Tag: Colton Frabasilio

Chukars Notebook: Divergent first-half records

Viloria
Viloria

The first half of the Pioneer League baseball season will conclude in four days, and the Idaho Falls Chukars are tied for first place in the South Division. The Chukars have already won 20 games, a mark they didn’t reach last summer until August.

With 20 new players this season, I.F. was bound to play differently than last year’s team. But this much improvement is impossible to predict. Here are a few key areas of success for I.F. this half:

Deep lineup 

Alexis Rivera was one of the Pioneer League’s best hitters last season before moving up to Single-A Lexington (he was released this spring but signed a minor-league contract with the Los Angeles Angels). Josh Banuelos and Amalani Fukofuka painted the field with hits, as well, especially in the first half. The dropoff between those three and the rest of the lineup was Yellowstone Falls-esque.

Shortstop Marten Gasparini and second baseman D.J. Burt hovered around the Mendoza line. When right fielder Brawlun Gomez wasn’t hitting home runs, he was probably striking out. Third baseman Ryan Dale was never productive.

This year’s lineup is as deep as it relentless. I.F. has five wins this season when it trailed in the seventh inning or later, and that’s despite an error-prone defense and a shaky bullpen.

The bats are highlighted by catcher Meibrys Viloria, who transcends hyperbole. He leads the Pioneer League in five categories: batting average, on-base percentage, OPS, doubles and RBIs.

Viloria’s season has rendered many of his teammates underrated, namely third baseman Manny Olloque, right fielder Yeison Melo, outfielder Luke Willis and first baseman David Edwards.

Outfielder Tanner Stanley and first basemen Colton Frabasilio and Brandon Dulin were all promoted after each hitting over .300 in I.F. Newer starters like second baseman Jordan Ebert and outfielders Nick Heath and Rudy Martin have filled in admirably.

The only mediocre everyday hitters are Ricky Aracena and Angelo Castellano, and even the 5-foot-8 Aracena has trouble fitting into that category. The shortstop was hitting .282 with a .702 OPS through Friday.

The Chukars have already scored 274 runs (8.1 per game) this summer. They mustered 238 (6.3 per game) in the first half of 2015.

Improved pitching 

None of I.F.’s 2016 starters own ERAs worse than 7.00. Three I.F. starters had ERAs above 7.00 at this point last season, which led to more innings for a shaky bullpen. This year’s bullpen has been inconsistent, but manager Justin Gemoll has three arms with sub-4.00 ERAs at his disposal.

The biggest difference between these two staffs: strikes.

I.F. had issued 3.4 walks per game going into Saturday. Last year’s team averaged 3.8. Like nearly every 2015 pitching stat, that number was much higher in the first half.

Home comfort

The Chukars are 5-10 on the road this season, not far off from their 5-13 record away from home in the first half last season. The obvious key difference is at home.

I.F.’s home record this summer is 15-4, easily the best in the Pioneer League. The Chukars’ home run differential is plus-60, as well. The club went 8-12 at Melaleuca Field in first half last year, and they were outscored by 12 runs in those 20 games.

CC RAKING IN KC 

Cheslor Cuthbert moved up from Triple-A to the Kansas City Royals in May to fill-in for another former Chukar, Mike Moustakas. The All-Star third baseman is out for the season with a torn ACL, but Cuthbert has done his best to fix the broken hearts in Kansas City.

A 2-for-3 performance Saturday lifted Cuthbert’s batting average over .300 and his OPS over .800, the second time that’s happened in 63 games this season (the first time was in his fourth game).

Cuthbert’s progression has been linear. He hit .253 with a .601 OPS in May, .283 and .844 in June and .377 and .958 thus far in July. He also has nine home runs on the year.

Cuthbert played 14 games for I.F. in 2010 as a 17-year-old. He got a cup of coffee with Kansas City last season, when he hit .217 with a .650 OPS in 19 games.

ROSTER MOVES 

The Royals haven’t initiated much movement with the Chukars roster the last two weeks. In fact, I.F. has undergone just two makeovers since July 5.

July 13: Chukars outfielder Tanner Stanley moves up to Lexington. Fellow outfielder Leland Clemmons is released. Second baseman Jordan Ebert, outfielder Rudy Martin and right-handed pitcher Paul Young are promoted from the Arizona League to I.F.

July 16: Double-A Northwest Arkansas activates left-hander Sam Selman from the 7-day disabled list, ending his rehab assignment with the Chukars.

WHO’S HOT? 

RHP Andres Machado 

Machado had a 13.50 ERA after his first start. That number shriveled to 4.00 after Monday’s gem against Missoula.

