The following are updates on local baseball players at the minor league level.
Christian Bergman (St. Francis High, 2006) starting pitcher, Modesto Nuts: While the former Golden Knight hit a few bumps in the road this year, it was still impossible to deny what a great year it he had. It showed Wednesday when Bergman was named the California League Pitcher of the Year.
He followed that up by winning his league-high 16th game of the year over the Stockton Ports, 5-2. He gave up seven hits, a walk, two runs — both coming on home runs in the second inning — and struck out three through six innings to increase his record to 16-5 and become just the second player to notch 16 wins in the history of the Nuts, the class-A advanced affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, according to the Modesto Bee.
“This was a solid day,” Bergman told the Modesto Bee Wednesday. “I'll remember this for the rest of my life.”
The win clinched a playoff spot for the Nuts in their league’s north division. They were in first place in the division by five games coming into Saturday with a 39-28 record and are 73-64 overall this year.
Wednesday’s performance came after one of, if not his finest, start of the year on Aug. 24. Bergman held the Bakersfield Blaze to two hits and struck out eight through eight innings to pick up his 15th win of the season on a final score of 2-0.
It came on the heels of Bergman’s worst start of the year by far when he gave up 10 runs, nine hits, three walks and two home runs to the Visalia Rawhide Aug. 19.
Through 27 starts, the former Golden Knight is 16-5 with a 3.65 earned-run average. He has four more wins than any other pitcher in his league. He’s also tops in the league in innings pitched (162.2) and tied for third in WHIP (1.22) to go along with 121 strikeouts this year.
Nik Turley (La Cañada native) pitcher, Tampa Yankees: Turley earned a nod to the Florida State League All-Star team for the Yankees, a class-A advanced affiliate of the New York Yankees, Tuesday. He showed how he earned the honor Wednesday when he picked up his ninth win of the year in a 3-0 win over the Dunedin Blue Jays.
The Harvard Westlake graduate lowered his ERA to a league best 2.89 in the game, as he scattered five hits, walked one and struck out six through 5 2/3 innings. The performance ended a four-game stretch in which Turley had given up at least one run, as he gave up 10 in his past 18 2/3 innings.
Turley’s record sits at 9-5 this year through 21 starts — one of which was a shutout — and he has struck out more than a batter an inning with 116 punch outs in 112 innings.
Just one game back from first place in the second half of the Florida State League North Division coming into Saturday, the Yankees (35-31) are looking to make a push into the playoffs after taking fourth in the first half of the season.
Eric Smith (La Cañada High, 2009) catcher/designated hitter, Ogden Raptors: Only one Raptor was named to the Pioneer League All-Star squad this year. While it may not have been Smith, he was still rewarded with an honorable mention Aug. 25 because of what he’s produced in his first minor league season.
The former Spartan showed he deserved consideration Wednesday when he went four for five with a home run, double and five runs batted in for Ogden, a rookie affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, in a win over the Orem Owlz. The catcher smashed a bases-clearing double to center field in the top of the fourth to give the Raptors a 5-0 lead and added a two-run bomb in the eighth for an 18-2 lead.
Smith has put up impressive numbers this season. He ranks first in the league in sacrifice flies (six), third in batting average (.342) and fifth in triples (seven), which is also the second most in team history. He needs just two more to set the all-time team record.
The Raptors have also enjoyed a fine season. They were in first place in the second half of the Pioneer League’s South Division season coming into Saturday with a 19-13 record after they’d already wrapped up a playoff spot by winning the first half of the season with a 21-17 record.
Kevin Thompson (La Cañada High, 2006) shortstop, Ogden Raptors: Thompson had an impressive game along with Smith Wednesday when he went two for five with a RBI.
It was the former Spartan’s first hit in nine days, as he’s seen limited action so far this season and appeared in 28 of 69 games. In that span he is hitting .211 (20 for 95) with 13 RBI, 13 runs, five doubles, five stolen bases and a home run.