Rasmussen records first minor league shutout

GLENDALE — The following are updates on local baseball players at the minor league level.

Rob Rasmussen (Pasadena Poly, 2007) Jupiter Hammerheads pitcher: For the first time in his young minor league career, Rasmussen threw a shutout on Thursday.

The Pasadena Poly graduate went the distance, which only ended up being seven innings after the game was suspended because of rain, giving up just two hits, two walks and striking out six batters in seven frames against the St. Lucie Mets. Rasmussen picked up the win, as he led the Hammerheads, the class-A advanced affiliate of the Florida Marlins.

After the game, Rasmussen — a Pasadena native and former UCLA standout — told MiLB.com he felt comfortable going up against the Mets because he'd faced them, and that same exact lineup, once already this year. The shutout was the second of the year for the Hammerheads.

"I write down what works well against hitters, what doesn't work and what I need to work on," said Rasmussen, who was selected by the Marlins 73rd overall in the 2010 draft. "If there's a hitter that I have success against, I make a note of it so I know what to throw them when I face them later on."

Rasmussen is proud of his shutout in the minor leagues, but he would have liked the weather to hold up so he could have gone all nine innings.

"In my mind, I know this was just a seven-inning doubleheader," Rasmussen said. "It would have been more exciting if it was nine innings, but it was definitely still rewarding."

The win improved Rasmussen's record to 9-9. He's started 23 games, pitched 126 2/3 innings and maintained a 3.69 earned-run average. He has held batters to a .256 batting average and logged 94 strikeouts this year. He hasn't given up an earned run in seven of his 23 Florida State League outings.

Rasmussen's last two starts have been dominant. He pitched seven innings and didn't give up an earned run in his July 30 start against the Daytona Cubs. He gave up just two hits and a walk, striking out eight in the game, but couldn't get the win as Jupiter lost, 3-0.

"The last two starts have been the best of my career, but I would say this one [against the Mets] is No. 1 just because we got the win," Rasmussen said.

After finishing third in the first half of the season, the Hammerheads (49-62) are in second-to-last place in the second half coming into Saturday's game against the Bradenton Marauders.

Christian Bergman (St. Francis High, 2006) starting pitcher, Tri-City Dust Devils: The slow start to the season appears to be a thing of the past for Bergman, a former All-Area Baseball Player of the Year. Bergman has turned in three consecutive stellar starts in which he hasn't allowed a run for the Colorado Rockies class-A short-season affiliate.

In that stretch, Bergman's earned-run average has dwindled from 7.50 on July 18 to 2.73. Bergman, a UC Irvine product, has not allowed a run in his last 23 1/3 innings.

The right-hander provided the Dust Devils with a boost in his last start Wednesday. Bergman struck out six and yielded four hits in seven innings in Tri-City's 2-0 road victory against the Eugene Emeralds.

If that wasn't impressive, then Bergman's previous start July 28 against the visiting Vancouver Canadians might have been his best. The former All-Mission League Most Valuable Player struck out six and allowed four hits in a 6-0 victory. He retired the first 10 batters he faced en route to becoming the first Dust Devil to toss a complete game since 2006, notching a shutout in the process.

"Me and [Tri-City catcher Ryan] Casteel were working great together. We're just doing our job," Bergman told the Tri-City Herald.

Tri-City Manager Fred Ocasio, whose team captured the first-half East Division title, marveled at Bergman's outing against the Canadians.

"It's rare for a pitcher in this league to throw a complete game, but he wasn't struggling, so we just kept running him out there," Tri-City manager Fred Ocasio told the Tri-City Herald.

On July 23, Bergman hurled seven scoreless innings against the Spokane Indians. He allowed four hits and struck out six in a 3-1 road win. The victory helped Tri-City clinch a share of the first-half league title.

Through Wednesday, Bergman is 5-3. He's struck out 45 and allowed 56 hits in 62 2/3 innings.

Entering Saturday's road game against Eugene, the Dust Devils were 6-3 and in first place in the Northwest League's East Division in the second half of the season.

Joe De Pinto (St. Francis High, 2007) second baseman, Great Falls Voyagers: De Pinto, a former All-Area first-team pick, has continued to thrive at the plate for the Voyagers. Though he went hitless in four plate appearances Friday night against the host Helena Brewers, De Pinto leads the team with 34 runs batted in and is second in doubles with 13.

De Pinto registered three hits and drove in two runs Thursday to spark Great Falls, a rookie league squad affiliated with the Chicago White Sox, to a 7-2 victory against Helena.

De Pinto singled and later scored in the first inning on a sacrifice fly to give the Voyagers a 2-0 advantage. He came back in his next plate appearance in the second, delivering a run-scoring double to make it 5-0. De Pinto then had a run-scoring single in the sixth to extend Great Falls' lead to 7-0.

In his last 10 games, De Pinto is batting .257 (9 for 35) with eight runs batted in and three doubles. In 40 games, he's batting .291 (46-158) with three home runs and 25 runs scored.

Great Falls enters today's game against the Billings Mustangs at 22-22 for second place in the North Division.

Kelson Brown (La Cañada High, 2006) Bradenton Marauders infielder: Brown has been raising his numbers the past few games.

The utility player for the Marauders, the class-A advanced affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is hitting .267 with seven doubles, two triples, 20 RBI and an on-base and slugging percentage of .306 and .325, respectively, this season.

In the past 10 games, his batting average is .282 (11 for 39). He has four multi-hit games in the span with three doubles, five RBI and just two strikeouts.

The former Spartan is coming off an impressive first year in the minors where he hit .293 with 84 total bases in 62 games for Pennsylvania's State College Spikes, the Pirates' short-season A-ball team. He was a honorable-mention selection for the Pirates' minor-league all-star team after his inaugural season.

The Marauders (55-56) are in the thick of a race to first place. Coming into Saturday night's game against the Hammerheads, Bradenton is four games behind first-place St. Lucie and is riding a six-game winning streak.

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