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July 7, 2021 at 6:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Yorke homers, Liu impresses for Salem

7/7 Cup of Coffee:
It was another affiliate sweep on Tuesday, though the FCL did get rained out with Tropical Storm Elsa hitting Florida. Jeter Downs and Jarren Duran had solid days for the WooSox, Josh Winckowski improved to 4-1 with a win for the Sea Dogs, and Christian Koss hit a go-ahead double in the bottom of the eighth for Greenville. In Salem, Nick Yorke continues to be unstoppable, and Chih-Jung Liu made his Low-A debut. 


Starter Stephen Gonsalves went the first 2 2/3 innings, allowing two runs without surrendering a hit. He did give up three walks and he was pulled from the game after a lengthy rain delay. The first guy out of the bullpen was Marcus Walden who did not allow a run in his 2 1/3 innings. Caleb Simpson also added two scoreless innings for the WooSox.

The 12-hit attack on offense was led by Marcus Wilson who went 2 for 2 with a double and three walks. Jeter Downs went 2 for 5 with his 12th steal, and Jarren Duran went 2 for 5 with an RBI. 


Josh Winckowski posted another quality start, and Alex Scherff tossed a hitless inning in his Double-A debut. Winckowski allowed two runs over six innings, walking four and striking out three. The control issues were uncharacteristic as he walked four in 23 2/3 innings in June. Scherff struck out one after getting the call-up from Greenville. Ryan Fitzgerald led the offense, going 2 for 3 with two doubles and two RBI. Pedro Castellanos also had two hits, and Joey Meneses added his eighth home run of the year.


After pitching to a 0.82 ERA and striking out 33 over his last 22 innings with Salem, Brandon Walter was promoted to Greenville. He continued to miss bats in his first start for the Drive, but the IronBirds got to him for two runs in 3 2/3 innings. He did strike out six while walking only one. He was followed by Yusniel Padron-Artiles who did not allow a run and struck out four over 3 1/3 innings. Jacob Wallace took a blown save after allowing three runs in the eighth, and Yorvin Pantoja got the save with a scoreless ninth. 

Down 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth, Tyler Dearden hit a game-tying home run and Christian Koss hit a go-ahead double. Koss went 2 for 3 with two walks, and Brandon Howlett added a two-run home run and a walk. Cameron Cannon reached base three times, going 2 for 4 with a walk, a run scored, and a stolen base. 


Chih-Jung Liu was impressive in extended spring training, and after just one start in the FCL, the 22-year-old was promoted to Salem. He responded by firing five shutout innings in his Low-A debut, allowing just two hits and a walk while striking out two. Jacinto Arredondo picked up his second save with a scoreless ninth. 

Nick Yorke went 3 for 5 with his third home run. After posting a .953 OPS in June, Yorke has started off July by hitting .524/.600/.857. Gilberto Jimenez went 2 for 4, and Stephen Scott went 1 for 3 with a solo home run and a walk. 


FCL Orioles Black (BAL) @ FCL Red Sox, PPD
The FCL game was postponed with Tropical Storm Elsa heading towards Florida. The game is scheduled to be made up on August 3. 


Player of the Day: After a slow start to the year, Nick Yorke has been on fire for over a month. In his last 25 games, he is hitting .398/.487/.602 with 15 walks, 14 strikeouts, and six stolen bases. Power is typically the last tool to develop, and after showing very little power in May, Yorke now has three home runs in his last 10 games. The 19-year-old won't stay this hot forever, but his full-season line of .287/.376/.389 is still very impressive considering he plays his home games in a very pitcher-friendly environment. 

Photo Credit: Nick Yorke by Kelly O'Connor