Machado didn’t allow a run or a walk in five innings against the Osprey. He gave up one hit and struck out four.

Machado’s stinginess doesn’t end there. He has allowed one earned run on 11 hits, one walk and 17 strikeouts in his last 14 innings pitched.

WHO’S NOT? 

INF Angelo Castellano

Castellano’s batting average was as high as .280 on July 4. Since then he’s gone 12 for 56 (.214). He still has a solid OBP (.350 through Friday), but his patience has waned lately. And Castellano has only hit five extra-base hits all season, including none for home runs.

Edwards powers Chukars to a 9-3 win over Helena

Idaho Falls Chukars first baseman David Edwards connects on a two-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning against the Helena Brewers Thursday at Melaleuca Field. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)
Idaho Falls Chukars first baseman David Edwards connects on a two-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning against the Helena Brewers Thursday at Melaleuca Field. (Courtesy of Steve Thayer)

David Edwards had never played first base until this season with the Idaho Falls Chukars. But the 23-year-old has looked comfortable at the lukewarm corner, and his bat has not suffered.

Edwards went 3 for 4 with three doubles while playing first base for the Chukars in their 9-3 win over the Helena Brewers Thursday at Melaleuca Field. Players like Meibrys Viloria and Yeison Melo have obscured the solid numbers posted by the versatile Edwards.

Gluten-free power

David Edwards has been saddled with a gluten intolerance his entire life, but he didn’t realize its magnitude until college.

One day at Loyola Marymount University, Edwards decided to drink a beer. It didn’t take long for his body to react. Shortly after downing the beer, his throat closed up.

“Ever since then, I’ve been avoiding gluten,” he said.

Edwards wishes he could drink beer, eat cake or consume so many gluten-heavy types of food. But eliminating gluten has cleared up his skin (gluten caused acne and other skin issues as a child, he said) and led to a healthier diet.

“It keeps you away from the junk food,” Edwards said.

It’s hard to measure how much his diet has helped him with baseball, but he’s played well in his first professional season. Edwards has mostly played second and third base, but Colton Frabasilio’s call-up to Lexington left Ryan Dale as the only first baseman. So Edwards stepped in as a second option.

Wherever he’s played, he’s hit. Thursday’s performance increased his batting average to .288 and his OPS to .829.

Close calls in fifth

The Chukars scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Helena doesn’t believe they should have scored any.

The score was tied at 3-3. With two outs and runners on the corners, I.F. third baseman Manny Olloque pulled a ground ball into the hole. Shortstop Trevor Morrison made a diving stop and fired a one-hopper to first base. The play was close, and base umpire Teagan Smith ruled Olloque safe. Nestor Corredor argued the call that put I.F. up 4-3.

Corredor came back out to argue a batter later. With a 1-2 count, Chukars right fielder Yeison Melo appeared to swing and miss on a pitch the catcher dropped. But home plate umpire Conner Culhane said it was a foul tip. Melo hit an RBI single two pitches later, and the Chukars pulled away two innings later.

E-none

For a while, Chukar wins almost felt dependent on fielding errors.

I.F. won five of six games last homestand despite committing 27 errors (4.5 per game). The Chukars only committed 12 errors on their subsequent six-game road trip, but their combined record in Ogden and Orem was 2-4.

The correlation between errors and wins hardly meant causation, as I.F. has illustrated these last two games. The Chukars committed one error in Wednesday’s 8-2 win and none on Thursday. The defense still made mistakes that didn’t place numbers under the ‘E’ on the scoreboard, but the Chukars have reduced the inexcusable miscues: missed cut-off men, booted ground balls, catcher throws into center field, etc.

The Chukars still lead the Pioneer League in errors by a mile (67 total, which is 20 more then the next most error-prone team). The gap is closing, however, which will only benefit I.F. going forward.

Player of the game

Chukars first baseman David Edwards

Three doubles in a game will top just about any performance.

Up next

The Chukars (15-11) and Brewers (10-16) return to Melaleuca Field on Friday, with first pitch scheduled for 7:15 p.m. I.F. lefty Matt Portland will start against righty Wuilder Rodriguez.

Chukars Notebook: Raul Mondesi highlights Royals’ prospect rankings

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Since returning from 50-game suspension, Raul Mondesi has been all over the place.

The Kansas City Royals shortstop prospect was suspended on May 10 after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. Mondesi returned on June 25 as a member of the Wilmington Blue Rocks, Kansas City’s Advanced Single-A affiliate. On July 4, he moved up to Double-A Northwest Arkansas, where he played prior to the suspension. And finally, Mondesi was called up to Triple-A Omaha on Friday.

