after hovering just below .200 for much of the season.
  • DANNY HAYES, 1B: Like Nieto, Hayes got off to a brutal start at the plate, but has come to life over the past two weeks. He’s sporting a six-game hit streak and in Mobile went 9-for-20 with five RBI and four runs scored. He’s hitting .361 over his past ten games.
  • CHRISTIAN MARRERO, RF/1B: Marrero’s average is up to .285 after batting .375 over the past ten games. His hot streak (along with Hayes and Nieto) has been crucial to the Barons offense, as it’s struggled mightily after the May/Anderson/Hawkins trio at the top of the lineup. Marrero has hit safely in six of his last seven games, and has three three-hit games in that span.

Game 1 Probable Pitchers

  • BIRMINGHAM: Tony Bucciferro (0-1, 6.91 ERA) – Bucciferro is making just his fourth start since rejoining the Barons from Winston-Salem. After a strong start at home against Chattanooga, he struggled greatly against Mobile, allowing 11 hits and six earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings. Overall, he’s allowed 11 earned runs in 14 1/3 innings, and has allowed an opponents average of .373.
  • BILOXI: Jorge Lopez (3-2, 3.44 ERA) – Lopez was a second-round draft choice of Milwaukee in 2011 and has shown significant improvement in recent seasons. After struggling to a 5.23 ERA with low Class-A Wisconsin in 2013, he improved his strikeout total and lowered his walk total with Brevard County in 2014, finishing with a 4.58 ERA. He’s off to the best start of his career this season, having allowed just 13 earned runs in 34 innings.

An Update on Former Barons

Dan Black, 1B, Charlotte Knights (White Sox Triple-A)

Dan Black, who was a crucial part of the 2013 Barons championship team, is off to a strong start with Triple-A Charlotte.

Black was an integral part of Birmingham’s 2013 championship team, playing in 133 games and hitting .290/.411/.470, with 17 home runs, 83 RBI Dan Black, who was a crucial part of the 2013 Barons championship team, is off to a strong start with Triple-A Charlotte in 2015.and 70 runs scored. His batting average, home run and RBI totals all led the team. Black split last season between the Barons and Knights, but saw his batting line slip to .263/.344/.419. His home run total also dropped to 11, but that’s partially due to the fact that he played in 41 fewer games than he did in 2013.

This season, Black has gotten off to the best start of his career. Through 32 games, he’s hitting .318/.439/.561 with six home runs and 23 RBI, and his 1.000 OPS currently leads the International League.

It’s not realistic to expect him to hit and reach base at this pace all season, but even if he does, it seems unlikely that he’ll make an appearance in a White Sox uniform this season, barring an injury. Chicago has Jose Abreu locked in as the long-term first baseman and brought in Adam LaRoche last winter on a two-year contract to be the designated hitter while also spelling Abreu at first.

Micah Johnson, 2B, Charlotte Knights

Like Dan Black, Micah Johnson was a big part of the Barons’ 2013 championship season, being named the MVP of the Southern League Championship Series. Johnson returned to the Barons to begin the 2014 season, but was soon promoted to Charlotte. Between the Barons and Knights he hit .294/.351/.403.

Johnson was able to experience his dream this spring, when he made the White Sox opening day roster out of camp as the everyday second baseman. He appeared in 27 games for Chicago, hitting .270/.333/.297, but has since been sent back down to Charlotte. 18 of his 20 hits in a White Sox uniform were singles (the other two were doubles).

Since returning to the Knights, Johnson has gone 2-for-7 with a home run and two walks. Carlos Sanchez is now receiving a shot to man second base in Chicago, but you can expect to see Johnson back in the majors soon, once he’s had some more time to develop at Triple-A.

Jared Mitchell, OF, Arkansas Travelers (Angels Double-A)

Jared Mitchell is a name very familiar to Barons fans, as he spent parts of three different seasons (2012-2014) with the team. Although he had his share of struggles, he excelled last season during his time in Birmingham, hitting .299/.367/.561 with 10 home runs in just 39 games. After once again being promoted to Charlotte (the third straight season he spent time with the Knights), his form slipped, as he hit just .230 while striking out 111 times in 336 plate appearances.

Mitchell began this season back in Charlotte, but went 2-for-40 with 22 strikeouts, leading the White Sox to cut the former first-round draft choice. The Los Angeles Angels recently signed him to a minor league contract and assigned him to Double-A Arkansas. In three games with the Travelers, Mitchell is 2-for-11 with a double, triple, two RBI, one walk, and six strikeouts.

