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2018 South Atlantic League Travel: Game #6 July 14, 2018

Asheville Tourists versus Greensboro Grasshoppers at First National Bank Field, Greensboro, NC

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Marlins prospect Isael Soto contributed a big home run.
Photo by Walter Triebel

Walter Triebel spent 15 years as an adjunct faculty member at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He has had an extensive career in business and as a textbook and reference book author. Triebel’s “Road-Tripping the South Atlantic League: A Guide to the Teams, Ballparks and Cities“ was published by McFarland in 2016. It’s available for purchase on their website as well as Amazon.

Enjoy all of his 2018 Greensboro Grasshoppers coverage on Fish Stripes.


As a sixth stop to see the teams of the 2018 South Atlantic League, I made a return trip to First National Bank Field, Greensboro on July 14, 2018. That evening I attended a home game of the Greensboro Grasshoppers (Miami Marlins) versus the Asheville Tourists (Colorado Rockies). Entering the game, Greensboro was 11-10 and tied for third place in the Northern Division second half season South Atlantic League standings. On the other hand, the Tourists, who are a member of the Southern Division, were 11-9 and in third place in that division. That day’s game was the opening game of a 4-game series between the Grasshoppers and Tourists.

Figure 1

2018 Miami Marlins MLB top 30 prospects on the Greensboro Grasshoppers current roster

2018 Miami Marlins MLB Top 30 Prospects/Greensboro Grasshoppers Team Leaders

The table in Figure 1 lists the players on the current Greensboro Grasshoppers roster that are ranked as MLB top 30 prospects of the Miami Marlins. Since my early June stop in Greensboro, there was only a small change to this list. One player, third baseman James Nelson, was elevated to the Marlins advanced A class team in the Florida State League—the Jupiter Hammerheads.

Since a number of other players were also promoted to the Jupiter Hammerheads (Florida State League, A+), there has been a bit of a shakeup in the Grasshoppers team offense leaders. Check this earlier Fish Stripes post for the Greensboro Grasshoppers mid-season team offense leaders. Three of those former Greensboro batting leaders, Lazaro Alonso (1B), Jhonny Santos (LF), and Aaron Knapp (CF), have moved on to play for the Hammerheads.

Figure 2

Jose Devers—batting leader of the Greensboro Grasshoppers
Photo by Walter Triebel

As of the date of the game, shortstop Jose Devers continued to be a key leader of Greensboro’s offense. The photo of Figure 2 shows Devers at the plate in the July 14th game at First National Bank Field. Prior to the start of that game, Devers ranked #1 on the team in hits (79), triples (4), total bases (99), and batting average (.273). However, he is also poised to take over the team lead from Jhonny Santos in on-base percentage.

The same is true for this earlier post on Greensboro Grasshoppers mid-season pitching leaders. The promotion of the team’s top starter, Ryan Lillie, to the Jupiter Hammerheads has opened the door for others. Already, Lillie does not have enough win-loss decisions to qualify as the team leader in win-loss percentage and in the next few days he will no longer meet the requirements for a team leader in the earned run average and walks plus hits per inning pitched pitching stat categories.

Figure 3

Colton Hock—Greensboro Grasshoppers pitching leader
Photo by Walter Triebel

Relative to the pitching staff, reliever Colton Hock, who entered the game with a 9W:3L record, had expanded his team lead in wins to 9 and taken over the team lead in win-loss percentage (.750). The photo of Figure 3 shows Hock delivering a pitch in the fourth inning of the July 14th game. Note from the table in Figure 1 that Hock is ranked #24 among the current MLB top 30 prospects in the Miami Marlins Minor League organization.

Among the Marlins MLB top 30 prospect/Grasshoppers team leaders groups four players were in Greensboro’s starting lineup for the game: Thomas Jones (MIA #25 prospect) played center and hit in the leadoff slot, Jose Devers (#21 prospect) played shortstop and batted second, Isael Soto (#26) played right field and hit cleanup, and Colton Hock (#24) took the mound as the Grasshoppers starting pitcher.

Figure 4

2018 Colorado Rockies MLB top 30 prospects on the Asheville Tourists current roster
Photo by Walter Triebel

2018 Colorado Rockies MLB Top 30 Prospects/Asheville Tourists Team Leaders

On the date of the game, six players from the Asheville Tourists roster were ranked as MLB top 30 prospects of the Colorado Rockies. The table of Figure 4 shows that three of them are pitchers and that the other three are field players.

  • Pitchers: #11 Breiling Eusebio (LHP), #14 Will Gaddis (RHP), and #23 Robert Tyler (RHP)
  • Field players: #5 Ryan Vilade (SS), #24 Chad Spanberger (1B), and #27 Shael Mendoza (CF)

One of those top prospects, Chad Spanberger (COL #24 prospect), is the current leader of the Asheville Tourists offense. As the Tourists starting first baseman and cleanup hitter, Spanberger entered the game leading the team in eight of the thirteen traditional offense statistic categories listed on Asheville’s official website: H (101), HR (21), RBI (69), TB (188), AVE (.319), OBP (.358), SLG (.593), and OPS (.951).

Another player, Bret Boswell (2B/3B), is a table-setter in the Asheville lineup. As their leadoff or number 2 hitter, he led the team in runs scored (60) and was tied for the team lead in triples (4). However, he also ranked #2 on the team to Spanberger in hits (95), total bases (163), and batting average (.291).

