It was an exciting week down in the farm leagues for Vanderbilt alumni. Former #1 overall pick Dansby Swanson made his professional debut for a team whose mascot is just the egg version of a beer. While the Commodore shortstop struggled to shake off the rust of a long layoff, he still managed to contribute despite batting below the Mendoza line against professional pitching. Swanson's slump helped cede the spotlight to Kevin Ziomek, who took the opportunity to grab some headlines and ran with it. The former Friday starter turned in 6.2 hitless innings on Wednesday night, handcuffing some of the Yankees' top prospects before losing his chance at a shortened-game no-hitter with only one strike to go.
Swanson and Ziomek weren't the only #VandyBoys to make noise this week. We break down recent performances from past favorites like Mike Yastrzemski, Adam Ravenelle, and Conrad Gregor in this week's supersized look at Commodores on the Farm.
Dansby Swanson: Swanson's professional debut was delayed after he took a fastball to the face in a simulated game back in July, but the #1 overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft found his spot on the diamond last week. Lieutenant Dans has delivered when it comes to driving home runs, but he's struggled to catch up to professional pitching after taking nearly two months off after the College World Series. He's batting .160 through six games with Single A Hillsboro, but he's also got five RBIs in his limited minor league career so far.
Mike Yastrzemski: Yaz batted better than .300 in two stops in Single A baseball last season, but his promotion to AA Bowie halted his forward momentum in 2014. Despite some flashes, he's struggled to make any progress with the Baysox in 2015. The former Commodore outfielder has posted the lowest OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of his professional career this summer (.675) and a 6-38 showing in his last dozen games has knocked his batting average down to .240. He's going through a power outage as well; Yastrzemski hasn't gone deep since mid-July and has hit only three home runs this season.
Adam Ravenelle: Ravenelle is trending in the opposite direction. On June 30th, his ERA sat at 94.50 after he gave up seven runs to the Lake County Captains while recording only two outs. He was touched up for two more runs in his next appearance...and hasn't given up more than a single run per showing since. In his last 11 appearances, he's struck out 27 batters in 21 innings and allowed only 20 hits. That's helped lower his ERA to 4.56 and established Ravenelle as a dominant reliever in A ball.
Conrad Gregor: Gregor and Tony Kemp were once teammates with the AA Corpus Christi Hooks, but the Commodore first baseman hasn't been able to match Kemp's tremendous rise through the minors. After batting .239/.323/.376 in a 33 game stint with the Hooks last season, he's stuck at .238/.340/.386 this year. While his patience at the plate has continued to make him an asset, he's not yet producing the power that the Astros are looking for from their first basemen. In 143 games as a AA player, he's swatted just 12 home runs. The good news is that he's still been able to crank out enough doubles (24 in 2015) to suggest that his power is still developing. Gregor is only 23 years old. Despite his recent struggles, the potential for tremendous growth is there - especially if he can continue to post on-base rates that are nearly 100 points higher than his batting average.
Sam Selman: Crazy Legs rode a strong 2014 showing to a brief stint in AAA ball last year, but he hasn't been able to regain that command in 2015. After walking 49 batters in 93 innings with Northwest Arkansas last season he's issued 36 free passes in only 48.2 innings this summer. He's also giving up more hits per inning (.87 vs. 1.11) and allowing nearly two baserunners per frame. Selman is coming off a rough stretch in which he allowed 20 runs while recording only 16 outs, but he's stabilized with 7.2 innings of two-run ball in his past four appearances. If he can continue his recovery from that very-bad, no-good run, then he'll have the chance to prove himself at AAA once more.
Kevin Ziomek: The Omega Man earned a spotlight article after falling one strike short of a no-hitter last night. Ziomek recorded 20 hitless outs in a seven-inning contest (game two of a doubleheader) before an 0-2 pitch to Dustin Fowler turned into a night-ruining double. Ziomek didn't finish the game, but still earned the win after 6.2 innings of stellar pitching. It was the Vandy alum's fourth straight quality start; he's 2-1 with 28 strikeouts and a 1.30 ERA in that stretch. His walk rate is the lowest it has been in his professional career, and another dominant performance could punch his ticket up to AA.