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Diamond Dawgs in the Pros: Getting off on a good foot

Your AL Rookie of the Month for April, Justin Grimm
Your AL Rookie of the Month for April, Justin Grimm
Mike McGinnis

Every month over the summer, we'll try to bring you an update on how the 16 former Diamond Dawgs are doing in the major, or minor, leagues. We gave a preview back in late March. But with a month under their belts, we've got a better idea of where guys are, and some are doing wonderfully, so with a lot to go over, so let's not lollygag it and get to updates.

We start with the Texas Rangers' Justin Grimm. Grimm was on fire in April, and took home AL Rookie of the Month honors for his efforts. His first two starts in May haven't been as strong, but they are still solid. With 5 starts so far this year, the Bristol, Tenn. native is 2-2, having thrown 28 2/3 innings, with a 3.45 ERA, 31 strikeouts and 11 walks. He takes the mound again tonight against Oakland.

Mitchell Boggs had an up and down month. When the Cardinals' expected closer Jason Motte went down for the season, Boggs, who had been one of the better set up men in baseball the last couple years, assumed the role. Severe command problems and a couple bad outings later, and he found himself not only no longer closing, but no longer with the big club. The Cardinals sent him down to AAA to get right, as he's made 4 appearances, allowing no runs and only 1 walk in 4 innings with Memphis. If he can keep that up, he should be back in St. Louis soon.

Jeff Keppinger got a 3 year deal from the Chicago White Sox this past winter, with the hope he'd take over their 3B job everyday. Well, he has, but he hasn't hit like expected. The career .283 hitter has failed to reach the Mendoza line right now, posting a .187 average so far this season. Through 29 games, he has 2 doubles, no home runs, no walks, and just 6 RBI.

His teammate Gordon Beckham is currently on the comeback trail. He had a hit in 3 of his first 6 games of the season, including a 4 hit day, but broke a bone in his left wrist in game 7. He's slowly worked his way back, and should begin a rehab assignment sometime this month.

Josh Fieldshas joined him, both on the DL and in nearing a comeback. The former All-American closer suffered a right forearm strain in his second MLB appearance, but is already on his rehab assignment, and should be back in the Houston Astros' bullpen this week.

Brooks Brown went to spring training with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but failed to win a job with the big club. They sent him to the AAA Indianapolis Indians and he's pitched extremely well out of both the bullpen and rotation. He's thrown 27 innings in 9 games (3 starts), allowing only 19 hits and a 2.33 ERA with 23 strikeouts and 8 walks.

Jeff Walters impressed the Mets this spring enough they sent him to their AA club in Binghamton. In his first taste at AA, the fourth year pro has killed it, with 10 games, 13 2/3 innings, and a slight 0.66 ERA. He's allowed only 8 hits and 2 walks, as opposed to 10 strikeouts, so far.

Alex Wood is yet another former Dawg arm that impressed in spring training, and has carried that good form into the season. After learning a "spike curve" from big league stars Johnny Venters and Craig Kimbrel, his expanded repertoire has taken AA by storm, earning Southern League Pitcher of the Week honors for the last week in April. For the season so far, Wood is 2-1 with an ERA of 0.47 through 7 starts. He's thrown 38 innings, allowed just 25 hits and 9 walks to a whopping 43 strikeouts and no home runs. If he can keep even close to this level of productivity, a call up to AAA might happen in a month or two, and perhaps even a few outings with the Atlanta Braves' big club before the year is over.

Zach Cone's season was over almost as soon as it began. The OF with the Texas Rangers' high A club in Myrtle Beach tore his achilles after a mere 7 games. He'd registered a hit in 5 of those 7, and multiple hits in 3.

Rich Poythress is with the Seattle Mariners' AAA club in Tacoma this year. The 1B already has slugged 3 HR, after just 9 in all of last season, and is hitting .257, with a .347 on base percentage, .419 slugging, and 14 RBI in 30 games.

Trevor Holder was with the Washington Nationals AA club before a "stunning release" made him a free agent. He wasn't on the market long though, as San Diego quickly snapped him up and stashed him on their high A club, the Lake Elsinore Storm. Holder had a rough debut out of the Storm bullpen on Mother's Day in his only appearance for them so far.

Levi Hyams is working at 2B for the Rome Braves this year, so all you Dawgs in Northwest Georgia have an excuse to go catch some minor league games this summer. He's off to a solid start too, hitting at the top of their order, currently batting .300, with 5 steals and a .383 on base.

Chase Davidson made it to full season ball in his 3rd professional campaign. Playing 1B for the Quad City River Bandits, Houston's A ball affiliate, the big lefty is hitting just .238 with only 1 HR in 42 at bats. He is listed as having been reassigned, so I'd suspect he's back in extended spring training waiting on the TriCity Valley Cats to get going again later in the summer.

That's our list of Dawgs playing so far. You'll notice 13 names, and I said 16 above. That's because Berry Tanner has yet to see action for any team in the Oakland A's organization so far this year, Bryce Massanari isn't listed with any of Colorado's teams, nor has Stephen Dodson. We'll keep an eye out for them as the season continues.