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June 19. 2012 10:51PM

Kevin Gray's On Baseball: Future bright for Fisher Cats' Dyson


New Hampshire Fisher Cats Ben Francisco, right, greets Mark Sobolewski, left, after the two scored the first two runs against the Reading Phillies Tuesday at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER -- In 2005, Fisher Cats players were asked to predict which member of the team would become the most successful big leaguer. The informal poll, conducted over the course of a homestand, named Dustin McGowan as the players' choice.

And they were wrong.

Turned out the correct answer was right-hander Shaun Marcum, who has posted a 55-35 record (3.73 ERA) since reaching the majors in 2005. McGowan, known for his great stuff when healthy, has gone 20-24 (4.08 ERA) in five seasons with Toronto.

On that note, which current Fisher Cat has the brightest future? It doesn't take a crystal ball to predict two outstanding prospects: first baseman Mike McDade and right-hander Sam Dyson.

The .304-hitting McDade entered Tuesday night's game against the Reading Phillies with a team-leading 11 homers, 38 RBIs and 120 total bases. McDade, also an excellent defensive first baseman, is ripe for a promotion to Triple-A Las Vegas or Toronto. That's if he doesn't get traded.

The Rockies are looking to move right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, and the Blue Jays have dangled the switch-hitting McDade as trade bait, according to published reports this week. Last year, McDade established Fisher Cats single-season records with 37 doubles while hitting .325 with 16 homers and 74 RBIs.

Dyson, called up from Single-A Dunedin, has made a big impression in five appearances at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. He has touched 97 mph on the team's radar gun — the fastest pitch for a Fisher Cat this season — and has given up only two earned runs in 17 relief innings. At least one Fisher Cat, outfielder Brad Glenn, projects Dyson as the most talented pitcher on the team.

“In terms of pure overall stuff, it has to be Dyson. He's nasty,” Glenn said.

Another Fisher Cat, asked to name the best future big leaguer on the team, said, “In this clubhouse, it's Dyson.”

Tonight fans can watch big righty Trevor May (6-4, 4.78 ERA), rated as the No. 1 prospect in the Phillies organization. The 6-foot-5 fireballer shut down the Fisher Cats in April, working seven innings and allowing two runs. It was his fifth straight win, leading to Eastern League Pitcher of the Month honors.

May throws in the mid-90s and leads the EL with 73 strikeouts. He simply has the look of a front-end starter in the majors.

“He has a fastball that's tough to square up because of his weird arm angle and because he throws so hard. He pounds the strike zone and gets a lot of swings and misses,” Reading catcher Steve Lerud said.

Best arm on the R-Phils? That's a tough call between May and fellow starters Jonathan Pettibone and Julio Rodriguez. The 6-foot-6 Pettibon (6-5, 3.43 ERA), who is not scheduled to pitch this series, has been the team's No. 1 workhorse, throwing 86-2/3 innings.

“(Pettibone) comands the ball really well for how young he is (21), and he has an easy delivery. The ball just seems to jump out of his hand, which makes it tough to pick up for hitters, I think. It's a deceptive delivery. He's one of those young guys who is gaining a lot of valuable experience right now. Any of those guys could end up having very successful big-league careers.”

Tonight New Hampshire sends to the mound righty Fernando Hernandez (0-4, 3.43 ERA), who has pitched mostly as a reliever this season. Hernandez replaces righty Joel Carreno (1-4, 4.71 ERA), sent to Triple-A on Tuesday. Blue Jays outfielder Ben Francisco, joining the Fisher Cats on a rehab assignment, is expected to play left field tonight.

Old friend Trystan Magnuson, who first pitched for the Fisher Cats in 2009, rejoined the bullpen and was active for Tuesday's homestand opener.

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Staff writer Kevin Gray covers pro baseball for the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. His email address is kgray@unionleader.com. Twitter: @graymatter11.


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