Josh Phegley, C, Oakland Athletics

Josh Phegley had a relatively short stint with the Barons, appearing in 18 games in 2010, and 94 in 2011. With Birmingham in ’11, he batted .242/.292/.368 with seven home runs and 50 RBI before a promotion to Charlotte. He spent the majority of the next four seasons with the Knights, but did get some time with the White Sox in both 2013 and 2014, hitting a combined .207/.221/.332 with Chicago in 76 games.

Phegley found himself as a part of the big offseason trade that landed the White Sox Jeff Samardzija and Michael Ynoa. In addition to Phegley, Chris Bassitt, Rangel Ravelo, and Marcus Semien (more on Ravelo and Semien below) all headed to Oakland. Phegley is currently the A’s number-two catcher behind Stephen Vogt, and often starts against left-handed pitchers. He’s currently hitting .237/.302/.342 in 43 plate appearances.

Rangel Ravelo, 1B/3B, Nashville Sounds (Athletics Triple-A)

Rangel Ravelo, last year’s Barons’ team MVP, is now in Oakland’s organization but has not yet played in 2015 due to a wrist injury.

Ravelo spent all of last season – his first at the Double-A level – with the Barons, and was named the team MVP following the season. Ravelo finished the season batting .309/.386/.473, and his 26-game hitting streak from June 9 through July 11 was the longest in the minor leagues last season. Perhaps the biggest surprise was his power surge, as he hit 11 home runs despite never having hit more than four in his prior minor league seasons.

Unfortunately, Ravelo hasn’t yet had the opportunity to build off of his stellar season. After being traded to Oakland, he was assigned to Triple-A Nashville, but underwent wrist surgery on March 13. He’s currently on Oakland’s 60-day DL, and will likely be optioned to the Sounds when he returns in mid-summer.

Tyler Saladino, IF, Charlotte Knights

Saladino spent much of 2012 and all of 2013 with the Barons, combining to hit .233/.338/.317 with 94 RBI and 120 runs scored over 230 games. In 2014, he was in the midst of a breakout season with Charlotte, hitting .310/.367/.483 with nine home runs before a torn ulnar collateral ligament prematurely ended his year.

Thankfully for Saladino, the recovery from Tommy John surgery isn’t the same for an infielder as it is for a catcher, and he’s already back in action this season. So far, he’s appeared in 11 games, going 13-for-45 (.289) with seven RBI and six runs scored.

Marcus Semien, IF, Oakland Athletics

Marcus Semien was a key piece of the Jeff Samardzija trade, and has been a bright spot in Oakland’s lineup.

Perhaps the biggest asset given up by the White Sox in the Samardzija deal, Semien has been one of the very few bright spots on what has been a terrible A’s team so far this season. He’s played in every game this season for Oakland while hitting .313/.357/.506 with six home runs. He’ll likely serve as a key part of Oakland’s team moving forward, as he’s not eligible for arbitration until 2018 and doesn’t reach free agency until 2021.

With the Barons in 2013, Semien hit .290/.420/.483 with 15 home runs before being promoted to Charlotte. He appeared in 85 games for the White Sox between 2013-2014, hitting .240/.293/.380 with eight bombs, 35 RBI, and 37 runs scored.

Kevan Smith, C, Charlotte Knights

Along with Ravelo, Kevan Smith was another important cog on the 2014 Barons team. Playing in 106 games, he hit .290/.376/.437 with 10 home runs. This season is his first at the Triple-A level, and he’s currently hitting .273/.369/.398 in 29 games and 105 plate appearances.

Smith will really have to force the issue to find himself in a White Sox uniform anytime soon, as Chicago has Tyler Flowers and Geovany Soto on the big league roster, and veteran George Kottaras is also in Triple-A competing with Smith. Not to mention current Baron Adrian Nieto, who served as Chicago’s backup catcher last season and is currently holding a spot on the 40-man roster.

Trayce Thompson, OF, Charlotte Knights

After a brief cameo with the Barons in 2012, Thompson spent all of 2013 and the majority of 2014 in Birmingham. In 282 total games with the Barons, he hit .235/.326/.407. While he hit 34 home runs, he struck out a whopping 306 times in 1243 plate appearances.

Thompson is currently in Charlotte, and is hitting .268/.318/.430 with three bombs, but is still striking out at over a 20-percent rate. He has a spot on Chicago’s 40-man roster, so a September call-up this year is certainly a possibility.

