The mission of any minor league affiliate is to prepare players for the major leagues, and this week the Jacksonville Suns saw their first player get promoted to the majors.
On Tuesday the Marlins called up Suns right-hander Kendry Flores, who will provide bullpen depth for Miami during this upcoming road trip to Colorado and Toronto.
Flores made nine starts for the Suns, going 3-3 with a 2.06 ERA in 56 and two-thirds innings of work. Also during that time, he struck out 46 batters compared to 15 walks. At the time of his promotion, Flores was third in the Southern League in ERA (2.06), first in WHIP (0.85), first in batting average against (.172), and among starting pitchers - fewest baserunners per nine innings (7.94).
Suns pitching coach Derek Botelho was pleased with the progress made by Flores during his time in Jacksonville, and knows he's ready for the challenge of the majors.
"He looks like a major league veteran, pitches like a major league veteran out there as far as game awareness, mound awareness," said Botelho. "He's a guy for me at his age and what he's been through at the lower levels, now pitching at the Double-A level, he's a kid that when things are getting out of hand out there, he doesn't get flustered. He always knows that he's one pitch away; he makes adjustments on the fly, and doesn't let the game get away from him. He's got pretty good thought process out there and doesn't let the game speed up on him, that's a sign of maturity and that's what you really want to see out of kids when they are going to the big leagues."
However with the move, Steve Cishek was sent from Miami to Jacksonville, putting the former Marlins closer into the minor leagues for the first time since 2011, and the first time with the Suns since the Southern League championship season of 2010.
Cishek picked up the save for the Suns during Jacksonville's 4-3 win over Montgomery, and I'll have more on his time with the Suns later this weekend.
As for the Suns, they picked up a series win for the first time since early May by taking three of the first four games of their current series with the Montgomery Biscuits (Tampa Bay Rays).
Here is a game-by-game recap of last week's action for the Suns:
Austin Brice had one of his finest outings of the year in Jacksonville' second win of the Barons series on Friday night. Brice went six innings allowing two runs on four hits with no walks and six strikeouts, as he picked up his second win of the year. Jacksonville was paced offensively by Austin Nola's 2-for-4 night, and Viosergy Rosa had the go-ahead RBI single in the sixth inning.
Despite a solid start from Trevor Williams, who only allowed two runs on 10 hits in six innings, the Suns bullpen couldn't hold on to a 3-2 lead last Saturday. In the bottom of the eighth, the Barons rallied to pick up three runs to lead 5-3 going into the top of the ninth. The Suns fought back with a game-tying home run by Matt Juengel, however Casey McCarthy in the bottom of the ninth allowed a walkoff RBI single to Danny Hayes to deliver the Barons the 6-5 win.
Jacksonville fought back strong again in the ninth inning of a game. With Birmingham leading 4-3 going into the top of the ninth, Austin Nola hit a two-run single to give Jacksonville a 5-4 lead. Once again the Suns bullpen couldn't hang onto a lead, with Sean Donatello blowing his second save in the last four games. After the Barons tied the game in the ninth, Birmingham picked up the win in the 11th inning with Marcus Lemon's RBI single.
The Suns returned home to Bragan Field on Monday, yet dropped their third straight game as the Biscuits came out on top 5-3. The Suns left 10 men on base in the game, but the game also saw major league rehabber Jeff Mathis pick up the first hits of his rehab assignment, going 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
The Suns snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-1 win on Tuesday. The game was a great pitcher's duel between Montgomery's Jared Mortensen and Jacksonville's Jake Esch. Neither ball club scored until the bottom of the seventh, when Danny Black had a two-run double to put Jacksonville in front. Esch earned the win, and Sean Donatello picked up his Southern League-best 13th save of the year. Jeff Mathis had his second straight multi-hit game by going 2-for-4 with an RBI in the eighth inning.
Matt Juengel's two-run homer in the fourth inning gave the Suns a 3-2 lead, before the Biscuits tied the game in the fifth. The Suns took the lead for good in the bottom of the seventh, when with the bases loaded, Biscuits reliever Mark Sappington threw a wild pitch that scored Zack Cox from third to give the Suns a 4-3 lead. Steve Cishek worked a perfect ninth to earn his first Suns save since 2010.
The Suns clinched their first series win since early May with a 5-1 win on Thursday. Jacksonville handed Rays prospect Blake Snell his first loss of the season, roughing him up for four runs. Jacksonville went in front 2-0 in the third when Carlos Lopez powered a two-run homer over the right field wall, making him the first Southern League left-handed batter with a hit off the southpaw Snell after lefties had been 0-for-38 against him. Matt Juengel also homered for the second straight day, and Trevor Williams earned his second win of the year, while lowering his ERA to 4.53 after a season-long seven scoreless innings.
The Suns look forward to teaming up with Fish Stripes all season long to give you these Jacksonville Suns reports. You can also find more information about the Suns by visiting our official website: jaxsuns.com, blog: sunsradio.com, Facebook page, Twitter page, and by listening to The Jacksonville Suns Podcast.