At The Ballpark: Chattanooga Lookouts vs Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp

Earlier in July I attended games between the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp and Chattanooga Lookouts. The teams are two of the ten teams in the Southern League. The games were played at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, the home field of the Jumbo Shrimp. The ballpark is one of my favorite minor league stadiums that I have been to. It is a great place to catch a baseball game as there is not a bad seat in the house and the fans are always into the game. The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp are the Double-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins. This season, their roster is headlined by Sixto Sanchez, Jorge Guzman, Brian Miller, and the most recent addition Edward Cabrera. The Chattanooga Lookouts are the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. This season, their roster is headlined by Taylor Trammell, Tyler Stephenson, Tony Santillan, and Jose Siri. Currently, the Lookouts have the most Top 30 Prospects of all the Reds’ minor league teams at twelve.

Over the past two years, despite me not living near Daytona, I’ve attended many Daytona Tortugas games across Florida. The Tortugas are the Class-A Advanced affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. At those games, I’ve gotten to know many of the players, so it was great to see them again last week in Jacksonville. Pregame, I caught up with Tyler Stephenson, Taylor Trammell, Brantley Bell, TJ Friedl, and so many other Lookouts players. I think that it is worth mentioning that in addition to them being great athletes on the field, all of the guys on the Lookouts are also genuinely nice people too. They always have time for the fans.

The first game was especially intriguing because of the pitching matchup. The Jumbo Shrimp had Sixto Sanchez on the mound to take on the Lookouts’ Reiver Sanmartin. Sanchez came to the Marlins organization from the Phillies in the JT Realmuto trade. The 20-year-old RHP from the Dominican Republic is the Marlins No. 3 overall prospect (according to Stoffer Cochran’s midseason Marlins Top 50 prospects) and the No. 20 overall prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. In his ten outings with Jax he has a WHIP of 1.28, an ERA of 3.88, and 58 strikeouts in 55.2 innings. He is having a promising campaign this year after suffering a season-ending right elbow injury in June 2018. Reiver Sanmartin came to the Reds organization from the Yankees in the Sonny Gray trade. The 23-year-old LHP from Colombia had a successful first half in Daytona, as he had a WHIP of 1.27, an ERA of 3.78, and 60 strikeouts in 64.1 innings. He is looking to build on that success with Chattanooga, where he was recently promoted.

After getting the first two batters to flyout, Sanchez got into some trouble. He walked Jose Siri and Tyler Stephenson, and gave up a single to Ibandel Isabel. With the bases loaded, Sanchez hit Gavin LaValley with a pitch, scoring the first run of the game, but then erased the threat by inducing a flyout. The second inning also got off to a good start for Sanchez as he recorded his first strikeout of the game and then got Sanmartin to groundout. But once again, he struggled to record that third out. Alfredo Rodriguez singled to left field, and then Taylor Trammell launched a two-run homer to right field, putting the Lookouts up 3-0. Trammell is the Reds’ No. 1 overall prospect, the No. 27 prospect in all of baseball, and was chosen 35th overall in the 2016 MLB Draft. The 21 year old lefty from Powder Springs, GA, has had a great career so far. He has played in the two most recent Futures Games, and won the MVP in 2018. This season, he is slashing .249/.379/.345 with 17 SB, 5 HR, and 51 BB. Here is the video that I took of Trammell’s 5th HR of the season:

Jacksonville staged an early comeback effort, as Billy Fleming leadoff the bottom of the second inning with a HR, reducing the lead to 3-1. After then allowing two singles, Sanmartin finished the inning without anymore damage. After a perfect top of the third by Sanchez, the Jumbo Shrimp kept the ball rolling in the bottom of the third inning. Brian Miller leadoff the inning by reaching on a throwing error by the second baseman. He then advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch and moved to 3rd on a groundout. The Jumbo Shrimp then had three singles in a row, and then a game-tying RBI Groundout, tying the game at 3. Sanmartin finished the inning without allowing anymore runs.

The flood gates opened on Sanchez in the fourth inning. Michael Beltre gave the Lookouts the lead with a homer to right field, his first of his Double-A career. Next, Sanmartin recorded his first career hit, a clean single to left field. Alfredo Rodriguez then drew a walk, Taylor Trammell recorded his second hit of the game, and all of a sudden the bases were loaded with just one out. Sanchez struckout Jose Siri, giving himself the opportunity to escape another bases loaded jam. Ibandel Isabel did not allow that to happen, as he had a full count and blasted a pitch way over the right field wall for a no-doubt grand slam. Ibandel Isabel, also known as I*Bomb*del Isabel, is known for his power. In 2017, Isabel hit 28 HR while on the Rancho Cucamongo Quakes, the Dodgers’ Class-A Advanced Affiliate. In 2018, he broke a 68 year old Florida State League record for home runs in a season as he blasted 35, and finished the season tied with Pete Alonso for the most homers in the Minors at 36. (Isabel hit 1 HR for Rancho Cucamonga prior to being traded to the Reds.) This season, the 24 year old from the Dominican Republic is slashing .238/.292/.539 with 23 HR. Here is the video that I took of Isabel’s 20th HR of the season, a mammoth grand slam:

Sixto Sanchez was pulled immediately after Isabel’s grand slam. His performance was spotty and unspectacular. He looked a step behind all night, and his biggest problem was finishing innings. In all four innings that he pitched, he got the first two batters out. In three of the four innings, he pitched to at least three more batters and allowed a run. This is likely an anomaly, as this was unfortunately his worst outing of the season. His fastball was electric, sitting around 98-99, and he did have some good offspeed pitches in the mix. His statline was 3.2 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 3 HR. 