Keenyn Walker, OF, Winston-Salem Dash (White Sox High Class-A)

2013 was a difficult year for Keenyn Walker, as he hit .201/.319/.277 for the Barons in 130 games. Like several other players on this list, he was plagued by strikeouts, as he whiffed 153 times. He returned to Birmingham to begin 2014, but was sent down to high Class-A Winston-Salem after struggling to a .155 average in 32 games.

Walker returned to Winston-Salem this year, and is hitting .260/.359/.350 with 22 stolen bases. He could find himself back in Birmingham once again before the year is out.

Andy Wilkins, 1B, Oklahoma City Dodgers (Dodgers Triple-A)

After spending his 2012 season in Birmingham, Wilkins returned in 2013 and played in 67 games, hitting .288/.386/.477 with 10 home runs before being moved up to Charlotte. He returned to the Knights in 2014, but did get some time in a White Sox uniform, struggling to a .140 average (6-for-43).

2015 has been an interesting season for Wilkins, as he’s already spent time in two organizations. He began the season in Toronto’s organization, playing for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons and hitting .264/.353/.319. The Blue Jays elected to designate him for assignment at the beginning of May, and ended up trading him to the Dodgers for cash considerations. He’s now playing for the Oklahoma City Dodgers and has gone just 3-for-31 in 10 games.

Behind Enemy Lines: Byron Buxton

With the Chattanooga Lookouts visiting the Barons at Regions Field last week, we had the chance to catch up with baseball’s number-one overall prospect Byron Buxton for our first “Behind Enemy Lines” segment of the season. Buxton talked about his recovery from an injury-riddled 2014 season, the expectations that have been placed on him, and his adjustment to Double-A baseball.

Get to Know: Tim Anderson

Tim Anderson, the number-two prospect in the White Sox organization, has hit .302/.313/.415 through his first 37 games in 2015.

Tim Anderson entered the 2015 season as the number-two prospect in the White Sox system, behind pitcher Carlos Rodon. He’s also a consensus top-100 prospect in all of baseball, with Baseball America ranking him at #92 and Baseball Prospectus placing him even higher at #39. Through his first 37 games this season, Anderson is hitting .302/.313/.415 and has stolen 15 bases.

Where were you born?

Tuscaloosa, AL

Where do you live in the offseason?

Alabama

Where did you attend college?

East Central Community College

Who was your favorite baseball player growing up?

Derek Jeter

Who was your biggest influence?

My brother Frederick

What’s your favorite sport other than baseball?

Basketball

Who’s your favorite musical artist?

Rich Homie Quan and Kevin Gates.

What’s your favorite movie?

42

What’s your favorite food?

Spaghetti

What’s your favorite thing to do other than playing baseball?

Spending time with family

What other hobbies do you have?

Basketball

What’s your Twitter handle?

@TimAnderson7

If you could have dinner with three people, who would they be?

Meagan Good, Michael Jordan, and Derek Jeter

 

Birmingham (16-18) vs. Chattanooga (21-13) – Game 6 Preview

Last Night’s Recap

Birmingham’s offense came up short again on Thursday night, as the Barons lost their third consecutive game to Chattanooga, 5-1, at Regions Field.

The Barons scored their only run of the night when Tim Anderson brought home Jacob May with an RBI double in the sixth.

Frankie Montas (0-1) allowed eight hits and three earned runs in six innings while taking the loss.

You can read the full recap here.

Game 6 Probable Pitchers

  • BIRMINGHAM: Tyler Danish (4-0, 2.76 ERA) – It will be up to Danish to try to break the Barons’ losing streak, as they desperately need a win to avoid falling too far behind in the North Division. Danish has been the most consistent pitcher this season for Birmingham, and has allowed just four earned runs over his last 22 2/3 innings. His only rough start of the year happened to come against the Lookouts, when he allowed five runs in five innings.
  • CHATTANOOGA: D.J. Baxendale (3-0, 1.24 ERA) – The Barons have had a tough time scoring runs this series, and they might struggle to fare any better against Baxendale, who has allowed only five runs in 36 1/3 innings. Baxendale has already faced and dominated the Barons once this season, allowing three hits and no runs while striking out eight over six innings.

Game 6 Promotions

  • Adult T-Shirt Giveaway: The first 1,000 adults will receive a free t-shirt, presented by Serra Kia.
  • Peace Officers Night: The Barons will honor first responders and other entities that help keep people safe in the state of Alabama, presented by JobsQuest.org
  • Friday Night Fireworks: Set to the hits of AC/DC, presented by Coca-Cola and Alabama Power.

Birmingham (16-16) vs. Chattanooga (19-13)

Last Night’s Recap

The Barons split Tuesday’s doubleheader with Chattanooga, taking the first game in extra innings, 3-2, before falling in game two, 4-0.

