Live: July's Pipeline Game of the Month heads to Durham

July 21st, 2022

This is a simple game. You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball. At least that’s what Joe Riggins would have you believe. In reality, it’s a lot more complicated than that, and we’re traveling down to Durham, N.C., to find out just how complicated.

The MLB Pipeline Game of the Month heads to Durham Bulls Athletic Park this Saturday for an International League matchup between Triple-A Durham and Norfolk beginning at 6:35 p.m. ET. The game will be streamed for free on MLB.TV, giving fans of Tampa Bay, Baltimore and prospects in general glimpses at the future of the AL East.

Neither infield will be filled with lollygaggers. In fact, three Top 100 prospects could feature on the dirt in Saturday’s contest.

Fresh off his appearance in last weekend’s Futures Game, Curtis Mead (MLB Pipeline’s No. 60 overall prospect) returns to the Bulls this week as he looks to cement his place as the best hitting prospect in the Rays system. The 21-year-old has slashed .294/.390/.538 over 70 games between Durham and Double-A Montgomery this season, building on his 2021 breakout.

As expected, the Australian native’s power has played a little better, and he needs only two more homers to match his entire output from the last season of 15. As a right-handed slugger, he could be either side’s best chance to win the classic Durham game “Hit Bull, Win Steak.”

Norfolk will boast the most prominent prospect name Saturday in No. 5 overall prospect Gunnar Henderson. The 21-year-old shortstop/third baseman has improved his plate discipline massively in 2022 and comes out of the All-Star break with a .294/.428/.540 line, 13 homers and 15 steals in 79 games between Norfolk and Double-A Bowie. His 74/63 K/BB ratio has been a big driver in his surge up the Top 100 ranks.

No. 93 Jordan Westburg has been even more impressive at Triple-A than he was at Double-A, slashing .304/.338/.565 with 20 extra-base hits in 32 games since joining the Tides on June 6.

Each month, members of the MLB Pipeline crew head to a Minor League stadium to provide fans with deeper coverage of an MLB.TV/MiLB.TV broadcast. In this case, Sam Dykstra and Kelsie Heneghan will be traveling to Durham, taking viewers on an Instagram Live tour of the DBAP and interviewing one top prospect (Mead, in this case) in a live Q&A. With any luck, we’ll get him to avoid cliches like “We’ve got to play them one day at a time,” and “Hope I can help the ballclub.”

Kelsie will also take viewers behind the scenes of a typical Saturday night game in Durham (featuring appearances by bat dog Ripken), and Sam will appear on the broadcast for some of the middle innings, bringing prospect knowledge to the MiLB.TV airwaves.

So when you speak of us, speak well.

Select Minor League games have been available to stream for free on MLB.TV all season long. All available games can always be watched on MiLB.TV every game night, and MLB.TV subscribers can get that service added on for only $25 through that link. Like candlesticks, MiLB.TV subscriptions always make for nice gifts.