Good Morning, and welcome to the show so far, part two! Today, we look at two of the four full-season minor league squads as they have completed their sixth week of play.
The end of May is one of the major landmarks in the minor league season, as organizations ready themselves for the upcoming MLB Draft and the beginning of the short-season leagues. It is a time when front offices begin to reshuffle rosters in anticipation of the personnel they will be gaining, along with the release of some players to create spaces.
The following is a team perspective of what has been happening both at Advanced-A and Low-A and what to expect at the next landmark, somewhere between the end of June and the Fourth of July.
Advanced-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans
The Numbers: 23-21, third place in the Carolina League Southern Division, 4.0 games behind division leader Buies Creek (Astros).
The Basics: Hitting- .240 average (9th), .300 OBP (10th), .373 slugging (7th tie), .673 OPS (10th), 68 doubles (7th tie), 8 triples (7th tie), 37 home runs (2nd), 168 RBI (6th), 13 stolen bases (10th)
Pitching – 3.77 ERA (3rd tie), 1.368 WHIP (7th), 194 runs allowed (5th), 351 strikeouts (6th), 144 walks (7th), 13 saves (2nd tie)
Defense - .974 fielding percentage (5h tie), 41 errors (6th), 27% caught stealing rate (10th)
The Good: The true hero of the Pelicans is veteran minor league manager Buddy Bailey. Bailey has taken a team with a below average offense and a somewhat average pitching staff and kept them in the hunt for first place. The biggest surprise is OF Daniel Spingola, who is currently sixth in the league with a .318 batting average, while his .928 OPS is fourth. Myrtle Beach also has three starters near the league’s top in ERA: Justin Steele at 2.65 (7th), Adbert Alzoay at 2.68 (8th), and Oscar De La Cruz at 3.24 (13th). Slow-developing prospect Bryant Flete has done well (.285, 3 home runs, 17 RBI) while RHP Dillon Maples (4-0, 2.55 ERA, 1.176 WHIP, 34 strikeouts) has pitched the best of his career.
The Bad: Way too many players look over-matched for this level. Outfielders Eddy Julio Martinez (.216) and Connor Myers (.123), along with infielders Carlos Sepulveda (.196) and Trent Giambrone (.212) have all struggled. Last year’s top draft pick, RHP Thomas Hatch (6.27 ERA) appears lost at times, while LHP reliever Tommy Thorpe (5.06 ERA) has been ineffective in his second tour of duty with the Pelicans. After having good years in 2016, RHP Kyle Miller (5.52) and LHP Ryan Kellogg (5.06) have had trouble duplicating their past success.
What to look for: Although the addition of OF Eloy Jimenez will add a spark, too many players are struggling to sustain any field success. The players doing poorly match well with players performing at Low-A South Bend, so swapping out players is not out of the question. The Pelicans recently had RHP Craig Brooks promoted to Double-A Tennesse, and the pitching staff is capable of surviving a few more promotions if the front office decides to shift a number of pitching prospects prior to the MLB Draft.
Low-A South Bend Cubs
The Numbers: 26-15, third place in the Midwest League Eastern Division, 3.5 games behind leader Dayton (Reds).
The Basics: Hitting- .257 average (2nd), .339 OBP (2nd), .379 slugging (6th), .718 OPS (4th), 76 doubles (4th), 17 triples (1st tie), 21 home runs (12th tie), 184 RBI (4th), 40 stolen bases (4th)
Pitching – 3.29 ERA (3rd), 1.253 WHIP (5th), 173 runs allowed (6th tie), 378 strikeouts (7th), 150 walks (11th), 10 saves (6th tie)
Defense - .964 fielding percentage (16th), 57 errors (16th), 36% caught stealing rate (7th)
The Good: The main story for South Bend boils down to four players: starter Dylan Cease, piggyback pitcher Duncan Robinson, reliever Dakota Mekkes, and infielder Zack Short. Short has been a revelation, as the seventeenth rounder leads the league in runs scored (35), tied for third in OBP (.423), tied for seventh in stolen bases (11), and ninth in OPS (.899). The high profile Cease is tied for second in strikeouts (54), while Robinson is sixth in ERA (1.34) and tied for eighth in WHIP (0.921). Tied for the team lead with 13 appearances, Mekkes is 2-0 with a save, a 0.79 ERA, 0.927 WHIP, and 30 strikeouts in 22.2 innings. The S-Cubs have also gotten good production out of their youngest players: twenty year old infielder Wladimir Galindo (.290 average), nineteen year old infielder Yeiler Peguero (.298), eighteen year old infielder Isaac Parades (.239) and twenty year old LHP Bryan Hudson (3.60 ERA). Former independent league OF Brandon Cummings (.280) could be a find.
The Bad: A highly athletic and much anticipated outfield has generally fallen flat, particularly CF DJ Wilson (.206). Luis Ayala (.254), Chris Pieters (.250) and Kevonte Mitchell (.239) have done only moderately better. After productive seasons last year, RHP Tyson Miller (4.31 ERA), LHP Jose Paulino (4.28), and RHP Manuel Rondon (4.72) have been less than stellar.
What to look for: One of the greatest assets of manager Jimmy Gonzalez is his ability to manage a roster to both distribute playing time and keep his team competitive. South Bend has only lost RHP’s Marc Huberman and Michael Rucker to promotion, but could probably lose a few more pitchers over the next few weeks. The addition of power hitting C/1B Michael Cruz to the roster could hint of a shake-up coming.
Filed under: Minor Leagues
Tags: Adbert Alzolay, Brandon Cummins, Bryan Hudson, Bryant Flete, Buddy Bailey, Carlos Sepulveda, Chris Pieters, Connor Myers, Craig Brooks, Dakota Mekkes, Daniel Spingola, Dillon Maples, DJ Wilson, Duncan Robinson, Dylan Cease, Eddy Julio Martinez, Eloy Jimenez, Isaac Paredes, Jimmy Gonzalez, Jose Paulino, Justin Steele, Kevonte Mitchell, Kyle Miller, Luis Ayala, Manuel Rondon, Marc Huberman, Michael Cruz, Michael Rucker, Oscar De La Cruz, Ryan Kellogg, Thomas Hatch, Tom U, Tommy Thorpe, Trent Giambrone, Tyson Miller, Wladimir Galindo, Yeiler Peguero, Zack Short