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Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014

Utahns in baseball: BYU alums Taylor Cole, Jaycob Brugman leading their minor league teams as playoffs loom

By Carter Williams, Deseret News

Published: Sun, Aug. 17 11:05 p.m. MDT

 Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Brandon Kintzler throws during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Brandon Kintzler throws during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

(Jeff Roberson, AP)

The postseason is just around the corner in minor league baseball, and BYU alums Taylor Cole and Jaycob Brugman each had big weeks in helping their respective clubs make playoff runs.

After two starts in Double-A New Hampshire, Cole returned to Dunedin and did what he has done all season long: strike out batters.

The former BYU pitcher struck out nine in five innings, upping his strikeout total to 152 on the year for the Toronto Blue Jays’ advanced Single-A affiliate.

“I felt OK. I’ve been traveling a lot and pretty busy with coming up and back from New Hampshire,” Cole said in a radio interview posted on MiLB.com. “My body was a little bit tired … even though I didn’t have my best stuff, we were able to execute some pitches and get a good quality outing.”

Cole struggled in his first start in Double-A but pitched considerably better in his other outing despite a loss. He said those issues were mainly from mental errors, like walking batters and getting behind in counts. That’s something he wasn’t doing to get him the promotion.

Cole’s demotion, however, was made primarily to have him in Dunedin as the Blue Jays go for the Florida State League championship beginning on Sept. 2. The D-Jays clinched a playoff spot in the FSL by having the best record after the first half of the season.

Cole added in his interview he’s excited to be back in Dunedin for the playoffs.

“I knew (the demotion) was going to happen because I wanted to be here for this,” Cole said. “Obviously we all want to progress in the system, but I definitely want to be here at this time of the year to help us win the championship and see how far we can go. I think we have a great team, great coaching staff, and it’ll be fun."

Brugman, on the other hand, continued his power surge with advanced Single-A Stockton over the week, helping the Ports further the gap in a playoff race. The former Cougar hit five home runs in four games at the end of last week. He hit another on Tuesday to extend his streak to five-straight games with a home run.

The BYU alum then hit another on Thursday and two more on Saturday. In fact, Brugman went 4-for-5 with four RBIs and four runs scored in Stockton’s 14-10 win over San Jose on Saturday. Overall, he homered nine times in a nine-game span from Aug. 6 until Saturday.

"What I really focus on is a routine, keeping the same routine each day when I come to the field,” Brugman told MiLB.com’s Tyler Maun. “I'm just looking for my pitch and not missing it. That's been the key lately. Sometimes you get on a hot streak and you don't miss those pitches that you should hit."

The Ports currently hold a five-game lead over San Jose for the second playoff spot in the California League north division.

“There’s nothing else on our minds but to win,” Brugman said about the team's playoff mentality, in an interview with the Ports after Saturday’s slugfest. “The team knows that and we believe it and I think that’s what propels us to be the best — knowing that we’re going to win.”

Elsewhere, Salt Lake City resident and 2014 Olympic speedskater Eddy Alvarez received his first promotion of his minor league career. Alvarez, who was batting .291 in 27 games in the Arizona League, joined Single-A Kannapolis (North Carolina) on Monday.

He has since gone 9-for-19 with his new club, driving in three runs and scoring three more.

Utah alum Tyler Wagner also picked up his 12th win of the season in advanced Single-A Brevard County. Wagner allowed just five hits in six innings. He lowered his ERA back down to 1.68 on the year.

Finally, Utah alum Mitch Watrous and Utah State-Eastern product Colter Moore each made their minor league debuts over the week. Both pitchers picked wins in their first week in the minors.

MLB

Jeremy Guthrie (BYU), Kansas City Royals: 1-1, 6.17 ERA in two combined starts throughout the week. On Tuesday, the former Cougar allowed 11 hits and six runs (four earned), picking up a loss as the Royals fell to Oakland 11-3.

Guthrie bounced back from the loss, allowing five hits and four runs in seven innings as Kansas City defeated Minnesota 12-6 on Sunday. Guthrie is now 9-10 with a 4.48 ERA with the Royals this season.