That’s not quite all. Baseball America came out with its midseason top 100 prospects list the same day Mondesi moved up to Omaha. No. 55 on the list? Mondesi. He’s one of several former Idaho Falls Chukars on various prospect lists.

Mondesi is the only Royals prospect to make Baseball America’s midseason list, and he actually moved down 26 spots from the website’s preseason list (fellow Royals prospect Kyle Zimmer was No. 85 on that list).

Mondesi is still ranked No. 1 on almost every online Royals prospect rankings. Zimmer is Kansas City’s consensus No. 2 prospect, and he also played for the Chukars. The right-handed pitcher threw 4.2 innings for Idaho Falls in 2014, posting a 1.93 ERA. Mondesi spent all of 2012 with the Chukars, hitting .290 with a .733 OPS in 207 at-bats.

The next highest former Chukar on MLB.com’s Royals prospect list is shortstop Marten Gasparini. The Italy native is ranked No. 8 on MLB’s list and No. 7 on Baseball America’s, although most other scouting websites are not that high on him. Gasparini is hitting .197 with a .587 OPS for Single-A Lexington this season. He batted .259 with a .752 OPS with the Chukars last summer.

Northwest Arkansas first baseman Ryan O’Hearn is No. 5 on FanGraphs.com’s Royals list, which is also high compared to most rankings. Unlike Gasparini, O’Hearn has produced at just about every level. His career minor league batting average is .300 and his OPS is .898. O’Hearn was named the Pioneer League Player of the Year with the Chukars in 2014, thanks to a .361 average and a 1.034 OPS.

MLB.com ranks Northwest Arkansas lefty Matt Strahm No. 10 in the Royals’ system. Strahm pitched 30.1 innings for I.F. in 2012 and 19.2 in 2014, posting 5.64 and 2.29 ERAs, respectively.

One current Chukar made the top 30 of MLB.com’s rankings. Shortstop Ricky Aracena is No. 25.

Some other notable former Chukars:

Omaha third baseman Hunter Dozier (played for I.F. in 2013) is ranked N0. 10 on Baseball Prospectus’ Kansas City rankings.

Omaha righty Alec Mills (I.F. 2014) is No. 13 on MLB.com’s list.

Wilmington righty Josh Staumont (I.F. 2015) is No. 17 on MLB.com’s list.

Lexington outfielder Amalani Fukofuka (I.F. 2015) is No. 19 on MLB.com’s list.

Righty Brooks Pounders (I.F. 2014 and 2015) is No. 28 on MLB.com’s list. Pounders made his MLB debut on Tuesday at Toronto. He’s allowed one earned run in three relief innings for Kansas City so far.

Roster move

July 5: Chukars first baseman/catcher Colton Frabasilio moves up to Advanced Single-A Wilmington. Frabasilio’s call-up stemmed from an injury to Zane Evans of the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals, according to the Chukars. Evans was placed on the disabled list, which led to a promotion for Wilmington catcher Luis Villegas. Frabasilio filled Villegas’ vacant roster spot.

Frabasilio hit .348 (16 for 48) with a .936 OPS in 12 games for I.F. this summer.

Standings update

The Chukars improved to 12-10 with their 10-8 win over Orem on Saturday. I.F. now sits two games behind the Owlz (14-8) with 16 games left in the first half.

Who’s hot?

3B Manny Olloque

Olloque was named the Pioneer League Player of the Week for his performance from June 27 through July 3. He hit .429 (12 for 28) with three doubles and two home runs during the week.

Olloque was a bit quieter this week. Then came Saturday, when he went 4 for 5 against Orem to extend his hitting streak to eight games. Olloque is now hitting .350 on the season with an OPS over .900.

Who’s not?

LHP Sam Selman

Selman joined the Chukars on a rehab assignment. He started the season with Northwest Arkansas and has reached as high as Omaha (in 2014). With the Chukars in 2012, he earned the Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year thanks to a 2.09 ERA in 60.1 innings.

Selman has not improved that resume with I.F. this summer.

Selman’s ERA with the Chukars dropped to 9.35 after 1.2 innings pitched on Friday at Orem. But he still allowed two unearned run on two hits.

The lefty allowed three earned runs in each of his first two outings with the Chukars, and his opponents’ batting average is .356. Selman has, however, struck out eight batters and walked only two.

