The Home Team: Locals in the Minors

Sunnyside grad Romero trying to break out of slump

2014-07-07T00:00:00Z Sunnyside grad Romero trying to break out of slumpBy Andrew Cockrum Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Stefen Romero played in 51 of the Seattle Mariners’ first 82 games, but after going 0 for 3 on June 29 his average dropped below the Mendoza Line at .196.

The following day the Pima College and Sunnyside High School product was sent down to the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers.

Since returning to the minors, the right fielder is batting .167 and has struck out eight times in six games.

Romero did light up the sky on the Fourth of July at Fresno with two home runs in Tacoma’s 11-7 win over the Grizzlies. The multi-homer game was the third of his career, and his first since Sept. 1, 2013 with the Rainiers.

Romero now has a career .333 average with five extra-base hits and seven RBIs on Independence Day.

Three up

Nick Cunningham, RHP, Delmarva Shorebirds (Orioles’ Class-A affiliate)

Cunningham received his first career promotion to Class-A ball, joining Delmarva of the South Atlantic League on Tuesday. The Arizona alum won his debut with the Shorebirds on Friday, going five innings while scattering three runs.

Alex Mejia, SS, Springfield Cardinals (Cardinals’ Double-A affiliate)

The former Wildcat made his Double-A debut this week for Springfield after batting .284 with High-A Palm Beach. Every member of UA’s 2012 draft class has now reached the Double-A level or higher in their careers.

Rafael Neda, 1B, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Brewers’ Class-A affiliate)

Neda tallied 10 hits this week including his second home run of the season Monday against Burlington. The Amphitheater High School graduate is two hits shy of tying his career-high of 50 for a single season.

Three down

Matt Chaffee, LHP, Lynchburg Hillcats (Braves High-A affiliate)

Chaffee was let go Wednesday by the Atlanta Braves after compiling an 8.63 ERA in 20 games with Lynchburg. He had been in the Braves’ system since 2011 when he was drafted in the 12th round out of Arizona.

James Lynch, LF, Bluefield Blue Jays (Blue Jays’ rookie affiliate)

The former Pima Aztec has recorded one hit in his first nine professional games, while striking out 10 times. Lynch has scored twice for the Blue Jays and caught 11 fly balls in left field.

Erik Castro, 1B, Oklahoma City RedHawks (Astros’ Triple-A affiliate)

The Houston Astros released Castro on Tuesday after playing five seasons in their farm system. The one-time Wildcat was batting .175 with Oklahoma City at the time of his release.

Player of the week

Trevor Crowe, DH, Toledo Mud Hens (Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate)

The former All-American outfielder at Arizona has rebounded from his early season struggles to hit safely in 15 straight games before the streak ended with his 0-for-5 effort Sunday. During th streak, Crowe batted .333 with eight extra-base hits and nine runs scored for the Mud Hens.

The hit streak was two shy of his career-high set in 2009 when he hit safely in 17 straight games for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers. This is the second-consecutive season he has recorded a 15-game hit streak, as he accomplished the feat in April 2013 with the Triple-A Oklahoma City RedHawks.

Crowe saw his season average jump 27 points since June 18th when the streak started.

The designated hitter compiled his fourth three-hit game of the season Monday in Toledo’s 9-1 victory at Indianapolis.

Two days later, Crowe hit his fourth home run for the Mud Hens, an opposite field shot over the left field wall in Toledo.

The big number

3 Former Wildcats on Tampa Bay’s Double-A roster after Cory Burns joined Joey Rickard and Mike Colla with the Montgomery Biscuits on Monday. Burns was claimed off waivers from the Texas Rangers after pitching 20 games for Triple-A Round Rock.

Coming up

  • Friday: Julio Felix and the West Michigan Whitecaps travel to Dayton, Ohio for a four-game series. The Sunnyside and Pima College alum has retired 17 of the 19 Dayton batters he has faced this season.

He said it

“(Robert Refsnyder) is rising like a meteor. … He’s backing up a lot of our personnel’s belief in him with some serious offensive production. He’s making us pay attention.”

— New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman said about the ex-Wildcat who hit a walk-off, three-run homer Friday night for the Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Baseball America released its mid-season all-star teams on Friday and listed Refsnyder’s first-half performance as the most surprising for a second baseman in the minors.

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