Christian Bergman, Nik Turley primed for playoff push with minor league baseball teams

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

Christian Bergman (St. Francis High, 2006) starting pitcher, Tulsa Drillers: If there was any question, Bergman has bounced back.

The former Golden Knight standout struggled throughout July, when he posted a 5.52 earned-run average in five starts. He gave up 11 runs, 17 hits and four homers in 11 innings in his final two outings in July.

Bergman opened August by recording his third career shutout in the Colorado Rockies organization Aug. 2. He allowed just three hits, three walks and struck out six in the double-A Drillers’ 5-0 win over the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. It’s Bergman’s first shutout since 2011 and his only complete game of 2013, as he improved to 6-7.

“I haven't felt so energized as long as I can remember, it was a great feeling,” Bergman, who threw 104 pitches, 68 strikes and struck out the side in order to end the game, told afterward.

“My goal every time I go out there is to stay in the game as long as possible and give my team a chance to win. If I'm throwing a lot of innings, that means the other parts of pitching are taking care of themselves — getting ground balls, throwing strikes, stuff like that. That's definitely something I take pride in.”

Bergman came back and allowed just two runs in his next appearance to bring his record to an even 7-7 on Aug. 8. The Drillers went on to defeat the Midland RockHounds, 4-2, behind Bergman’s performance.

The right-hander struck out five and didn’t walk a batter. He gave up six hits, with his only blemish being a pair of leadoff homers he surrendered in the first and fifth innings.

Bergman’s remained a Texas League leader in innings pitched (145 1/3, first), WHIP (1.09, fourth), earned-run average (3.28, fifth) and strikeouts (101, ninth) this year.

After winning the first half of the Texas League North Division season, double-A Tulsa is in third place in the second half at 26-24.

Nik Turley (La Cañada native) starting pitcher, Trenton Thunder: After entering the season as the 14th-ranked prospect in the New York Yankees organization, Turley has shown he may be ready for a new challenge.

After posting a 4.90 ERA through his first 13 appearances, Turley has gone 4-1 with a 2.35 ERA and 48 strikeouts versus 24 walks over his next 10 outings and 53 2/3 innings pitched.

Over his past four starts with the double-A Thunder, Turley has allowed just two earned runs and picked up his ninth win in a 5-1 Trenton victory over the Akron Aeros on Sunday.

“This was his best outing to date I’d say,’’ Trenton pitching coach Tommy Phelps told “Nik was aggressive with a good tempo and a good rhythm. He attacked the zone — down when he wanted to and then up in the zone a couple of times when he had to. The big thing for him is when he can throw his curveball for strikes he can make things really hard on the hitters. He had it all working.’’

Still, Turley hit a rough patch in the seventh when he gave up three straight one-out singles and a bases-loaded walk for Akron’s only run of the game. Turley bounced back after a meeting on the mound and got a strikeout and fly out to left field to leave the bases jammed.

The Thunder held on for the win and earned a three-game sweep of the Aeros.

“We’re trying to make our push and it is also good for me personally to be able to string together a couple of strong outings at this point in the year,’’ Turley told “Right now I am just focusing on being aggressive and throwing strikes.’’

The Harvard-Westlake graduate is 9-6 with a 3.63 earned-run average and 1.31 WHIP. Through 118 innings, he’s struck out 119 and walked 57.

The 6-foot-4 left-hander and 1,502 pick in the 2008 draft has slipped to No. 17 on the Yankees prospect watch, but could be moving his way back up the ladder, as he’ll prove crucial to Trenton’s playoff hopes.

With 22 games to play coming into Tuesday, the Thunder were in second place in the Eastern League’s Eastern Division at 63-57. The Binghamton Mets are in first at 75-46.

Eric Smith (La Cañada High, 2009) catcher/designated hitter, Great Lakes Loons: After a sizzling debut, Smith’s sophomore season has continued to move at a slow pace. It was further hampered by an injury that placed him on the seven-day disabled list by the class-A Loons.

Smith was batting .221 (32 for 145) with 15 runs batted in, 15 scored and 11 doubles when he was placed on the seven-day disabled list June 15. He was optioned to the Arizona League Dodgers on a rehab assignment July 15.

Smith made his only appearance in Arizona that same day. He went one for three with a single, a stolen base and two walks in a 7-2 loss to the Arizona League Indians. He hasn’t seen any game action since.

Smith is a season removed from a stellar year with the Los Angeles Dodgers rookie affiliate Ogden Raptors in which he batted .336 (86 for 256) with 55 RBI, 17 doubles, seven triples and three homers.

Smith looks to bounce back and take the field again in Great Lakes, which is in first place in the second half of the Midwest League Eastern Division season with a 31-19 record.

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