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2008 Cape League MVP Pollock returns to Diamondbacks

A.J. Pollock (Falmouth, 2008) / photo courtesy of Major League Baseball

      HIGH AND INSIDE – Arizona center fielder A.J. Pollock, the 2008 Pat Sorenti Award winner as Most Valuable Player in the Cape League, has picked up right where he left off when he was placed on the disabled list June 1. Before being hit by a pitch by Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto and sustaining a fractured fourth metacarpal bone in his right hand that required surgery, Pollock (Falmouth, 2008) was batting .316/.366/.554 (56-for-177) with 16 doubles, four triples, six home runs, 15 RBIs and eight stolen bases in 52 games. He was back in the Diamondbacks’ lineup Sept. 2 for the first time since the May 31 injury. In 14 games since returning, he was hitting .294/.345/.471 with one homer and eight RBIs. For the season, Pollock’s line read .311/.362/.535 with seven homers and 23 RBIs. On June 2, one day after he went on the DL, Pollock was named National League Player of the Week for the second time in 2014. He led the majors in hitting for the week ending June 1 with a .522 (12-for-23) average. He also led the NL with a .593 on-base percentage, 23 total bases, nine runs and six doubles, and was tied for the league lead in hits and slugging percentage (1.000). The 26-year-old Notre Dame product recorded his third three-hit game of the week (and team-leading seventh of the season) on May 30 when he went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs. He also had three hits May 26, including two doubles and his first career walkoff homer. It was Pollock's second career weekly award, both coming in a three-week span this season, and it made him 2014’s only double winner in the National League. By an odd coincidence, the American League’s only double winner is also a former Cape Leaguer, Seattle’s Kyle Seager (Chatham, 2007-08) ... Conor Gillaspie (Falmouth, 2007) tripled in three runs in the seventh inning and the Chicago White Sox held on to beat the Kansas City Royals 7-5 Tuesday. With one out and two runners aboard, the Royals intentionally walked Jose Abreu to get to Gillaspie and the former Cape League batting champion and MVP made them pay, ripping a triple into the gap to clear the bases and put the White Sox on top. It was his fifth triple of the season, giving him 57 RBIs. Gillaspie, 27, finished 2-for-5 in the game to raise his season line to .293/.345/.433 ... Marco Gonzales (Falmouth, 2012) struck out nine while holding the Colorado Rockies to one run over 5 2/3 innings in the St. Louis Cardinals' 4-1 win Sunday. Gonzales gave up an RBI-double to Brandon Barnes in the second inning, one of only four hits he allowed, but he kept the Rockies under wraps the rest of the day. His nine strikeouts were a career high. He's won three straight decisions to move to 3-2 ... Steve Pearce (Cotuit, 2004) homered twice and drove in four runs as Baltimore beat the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday. Pearce broke a scoreless tie with a solo shot off of J.A. Happ (Harwich, 2003) in the third inning, then made it 4-0 with a three-run shot off Happ in the fifth. The 31-year-old journeyman now has 20 home runs, 48 RBIs and a .297/.375/.560 slash line. The Orioles, who clinched the AL East on Tuesday, have won 17 of their last 21 contests. Last Sunday, Pearce went 2-for-4 and drove home the tying run with an RBI double in the ninth inning of Baltimore’s come-from-behind victory over the Yankees. Pearce will continue as the Orioles’ regular first baseman for the remainder of the season. Yankees closer David Robertson (Y-D, 2006) was saddled with his fourth blown save of the season, surrendering two runs on three hits in a third of an inning. The Yankees scored the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth, but Pearce’s heroics did them in. Robertson was working in his third consecutive game and admitted to feeling soreness in his shoulder, side and hamstrings.

Wade Wass (Brewster, 2014) / photo courtesy of Orem Owlz

      LOW AND OUTSIDE – MiLB.com’s John Parker provides a look at the top playoff pitching performances by former Cape Leaguers in four minor leagues the Pacific Coast League, Southern League, Florida State League and South Atlantic League: Andrew Chafin (Orleans, 2011) began the season with Double-A Mobile and was dominant, going 4-1 with a 1.96 ERA in nine starts before his May promotion to Triple-A Reno, where the 24-year-old left-hander posted a 5.34 ERA with PCL batters hitting .298 off him. But the playoffs were a very different story. Chafin needed just 99 pitches in a four-hit shutout of host Las Vegas in Game 2 of the semifinals and tossed six more scoreless frames at Omaha in Game 3 of the finals. After walking 3.8 batters per nine innings for the Aces during the regular season, Chafin issued only one free pass in 15 postseason innings. Austin Ross (Y-D, 2009) saved Huntsville’s bacon after the Stars dropped Game 1 of the Southern League's North Division finals at home. Huntsville needed to rebound quickly or head to Chattanooga having to win three in a row. Ross held the Lookouts to one hit in seven innings as the Stars rolled to a 9-0 win. Unfortunately, the right-hander didn't get a chance for an encore because Huntsville was eliminated in five games, making Ross the winner in the Stars’ final game in Huntsville. The team is moving to Biloxi, Miss., next season. D.J. Baxendale (Y-D, 2010) of Fort Myers gave up three unearned runs on 12 hits and four walks in 12 2/3 innings, but was the starter in both of the Miracle's series-clinching wins and a huge reason why Fort Myers captured its first FSL crown since 1985. A difficult season in which the 23-year-old Baxendale went 4-7 with a 5.48 ERA ended with a pair of strong outings, a championship and solid momentum going into 2015. Konner Wade (Wareham, 2011-12) started Asheville’s final game of the regular season, so he didn't see any postseason action until the finals. The Tourists were thankful that they had him in reserve, as the 22-year-old right-hander won both Games 1 and 5. Wade held Hagerstown to three hits over five scoreless innings in Game 1 and fired seven scoreless frames in the title-clinching game. It was a perfect end to a successful campaign for the 2013 seventh-round pick, who ranked fourth among full-season Colorado Rockies farmhands with a 3.61 ERA ... Remember Wade Wass, the Brewster catcher who hit two grand slams in one game on national TV this past summer and was promptly signed as an undrafted free agent by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim? Well, the University of Alabama standout spent the entire season with the Angels’ rookie league team in Orem, Utah, where his batting line read .341/.461/.606 with 14 doubles, seven home runs and 20 RBIs in 39 games. Wass, who celebrates his 23rd birthday on Tuesday (Sept. 23), was one of only two Owlz to collect two hits in a 6-5 Game 3 loss, which gave Billings the Pioneer League championship. Billings led 6-0 after three innings, but the Owlz pulled within one run and, after an error, a Wass single and an intentional walk loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth, a line drive right at the third baseman ended things.