Throwing 33 pitches, including 22 for strikes, Parker Mushinski threw his longest appearance in rehab on Saturday. Triple-A Sugar Land charged the southpaw for the eighth and ninth innings that ended scoreless frames for only the second time on his major league rehab mission.
“Sometimes the major league role just takes a one-inning stint,” said Jason Bell, minor league field coordinator, who manages the Space Cowboys this weekend. “But really, the more these guys can throw, the better because you never know.
“Maybe he doesn’t go longer. Maybe he needs to go a batter to close out an inning. Just being able to be versatile for a guy like (Mushinski), especially with our lack of lefties overall, I think it’s super beneficial to his career and to our organization.
In his fifth appearance, Mushinski gave up a first-pitch single against Reno Aces’ Jake Hager. On the next pitch, Dominic Miroglio returned a slow roll to Mushinski, which resulted in a southpaw throwing error at second base.
Hager and Miroglio went second and third without a strikeout. Mushinski worked a 2-2 count to the next batter – Camden Duzenack who tipped the hit three into Scott Manea’s glove. From there, the southpaw’s defense helped stop the pain.
With the count 3-2, Mushinski pumped an 87.2 mph cutter high up the area where Yonny Hernandez ripped a 90.8 mph ball to first baseman Enmanuel Valdez. On the move, Valdez lined up and fired home to get Hager for the second out.
Hernandez reached with Miroglio advancing to third before stealing second two pitches later. But Mushinski was unfazed and hit Dominic Fletcher on three pitches to close out the eighth.
What seemed like overnight for Mushinski turned into his first relief appearance in two runs of his rehab mission. The southpaw forced a flyout at Stone Garrett and a groundout at Seth Beer for two quick outs before Cooper Hummel and Wilmer Difo cut back-to-back singles on 0-1 counts.
With two over and two out, Nick Hernandez began to warm up in the Sugar Land bullpen, but there was no need to finish ninth. Mushinski beckoned to Hager – who faced the southpaw early in the eighth – on a curveball to finish the frame.
Mushinski generated eight swings and misses on Saturday, which was the third best pitcher in the competition behind the two starters. The southpaw added 16 cutters to his repertoire as opposing hitters sniffed out 33%.
Field use depends on the opposing order, Bell noted, as the Aces wrote in three switch hitters on Saturday. But as Mushinski continues to find his form, Bell praised the resilience and maturity the southpaw possessed.
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“(Mushinski) is working hard to compete in the overall standings,” Bell said. “And so I felt like he did a good job that night, especially working around the second and third place runners, nobody in a 0-0 game. He executed those very well. throws to help us out of this jam.”
In his five appearances since beginning his rehab assignment on July 6, Mushinski has totaled four innings with five strikeouts and seven earned runs on six hits, two hits and six walks.
Mushinski picked up JP France who pitched their most effective start to the 2022 season. France won a perfect game in the fifth inning with 14 straight retired batters, but a Difo blooper single ruined the party.
France ended their night with 92 shots in seven scoreless innings. The right-hander struck out seven batters to the two base runners he allowed — one via the fifth-inning single and the other via a seventh-inning walk.
“(France) also had pretty good (speed) last night, especially at the start,” Bell said. “He got ahead of the batters well, executed his pitches, threw them off balance and there’s a deception there that I think makes it more difficult and I think his fastball plays a little bit that way.”
When France were drafted in 2018, Space Cowboys pitching coach Erick Abreu and Bell were both on staff at Class-A Short Season Tri-City – where the right-hander made his professional debut. Abreu and France have built a strong bond there.
“Their chips were established at that time,” Bell said. “And I really feel like that combo really helped him become a little bit more polished in each of his areas.”
France lives at the bar. The 27-year-old is tied for the most punches in the Pacific Coast League with none other than Reno’s Hunter Brown and Ryne Nelson. France and Brown are both carving out Triple-A rosters — especially lately — offering more reason to be in rotational depth by October or next season.
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