Chukars keep raking in 12-10 win over the Raptors

Angelo Castellano slides into home plate for the Idaho Falls Chukars’ fourth run of the first inning Tuesday night at Melaleuca Field. (Photo courtesy of Steve Thayer)
Angelo Castellano slides into home plate for the Idaho Falls Chukars’ fourth run of the first inning Tuesday night at Melaleuca Field. (Photo courtesy of Steve Thayer)

Manny Olloque struggled in the game after his parents left Idaho Falls. Coincidence?

“Maybe they brought me some luck,” Olloque said with a smile.

“Struggled” is a relative term he went 1 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored for the Idaho Falls Chukars on Tuesday nightOlloque just didn’t live up to the Pioneer League Player of the Week version of himself, the guy who hit two home runs and upped his batting average from .174 to .333.

And while Olloque was quiet Tuesday, his teammates more than made up for it. The Chukars beat the Raptors 12-10 Tuesday night at Melaleuca Field, capping a 5-1 homestand.

Good offense overcomes all

The Chukars committed three more fielding errors Tuesday, increasing their season total to 54 (17 more than Ogden, which is second in the Pioneer League). I.F. has also erred 19 times the last four games, and yet its record is 3-1 in those contests.

That’s what happens when every hitter is hot.

The Chukars have averaged 14.5 runs and 17.3 hits per game over the last four, and those figures went down Tuesday. I.F. mustered 15 hits in the 12-10 win, and they did it without catcher Meibrys Viloria, who leads the league in OPS (1.417).

Viloria’s replacement MJ Sanchez went 3 for 4 on Tuesday, while second baseman David Edwards went 3 for 5 and center fielder Nick Heath went 2 for 5 with a double and triple.

“We’re staying on the fastball, crushing our pitch, finding gaps,” Olloque said. “We’re swinging good right now, playing good, and we look to continue.”

Frabasilio moves up

First baseman Colton Frabasilio was assigned to Advanced Single-A Wilmington on Tuesday.

Frabasilio had 48 at-bats in 12 games for the Chukars this summer. He batted .348/.436/.500 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage).

Pounders makes MLB debut

Former Chukar Brooks Pounders made his MLB debut Tuesday in Kansas City’s 8-3 loss at Toronto. The right-hander allowedone earned run on three hits, a walk and three strikeouts in two relief innings.

Pounders, 25, was called up from Triple-A Omaha after Royals closer Wade Davis was placed on the disabled list. Kansas City designated lefty Tyler Olson for assignment to make room for Pounders on the 40-man roster, per the Kansas City Star.

Pounders’ first stint in Idaho Falls came in 2014. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder posted a 4.80 ERA in 15 innings that season. Pounders also pitched three scoreless innings for the Chukars last season on a rehab assignment.

Player of the game

Chukars starting pitcher Andres Machado

12-10 games with 32 combined hits usually result in battered arms. Tuesday’s game was no different, except for two pitchers: Ogden reliever Bernardo Reyes (three scoreless innings) and Machado.

The I.F. right-hander allowed two runs in the first inning, but both were unearned thanks to two errors. His final three innings were scoreless. Overall, Machado allowed six hits and no walks with seven strikeouts.

Up next

The Chukars (11-7) begin a five-game road trip starting Wednesday night, when they start their two-game series at Ogden (4-14). Alex Luna gets the start against fellow righty Gregor Mora. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Chukars walk off unlikely winners over Ogden

Idaho Falls right fielder Yeison Melo leaps high to make a catch just in front of the wall during the third inning of Monday’s game against the Ogden Raptors at Melaleuca Field. (Photo courtesy of Steve Thayer)
Idaho Falls right fielder Yeison Melo leaps high to make a catch just in front of the wall during the third inning of Monday’s game against the Ogden Raptors at Melaleuca Field. (Photo courtesy of Steve Thayer)

A game that deserved a wild ending got just that when Meibrys Viloria crushed a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 10th inning to hand the Idaho Falls Chukars a 16-12 victory over the Ogden Raptors in front of a season-best crowd of 3,678 fans Monday night at Melaleuca Field.

Viloria’s 458-foot blast high over the wall in right field sent the fans scurrying to catch the fireworks show 10 minutes before the scheduled 10 p.m. start time, and sent the Chukars to an unlikely win.

Overcoming the odds

Idaho Falls did everything it could to hand the game to Ogden, falling behind 7-0 in the second inning, committing seven errors and walking 12 Raptors hitters. Fittingly, the Chukars were a strike away from a win in the top of the ninth when a close pitch went against Idaho Falls lefty Reinaldo Cepin. DJ Peters made the Chukars pay, sending the next pitch into left field to score the tying run.

