Monday, June 13, 2011

CANCEL STAYS HOT, HOWARD JOINS TORONTO ORGANIZATION AND '10 BATTING CHAMPION RETURNS

Robinson Cancel's latest brief stay in the major leagues did not slow down his bat when it comes to punishing Triple-A pitching.

The 35-year-old backstop, an Atlantic League veteran (Long Island, 2010; Somerset, 2003-04; Road Warriors, 2003) went 5-for-11 (2B, RBI) in his first two games after returning to Houston's top farm club in Oklahoma City. He is now hitting .336 in 32 games for the Redhawks with a .390 on-base percentage. Cancel was 0-for-6 in two games for Houston, where he caught prized rookie Jordan Lyles.

KEVIN HOWARD LEAVES LANCASTER FOR LAS VEGAS

I am anxious to see how Kevin Howard fares in his return to Triple-A after starring both offensively and defensively while playing shortstop at Lancaster. Howard, who turns 30 later this month, was primarily a second baseman and third baseman in his previous stints at the top level of the minor leagues.

"Kevin had a great year," Lancaster Manager Butch Hobson praised in the press release announcing Howard had his contract purchased by Toronto and that he was returning to Las Vegas, where he played for part of both '08 and '09. "He's seeing the ball really well right now and squaring everything up," added Hobson, in what almost seems like an understatement since the University of Miami product had gone 23-for-49 (.469) in his last 13 games for the Barnstormers which elevated him to No. 2 in the Atlantic League batting race at .381.

"He also did an excellent job at shortstop, playing it for the first time," Hobson said.

'10 BATTING CHAMPION RETURNS TO LEAGUE

Last season's batting champion, outfielder Brian Barton, is back in the Atlantic League, joining Southern Maryland. He has gone 3-for-12 in his first four games with two runs batted in.

Barton, who struggled with Bridgeport early last year then caught fire at Newark, was released by Cincinnati, and quickly caught on with the Blue Crabs. He hit a combined .348 in 102 Atlantic League games last season, winning the batting title by nine points.

Lefty Josh Muecke, who made one appearance for Somerset last season, was dropped by Colorado. Both Barton and Muecke had been playing in Triple-A.

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