The future of the Miami Marlins runs seven levels deep in the assortment of minor leagues strewn across the United States and the Dominican Republic.
The top of the pyramid below the major league level is the triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes, in the Pacific Coast League. The PCL has 16 triple-A affiliates. The 14 unrepresented major league teams have affiliates in the triple-A International League.
The Baby Cakes, in their final season organized as such (the Marlins triple-A affiliate will operate out of Wichita, KS starting in 2020) haven’t always been the Baby Cakes. Up until 2016, they were known as the New Orleans Zephyrs. This is the Miami Marlins 11th season using New Orleans as their top affiliate. Prior to that, they relied on the Albuquerque Isotopes (2003-2008), the Calgary Cannons (1999-2002), the Charlotte Knights (1995-1998), and the Edmonton Trappers (1993-1994) for their major league finishing school.
At 34-27, New Orleans boasts the best won-loss record in the Miami Marlins system. That mark is only good for third place in the American Southern Division in the PCL. Of the six teams in the league with winning records, three reside in the PCL-ASD. Along with the Cakes, the San Antonio Missions (Milwaukee Brewers) sit at 38-23, and the Round Rock Express (Houston Astros) are 36-24. Only the lowly Oklahoma City Dodgers (Los Angeles Dodgers) sit below the watermark, at a Marlins-like 23-36.
For the seven-day week ending June 6th, the Cakes were 4-2, with two wins and a loss to the Nashville Sounds (Oakland Athletics) and the Fresno Grizzlies (Washington Nationals).
Of the nine starters in the lineup, only Deven Marrero failed to get a hit, and Micah Brown went three-for-four with a solo homer in this 6-5 loss to the Sounds. Matt Snyder also went deep for his fifth long-ball of the season, a two-run job.
Control was a problem for starter Ben Meyer, who walked three but whiffed five in just 2 2/3 innings. Ironically, Parker Bugg, who had the best appearance of the game, took the loss despite whiffing five in 2 1/3 innings. He also gave up two runs.
Hector Noesi took the ball in the third-game of the four-game series, at the time tied a game apiece between the two clubs. Noesi pushed his record to 5-2 for the season, with a 2.19 ERA by allowing no runs on four hits and two walks over seven innings. He also struck out nine. See, it isn’t just Zac Gallen making waves with the Cakes.
Isan Diaz hit a triple and a homer for two RBI, while Magneuris Sierra and Yadiel Rivera also each had a pair of base-hits. R.J. Alvarez struck out the side in the ninth for his seventh save for a 3-0 victory.
Building on that victory, Elieser Hernandez took the ball in the series finale, looking for the series win. He earned no decision, but struck out eight in six innings while walking nobody and surrendering only one run. Mike Kickham (2-1, 4.19) blew a save situation but took the victory, while Kyle Keller whiffed five in two perfect innings for his third save of the year.
Offensively, the Cakes blitzed the Sounds for 15 hits, including a four-hit day for Rivera. Yadiel had a double, a homer, and two singles. The Cakes ran wild on the base paths, stealing five bases off Nashville pitching. Gabriel Guerrero, Rodrigo Vigil, Brown, Sierra, and Lewis Brinson each swiped a bag. Sierra hit three singles, Brinson hit two, and Guerrero had a single and a double in the game. The Cakes won, 7-4.
After a day off, the Cakes looked to continue building on their modest two-game winning streak against the Grizzlies, and came away with a 5-1 victory. New Orleans outhit Fresno 11-to-5, led by Guerrero’s three hits, including a double. Wilkin Castillo (2) and Diaz (12) went deep in the victory, while Synder and Rivera pitched in with a pair of singles each. Rivera also stole two more bases for the cause. Here’s a picture of Zac Gallen, showing you the thing that he’s best at (it’s baseball).
Oh, and Gallen turned in yet another Quality Start. He struck out 11 in seven innings while giving up one run on four hits and two walks. He has a 1.67 ERA so far, with 99 K’s in 81 innings, and a 0.69 WHIP. All of those figures lead the PCL by a wide margin. The only thing keeping Gallen from the Marlins at this point is the solid showing by the young starting five in Miami.
The party, as they say, was over for the Cakes in the second game of the set against Fresno. They got to New Orleans starter Dustin Beggs (4-2, 4.73) for seven runs in the first 3 2/3 innings. Jordan Milbrath relieved him and didn’t fare much better, allowing three runs in 1 1/3 innings. They were followed by perfect innings from Brian Moran, Tyler Kinley, Kyle Keller, and Bugg.
While the pitching gave up 10 runs, the offense could only answer with four. No Baby Cake had more than one hit, and only Brown connected on a multi-base hit, a double. Diaz and Snyder each got a hit and an RBI.
Rivera again led the offense, collecting three singles in this 6-4 win against the Grizz. Meyer was still shaky, giving up another four runs in five innings, on four walks and three hits, but hey, he struck out six. Kickham (3-1, 3.86) relieved to earn his second victory of the week. The 30-year-old former major leaguer (still following the dream, according to his Twitter bio) was solid in a three inning outing, striking out five while allowing no runs on one walk and two hits. Oh, and he connected with a seventh-inning solo home run. Recent team addition, catcher Tyler Heineman also went deep for New Orleans. Alvarez earned his second save of the week with a perfect ninth, collecting a strikeout.
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The icing on the cake, no pun intended, was that the losing pitcher of record was none other than spectacular trade bust Fernando Rodney, now 42-years-old. Remember him? He’s the one that Jeffrey Loria got for Chris Paddack.
The next seven days will see the Cakes host the Sacramento RiverCats (San Francisco Giants) for a four-game set at Shrine on Airline, followed by a three-game series on the road against the El Paso Chihuahuas (San Diego Padres). Check back here next Friday for your Cakes update.
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