Despite late start, Isom nears Carolina RBI title Outfielder holds Keys' season record

Minor-league notebook

August 28, 1996|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

For a guy who says that an individual title is not really important to him, Johnny Isom is turning the Carolina League RBI race into a runaway.

"It's not that big a deal to me," the Frederick Keys left fielder said. "I came two weeks late in the season, so I got a slow start."

Despite missing the first two weeks of the Single-A season with a shoulder problem coming out of spring training, Isom broke the Keys' single-season record by driving home his 101st run Sunday. He led the league by 17 after Sunday and had 35 RBIs this month alone.

But now that he's on the verge of winning, "I think it would be disappointing if I didn't," he said.

B. J. Waszgis, now at Rochester, set the previous mark of 100 two years ago.

"He's a dangerous hitter," said Keys manager Julio Garcia. "Johnny doesn't have the home run numbers [18 through Sunday], but he hits a lot of hard balls in the gaps. And the homers he hits are line drives that get out of the park in a hurry."

Isom, a 28th-round pick in 1995, launched his career by batting .344 for the Rookie-level Bluefield Orioles with 56 RBIs in 59 games.

He said that experience was good for him.

"It was a good deal going to Bluefield because coming from a small school [Texas Wesleyan], I wasn't sure how I was going to do against better talent," he said.

The surge has continued at the higher level, with Isom batting nearly .600 with the bases loaded and more than .400 with runners in scoring position.

"When you've got men on, Johnny is the guy you want up there," Garcia said.

Playoff update

Rochester leads Scranton/Wilkes-Barre by two games in the battle for the second spot in the Triple-A International League East.

The Red Wings have eight games left with the dregs of the division, Syracuse and last-place Ottawa, five of them on the road, where they are 24-36.

Frederick is four games behind Wilmington in the Carolina League North with six to play. The final four are at Wilmington, so the Keys must fare well in their current series with Winston-Salem to have a shot.

In the Single-A California League, High Desert led Lake Elsinore by a half-game with six to go. The Mavericks appear to be a shoo-in even if they don't win the division because of a wild-card system that takes the team with the second-best overall record.

Delmarva is in the Single-A South Atlantic League field after winning the first half in the North. The Shorebirds will play the second-half winner (Fayetteville leads by 2 1/2 games) at its field Sept. 3, then will play host to that team at Salisbury the next two days, if necessary.

Bluefield is practically in in the Rookie-level Appalachian League with a four-game lead and less than a week left.

Bowie (last in the Eastern League South) and Rookie-level Gulf Coast (35-24, second place) will not make postseason play.

Around the horn

Domingo Martinez is in a 2-for-30 slump at Rochester but is hitting .355 with 31 RBIs in 19 games. . . . Rolando Avila went 4-for-8 with four RBIs in his first two Red Wings games after being called up from Bowie. . . . Jimmy Haynes won his first game since returning to Triple-A by allowing two runs in six innings against Toledo, with eight strikeouts. . . . With 84 RBIs, Joe Hall ranked fifth in the International League. . . . Bowie needs to win two of its final eight to avoid a 90-loss season. . . . Bowie has used 29 pitchers, one more than last season. Carlos Chavez is the only staff member who has been there all season. . . . Tony Tarasco had one hit and was robbed of another in his first rehabilitation start at Frederick. . . . Nerio Rodriguez has just enough innings to qualify for the Carolina League ERA title and leads at 2.26. Alvie Shepherd is 3-1 with a 1.89 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 19 innings as a starter. . . . Matt Snyder (Essex Community College) has 80 strikeouts in 67 innings and 20 saves for the Mavericks.

Pub Date: 8/28/96

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