If Johnny Cueto’s organizational debut for the Charlotte Knights here in Nashville on Saturday is to be viewed as akin to a first outing in spring training, then the jury may still be out.
If the Sox are counting on Cueto helping as soon as possible, then Cueto may not be much help at all.
It could go either way. Cueto was limited to three innings/50 pitches, and he ended up getting through 2⅔ innings on 53 pitches. He walked two batters, but they were competitive plate appearances, not an allergy to the strike zone. He didn’t dip into his whole bag of tricks. With the pitch clock looming, Cueto worked on the faster side of his spectrum, opting to throw more quick pitches than drag it out with triple shimmys. If he were looking to get work in against advanced competition, this start fit the bill.
On the other hand, his fastball topped out at 91, and he only induced three whiffs. He got his shared of called strikes, but the swings were generally productive. The Sounds collected five hits, including a two-run homer by Tyler White in the third inning that marred the experience.
All in all, Cueto gave up three runs on five hits and two walks over 2⅔ innings, striking out two.
After today, the Knights return home to Charlotte for a series against Jacksonville. Cueto is looking at another start as soon as Wednesday, when he’d be likely to go four innings and 75 pitches. A second data point will tell us which direction his stuff is heading. If it’s stagnant, then the Sox will be relying an awful lot on his veteran guile. Perhaps that still makes him a better candidate for starts than Vince Velasquez, but given the team’s myriad problems, that only goes so far.
Nashville 9, Charlotte 1
- Romy Gonzalez wore the golden sombrero.
- Micker Adolfo also went 0-for-4, but only struck out twice.
- Johnny Cueto: 2.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR
- John Parke: 5 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 1 HR
Birmingham 5, Biloxi 4
- Yolbert Sánchez went 1-for-3 with a walk.
- Yoelqui Céspedes was 1-for-4.
- José Rodríguez also went 1-for-4, but with a double.
Winston-Salem 7, Greenville 6
- Oscar Colás was 0-for-5 with a strikeout.
- Luis Mieses went 1-for-4 with a double, walk and strikeout.
- Adam Hackenberg did the same, but without the strikeout.
- Harvin Mendoza was 1-for-3 with a strikeout and a sac fly.
- Andrew Dalquist: 4 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP
Fredericksburg 6, Kannapolis 5
- James Beard went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
- Wilfred Veras, 2-for-4 with his first A-ball homer, a double and a strikeout.
- Colson Montgomery wore the collar.
- DJ Gladney doubled, singled twice and struck out once.
- Wes Kath was 0-for-2 with two walks and a strikeout.
- Misael Gonzalez hoisted his OPS to 1.019, coming up a triple short of the cycle while going 3-for-4 with a strikeout.
Instead of sending him the Charlotte where he has to deal with the pitch clock, maybe they should have just assigned Cueto to Birmingham.
Every minor league level has enforced pitch clocks. Charlotte is one of the few parks that has robo umps, but that’s limited to Charlotte and a handful of others, not Triple-A as a whole.