Joey DeMichelle was the hero in the first game, hitting a walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth after the Lookouts had tied the game in the seventh to send it to extras.

Tyler Barnette made a spot start in game two and pitched well, allowing just one unearned run in five innings, but was a hard luck loser as the Barons registered only three hits.

You can read the full doubleheader recap here.

Highlights

Game 4 Probable Pitchers

  • BIRMINGHAM: Myles Jaye (2-1, 3.97 ERA) – After two consecutive scoreless innings, Jaye has struggled his last two times out, allowing eight runs over 11 2/3 innings. Jaye faced the Lookouts in the first series between the two teams, allowing two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings, with three strikeouts and one walk. He did not earn a decision in the game.
  • CHATTANOOGA: Jose Berrios (3-1, 3.25 ERA) – Berrios, the highest-rated pitching prospect on the Lookouts, has struck out 45 batters over 36 innings so far this season. He allowed just two runs over eight innings against Jackson in his last appearance. Against the Barons in April, he had what has been his worst start of the year, allowing three runs in 4 2/3 innings, although he still struck out nine batters.

Game 4 Promotions

  • AAA Wednesday: Show your AAA card and save, presented by AAA of Alabama.
  • School Day

Birmingham (15-15) vs. Chattanooga (18-12) – Doubleheader Preview

The Barons will take on the Lookouts in their first home doubleheader of the season on Tuesday. Mark Blackmar will start game one for Birmingham, while Tyler Barnette gets the call in game two.

Game 1 Recap

Birmingham saw a 2-1 lead slip away in the late innings on Monday night, as the Barons fell to Chattanooga in the first of a six-game series at Regions Field, 6-2.

The Lookouts jumped on the board quickly when baseball’s number-one prospect Byron Buxton took Barons starter Tony Bucciferro deep on the second pitch of the game, but the Barons answered immediately in the bottom half of the inning when Christian Marrero brought home Tim Anderson with a base hit.

Marrero also knocked in the Barons’ second run with an RBI double in the fifth.

Birmingham’s bullpen wasn’t able to preserve the win for Bucciferro, as Raul Fernandez allowed two runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth on a three-run home run from Adam Brett Walker II, his ninth of the season.

Read the full game recap here.

Highlights

Game 2 Probable Pitchers

  • BIRMINGHAM: Mark Blackmar (0-2, 4.50 ERA) – Blackmar will take the hill for his sixth start of the season, and is still looking for his first win. In his last start against Montgomery, he allowed eight hits and three runs in five innings while receiving no decision. He hasn’t received much run support from his offense, and in his best start of the season, against Jacksonville on April 26, he took the loss despite allowing just one run in seven innings. Blackmar did not face the Lookouts in the first series between the two teams
  • CHATTANOOGA: Tyler Duffey (2-2, 2.79 ERA) – Duffey has been fantastic for the Lookouts this season, allowing just 12 earned runs in 38 2/3 innings, with 37 strikeouts and only eight walks. He shut out the Jackson Generals over six innings in his most recent start. The right-hander was dominant against the Barons when they met in early April, allowing only two hits over seven shutout innings while striking out eight.

Game 3 Probable Pitchers

  • BIRMINGHAM: Tyler Barnette (0-1, 3.86 ERA) – Barnette will get the call in game two of the doubleheader, making his first start of the season. He’s made four appearances so far with the Barons, allowing five runs (four earned) in 9 1/3 innings. He’s struck out seven and only allowed one walk. Barnette does have some prior experience as a starting pitcher, having started 11 games last season for low Class-A Kannapolis.
  • CHATTANOOGA: Madison Boer (0-0, 0.00 ERA) – Boer has made just one appearance so far for the Lookouts, tossing a scoreless inning against Jackson. He began the season with high Class-A Fort Myers and recorded a 1.62 ERA over 16 2/3 innings. Although he’s now used primarily out of the bullpen, he did start 24 games in 2012, and made one spot start last season with the Miracle.

Doubleheader Promotions

  • 50-Cent Hot Dog Night: Presented by Kayem, Flowers Bakery, Birmingham Zoo, WIAT 42, and Jeff. Co. ALFA Agents
  • Social Media Night: Fans have the chance to win great prizes through Facebook and Twitter.
  • Faith Night: Church groups of 10 or more received $2 off regular-priced tickets.

Birmingham (15-14) vs. Chattanooga (17-12) – Series Preview

Byron Buxton, the #1 overall prospect in baseball, will be making his first – and very likely last – trip to Regions Field this week, as the Lookouts take on the Barons in a key North Division showdown.

