Pelicans lose two more pitchers in fallout from trade

The aftershocks of Tuesday’s trade between the Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs continued to be felt by the Myrtle Beach Pelicans on Wednesday.

One day after ace pitcher Kyle Hendricks and third baseman Christian Villanueva were traded to Chicago Cubs for major-league pitcher Ryan Dempster, the Pelicans saw four more transactions that dramatically shook up their pitching staff.

Pelicans’ right-hander Wilmer Font, whose fastball was clocked at 102 mph in Tuesday’s game, was promoted to Double-A Frisco, while Loris native Ben Henry was placed on the disabled list.

The Pelicans received a pair of right-handers from Double-A Frisco as compensation – Joe Van Meter received and Zach Osborne.

The bad news carried over for the Pelicans (22-16), who saw the Winston-Salem Dash (22-16) win Tuesday to create a tie atop the standings. The Pelicans lost despite dominating pitching from Randy Henry and Wilmer Font.

The game was decided in the first inning, when four of the first five Carolina batters hit.  Tony Wolters led off with a single, as did Bo Greenwell.  Giovanny Urshella then bounced into a double play ahead of an RBI single from Jesus Aguilar and an RBI double by Carlos Moncrief.  It was 2-0.

That was the end, though, of the Mudcats offense.  Carolina would not have another batter reach third base all game and nobody made it to second from the fourth through eighth innings.  Henry wound up with a tough luck loss despite his fifth quality start.  He allowed two runs on seven hits in six innings.

Wilmer Font stole the show on the mound, however.  The 40-Man roster member pitched two innings out of the pen and allowed on walk.  He hit a season best 102 on the in-stadium gun and topped 100 MPH on five separate occasions.  He ended the eighth striking out Moncrief at 101 looking.

Offensively the Pelicans mustered but four hits for the second straight game.  Myrtle Beach’s lone run was pushed across when Jhonny Gomez bounced into a double play gone array in the fourth.  Tony Wolters tired to turn the twin kill too quickly and got nobody out, instead under-throwing the shortstop Ronny Rodriguez and throwing the ball into leftfield.  Tomas Telis, who had led off with a single, scored on the mistake.

The two teams battle in game two of their series Wednesday at 7:15.  Randol Rojas throws for the Pelicans.

The parent-club Texas Rangers acquired right-handed pitcher Ryan Dempster from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Villanueva and  Hendricks.

Dempster, 35, originally signed with the Texas organization after being selected in the third round of the 1995 June draft.  He has a career record of 117-121 with a 4.31 ERA over 535 games/310 starts with Florida (1998-2002), Cincinnati (2002-03), and Chicago-NL (2004-12).  He is a two-time All-Star (2000 & 2008).

Hendricks, a right-handed pitcher, has gone 5-8 with a 2.82 ERA (41 ER/130.2 IP), 2 complete games, and 112 strikeouts against 15 walks in 20 games/starts with High-A Myrtle Beach this season. The 22-year-old was originally selected in the 8th round of the 2011 June draft out of Dartmouth.

Villanueva batted .285 (107-375) with 19 doubles, 10 home runs and 59 RBI in 100 games with High-A Myrtle Beach. The 21-year-old right-handed batter and thrower has spent his entire career with the Rangers after signing as a non-drafted free agent on August 17, 2008 out of Mexico.

Photo courtesy of MB Pelicans

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