from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball at www.gsohoppers.com:
(Bill looks back in detail at the Hoppers win over Savannah at NewBridge Bank Park on Thursday night)…..
The Hoppers got exactly what they needed from a starting pitcher Thursday night — 6 innings, 4 hits, 2 runs and a win.
Left-hander Greg Nappo, in just his third start, delivered that performance in a 7-6 victory over Savannah. Nappo was drafted last month in the 18th round out of UConn. He wasn’t spectacular against the Sand Gnats, just solid. Working at a quick tempo, Nappo struck out six and didn’t walk anyone as he picked up his second win. In 16 innings he has 11 strikeouts and just two walks.
“He kept the ball down and forced contact early in the count,” said pitching coach Willie Glen. “He throws a two-seam fastball and a little cutter and changes speeds. It keeps batters honest because it’s hard for them to cover both sides of the plate.
“He didn’t do anything that would ‘wow’ you, but he was solid and you look up after six innings and he’s given up two runs. If he can do that consistently, he’ll be fine.”
Another new pitcher, Brett Zawacki, made his debut and gave up one run in the seventh inning, to the first batter he faced. Zawacki, drafted in the 12th round out of high school by the Cardinals in 2007, will pitch out of the bullpen and could also be a spot starter if needed. He was pitching in Double A when the Cardinals released him and the Marlins signed him two days later.
ROSTER SHUFFLE: Starter Jheyson Manzueta and first baseman Brian McConkey were sent to Jamestown. Manzueta, 2-10 with a 6.56 ERA, just wasn’t giving the Hoppers a chance to win his starts. He’s only 20 and Jamestown is probably the right level for him. The Hoppers don’t know who will take his scheduled start Sunday. There’s an open spot on the roster, so a pitcher will probably be sent to them.
It was a blow to McConkey, who was hitting .263 with 5 homers and 26 RBIs. He began the season as the regular first baseman until Mark Canha recovered from a spring training injury and joined the team in May.
“He didn’t do anything to deserve a demotion,” said manager Andy Haines. “He just wasn’t getting a lot of at-bats and he should get more in Jamestown.”
One reason McConkey’s at-bats declined was because the Hoppers are carrying three catchers. J.T. Realmuto gets the most time behind the plate, with Wilfredo Gimenez and Aaron Dudley getting a game here and there and also serving in the DH role. Dudley’s value is he can also play first base, so he will back up Canha there.
Dudley was the DH Thursday and responded with a home run and a double while raising his batting average to .309.
INJURY UPDATE: Haines still expects starter Kyle Winters (shoulder) to return this season as he progresses in his throwing program … Jay Rogers (elbow), the team’s most efficient starter, is being monitored in Jupiter and might be done for the season … OF Isaac Galloway (oblique) should return in about a week.
NOTES: Christian Yelich had three hits Thursday to raise his average to .305, second only to Dudley … Yelich is 14-for-29 in his last eight games … Closer Michael Brady was touched for a two-run homer but still earned his 15th save … After being nearly unhittable for two months, Brady has allowed 5 runs in 2.1 innings in his last two appearances … Glen said he’s leaving the ball up a bit too much and the league is finally catching on to his approach.