Viloria
Viloria

But Brian Bayliss got the final out of the ninth and then worked a scoreless 10th before Idaho Falls loaded the bases on single, a sac bunt, an intentional walk and another walk. Yeison Melo had the first chance to end it, but he struck out after getting ahead in the count. That left it up to Viloria, the Chukars’ leading hitter this summer. Viloria worked the count into his favor before launching a no-doubter to right for this team-high third home run and setting off a celebration at home plate.

As they have done for much of the season, the Chukars were able to overcome bad defense (they lead the Pioneer League in errors) and inconsistent pitching with dominating offense. One day after collecting 18 hits, Idaho Falls finished with 19 in Monday’s win. Everyone in the lineup had at least one hit, four had two hits and Tanner Stanley (3 for 5, three runs, two RBIs), Colton Frabasilio (3 for 5, two runs, RBI) and Viloria (3 for 5, three runs, six RBIs) had three.

Overlooked

Lanky left-hander Cole Way didn’t have his best stuff, but his three innings of shutout relief allowed the Chukars to rally from the early 7-0 deficit. The 6-foot-9, 235-pound punter-turned-pitcher from Tulsa, Okla., allowed just one hit and walked three while striking out four. His ERA dropped to 2.08.

Player of the game

Chukars catcher Meibrys Viloria

The sweet-swinging lefty has been a nightmare for pitchers this summer. He entered Monday second in the league with .467 average, going 21 of 45 with nine doubles, a triple and two home runs. He increased his average to .480 on Monday, adding his 10th double and third home run while pushing his RBI total to 19 (tied for the team lead).

Up next

The Chukars wrap up their six-game homestand with a game against the Ogden Raptors tonight. First pitch is set for 7:15 p.m. Idaho Falls then hits the road for three games at Ogden and three more at Orem before taking a day off July 12.

Sunday’s game

CHUKARS 18, ROCKIES 7: Idaho Falls blasted five homers on a breezy Sunday afternoon and cruised to a win over the Rockies, giving the Chukars three wins in the four-game series.

Luke Willis, Leland Clemmons, Ryan Dale, David Edwards and Manny Olloque went deep for the Chukars, who finished with 18 hits. Olloque led the hit parade, going 3 for 5 with two runs scored and five RBIs. Willis was 3 for 5 with four runs and two RBIs, Ricky Aracena was 3 for 6 with two runs and two RBIs and Angelo Castellano went 2 for 4 with a double, a run and two RBIs.

Arnaldo Hernandez earned the win, allowing two runs (one earned) on eight hits with no walks and five strikeouts in 5.2 innings.

Rockies overcome Chukars’ furious rally, win 14-13

The Idaho Falls Chukars could taste a third straight walk-off win. This one would’ve been the most thrilling.

The third time was not the charm.

Grand Junction designated hitter Colton Welker hit a two-strike, two-out RBI single in the top of the ninth inning. It proved to be the winning run in the Rockies’ 14-13 victory Saturday at Melaleuca Field, and it negated I.F.’s seven-run comeback.

Tragedy of errors

The Chukars went into Saturday’s game leading the Pioneer League with 35 errors. They did more than enough to maintain that lead Saturday.

I.F. piled up six errors, all through the first seven innings. Six of Grand Junction’s 14 runs were unearned.

Weirdly enough, those errors didn’t loom as large as one Grand Junction error in the bottom of the seventh.

With runners on second and third and two outs, Chukars right fielder Tanner Stanley hit a ground ball to the shortstop. Jose Gomez scooped it up and fired to first. The ball dove into the dirt, and Hunter Melton couldn’t handle it. Both runs scored to cut the Rockies’ lead to 13-10.

Two batters later, Yeison Melo hit a two-run double to tie it at 13-13. It capped a seven-run inning in which the Rockies committed both of their errors. Luckily for Grand Junction, the two miscues didn’t lead to a loss.

Viloria’s eventful night

I.F. catcher Meibrys Viloria caused some controversy Thursday night. In the bottom of the ninth, Viloria made a wide slide that clipped Jose Gomez on a double play attempt. Gomez dropped the ball, which allowed Colton Frabasilio to score the game-winning run.

Viloria hit his second home run of the season in the fourth inning Saturday, and he knew it right away. Viloria flipped his bat as soon as the three-run shot began its flight over the right field wall.

Viloria’s next plate appearance came in the bottom of the sixth. Heath Holder’s first pitch nicked Viloria in the back, and home plate umpire Steven Hodgins immediately ejected the right-hander.

Viloria and hitting coach Andre David, among other Chukars, lobbed angry words toward Grand Junction, but tensions cooled down after that.

