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June 2, 2023 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Coffey fans eight in six scoreless frames; Yorke, Dalbec stay hot

6/2 Cup of Coffee:
Despite only emerging victorious in one of the night's four contests, the system saw some excellent pitching performances on Thursday. Isaac Coffey (pictured) again impressed as he turned in a third straight scoreless effort in Greenville's victory. Bradley Blalock continued to shine in his recovery from last year's Tommy John procedure, while Sterling Sharp was excellent in his return to the Portland rotation. Chris Murphy turned in a strong effort as he slid from a traditional rotation slot into a bulk relief role for the WooSox. Several of the system's hottest hitters continued to streak as well, as Bobby Dalbec, Nick Yorke, and Brainer Bonaci all turned in big days at the plate.

After struggling in a traditional starting role for the first two months, Chris Murphy had a strong showing following a pair of openers. The left-hander pounded the strike zone over three scoreless innings, throwing 29 of his 36 pitches for strikes, allowing just one hit, and striking out three without issuing a walk. Norwith Gudino got the call to start the game, surrendering a leadoff home run on the way to a five-run first inning. Oddanier Mosqueda struck out two and walked two in a scoreless second before giving way to Murphy in the third. Theo Denlinger had a rude welcome to Triple-A, allowing three runs on two hits in 1 2/3, striking out three and walking four. Cam Booser struck out three as well in 1 1/3 scoreless frames to finish things off. Surprisingly, none of Louisville's offense came from scoring-hot phenom Elly De La Cruz. The shortstop went 0 for 5, with each of the five Worcester hurlers striking him out once. 

On the topic of scorching-hot infielders, Bobby Dalbec went deep once again, his eighth in 15 games since being optioned from Boston on May 13. Fellow veteran Bradley Zimmer also went deep, his first home run in a WooSox uniform. Christian Koss made his Worcester debut, getting the start at shortstop and going 1 for 3 with a double and walk.


Nick Yorke had another big night at the plate, but Portland fell short as the bullpen squandered a 7-0 advantage. Yorke was 3 for 5 with a pair of runs scored, his second straight three-hit effort as he extended his hitting streak to seven games. Since struggling through the previous series against Somerset in early May, Yorke has reached safely in each of his 13 games since, hitting .404/.500/.596 in that stretch. Matthew Lugo had a pair of doubles, while Corey Rosier doubled, tripled, and drove in a pair. Marcelo Mayer was held hitless again, but he drew a pair of walks and narrowly missed a home run in the third inning.

Sterling Sharp turned in an excellent start in his return from the injured list, scattering two hits over five scoreless innings, striking out three against just one walk. The bullpen could not hold the commanding lead, with four hurlers giving up 11 runs in three innings. Christopher Troye recently earned a promotion after he dominated in High-A Greenville, striking out more than 50 percent of the batters he faced in May. It was a different story in his first Portland exposure, as the hard-throwing righty walked four of the five batters he faced, sandwiching a strikeout of top Yankee prospect Jasson Dominguez. Three of those four walks came on to score. 


It was another dominant start for Isaac Coffey as Greenville earned the system's only win of the evening. The 2022 10th-round pick allowed just two hits over six shutout frames. He struck out eight against only one free pass, and threw 59 of 83 pitches for strikes. SoxProspects.com scouting contributor Chris Clegg was in attendance and has been impressed with Coffey, noting his excellent control and ability to miss bats. It was his third straight outing of six innings without allowing a run, and he leads the South Atlantic League with 69 strikeouts. Alex Hoppe struck out three in two hitless innings, with the lone baserunner coming on an error. Robert Kwiatkowski fired a scoreless ninth to finish off the win. Brainer Bonaci had two more hits, extending his hitting streak to eight games, while Tyler Miller blasted a solo home run in the fifth.


It was a strong appearance for Bradley Blalock in his second start since returning from Tommy John surgery. The 22-year-old righty allowed one run on three hits in four innings, striking out seven while walking two. Jonathan Brand took the tough-luck loss in the 10th inning, as a walk, sacrifice bunt, and sacrifice fly allowed the automatic runner to score the winning run. Shortstop Luis Ravelo led the offense, going 3 for 5 with a walk and two runs scored. Enderso Lira drove in three runs as part of a three-hit night, while Juan Chacon was 2 for 3 with a double, two walks, and two stolen bases.


Player of the Day: It's been a fascinating breakout season for Isaac Coffey. Despite a fastball that only scrapes 90 mph, the righty has used a low arm angle and excellent control to dominate the South Atlantic League. His 69 strikeouts lead the circuit, and he's lowered his ERA to 2.54 in 49 2/3 innings across nine starts. He was plagued by the long ball earlier in the year, giving up 10 round-trippers in his first six outings. Since correcting that issue, he has been largely untouchable, firing 19 consecutive scoreless frames dating back to May 12. 

Photo Credit: Isaac Coffey by Kelly O'Connor