Brandon Kintzler (Dixie State), Milwaukee Brewers: 1-0, 0.00 ERA in two appearances over the week. Kintzler improved to 2-3 on the season on Friday, allowing just one hit in one inning in Milwaukee’s 6-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Dixie State product also pitched a scoreless frame Wednesday in the Brewers’ 4-2 loss to the Cubs.

Kintzler has a 3.43 ERA in 46 games pitched this season, totaling 40 innings.

Triple-A

John Buck (Taylorsville H.S.), Salt Lake Bees (Los Angeles Angels): Six hits, one RBI and four runs scored in 18 at-bats throughout the week. Buck is batting .317 in 22 games with the Bees this season.

Matt Carson (BYU), Columbus (Cleveland Indians): Six hits, one home run, one RBI and five runs scored in 23 at-bats throughout the week. Carson went 3-for-5 at the dish against Lehigh Valley on Wednesday, including scoring one of two runs off an error that allowed Columbus to beat the Iron Pigs 6-5 in 10 innings.

He’s batting .253, with 28 RBIs and 39 runs scored in 73 games this season.

C.J. Cron (Utah), Salt Lake (Los Angeles Angels): Six hits, one RBI and five runs scored in 29 at-bats throughout the week. Cron returned to the Bees' lineup on Monday after his second stint in the majors. He’s batting .313, with 19 extra base hits and 28 RBIs with the Bees this season.

Stephen Fife (Utah), Albuquerque (Los Angeles Dodgers): Remains on the 7-day disabled list with right forearm tightness. Fife is 2-2, with a 7.01 ERA in 11 appearances with the Isotopes this season. He last pitched on July 18.

Matt Spring (Dixie State), Pawtucket (Boston Red Sox): 1-for-3 with a run scored against Gwinnet on Tuesday before landing on the disabled list with an undisclosed injury after the game.

Spring is batting .265, with two home runs and seven RBIs in 12 games with the PawSox this season.

Double-A

Tyson Brummett (Spanish Fork H.S.), Chattanooga (Los Angeles Dodgers): Remains on the 7-day disabled list. Brummett is 4-5, with a 2.79 ERA in 13 starts for Chattanooga. He last pitched on July 16.

Parker Morin (Utah), Northwest Arkansas (Kansas City Royals): Four hits and two RBIs in 18 at-bats over the week. Morin is batting .206, with 14 RBIs in 46 games with the Naturals this season.

Braeden Schlehuber (Viewmont H.S.), Mississippi (Atlanta Braves): Five hits, two RBIs and one run scored in nine at-bats throughout the week. Schlehuber is batting .225, with three home runs and 36 RBIs in 68 games this season.

Single-A

Eddy Alvarez (SLCC), Kannapolis (Chicago White Sox): Nine hits, three RBIs and three runs scored in 19 at-bats over the week. Alverez received his first baseball promotion Monday and responded well by collecting hits in his first five games while hitting .474.

Jaycob Brugman (BYU), Stockton (Oakland Athletics): Nine hits, four home runs, eight RBIs and eight runs scored in 23 at-bats throughout the week. Brugman has homered in nine of his last 10 games. He’s batting .290, with 11 home runs, 28 RBIs and 25 runs scored in 37 games with Stockton.

Chris Capper (BYU), South Bend (Arizona Diamondbacks): Remains on the 7-day disabled list. Has yet to appear in a game with the Silver Hawks this season.

Taylor Cole (BYU), Dunedin (Toronto Blue Jays): Allowed four hits, four walks and one unearned run in five innings, winning in his return to Dunedin. Cole also struck out nine batters to reach 152 on the year and inch slightly closer to breaking the club’s record of 173 strikeouts in a season.

Cole improved to 8-6 in Dunedin. He also has a 2.87 ERA with the Blue Jays.