Player of the game

Rockies first baseman Hunter Melton

Melton went 3 for 5 with a double, a walk and a two-run home run. The performance raised his batting average from .063 to .190.

Up next

The Chukars (8-7) and the Rockies (7-7) wrap up their four-game series at 4 p.m. Sunday. I.F.’s Arnaldo Hernandez is scheduled to face fellow righty Bryan Baker.

Chukars earn second straight walk-off win over Rockies

Chukars shortstop Angelo Castellano tags out Cole Anderson, of the Grand Junction Rockies, on Friday at Melaleuca Field. (Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)
Chukars shortstop Angelo Castellano tags out Cole Anderson, of the Grand Junction Rockies, on Friday at Melaleuca Field. (Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)

The Idaho Falls Chukars walked off winners against the Grand Junction Rockies for the second straight night.

Friday’s walk-off wasn’t quite as odd as Thursday’s (more on that later), but it was almost as rare. Nick Heath hit a two-run triple in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Chukars a 5-4 win at Melaleuca Field.

“It’s a great feeling,” Heath said.

Heath’s walk-off

The center fielder Heath came to the plate with one out and runners on first and second in the bottom of the ninth. Grand Junction led 4-3. Heath fell into a 1-2 hole, but he turned on the next pitch and lined it down the left-field line.

The outcome of the play came down to a footrace, which the Chukars won easily. The ball rolled so far into the corner that Manny Olloque, who started the play at first base, scored standing up.

“I kinda knew I was gonna get an offspeed down-and-in, some type of pitch inside,” Heath said. “That’s what I was geared up for, and I was able to put a barrel on it.

Right-handed pitcher Jace Vines is the highest 2016 MLB draft selection on the Chukars roster, and the fourth-rounder made his first start for I.F. on Friday. But he was completely overshadowed by the 18-year-old who started for Grand Junction.

That 18-year-old was Riley Pint, a right-hander who was selected No. 4 overall in last month’s MLB draft.

Pint retired the final six batters he faced after a leadoff infield single by Luke Willis. He struck out two and walked none, mixing a mid-90s fastball with a big breaking curveball. He was relieved after two innings due to a pitch limit.

“I had to get all the nerves out of the way before I started pitching, but it was great,” Pint said. “I was finally glad to get on the mound.”

Thursday’s game under protest

The Chukars walked off in strange fashion Wednesday, and the Rockies were not happy with a crucial non-call.

With runners on first and second, Willis hit a ground ball to second baseman Jonathan Piron, who turned and threw to shortstop Jose Gomez. Gomez dropped the ball and got hit in the knee by a sliding Meibrys Viloria. Gomez writhed in pain as the ball rolled away, allowing Colton Frabasilio to score and give I.F. a 7-6 win in 10 innings.

Angelo Castellano, of the Idaho Falls Chukars, breaks his bat during a line drive in the second inning against the Grand Junction Rockies on Friday at Melaleuca Field. (Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)
Angelo Castellano, of the Idaho Falls Chukars, breaks his bat during a line drive in the second inning against the Grand Junction Rockies on Friday at Melaleuca Field. (Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)

The Rockies are protesting the game, arguing that Viloria’s slide was outside of the basepaths. But manager Frank Gonzales doesn’t expect the result to change, he said Friday. The umpires told Gonzales that the non-call on Viloria’s slide was judgment call, which cannot be overturned by a protest.

Roster moves

The Chukars lost one outfielder and gained another on Friday. Jose Sanchez was moved to Burlington (the Kansas City Royals’ other Rookie-level team), and Leland Clemmons moved up to I.F. from the Arizona League.

Sanchez hit .438 with a .938 OPS in 16 at-bats for the Chukars this summer. Clemmons, who the Royals signed as an undrafted free agent in 2014, hit .083 with a .646 OPS and one home run in 12 at-bats for the Royals last month. He has 11 home runs in his three-year career.

Player of the game

Chukars center fielder Nick Heath

Heath finished 2 for 4 including the walk-off triple.

The Chukars (8-6) will face another first-round pitcher on Saturday at Melaleuca Field. The Rockies (6-7) will start righty Mike Nikorak, the 27th overall pick in the 2015 MLB draft. I.F. will send lefty Matt Portland to the hill. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

Chukars beat Rockies 7-6 on an odd walk-off play

Idaho Falls Chukars third baseman Angelo Castellano grabs an infield grounder during Thursday’s game against the Grand Junction Rockies at Melaleuca Field. (Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)
Idaho Falls Chukars third baseman Angelo Castellano grabs an infield grounder during Thursday’s game against the Grand Junction Rockies at Melaleuca Field. (Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)

In one moment, the Idaho Falls Chukars’ rally looked over. A moment later, they were celebrating a walk-off win.

