GreenJackets face string of top pitching prospects

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The past two weeks have been anything but easy for Augusta Green­Jack­ets hitters.

The GreenJackets have faced five starting pitchers who were 10th-round draft picks or higher. The results were two near no-hitters for the opposition, but also two wins.

Hagerstown’s Dixon Anderson, drafted in the ninth round in 2011, pitched six no-hit innings May 3 in a 9-1 GreenJackets loss. The next night, Augusta bounced back with eight runs in one-third of an inning against Asheville 10th-rounder Ben Hughes, winning 11-9.

On May 7, the GreenJackets managed just one hit in six innings off Ashe­ville first-rounder Eddie Butler in a 9-3 loss. Two games later, Augusta got to Greenville first-rounder Brian Johnson for four runs in five innings, although only one was earned, and the GreenJackets lost 10-6.

Another two games later, Green­ville started first-rounder Pat Light, and Augusta scored eight runs off him in a 10-6 win.

GreenJackets hitters have shown a tendency to bounce back from disappointing performances against good pitching. They scored six runs and won after Butler’s near no-hitter, then put four runs on the board with Johnson on the mound the next night. After losing by one Saturday, the GreenJackets scored eight runs off Light to win.

Augusta has averaged five runs over the past nine games, facing a 10th-round pick or better in five of those. The GreenJackets finished 4-5 over that stretch.

Considering each organization employs a fair amount of its pitching prospects in the South Atlantic League, and one team rarely overwhelms the others with talent, it’s safe to say the GreenJackets will continue to face this type of talent throughout the season. But having to face so much in such a short span is rare for the league.

RAPP RETURNS: GreenJackets first baseman Joe Rapp returned to the lineup Sunday for the first time since April 6 and made an immediate impact.

Rapp, a 28th-round pick in 2012 out of Louisiana-Monroe, went 3 for 4 with two doubles and four RBI in a 10-6 win over Greenville. The 23-year-old sat for more than a month with a broken finger.

Manager Mike Goff originally indicated Rapp could return as soon as May 4, but his status was pushed back an extra week. He arrived from Ari­zona the morning of Sunday’s game and was inserted into the lineup right away.

“It’s nice to get him back in that four hole,” Goff said. “He gives us a good threat. We dropped (Mitch) Delfino back in the five hole and gives him some protection. It works out pretty good.”

Rapp hit .272 with 11 home runs in 280 plate appearances for Salem-Keizer last season.

TROPHY RETURNS: The World Series trophy will return to Lake Olmstead Stadium on Tuesday for the second time in three years.

As a minor league affiliate of the world champion San Francisco Giants, the GreenJackets have the honor of playing host to the trophy during the game. The trophy was also brought to Augusta after the Giants’ world title in 2010.

Fans can take a picture with the trophy in the team’s merchandise store beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216

or david.lee@augustachronicle.com.


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