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Sky Sox prospects flash talent in season-opening victory

April 6, 2017 Updated: April 7, 2017 at 9:18 am
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The Sky Sox team runs onto the field for the start of their 2017 season Thursday, April 6, 2017, at Security Service Field in Colorado Springs, Colo. The Sky Sox played the Omaha Storm Chasers. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Ryan Cordell fouled off a pitch off the end of the bat and the Sky Sox outfielder's fingers paid the numbing price on a frigid night at Security Service Field.

"I told the catcher, 'I don't know if I'm going to be able to hold onto my bat,'" Cordell said.

He then slammed the next pitch over the left-field wall.

"Maybe I should try to do that more often," added Cordell, whose first two Triple-A at-bats included an RBI double and the solo home run.

Cordell's blast and a 2-1 Colorado Springs victory over Omaha in Thursday's season opener provided a fitting glimpse at a collection of touted - if yet unvarnished - prospects and hinted that this group's raw ability might sometimes be enough to help it through some stretches that don't go perfectly to script.

The best example was starting pitcher Josh Hader, considered Milwaukee's No. 2 prospect a top-35 player in the minor leagues.

Hader cruised through the first two innings, striking out three of the first six batters as a 95 MPH fastball from the left side proved overpowering. But then his control wavered, as to be expected as fingers grow cold for a pitcher who's been tossing for the past eight weeks in the Arizona's 80-degree weather.

But Hader coaxed a double play to escape a jam in the third, then stranded runners in scoring position in the fourth and fifth en route to five scoreless innings that included just one hit, six strikeouts and five walks.

"He struggled with (his control), but you could tell he had his composure and he had control of what he was doing," manager Rick Sweet said. "He didn't just blow up. He stayed focused and made pitches when he had to."

Cordell provided all the run support, but other top prospects contributed. Center fielder Lewis Brinson had a single, drew a walk and stole a base.

Right fielder Brett Phillips went 1-for-3 in his first game at this level. The Sky Sox out hit Omaha 8-2.

Then, this new team celebrated together.

"It's a new group of guys and this is their thing," Sweet said. "Every team I've ever had, they come up with something when they win. They come up with a song or they've got something going on. I saw they pulled out the ball. This is not a spur of the moment thing, they put some thought into this."

BRINSON LEAVES WITH INJURY

Sky Sox center fielder Lewis Brinson, the top prospect in the Brewers' organization, left Thursday's season opener after a stolen base in the fifth inning.

Brinson slid headfirst into second base and immediately called for a trainer to look at his left (non-throwing) pinkie before exiting.

Manager Rick Sweet said the team wouldn't know the extent of the injury until X-rays were performed on Friday.

Brinson went 1-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base from the leadoff spot. He was also picked off in the third inning.

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