Figure 5

Garrett Schilling—leader of the Asheville Tourists starting rotation
Photo by Walter Triebel

As for the Asheville Tourist pitching staff, reliever Tommy Doyle (RHP), who was 6-4 on the date of the game, led the pitching staff in wins (6), win-loss percentage (.600), saves (7), and pitching appearances (32). However, the pitching of two other players has also stood out. Number 23 prospect Robert Tyler, who was 4-2 in 29 relief pitching appearances, ranked #2 in saves (6). The photo of Figure 5 shows pitcher Garrett Schilling, who is the leader of the Tourists starting rotation. Prior to the start of the game, he led all qualifying members of the Asheville’s starting rotation in wins (4-tied with 3 others), innings pitched (91.1), strikeouts (86-tied with 1 other), earned run average (3.15), and walks plus hits per innings pitched (1.28).

Six players that are members of those Colorado Rockies MLB top 30 prospects and Asheville Tourists offense/pitching leader groups appeared in the game. They were field players Ryan Vilade (#5 prospect) at shortstop and batting leadoff, Chad Spanberger (#24) at first base and hitting cleanup, and Bret Boswell at third and hitting second. From the pitching groups, Garrett Schilling got the start, while relievers Robert Tyler (#23) and Tommy Doyle played key roles in closing out the game for the Tourists.

Game Highlights

The July 14th game gave me the opportunity to see two team leading pitchers faced off against each other as the starters. As mentioned earlier, Colton Hock took the mound for the Greensboro Grasshoppers. He has primarily pitched as a reliever, but had already made a few other starts this season. The Asheville Tourists sent their top starter, Garrett Schilling, to the hill. However, the game quickly turned into a bit of a slugfest and in the end neither starter entered into the win/loss decision. On the other hand, the field players introduced as top prospect and offense leaders for both teams played a significant role in the outcome of the game.

Figure 6

Isael Soto—home run trot
Photo by Walter Triebel

Bottom 1st: Grasshoppers open the scoring with 3 runs (GBO 3, ASH 0)

Number 3 hitter Tristan Pompey (LF) walked and then scored on cleanup hitter and Marlins #26 prospect Isael Soto 6th home run of the season. Then, #5 hitter Ricardo Cespedes (DH) doubled and scored on a Harrison Dinicola (1B) RBI single.

Top 2nd: Tourists quickly answered back with 2 runs (GBO 3, ASH 2)

Number 9 hitter Tyler Bugner (DH) singled and scored on leadoff batter, #5 ranked Rockies prospect Ryan Vilade’s (SS) homer run.

Figure 7

Ryan Vilade—home run swing
Photo by Walter Triebel

Bottom 3rd: Grasshoppers score 1 run (GBO 4, ASH 2)

Number 3 hitter Jose Devers (SS) reached first on a bunt single, stole second base, move to third on an infield groundout, and then raced home to beat the tag at the plate on a not-so-deep sacrifice fly to right field hit by Isael Soto.

Top 5th: Tourists reach relievers for 2 runs to tie game (GBO 4, ASH 4)

Colton Hock departed the game after pitching 4 innings with Greensboro on top 4 runs to 2, but the relievers could not make that lead stand up. Number 2 batter, third baseman Bret Boswell singled; stole second; and scored on a single by cleanup hitter and COL #24 prospect Chad Spanberger. Then, Spanberger crossed the plate with run 2 of the inning on a double by number 6 batter, second baseman Matt McLaughlin.

Bottom 5th: Grasshoppers score 2 to retake the lead (GBO 6, ASH 4)

Top of batting order launched a go ahead rally against Tourists starter Garrett Schilling. Number 1 and 2 hitters, Thomas Jones (RF) and Jose Devers (SS), respectively, hit back to back singles. Then, #3 hitter Tristan Pompey singled to drive in Jones with run 1 and advance Devers to second. Next, Isael Soto walked to load the bases. Designated hitter Ricardo Cespedes delivered a sacrifice fly that enabled Jose Devers to score run 2.

Top 6th: Tourists score a solo run to close the gap (GBO 6, ASH 5)

Catcher and #6 hitter Nic Motley hit a solo home run.

Bottom 7th: Grasshopper score an unearned run to extend lead (GBO 7, ASH 5)

Number 3 hitter Tristan Pompey reached base on an E4; stole second base, and crossed the plate on a run-scoring single by #6 hitter, third baseman Garvis Lara.

Top 8th: Tourists launch 3 run game winning rally (ASH 8, GBO 7)

Leadoff hitter Ryan Vilade walked and moved to second on a wild pitch; #2 hitter Bret Boswell reached first on an infield single that advanced Vilade to third; cleanup hitter Chad Spanberger cleared the bases with a 3-run homer.

Asheville had taken its first lead in the game and was positioned for the close by their two top relievers Tommy Doyle and Robert Tyler. The tandem relief pitching of Doyle and Tyler was lights out. Doyle pitched a 1, 2, 3 bottom of the 8th and stuck out one of the 3 batters he face. Then, Tyler sealed an 8 run to 7 victory for the Tourists with a 1-2-3 9th while striking out 2. Hayden Roberts (1-0), who pitched the six and seventh innings in relief for Asheville, got the win and Tyler recorded his 7th save of the season to tie Doyle for the team lead in that pitching stat.

Marlins #24 prospect Chad Spanberger was the offense star of the game. Spanberger had 3 hits in 5 trips to the plate and participated in two of the Tourists scoring rallies. He drove in 4 of their 8 runs and delivered the game-winning runs with his 8th inning homer.