For the second time this season the Barons and Lookouts will face off against each other, this time in a six-game series, and both teams are entering the series-opener on winning streaks. The Lookouts come to Regions Field having won four in a row against Jackson. After losing the opening game of the series, they outscored the Generals 37-13 over the next four games, including a 16-3 beatdown yesterday. Birmingham began its series against against Montgomery in rough fashion, dropping the first two games, but managed to rally to take the series by winning the next three. Tim Anderson was the star on Saturday night, as he hit for the cycle, and yesterday’s game belonged to starting pitcher Tyler Danish, as well as Courtney Hawkins, who managed to blast a home run that hit a moving train. This series presents the Barons with a golden opportunity to pick up ground on the Lookouts, who currently lead the North Division with a 17-12 record. The Barons are tied with the Tennessee Smokies for second place at 15-14, two games behind Chattanooga. The two teams split their first series of the season, 2-2. One game was postponed, and will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Tuesday.

Lookouts Players to Watch

  • Byron Buxton, OF: When these two teams met in early April, Buxton was struggling, likely due in large part to the fact that he missed nearly all of 2014 with injuries and needed to adjust to live pitching again. As expected, his slump didn’t last much longer. Buxton enters this series red hot, having hit .349 with 13 RBI over his past 10 games. His overall line is now up to .270/.336/.486, and he’s hit six triples and three home runs, while stealing seven bases and only being caught once. While Minnesota GM Terry Ryan hasn’t put a firm timetable on when Buxton could reach the Majors, it appears increasingly likely that he’ll be in a Twins uniform by the end of the season. If you want to see Buxton play at Regions Field, this is very likely to be your only chance.
  • Miguel Sano, 3B: Like Buxton, Sano began 2015 in a horrendous slump. He didn’t break out of it quite as quickly as Buxton did, but he has begun to heat up over the past week or so. At the end of April, Sano was hitting just .159, but he’s raised that to .211 after going 10-for-32 with two home runs since the calendar turned to May. Sano didn’t play at all in 2014 due to injuries, so it’s not a surprise that he’s had to readjust to live pitching, much like Buxton, and if he continues to hit he has a chance to move just as quickly.
  • Jose Berrios, RHP: Berrios is the highest-ranked pitching prospect on the Lookouts, and enters the series with a 3.25 ERA over 36 innings. He dominated Jackson on Friday night, allowing just three hits and two earned runs in eight innings, while striking out eight. His worst start of the year actually came against the Barons on April 17, when he allowed eight hits and three runs in 4 2/3 innings.

Who’s Hot for the Barons?

  • Courtney Hawkins, OF: Hawkins enters the series on a four-game hitting streak, going 7-for-16 with two home runs and eight RBI in that span. In nine games in May, he’s hitting .314/.429/.514, and his nine runs driven in nearly equals his April total of 12.
  • Jacob May, OF: May continues to be one of the most valuable pieces in the Barons’ lineup, having hit safely in eight of his last nine games. His .308 average leads the team, and his .362 OBP is second only to Joey DeMichele (.365). He also leads the team with 12 stolen bases, and is second in runs scored with 15.
  • Danny Hayes, 1B: Hayes is showing serious signs of breaking out of his month-long slump to begin the season. In Birmingham’s series against Montgomery, Hayes recorded three multi-hit games while going 7-for-21 (.333) with six RBI. On Sunday, Hayes recorded his first home run of the season.

Game 1 Probable Pitchers

  • BIRMINGHAM: Tony Bucciferro (0-1, 7.20 ERA) – Bucciferro, who was promoted from high Class-A Winston-Salem last week, didn’t make a great impression in his first start with the Barons. In five innings against Montgomery, he allowed nine hits and four earned runs, while walking two and only recording one strikeout. In five starts with the Dash this season he recorded a 5.40 ERA. Last season, Bucciferro made six starts with the Barons, posting a 5.00 ERA over 36 innings.
  • CHATTANOOGA: Alex Wimmers (0-0, 6.43 ERA) – Wimmers has struggled through four starts with the Lookouts, allowing a whopping 15 earned runs in just 21 innings pitched. Wimmers is a former first-round draft pick out of Ohio State, but has so far struggled throughout his minor league career. Although he was far from dominant in 2014, it was nevertheless his best season to date, as he recorded a 3.96 ERA over 84 innings between high Class-A and Double-A.

Game 1 Promotions

  • YP Monday: Presented by YP
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