Tonight's game important for Neugebauer
The Huntsville Stars will try for the third time to win the first-half crown of the Southern League Western Division tonight as they take on West Tennessee.
This also could be the last game for starting pitcher Nick Neugebauer in a Stars uniform.
Brewers GM Dean Taylor has said that if Neugebauer turns in another performance like he had a week and a half ago, which was a 3-hit, 1-0 shutout in a seven-inning game, he would be in line for a promotion to AAA Indianapolis, as the Brewers continue to eye a rotation in 2002 that includes the flame-throwing right hander. Neugebauer has a chance tonight to show the Brewers brass that he can handle a high-pressure situation against a very formidable foe in the second-place Diamond Jaxx, who have taken two of three games over the weekend to prevent the Stars from clinching the title.
Neugebauer has taken huge strides this season for the Stars. His control is the best it has been so far in his young career, without sacrificing any velocity on a fastball that reaches the upper 90s on a consistent basis. He has struck out 95 batters in 72.2 innings pitched, while giving out just 38 free passes. It is almost certain that the Brewers will give Neugebauer a taste of the majors in September, while giving him a shot at making the starting rotation out of spring training in 2002.
After tonight, the Stars have two days off before beginning the second-half of the season against Orlando.
Indianapolis: Indians set to face two first-place squads
The Indians will look to push their record over the .500 mark this week against a pair of first-place teams. Indy will open an 8-game homestand tonight against Buffalo, who holds the top spot in the Northern Division of the International League. After four games against the Bisons, the Indians will host four games against Norfolk, the first place team in the Southern Division.
Indy comes into the homestand at 35-36, 7.5 games behind Louisville in the Western Division. The Indians dropped under .500 with a 9-0 drubbing at the hands of Rochester. Micah Franklin, filling in at third base to give Mike Coolbaugh a day off, committed four errors in the defeat.
Whos hot in the Brewers organization: The High Desert offense. As the Mavs head into their all-star break this week, they boast five players with 10 or more home runs: Lance Burkhart (leads California League with 16), Jim Rushford (14), Jeff Deardorff (13), Bill Hall (11) and Kade Johnson (10).
Whos not: The High Desert pitching staff. The Mavs boast the best-hitting offense in the CL, but also have the highest ERA in the CL. Only two regular High Desert pitchers - Mike Corey and Roberto Giron - have ERAs lower than 4.00. As a team, the Mavs have an ERA of 5.36.
A close runner-up is Indy pitcher John Snyder, who continues to struggle and is dangerously close to being cut. Snyder, who with a stronger season could have currently been on the Brewers starting staff due to the injuries with the big club, is just 2-7 with a 5.88 ERA and has given up a whopping 122 hits in 85 innings. He pitched better in his last outing, allowing three unearned runs in his last start yesterday. However, it may be little too late. Should Neugebauer be called up to AAA, Snyder may be the leading candidate to be let go.