So goes baseball.

Idaho Falls ended a three-game losing streak with a 7-6 win in 10 innings Thursday over the Grand Junction Rockies. The play that gave I.F. the win baffled just about everyone in attendance at Melaleuca Field.

‘A weird walk-off’

Chukars first baseman Colton Frabasilio said the weirdest walk-off play he’s ever seen came between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of the 2013 World Series, a game he attended. In the bottom of the ninth, St. Louis’ Allen Craig tripped over Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks following a wayward throw from Boston catcher Jared Saltalamacchia. Craig was out at the plate, but the umpires ruled that Middlebrooks obstructed Craig’s path home. That meant Craig scored, and the Cardinals went up 2-1 in the series.

Frabasilio played a key role in Thursday’s walk-off, which was almost as odd as the World Series play.

Frabasilio was on second base, Meibrys Viloria was on first and Luke Willis was at the plate with one out in the 10th. Willis hit a two-hopper to Rockies second baseman Jonathan Piron, who tried to start an inning-ending double play. But Jose Gomez could not hold onto Piron’s throw, and Viloria hit Gomez with his right leg as he slid into second base. Viloria’s slide sent Gomez to the ground in pain, and the ball trickled into the outfield. Frabasilio scored easily as a result.

“I just turned around, saw the ball rolling on the ground and that was it,” Frabasilio said. “It was a weird walk-off, for sure.”

Field umpire Forrest Ladd did not make any signal during the play. He and home plate umpire Carter Goodson agreed that Viloria’s slide was not illegal, so Gomez was charged with an error (the ninth of the game) and I.F. earned the win. Gomez walked off the field after spending a few minutes on the ground with a trainer tending to him.

The Chukars suffered two walk-off losses earlier this week. The first was a 6-5 loss at Grand Junction on Monday, when Piron hit a walk-off RBI single in the 10th. The second came on Tuesday at Ogden, a 12-11 loss in which the Raptors scored three times in the bottom of the ninth.

Roster move

Left-handed pitcher Sam Selman joined the Chukars late Thursday afternoon to continue his rehab assignment.

Selman made six relief appearances in Double-A Northwest Arkansas this April before hitting the 7-day disabled list in May. He pitched out of the bullpen three times since June 22 for the Arizona League Royals, where he began his rehab assignment.

The 25-year-old made his pro debut with I.F. in 2012. He appeared in 13 games (12 starts), posting a 2.09 ERA with 89 strikeouts and 22 walks. Selman advanced as high as Triple-A Omaha, where he made five relief appearances in 2014.

Player of the game

Chukars designated hitter Ryan Dale

The Aussie went 2 for 4 with his first home run of the season, a solo shot off Alejandro Requena in the fifth inning.

Up next

The Chukars (7-6) and Rockies (6-6) convene again at 7:15 p.m. Friday with a couple of high 2016 draft picks starting on the mound. Fourth-rounder Jace Vines will start for I.F. against fellow righty Riley Pint, the fourth overall pick in the June draft.

Chukars muster two hits, fall 7-1 to Raptors

The Idaho Falls Chukars started their six-game road trip with two wins in three games, including an 18-7 win over Grand Junction on Sunday. They ended the trip with a three-game losing streak.

The Chukars committed four errors for the second straight game, and the bats fell asleep. Those deficiencies led to a 7-1 loss to Ogden and a two-game sweep.

Sloppy fielding

A sequence in the bottom of the fourth inning epitomized I.F.’s defensive performance Wednesday.

Ogden placed runners on first and second with no outs in the inning. Shortstop Moises Perez hit a ground ball to Manny Olloque, who started the 5-4-3 double play. Several Chukars walked off the field after the play, per I.F.’s and Ogden’s radio broadcasters, as if they had recorded the second and third outs. Ogden first baseman Ibandel Isabel, who reached third on the double play, took advantage of I.F.’s inattentiveness and scored standing up.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the Chukars also committed three more fielding errors. A throwing error by shortstop Ricky Aracena directly preceded the double play gaffe, and the Raptors scored two runs following an Olloque throwing error in the bottom of the first.

I.F. starting pitcher Igol Feliz allowed five runs, but only two were earned. He allowed eight hits and no walks with a strikeout in six innings, and his season ERA is now 2.76.

