Rookie phenomena

Fresh faces complement graybeards on Chiefs roster

"The California Cannon" may have split the scene here in Syracuse, but the Chiefs boast firepower to spare both on the mound and at the plate.

Pitcher Stephen Strasburg proved a truly rare rookie, baffling batters with flaming fastballs and curling curves. The Washington Nationals called up the Cannon to make his major-league debut June 8 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, of whom he whiffed 14. Now fans in our nation's capital are as amazed as we were.

But Strasburg isn't the only talented rookie who performed remarkably well for the first-place Chiefs this season.

Right-handed starters Jeff Mandel and Erik Arnesen, both 25, have helped stabilize the rotation. Over 33 innings, Mandel has allowed just two home runs, has won two and lost two, while walking 12 and striking out 21. Arnesen's walks-to-strikeouts ratio is equally impressive at five walks and 10 strikeouts over 14 innings of work.

Southpaw reliever Atahualpa Severino, 25, has excelled at this level. He's 3-0, with one save while walking 11 and whiffing 22 over 32 innings. Severino has served up only one homer and posts an enviable 3.09 ERA.

Other Chiefs' rookies are making their mark at bat and on the basepaths.

Catcher Sean Rooney, 24, hit his first Triple-A double June 6 against Durham at Alliance Bank Stadium and then showed his versatility by pitching the ninth inning in the next day's 12-3 loss. (Rooney was demoted to Harrisburg June 11.)

Outfielder Marvin Lowrance, who turns 26 on July 16, has notched 14 hits in 19 games in his first season in the International League. In his first 35 Triple-A games, catcher Devin Ivany, 27, has smacked 23 hits and seven doubles.

In his second year of Triple-A, outfielder Leonard Davis is converting to second base, while maintaining a reliable.250 average.

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