Lehigh Valley has a couple of young pitching prospects that are doing really well at Triple-A to start the season.
They may not be household names yet but they are a bright spot in this young season.
Austin Hyatt (28 starts) and Tyler Cloyd (18 starts) spent most of their 2011 campaign battling Double-A hitters for the R-Phils in Reading. The success they've had has carried over.
Hyatt (2-2, 3.09) was pegged to be at Lehigh Valley from the beginning but Cloyd's rise this early in the season is a bit of a surprise.
Cloyd, a Nebraskan that was the 18th pick in the June 2008 amateur draft, became an emergency starter for Lehigh Valley on opening day due to a MLB suspension of David Bush that scratched him from the honors.
All the 24-year old right hander did was capitalize on the opportunity and pitch six perfect innings of baseball for his first Triple-A win.
As soon as his outing was finished Cloyd was on I-78 heading west to his original destination. Once in Reading, Cloyd kept the momentum. In four starts in Reading, the righty posted a 3-0 record and a 1.80 ERA and did not allow a run in his final 14 double-A innings.
Over the weekend, Cloyd was recalled to Lehigh Valley and performed a stellar encore to his debut.
"He was impressive," Sandberg said. "He pitched down in the zone and stayed ahead of hitters. He got better as the game went on."
Sandberg referred to the seventh inning jam to prove his point. With Lehigh Valley down 1-0, Cloyd got into trouble with runners on first and third and nobody out.
A groundball to third baseman Mike Fontenot led to a play at the plate for one out. A sacrifice to advance runners for the second out led to Sandberg deciding to intentionally walk a batter to load the bases with two outs.
Cloyd struck out Syracuse 2nd baseman Josh Johnson in four pitches to get out of the jam.
"It was a big moment in the game," Sandberg said. "He kept it a one-run game and gave our guys a chance to have a spark and a rally in the bottom of the seventh."
The rally gave Cloyd his second Triple-A win as the IronPigs won 4-1.
"He's got a lot of poise. After his second outing here he looks comfortable, like he belongs here," Sandberg said. "He doesn't get flustered and that goes a long way at this level."
Through his first six starts at Lehigh Valley and Reading, Cloyd is a combined 5-0 with a 1.42 ERA.
'Diek' is the man ... Phillies struggles in the bullpen you may see a few of the IronPigs plucked to help out. With Phillipe Aumont still side-lined by injury, the tops on the short list may very well be Jake Diekman.
"He's got good stuff, he's left handed and he comes from three-quarter side. He's tough to pick up, Sandberg said. "He has two-major league pitches. He throw's both pitches to both sides of the plate with command."
His last outing Saturday, Diekman nabbed his team-leading fifth save of the year. It was an economical 21 pitches (14 strikes) through his two innings of work to save Cloyd's game. Through eleven of his first 12 outing, Diekman pitched shutout ball.
He currently sits solid with a 0.63 ERA through 14.1 innings pitched.
Spidale Returns ... Michael Spidale returns to the IronPigs after spending the last two seasons with Reading. In his 12th year as a minor league player, Spidale played in 43 games with Lehigh Valley over two seasons (2008-09). In his first game back, Spidale went 1-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored.
IL-Pitcher of the WEEK ... The comeback of 36-year old Scott Elarton added some luster to it as he was named Monday as the International League pitcher–of-the-week (April 30-May 6).
In two starts last week, the righty pinned down a 0.75 ERA. He scattered five hits in Sunday's 11-2 win over Syracuse and surrendered only a solo-homer by Dan Johnson in the 4-1 win over Charlotte.
By MIKE FEIFEL