June 1, 2018

Two years ago today, the Lynchburg Hillcats defeated the Frederick Keys (Baltimore Orioles) 4-0 in Maryland. This may not seem notable, but the day saw notable performances from a pair of pitchers who saw time on the major league mound this spring as well as a stellar offensive day by a man knocking on the door of the show in another organization.

The pitching performance began with six and a third shutout innings from starter Eli Morgan, who allowed only three hits and a walk while striking out six. Morgan spent the 2019 season primarily with the Double-A Akron RubberDucks, for whom he made 19 of his 26 appearances, including his only relief outing (which, in reality was a scheduled start following a one-inning Danny Salazar rehab start). Most of the other appearances came with the Hillcats but, on July 16, in Scranton, Eli made his Triple-A debut, albeit a rocky one (3 ER on 5 H in 5 IP). On March 2, Eli’s career took another step forward as he made his major league spring training debut, allowing one unearned run in an inning and a third while striking out three. This numbers are especially impressive considering he pitched in the third and fourth frames, before the starters were removed from the game.

The rest of the game was pitched by Dalbert Siri, who picked up his second save of the season by pitching 2.2 innings of one-hit shutout baseball and striking out three. Like Morgan, Sir i was primarily a RubberDuck who made his Triple-A debut (2.1 shutout innings on July 7 in Columbus), although without the High-A stint. Dalbert also made a big stride towards the show this spring. In his case, it was a full-blown invite to major league camp. Siri, who had pitched one frame over two outings as a minor league camp call-up in 2019, pitched for the Big club five times this spring, allowing a pair of earned runs while striking out five in as many innings.

The offensive effort came from CF Conner Capel, who was traded nearly two months later to the St. Louis Cardinals with fellow outfielder Jhon Torres for Oscar Mercado.He went 2-for-4 with his lose extra-base hit of the day being a three-run homer in the eighth that solidified what had been a tenuous 1-0 lead (which itself had been the result of a home run – namely a fourth-inning solo shot off the bat of LF Trenton brooks). Capel also spent most of the summer of 2019 in Double -A with the Spring field Cardinals of the Texas League and also got a first taste of Triple-A ball with eight games for the Memphis Redbirds. While Capel didn’t see major league action this spring, he has played ten MLB preseason games (six for the Indians in 2017-18 and four for the 2019 Cards).

Should the MLB season be played with 50-man rosters, you may want to refer back to this column as it would not be surprising to see at least one of these men make their major league debut under such circumstances.


Photo: MiLB/RubberDucks

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