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July 2, 2012

What You Need to Know

Monday, July 2

by Daniel Rathman

The Weekend Takeaway
The Padres became the first major-league team to hit 50 losses this season when they went down, 10-2, to the Rockies on Friday, but the weekend also provided the Petco Park faithful with a glimpse into their future.

Rookie catcher Yasmani Grandal—acquired as part of the return package when right-hander Mat Latos was shipped to Cincinnati this past offseason—made his first big-league start on Saturday, batting fifth in manager Bud Black’s lineup and facing fellow first-year Christian Friedrich. Three at-bats later, Grandal had made history.

After flying out to right in the second inning, the switch-hitting Grandal did this in the fourth off Friedrich and this in the sixth off Jeremy Guthrie, making him the first player in major-league history to notch his first two career hits by hitting home runs from each side of the plate. The sixth-inning homer gave San Diego a lead it would not relinquish in the 8-4 win.

If there is a saving grace for Padres fans, with their team now 15 games behind the first-place Giants in the NL West race, just two years removed from losing the division on the last weekend of the season, it’s that the team’s farm system is arguably the deepest in the league. Former general manager Jed Hoyer collected 10 of Kevin Goldstein’s top 101 prospects before rejoining Theo Epstein in Chicago, and Grandal led the way at 38th.

Rebuilding periods are never easy, but prospects like Grandal—and Kip Wells delivering his first no-run start in nearly seven years—can make them tolerable.

What to Watch for on Monday

  • We all know win-loss records can be deceiving, and that’s certainly the case with Blue Jays lefty Ricky Romero, who is 8-2 on the year but owns a bloated 4.94 ERA and 70-to-52 K/BB. Romero’s most recent start, in which he allowed nine runs (eight earned) and walked six Red Sox in three innings, was his worst of the season. The 27-year-old will try to bounce back against the Royals and Everett Teaford tonight (7:07 p.m. ET).
  • Freddy Garcia was not the Yankees’ first choice to start the opener of an important series at the Trop, but they’ll have to make do with the veteran right-hander, who locks horns with Matt Moore as the Rays try to pare down the AL East gap. That's bad news for Carlos Pena, who is just 4-for-39 with 11 strikeouts lifetime versus Garcia, but good news for Jose Molina, who has collected more of his 455 career hits off the 35-year-old (10-for-26) than off any other pitcher (7:10 p.m. ET).
  • As Giancarlo Stanton goes, so go the Marlins, who are now 13-6 in games where the 22-year-old right fielder goes deep and 25-34 otherwise. Fortunately, Stanton appears to be heating up again, with three homers in his last five games and three multi-hit efforts over that span. He leads the Marlins into Milwaukee to square off with Zack Greinke, who has allowed just one home run in 41 2/3 innings at Miller Park this season but has not pitched there since June 6 (8:10 p.m. ET).
  • Few players were as disappointed to see the month of June come to an end as Mariners relievers Tom Wilhelmsen and Charlie Furbush. The duo combined to pitch 32 2/3 scoreless innings over 24 appearances last month, surrendering just 15 hits and six walks while striking out 45 batters. They’ll try to keep that going into July when the Orioles come to town tonight (10:10 p.m. ET).
  • If the 12-game major-league slate does not whet your appetite, be sure to follow the California League game between High-A affiliates Bakersfield (Reds) and Lake Elsinore (Padres). Reds shortstop prospect Billy Hamilton sits at 98 stolen bases heading into the week, and he figures to reach 100 for the season by Tuesday (10:05 p.m. ET).

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Daniel's other articles. You can contact Daniel by clicking here

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