The Great Falls Voyagers kicked off their season yesterday, and today is the turn of the Bristol White Sox. The BriSox start their run at the Appalachian League title tonight against the Elizabethton Twins.
2009 in review:
The Bristol White Sox are coming off of a disappointing 2009 season in which they finished with a 27-39 record. They finished second from bottom in the league in runs scored and OPS, with Brady Shoemaker (.351/.426/.585) and Miguel Gonzalez (.311/.385/.503) the only two players to post an OPS above .800. The pitching was better, as they finished mid pack in ERA, WHIP and SO. Steven Upchurch (3-10, 6.95 ERA) and Charlie Delk (3-7, 6.22 ERA) were low points of the '09 rotation, with Joe Serafin (4-1, 1.64 ERA) one of the better performers. The bullpen was very strong with the likes of Santos Rodriguez (1.33 ERA), Phil Negus (2.38 ERA), Brent DeFoor (2.31 ERA) and Daniel Wiltz (2.78 ERA). All in all though, the 2009 season was not one to remember for the Bristol Sox.
Ryan Buch will be pitching out of the rotation for the BriSox, after relieving up to this point in his pro career. His control is very erratic but his stuff is legit. If he can keep the walks in check he should be able to dominate hitters at this level.
Matt Heidenreich was an early round pick last year and has good upside. I expect we'll see him start this year after he pitched out of the bullpen last season.
Darwin Matos was someone I highlighted as having real potential from the 2009 DSL team. I'm very interested to see how he performs this year, perhaps more so than anyone else on this team.
Jacob Petricka was the second round selection of the Sox this year. He has good upside and a great fastball. I'm curious to see whether they develop him as a starter or a reliever. If they choose relief, he could move quickly.
Jamaal Hollis is a deep sleeper to watch. He's a relief pitcher with a live arm.
Dan Black's move to catcher is an interesting one. I liked his bat coming out of the draft last year but he was considered a player without a position. He does have some experience behind the plate and he should be a good producer at this level.
Josh Phegley is returning from injury and shouldn't be long for this level. It's great to see him make his return to baseball action.
Sean O'Connell has a cannon for an arm and Chase Blackwood provides valuable experience for the young pitchers.
Daurys Mercedes makes his stateside debut after a couple of seasons with the DSL Sox. He has some pop, a decent contact ability and put up a .319/.410/.473 line with the DSL Sox last year.
Rangel Ravelo was the 6th round pick by the Sox this year. He has the potential to hit for good power and average, but he may be a little too raw at this point to star for Bristol here in 2010.
Tyler Saladino is a very good defensive SS with a solid bat. He should prove to be a good player at this level and one of the better hitters on this team.
Mike Schwartz is a walk machine (75 BB at Tampa this year) with some power and Drew Lee put up great numbers (.412/.485/.765) at Morehead State.
Harold Baines, Jr.
Not the most inspiring group of outfielders. Jose Martinez has the most potential of the bunch. He hasn't played in about 2 years now though, but hopefully we see him in action this season.
Anthony Casario and Harold Baines were both very mediocre hitters for the BriSox last year.
J.D. Ashbrook put up good numbers this year at Morehead State, but who knows how he'll handle the transition to pro ball.
I think the Bristol White Sox are a better team this year than there were last year and they look a well balanced team with good offensive and pitching potential. The outfield looks weak, although Jose Martinez could provide a nice spark if he's back to full health. There is good potential in the infield, with Saladino, Ravelo and Lee in particular and the catching position could prove a strength, especially if Dan Black hits up to his ability. I like the pitching and there are a number of good arms on this team with the likes of Petricka, Matos, Buch and Heidenreich, who I hope will all be pitching out of the rotation. I think the 2010 BriSox have a chance to be a contending team and they have more experienced college players this year than they have in the past. I like the potential of the pitching more than the offense, but there are a number of players to watch on both sides of the ball.