Opinion

Miguel Almonte strikes out seven as Wilmington wins

The Royals had specific instructions for prospect Miguel Almonte at the start of the season.

“The focus for him early on here, and he’s done an outstanding job with it,” assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said last month, “is let’s work with your fastball as much as you can early in the game, save your change-up and breaking ball for the second time around the order and the first couple of outings, he’s done exactly that.”

After a good start to the season (2-0, 2.60 ERA in his first three starts), Almonte hit a bump in the road as his ERA climbed to 5.33. But it was smooth sailing Wednesday as he and two relievers combined on a five-hitter and Class A-Advanced Wilmington beat Carolina 3-0.

Almonte gave up all five hits in 6 1/3 innings and he struck out seven. According to MiLB.com, he pitched into the seventh inning for the first time since last May with Class A Lexington.

Wilmington pitching coach Steve Luebber said the team had tweaked that earlier plan for Almonte.

“It was all about the fastball location,” Luebber told MiLB.com. “Before, when he gave up all the hits, they were almost all fastballs on the inner half to righties, something he was doing intentionally and something he was doing mechanically. So our emphasis has changed and that’s why his fastball command was better.

“His fastball has some movement, but it doesn’t have the kind of movement where it sinks. So if he doesn’t get the ball away, it’s going to stay on the barrel too much.”

Kyle Bartsch struck out two in 1 2/3 innings and Mark Peterson got his 10th save with a perfect ninth inning. Peterson has a 0.79 ERA.

Wilmington got all of its runs in the second inning as Kenny Diekroeger had a two-run single and later scored when Terrance Gore reached on an error. Raul Mondesi returned to the lineup and was zero for four.

Third baseman Hunter Dozier was hit by a pitch and left the game. But MiLB.com reported that X-rays were negative and he is day to day.

Other games

Four pitchers combined on a three-hitter and Christian Colon’s RBI single broke a late tie Wednesday in a 2-0 win at Oklahoma City.

It was scoreless when Paulo Orlando led off the eighth inning with a triple and scored on Colon’s single. In the ninth, Carlos Peguero walked with one out, took second on a passed ball, moved to third on Francisco Peña’s infield single and scored an error by Oklahoma City’s second baseman.

Third baseman Mike Moustakas had a hit and a walk.

Clayton Mortensen made his first start of the season and gave up two hits and two walks in five innings. He struck out four. Casey Coleman, 2-0, allowed one hit, walked two and struck out one in his two innings, while Wilking Rodriguez pitched a perfect eighth. Spencer Patton pitched around a walk and got his ninth save.

Class A Lexington scored 10 runs over the final four innings and rallied for a 15-7 win at Asheville. First baseman Frank Schwindel had a huge day with four hits, including two doubles and a home run, and six RBIs. Center fielder Alfredo Escalera-Maldonado had three hits and scored four runs, while shortstop Ramon Torres had two hits, including a solo homer, and also scored four times. Starter Luke Farrell allowed seven runs on six hits and five walks in 4 1/3 innings. Andrew Edwards, 2-2, gave up two hits in 2 2/3 innings and Tripp Davis pitched two hitless innings.

Jason Adam remained winless on the season as Class AA Northwest Arkansas lost 6-5 at San Antonio on a walk-off single. The Naturals scored four in the top of the first, but Adam allowed two unearned runs in the bottom of the frame and four total in 5 1/3 innings. He gave up six hits, walked two and struck out two. Scott Alexander allowed a run in 2 2/3 innings and Angel Baez gave up the two hits and had a critical balk. Center fielder Lane Adams had a double, triple, two RBIs and scored twice. DH Juan Graterol also had two hits and two RBIs.

To reach Pete Grathoff, send email to pgrathoff@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/pgrathoff

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