Silent bats

The Chukars mustered one run on two hits, both season-lows. Only one hit went for extra bases a double by Colton Frabasilio in the fourth inning. The first baseman came around to score on a Olloque groundout following a David Edwards sacrifice bunt.

I.F.’s worst offensive game before Wednesday’s was a 4-2 loss to Grand Junction on Saturday. The Chukars compiled seven hits that game.

Willis
Willis

Willis’ quiet production continues

One of I.F.’s few bright spots Wednesday was Luke Willis. The left fielder went 1 for 1 with two walks, raising his batting average to .367 and his on-base percentage to .457.

Willis has been in and out of the lineup this season. When he does get a start, he usually bats in the ninth spot, as he did Wednesday. But when he has started, Willis has taken advantage. A few more extra-base hits (he has one this season, and it was a double) might land him in the lineup more frequently.

Player of the game

Raptors designated hitter Will Smith

The 32nd overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft had the best hitting performance in his six-game-old professional career. Smith went 3 for 4 with his first pro home run, which he hit off of Cole Way in the seventh inning.

Up next

The Chukars (6-6) return home to Melaleuca Field on Thursday, when they take on Grand Junction (6-5). First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

Chukars prevail 11-7 in back-and-forth slugfest against Orem

Idaho Falls' Meibrys Viloria slides into third base with a triple during Thursday's game at Melaleuca Field. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)
Idaho Falls’ Meibrys Viloria slides into third base with a triple during Thursday’s game at Melaleuca Field. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)

The Idaho Falls Chukars and Orem Owlz refused to go quietly Thursday night.

Idaho Falls prevailed 11-7, but the score masks the tense, back-and-forth nature of the game. The win gave the Chukars a 2-2 series split and a 4-2 homestand to start the season.

Eighth-inning heroics

No lead was safe Thursday night. After a back-and-forth first five innings, the Chukars scored twice in the sixth thanks to two errors and two wild pitches. The 7-4 lead was the biggest of the night up to that point, but Orem clawed back.

The Owlz scored once in the seventh, and first baseman Nick Flair singled with one out in the eighth. That hit brought up Juan Moreno, who hadn’t notched a home run in his five-year pro career. The shortstop ended that drought with a two-run blast to left field, tying the game at 7-7.

The Chukars quickly answered. Right fielder Yeison Melo doubled with one out in the bottom of the eighth, and first baseman Colton Frabasilio drove him in with a double into the left-center field gap. Two batters later, Meibrys Viloria hit a double down the right-field line. Second baseman David Edwards, in his first pro season, came up next also looking for his first home run. Sure enough, Edwards pounded an Ariel Ovando pitch over the left-field fence. It traveled 416 feet.

I.F. hitters have now hit three home runs this season. Brandon Dulin hit one of them, and he’s now in Lexington. The Kansas City Royals promoted the first baseman to the Legends on Wednesday after he hit .313 in four games with the Chukars.

Right-hander Reid Redman, who gave up the homer to Moreno, shut down the Owlz in the ninth to end the game.

Crooked numbers

The first inning was a poor indication of how the game would go.

Orem's Jordan Zimmerman makes it safely to second base as Idaho Falls' Ricky Aracena makes a throw to home during Thursday's game at Melaleuca Field. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)
Orem’s Jordan Zimmerman makes it safely to second base as Idaho Falls’ Ricky Aracena makes a throw to home during Thursday’s game at Melaleuca Field. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)

After the scoreless opening frame, each team scored at least one run from the second inning to the sixth. The Chukars scored in every inning but the first and the seventh, while Orem’s only scoreless innings were the first, sixth and ninth.

The Owlz and Chukars lost leads six separate times, as well.

Piling up the hits

Before the eighth inning, the Chukars had tallied 13 hits, which would have been their second-most in a game this season. I.F., of course, demolished four more hits in the eighth to finish with 17 on the night. The Chukars haven’t strung together that many hits in one game since Aug 30 of last season at home against Grand Junction. They finished with 18 hits in their 16-7 win.

Player of the game

Chukars first baseman Colton Frabasilio

Frabasilio might beg his coaches to let him play first base for the rest of the season.

After three starts as the designated hitter, Frabasilio started at first base and put up one of the best offensive performances of the Chukars’ young season. Frabasilio went 4 for 4 with three doubles, a walk, three runs scored and two RBIs.

Melo, Viloria and Jose Sanchez delivered three hits for I.F., as well. Viloria smashed two doubles and a triple while also drawing a walk.

Up next

The Chukars (4-2) begin their first road trip of the season Friday night at 6:30 against Grand Junction. Righty Igol Feliz is scheduled to get his second start.