Thursday: Zephyrs 4, Redbirds 1 _lowres


Iowa put an exclamation point on the statement it made during the series at Zephyr Field, hitting four home runs on Friday.

The Cubs (61-54) won the last four games of the five-game series. The loss was the Zephyrs’ fifth in six games and ninth in 12.

Josh Vitters hit a two-run homer in the second and Jorge Soler a three-run shot in the third as Iowa chased Zephyrs highly touted prospect Andrew Heaney (4-3) by gaining a 5-0 lead.

After Justin Bour hit solo homer in the fourth for New Orleans (56-58), Iowa’s Matt Olt doubled in Soler in the fifth. Catcher Eli Whiteside, who came into the game with a .185 batting average, hit a smash to left leading off the sixth.

Kris Bryant, the No. 2 prospect in Minor League Baseball, capped the power display with a towering shot to left in the ninth. It was his 14th in Triple-A and his Minor League-high 36th, counting his time in Double-A this season. The Z’s Kyle Jensen homered to center field with two outs in the bottom of the inning.

Cubs starter Carlos Pimentel (3-7) allowed just one run on four hits in six innings.

Iowa outscored New Orleans 25-5 in the series.

Saturday’s game

WHAT: New Orleans Zephyrs vs. Nashville Sounds

WHERE: Zephyr Field, Metairie

WHEN: 6 p.m.

PROBABLE PITCHERS: Zephyrs RH Anthony DeSclafani (2-2, 4.24 ERA) vs. Sounds RH Michael Blazek (1-4, 4.15)



Center fielder Austin Wates joined the Zephyrs from the Oklahoma City RedHawks after being obtained by Miami in the trade that sent Zephyrs starting center fielder Jake Marisnick to the Houston Astros.

“We’ve seen him from the other side,” said Zephyrs manager Andy Haines. “Really good player. He can do a little bit of everything.”

With the Marlins being set for years with a young lineup, versatility is key as they round out their team. Wates is batting .299 and also leads the Pacific Coast League in stolen bases, with 31, being caught stealing just four times.

He has the speed to cover ground, a must as a center fielder, but he also has a good enough arm to hold down right field. This season, he has played 34 games in center, 18 in right and 15 in left. He has thrown out three base-runners as a right fielder, two as a center fielder and none as a left fielder. The latter stat likely reflects the respect runners have for his arm with regard to the shorter throw to third base.

In 331 at-bats, he has struck out 45 times while getting 84 hits, which means he gets the ball in play.

The knocks on him are that he has had some injuries, and when he was drafted in the third round out of Virginia Tech in 2010, the Astros felt his power would increase with age. However, he has just two home runs, 11 doubles, and with his speed, surprisingly just three triples. But he’s a table-setter at the leadoff spot and has scored 44 runs and has driven in 30.

Extra bases

Heading into Friday’s game, the Zephyrs had 85 wild pitches this season, tied with the franchise record set in 1994. Reliever Henry Rodriguez, who was released on June 11, still leads the PCL with 14. Starter Elih Villanueva has 13 and closer Arquimedes Carminero has 11. … There were five ejections by umpires during the Zephyrs’ series against against Iowa. … Two sportswriters and a photographer from Tokyo newspaper Sankei Sports were at Zephyr Field on Wednesday, chronicling the appearance of Japanese pitcher Kyuki Fujikawa, who was on a Major League rehab assignment. Fujikawa pitched a perfect sixth inning, striking out one. He had Tommy John surgery in June 2013 after making 12 appearances with Chicago. “He was the best closer in the Japan League with the Hanshing Tigers, the No. 2 team, which is like the Boston Red Sox,” said sportswriter Masa Niwa. Fujikawa has allowed one run on five hits in five innings with one intentional walk and four strikeouts. Before coming to Iowa, he made six rehab appearances between Rookie League Mesa and Single-A Kane County and didn’t allow and earned run in 5.2 innings.

Darrell Williams