Reiver Sanmartin hit a road block in the fifth inning, as he allowed three runs on four hits. He exited the game with two outs in the fifth, and the score was 8-6. His final statline was 4.2 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HR; however, he did look to have good control for most of the game. After that, the rest of the game were a bullpen duel. Jacksonville’s bullpen pitched extremely well, as Josh Roeder, Alejandro Mateo, Chad Smith, and Tommy Eveld combined for 5.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7K. In the ninth inning, the Jumbo Shrimp brought the winning run to the plate after two singles, but Juan Martinez extinguished the problem and locked down the save. Chattanooga defeated Jacksonville 8-6. The newly acquired Billy Fleming went 5 for 5 with a HR and 4 singles for Jax. The listed attendance was 2,657 which is great for a humid Tuesday night on the eve of one of the Jumbo Shrimp’s two biggest games of the season: Independence Day Fireworks.

Every MiLB team got a home game on either July 3rd or 4th to celebrate Independence Day. The Jumbo Shrimp gave out patriotic hats to the first 2,000 fans, and the team sported patriotic frozen bomb treat jerseys during the game. The players were in the holiday spirit too, as Lookouts catcher Tyler Stephenson wore red, white, and blue eye black.

The starting pitching matchup was former Marlins organization member Ryan Lillie versus Daniel Castano. This was Lillie’s second Double-A start and first on the road. The 23-year-old RHP from Murieta, CA, had a great first half in Daytona as he had a WHIP of 1.15, an ERA of 3.03, and 63 strikeouts in 77.1 innings. Daniel Castano was the final piece of the Marcell Ozuna trade. The 24 year old LHP has started 4 games for Jax and has made 5 relief appearances. He began the game with a 1-2-3 inning.

In the bottom of the first, Lillie ran into the same problem that Sanchez dealt with the night before. He got the first two batters he faced out, but struggled to get that third out. All with two outs, Joe Dunand singled, Fleming walked, Gaby Guerrero singled, Riley Mahan walked with the bases loaded, and Stone Garrett unloaded the bases with an RBI Triple to right field. Rodrigo Vigil then further cleared the bases with an RBI Single that scored Garrett. The inning finally ended after the pitcher, Castano, struckout. The Jumbo Shrimp had a big 5-0 lead after the first inning. The struggles continued for Lillie in the bottom of the third. After striking out Fleming on three pitches to begin the inning, he did not record another out. Guerrero doubled, Mahan walked, Garrett hit an RBI Single, and Vigil hit an RBI Single. Lillie then exited the game with one out in the third. Tyler Jay came in and induced an inning-ending double play on the first pitch he threw. Lillie did not have his best stuff, as his statline was 2.1 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, 3 K. Hopefully he can turn things around over his next few outings.

The Lookouts bats found success in the top of the fourth as Trammell and Siri each singled to start the inning, and then Mitch Nay brought them both home on an RBI Double to left field. It was a solid hit, and Nay hustled hard to leg out the double. Nay was the 58th overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. In the beginning of his career, he suffered multiple injuries that delayed his development. He came to the Reds system in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft. After a solid season in 2018, he is now having a major breakout season. The 25-year-old righty from Chandler, AZ, was named the Southern League Player of the Month for June and is slashing .307/.364/.573 with 12 HR. Tyler Stephenson kept the rally going with a single. Stephenson was the 11th overall pick in 2015 MLB Draft, and is the Reds’ No. 5 overall prospect. The 22-year-old righty from Kennesaw, GA, is fantastic both offensively and defensively. This season, he is slashing .262/.341/.376 with 4 HR. LaValley then knocked in another run with an RBI Double. With two runners in scoring position, and two out, Chattanooga opted to send their pitcher, Jay, to the plate. He struck out. The move was likely to conserve their bullpen’s arms.

In the bottom of the fifth, Fleming got another hit for Jax, a double, and then Guerrero brought him home on an RBI Triple. He was now a HR away from the cycle. Guerrero was only playing in Jax due to an overcrowded outfield in Triple-A New Orleans. He is the nephew of H.O.F. Vladimir Guerrero Sr. and cousin of rookie phenom Vladimir Guerrero Jr. In the bottom of the 6th, Brian Miller tripled, and Justin Twine knocked him in with a single. Miller was the 36th overall selection in the 2017 MLB Draft and the Marlins No. 15 overall prospect. The 23 year old left-handed hitter from Raleigh, NC, is slashing .278/.333/.369 with 14 SB. He also recorded a leadoff double in the 8th inning.

The Lookouts were sat down in order in the ninth inning, and the Jumbo Shrimp won 11-3. Mckenzie Mills and Vincenzo Aiello combined for a very good four innings of relief for Jax to maintain their big lead over Chattanooga. The listed attendance was 11,429, which is especially great considering the major thunderstorms across Duval County earlier that afternoon. The night concluded with a breathtaking Fourth of July Firework Show.

Hello, my name is Bailey Srebnik. I am the Social Media Manager for Prospects1500, and I am also the Florida State League correspondent and Tampa Bay Rays co-correspondent. I am a junior in High School, residing in the Ft Lauderdale area. Living in FL, I enjoy going to Spring Training games each season. I also attend many MiLB games each year, mainly in the Florida State League. I root for the Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, Miami Marlins, and Daytona Tortugas. I am currently in 4 deep dynasty baseball leagues, which is fun. Being a person who enjoys math, I’m also really into the sabermetrics. I find it fascinating. When it comes to music, I am a big fan of Oasis and The Killers. You can find me on Twitter at @xwOBAiley. Thank you for reading.

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