published Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Chattanooga Lookouts' second-half look similar

Chattanooga Lookouts pitcher Nathan Eovaldi pitches the ball in this file photo.
Chattanooga Lookouts pitcher Nathan Eovaldi pitches the ball in this file photo.
Photo by Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The three-day break between the first and second halves of the Southern League season is often a time for big-league organizations to perform a slew of player transactions within their farm systems.

Or not.

The well-rested Chattanooga Lookouts begin the second half tonight against Pensacola at AT&T Field, and they are expected to have a roster nearly identical to the one that finished the first half. Two Lookouts, starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and reliever Shawn Tolleson, were promoted to the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first half.

"There will be some changes, but nothing drastic," Dodgers farm director DeJon Watson said. "You're always looking for these guys to get better and to shrink down the holes on a club. They've been exposed to the league, and they will have a better understanding of what's in front of them.

"They've accumulated more knowledge about the league, and they should be better off going forward."

The Lookouts lost seven of their final 20 games in the first half and wound up with a 32-36 record, which placed them fourth in the North Division behind Jackson (42-28), Huntsville (35-35) and Tennessee (35-35).

Chattanooga had seven representatives in Tuesday night's all-star game, with all seven making their first appearance. Infielder J.T. Wise, outfielder Blake Smith, starting pitcher Matt Magill and reliever Red Patterson had never played in Double-A before this season, and it would not be surprising if the Dodgers wanted each of them to stay with the Lookouts all summer.

The biggest name on the horizon continues to be starting pitcher Zach Lee, the former LSU quarterback commitment who began this season as Baseball America's top organizational prospect. Watson said before the season that he expected Lee to be in Chattanooga at some point this summer.

Lee is 2-2 with a 4.30 earned run average in 11 starts this year with Rancho Cucamonga in the high Single-A California League.

"He had a little groin injury, and he's coming back from that," Watson said. "His velocity has been great, and he has taken another step as far as the command of his fastball. For him, it's really finishing and establishing those secondary pitches and really dominating the competition at the level that he's at currently.

"He's right on time for us as far as what we're seeing, and if he hadn't had the setback, we would have a little clearer picture. We're still trying to assess where he is, but he had a sound first half."

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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