Jake Hannemann (BYU), Daytona (Chicago Cubs): Four hits, one RBI and two runs scored in 25 at-bats over the week. Hannemann struggled over the weekend, going a combined 0-for-12 at Tampa. He’s batting .244, with six RBIs in 23 games with the Cubs.

Adam Law (BYU), Rancho Cucamonga (Los Angeles Dodgers): Seven hits, three RBIs and six runs scored in 27 at-bats throughout the week. Law collected three-straight multi-hit games on the week. He’s batting .276 on the season in 93 games.

Brady Lail (Bingham H.S.), Tampa (New York Yankees): Allowed five hits and one run in five innings, picking up a 1-0 loss to Lakeland on Thursday. Lail dipped his ERA from 7.53 to 6.05 in the loss, making just his third start in Tampa since being promoted from Charleston.

Though Lail made a relief appearance on Aug. 7, Thursday was his first start since a brief disabled list stint.

Marcus Littlewood (Pine View H.S.), Clinton (Seattle Mariners): Three hits, one RBI and two runs scored in 16 at-bats over the week. Littlewood has now hit safely in 18 out of last 20 games and is batting .250 on the season. He also has eight home runs and 43 RBIs in 77 games.

Littlewood is batting .254 on the year, with eight home runs, 14 doubles, two triples and 42 RBIs in 73 games.

Adam Miller (BYU), South Bend (Arizona Diamondbacks): Pitched a perfect frame of relief against Lansing on Friday while striking out a pair of batters. Miller is 4-1, with a 3.49 ERA in 20 games for South Bend this season.

Dominique Taylor (Northridge H.S.), Lexington (Kansas City Royals): Nine hits, one home run, two RBIs and five runs scored in 26 at-bats throughout the week. Taylor is batting .308 on the season, with 36 RBIs and 14 runs scored in 77 games with the Legends.

Tyler Wagner (Utah), Brevard County (Milwaukee Brewers): Allowed five hits and three walks while striking out seven batters in six innings as the Manatees defeated Daytona 5-1. Wagner improved to 12-5 on the season and lowered his ERA back to 1.68 on the season.

Keenyn Walker (Judge Memorial H.S.), Winston-Salem (Chicago White Sox): Four hits, one RBI, two runs scored and two stolen bases in 15 at-bats throughout the week. Walker is batting .203 in 58 games with Winston-Salem.

Short Season Leagues:

Tanner Banks (Utah), Arizona White Sox (Chicago White Sox): One strikeout in a perfect frame of relief on Saturday. Banks lowered his ERA down to 2.00 on the season in 12 appearances.

Bubba Blau (Dixie State), Arizona Brewers (Milwaukee Brewers): Struck out the side in a perfect inning of work on Friday. Blau has a 3.32 ERA in nine games with the AZL Brewers.

Nick Green (Utah), Idaho Falls (Kansas City Royals): Did not pitch this week. Green has a 4.38 ERA in 11 games with the Chukars.

Kavin Keyes (Alta H.S.), Arizona Mariners (Seattle Mariners): Zero hits in six at-bats throughout the week. Keyes is batting .214, with one home run and nine RBIs in 20 games with the AZL Mariners.

Colter Moore (Utah State-Eastern), Bristol (Pittsburgh Pirates): Allowed one hit and one walk while striking out on in 1 1/3 innings of relief against Pulrok on Saturday. Moore, making his minor league debut, picked up the win as Bristol defeated the Mariners 3-1.

Trey Nielsen (Utah), State College (St. Louis Cardinals): Allowed four hits and one walk in four shutout innings while striking out three in the Spikes’ 4-1 win over Auburn on Sunday. Nielsen lowered his ERA down to 2.20 on the year in the outing.

Mitch Watrous (Utah), Arizona Padres (San Diego Padres): 1-0, 15.43 ERA in two appearances over the week. Watrous allowed three hits and two runs in one inning of work on Wednesday but picked up a win over the AZL Dodgers. He allowed three hits and two runs in 1 1/3 innings on Saturday.

Watrous, who made his debut last Sunday, is 1-0, with a 10.80 ERA in three appearances with the AZL Padres.

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