Coweta’s pros continue All-Star form
by Chris Goltermann
A baseball season is often referred to as a marathon, not a sprint. But even with a few minor bumps in the road of late, it’s been quite a run for three power pitchers from Coweta County as both major and minor leagues head toward the halfway point of the 2014 season.
Milwaukee reliever Will Smith, despite a small dip in numbers that pushed a once microscopic ERA to a still career-best 1.77 over his first 45 appearances as a National League reliever has an outside shot at making the upcoming MLB All-Star Game in Minnesota, with reserves expected to be announced on Sunday night by both American and National League staffs.
Smith’s 45 appearances out of the bullpen lead the National League as does his 21 holds among relievers.
While middle relievers are most often ignored by managers, Smith continued to maintain outstanding numbers heading into this week despite experiencing a hiccup on Wednesday.
The former Northgate High ace was handed his first loss of the season in a walk-off defeat in Toronto in a 7-4 loss that ended when Edwin Encarnacion homered against Smith’s teammate Brandon Kintzler in the bottom of the ninth.
Smith, who was handed his first loss in a relief appearance since a transition to a bullpen role last year while a member of the Kansas City Royals organization, closed out June with a 3.14 ERA in 14.1 innings.
It came after a perfect May where the 6-foot-5, 250-pound lefty gave up just two unearned runs and three walks over 13 appearances. His numbers for May included 18 strikeouts while lowering his then ERA to a mere 0.36.
A mandate on player representation from all 30 teams could also have an impact on any potential selection for Smith, whose numbers as a setup man are similar to Tony Watson of Pittsburgh (0.93 ERA, 38.1 IP).
His 51 strikeouts are more than Milwaukee closer Francisco Rodriquez in 2.1 less innings.
Smith has a 1-1 record with a save, but has also blown four other chances despite maintaining a sub two-run ERA.
Still, after making seven trips in between the Triple-A level and the Royals last year, Smith looks ready to make the majors his home for some time while bonding in the Brewers bullpen. Last week, the group made a parody video that paid tribute to the other Will Smith, with the local one trying his best to do his impression of the well known actor/rapper.
Earlier in the season, Milwaukee pitchers started a series of videos at road destinations called “Wei Chung Wang Wednesday’s,” where players would lip sync to 80s hit “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” by the band Wang Chung.
“We’re definitely having fun out there. It’s a good mix of guys,” Smith told the Times-Herald in May prior to a trip home to Atlanta. “Guys like [Kyle] Lohse and [Matt] Garza, they’ve been very approachable. We cut up a lot. But we know when that fifth inning arrives, there’s no more horsing around out there and it’s time to get to work.”
BEDROSIAN GETS BACK TO BUSINESS AT DOUBLE-A FOLLOWING ALL-STAR APPEARANCE: While Smith awaits a potential trip to the All-Star Game, former East Coweta ace right-hander Cam Bedrosian was honored with a selection to this year’s Texas League All-Star contest.
Bedrosian needed just three pitches to get Tomas Tells to groundout in the top of the ninth to close out a 3-1 victory for the South All-Stars.
For the 6-0, 204-pound 22-year-old, it continued a busy and equally emotional June.
He arrived back with Double-AA Arkansas Travelers after being called up to the big leagues for the first time by the Los Angeles Angels.
Bedrosian appeared in six games in the majors from June 3-19 including a pair of relief stints in front of family and friends at Turner Field. While his numbers were less than stellar (a 14.29 ERA with five strikeouts in 5.2 innings), he recorded a hold and twice was called in to games by manager Mike Scioscia in save situations in a sign of confidence to the his major-league potential.
In his first four appearances since returning to the Travelers, Bedrosian has recorded three saves while striking out five in four innings work.
His 10 saves are tied for fifth in the Texas League to go with a 1-0 record and a 1.61 ERA in 22.1 innings.
Less than 12 hours after arriving from California, he pitched a scoreless inning to close out a 4-3 win over Springfield.
BLOUGH ADJUSTING TO ROLE WITH DOUBLE-A BIRMINGHAM: Another East Coweta star pitcher, Bryan Blough, is also adjusting in his first year in Double-A ball.
Since being promoted to the Birmingham Barons of the Southern League, Blough — a White Sox draft pick out of Kennesaw State — has been used as both a starter and reliever while posting a 1-1 record over his first 32 innings with a 4.22 ERA.
They’ve included a June 7 victory over Jackson where Blough allowed three runs in 5.2 innings with five strikeouts and no walks.