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Cumpton promoted to AAA

Peach Belt awards

Posted: April 21, 2013 - 12:04am

Former Greenbrier High School star and Georgia Tech standout Brandon Cumpton has been promoted to Class AAA. The 6-2, 198 pound right-hander was called up to Indianapolis, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Class AAA affiliate, last week.

During his prep days, Cumpton helped guide Greenbrier to back-to-back state titles in 2006 and 2007, going 25-2 on the mound with an era of 1.61 over the two seasons. He also hit .359 with nine homers and 69 RBI. Back then, Cumpton had to battle stars Rich Poythress and Nolan Belcher for the headlines. However, went on to have three solid seasons at Georgia Tech and was a ninth round draft pick by the Pirates in 2010.

After a slow start in pro ball, Cumpton has matured into a legitimate big-league prospect. In 2011, he finished the season 10-7 with a 3.98 era in 24 starts split between Class A West Virginia, and Class A Advanced Bradenton. He also had 90 strikeouts and just 30 walks in 133.1 innings. Cumpton followed that up last year with a stellar season with Class AA Altoona. In 27 starts, Cumpton went 12-1 with a 3.84 era. He also had 5.2 strikeouts and only 2.7 walks per nine innings.

Despite his steady progress, Cumpton began the year back in AA with Altoona. The problem for the talented right-hander is simple: The Pirates are loaded with pitching prospects in AAA. Indianapolis, the team’s AAA Affiliate, features six of the Pirates organization’s top 12 pitching prospects. Cumpton also started 2013 slowly. In his first two starts at Altoona, Cumpton was 0-1 and had allowed eight runs in 9.2 innings of work. He was struggling with his command, with five walks.

Cumpton traditionally has been a slow starter, so there was not much concern with the Pirates’ brass. Indianapolis was plagued by short outings by their starters, which was forcing the bullpen to pile up early season innings. Then, Phil Irwin was called up to Pittsburgh and Kyle McPherson would on the disabled list. Couple their confidence in Cumpton with a desperate need for pitching in AAA, and the former Greenbrier star got the call.

His first start for the Indians was not perfect, but he did work into the sixth inning. He allowed six hits and four runs over 5.1 innings. He walked three batters and struck out two. Cumpton has built a reputation as a ground-ball pitcher with great command. If he can continue his trend of heating up after a few starts each year, he might get a look with the big club in September. If he pitches well, the only roadblock would be the wealth of quality arms Pittsburgh has in their farm system.

Peach Belt awards

While most of the attention during spring break was on the Masters, Columbia County pulled off a nice double-dip. For the weekly Peach Belt Conference Baseball Awards announced on April 8, both the Player of the Week and the Pitcher of the Week were Columbia County products.

Of all the teams, and players, in the conference from states and cities all over the country, to have both awards won by players from Columbia County is a mathematical stunner. However, for followers of the diamond in our county it is likely no big surprise.

Former Lakeside standout Clayton Miller, of Armstrong Atlantic State University, was named the Player of the Week. The talented catcher threw out two of three runners attempting to steal and did not make an error in 24 chances. At the plate, Miller was on fire. He hit .632 in four games, including a robust .643 average in a three-game series with Flagler.

Most impressive may be the fact that Miller had at least two hits in all four games. In the series with Flagler, he opened with a 4 for 5 outing and drove in three runs. He followed that up by going 3 for 5 with a triple and two RBI. Then, he was 2 for 4 with another RBI in the series finale.

For the season, Miller is hitting .375 with 29 RBI and hitting .406 in Peach Belt Conference play, which is sixth best in the league. AASU is 24-2 overall and 14-9 in PBAC play.

Pitcher of the Week honors went to former Harlem star Derek Beasley. The hard-nosed lefty improved to 9-0 with a solid outing versus Augusta State University. In the opener of a three-game series, Beasley went six innings, allowing just two hits and one run, while striking out 10 of 23 batters he faced. The victory also put USC-Aiken into first place in the Peach Belt.

For the season, Beasley has appeared in 11 games (nine starts) and is 9-0 with a 3.30 era. He also has 67 strikeouts in just 60 innings of work. The nine victories is tops in the league and his 67 strikeouts are good for sixth best in the PBAC.

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