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The Journal Gazette

Friday, July 20, 2018 6:10 pm

Pregame: TinCaps (13-14) vs. Burlington Bees (7-19)

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The TinCaps have dropped two straight games to open their six-game homestand, despite having chances to win both contests in the late innings. The offense has really been scuffling, scoring two runs or fewer in six of its previous seven games, including both matchups against the Burlington Bees at Parkview Field.

In two straight games, the TinCaps have scored runs in the early innings, only to go on long offensive droughts in the middle and later parts of the game. The key for Fort Wayne will be pushing across some runs early and then adding on as the game continues.

They'll try to do so against right-hander Jose Soriano, one of the Angels' top pitching prospects and the No. 9 overall prospect in the organization, according to Fangraphs. The 19-year-old has made six starts this year and has totaled a 4.50 ERA in 16 innings. He has alternated dominant performances and horrendous ones, a pattern that continued in his last outing, when he tossed four shutout innings and struck out five while only giving up one hit. He also did not walk a hitter after issuing four free passes in his previous outing. 

Before the season, Fangraphs prospect writer Eric Longenhagen saw Soriano in spring training this year and had a positive review of his performance:

"(Soriano) looks great physically and his stuff keeps improving. He’s clearly starting to fill out (he looks like a D1 wide receiver) and threw harder in his first two spring outings than he did much of last year, sitting 94-96 [mph] with a harder, mid-80s slider which is plus."

Soriano will match up against Fort Wayne All-Star left-hander Aaron Leasher. The 22-year-old has had a couple of rough outings in a row, giving up seven runs in 9 2/3 innings in his last two appearances. He still boasts a 3.06 ERA, seventh-best in the Midwest League. He'll need to pitch deep into the game tonight, because Fort Wayne's bullpen was taxed during the 12-inning marathon Thursday.

Fort Wayne's starting rotation also took a hit Friday, with right-hander Mason Thompson landing the 7-day DL with a right triceps strain. Thompson had shoulder problems last year that ended his season prematurely, but had been healthy all of 2018 until now. He felt something in his arm at the end of his appearance Wednesday and came out after just one inning. It's a disappointing turn of events for Thompson, who hit 97 mph with his fastball in that Wednesday appearance, which is the hardest he's thrown this season.

Replacing Thompson on the Fort Wayne roster for the time being will be 22-year-old right-hander Jose Quezada, who was promoted from Low-A Tri-City on Friday. Quezada has thrown a grand total of one professional inning thus far in his career.