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April 11, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Walter shines in Double-A debut


4/11 Cup of Coffee:
The left-handed starters in the upper minors were excellent on Sunday, with Darwinzon Hernandez and Brandon Walter combining to allow just one hit while striking out 13. Home runs from Franchy Cordero, Joe Davis, and Alex Binelas provided some firepower, and David Hamilton stole two more bases. 

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Darwinzon Hernandez did not allow a hit over three shutout innings in his second start of the season. He struck out six and did not walk a batter, though he did hit two batters. Kyle Hart proved to be more hittable, giving up four runs (three earned) on eight hits over 3 2/3. Zack Kelly stuck out two and walked two over 1 1/3 innings, and Derek Holland allowed one hit in a scoreless ninth.

Another home run from Franchy Cordero set the pace for Worcester's offense. It's the third of the season for Cordero, who raised his OPS to 1.237. Roldani Baldwin launched his first home run of the year, while Johan Mieses went 1 for 3 with a double and two walks. The top offensive prospects struggled with Jeter Downs striking out four times and Triston Casas going 0 for 3 with a walk. 

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It was a dazzling Double-A debut for Brandon Walter, but the Sea Dogs were not able to secure the victory. Walter, the system's ninth-ranked prospect, struck out seven and allowed only two baserunners over five innings. New Hampshire's offense came to life when Walter left the game as they got to Joan Martinez for four runs and Darin Gillies for two runs. AJ Politi hit two batters but also struck out three in his 1 1/3 innings of work. 

The offense continues to be led by David Hamilton, who went 1 for 3 with two walks and two stolen bases. Hamilton has shown off his plus-plus speed early as he has four steals over three games. The other two hitters who have gotten off to hot starts are Brandon Howlett and Kole Cottam. Howlett went 1 for 3 with a walk, and Cottam went 1 for 4 with a two-run single. 

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A 450-foot home run from Joe Davis on his own Bobblehead day was the highlight in a losing effort for the Drive. Alex Binelas also went deep as part of a 2-for-4 day with a steal, and Matthew Lugo went 3 for 4 with a double, triple, and a stolen base. Ceddanne Rafaela went 0 for 3 but still contributed with his legs and arm as he stole a base and added an outfield assist. Tyler McDonough went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts as he is still hitless in his first 13 at-bats of the season. 

It was a rocky first start of the year for Wyatt Olds as he gave up five runs in just 2 2/3 innings. Jorge Rodriguez followed for the next 3 1/3 and gave up two runs. The only pitcher to not give up a run was Ryan Fernandez, as he worked around three walks in two innings. 

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A 2-for-4 performance from Marcelo Mayer actually lowered his average to .538 as Salem took the first three games from Lynchburg. Tyler Miller and Yorberto Mejicano also had two hits, with Miller adding a double. Gabriel Jackson had a stellar full-season debut on the mound, allowing just one hit over three shutout innings. Blake Loubier followed by allowing just an unearned run over three innings, and Adenys Bautista struck out two over two hitless innings. The Hillcats staged a comeback against Jordan DiValerio in the ninth as they got to him for four runs, but he was able to strand the tying run in scoring position. 

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Player of the Day: There were several impressive performances on the day, with five shutout innings from Brandon Walter leading the way. A 26th-round pick in the 2019 draft, Walter has had a meteoric rise from outside the top 60 into the top 10 in just one year. The 2021 SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Year is off to another great start in 2022 as his stock continues to trend up. 

Photo Credit: Brandon Walter by Kelly O'Connor