JPNese 4/27

In his second installment of JPNese, John Norris talks about some Barons hitters who are starting to turn it around, the attitude of Cole Armstrong and Charlie Shirek’s fine form. 

Baseball is a brotherhood, and Barons catcher Cole
Armstrong didn’t care for our home fans heckling Jacksonville Suns
pitcher Jeff Allison last week.  Allison has a similar story to Texas
Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton.  He’s now working his way back up the
ladder in the Marlins system.  I can’t lie and say I didn’t provide the
ammo, but I didn’t fan the flames.  While it was humorous, Cole shut it
down, asking one fan to “lay off” when Allison was removed from the

Like I said last week, there is hope.  While
the 10 games below .500 record doesn’t show much progress, some of the
Barons hitters are coming around.  Now, I certainly don’t expect this
team to make the playoffs, but they are more than capable of playing
.500 ball.

Christian Marrero has to be a big part of
the offense for Birmingham.  Even though he got off to a ice cold start,
he continues to draw walks in droves.  That patience has paid
off, as he’s caught fire over the past week.  Christian certainly wasn’t
having poor at-bats at all during his cold streak.  Balls just weren’t
falling in or just coming up short for him.  Considering the breakout
year he had in 2009, there are a lot of expectations for Marrero to
continue that into 2010.  Watching him so far this year, I still think
he’s capable of repeating his success from the previous year.

Also starting to come around is Jim Gallagher.  Although he’s not
really considered a prospect, Gallagher could project to be a Ross Gload
type in my estimation.  Unlike Marrero, Gallagher was struggling
mightily, not drawing walks or having productive at-bats.  Frustration
was setting in for him, he was furious with himself when he struck out
with runners in scoring position in a close game last week.  But he did
turn it around by flashing some power, hitting 2 home runs in consecutive
games during the last homestand.

With 3-hitter Jim
Gallagher and 5-hole-hitter Christian Marrero finally starting to come
to life, this has helped cleanup hitter Brent Morel be more productive. 
I stated last week and I still think that it’s possible Morel’s numbers
could suffer greatly if the rest of the Barons lineup doesn’t produce
around him.  Morel was hitting the ball hard, but as with Marrero,
nothing was falling in.  Lots of line drives caught.

The other good news to report is that Charlie Shirek continues to pitch
well.  Personally I think that Shirek is a dark horse, under the radar
pitching prospect that could have a future out of the White Sox
bullpen.  While it’s been documented that he doesn’t get a lot of
strikeouts, he produces a lot of groundballs.  There is definitely a
niche for pitchers like Charlie as relievers.  In a home park like U.S.
Cellular, Shirek could be an all star 6th or 7th inning guy.

The biggest issue the Barons are struggling with in every game is the
dreaded LOB.  The Barons have played a lot of close games so far this
year.  In close games, you have to drive the runners in, and that’s been
the achilles heel.  Stranding runners in scoring position when they’re
down by a run or two.  Basically, the Barons are a few clutch hits away
from having a drastically different record.  So, there is hope after
all.  The team can only look to the 2008 Mississippi Braves.  The 2008
M-Braves started off the season horrendously, but turned it around in
the second half and won the Southern League crown.  There’s time for the
2010 Birmingham Barons to right the ship.  Until next time…



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  • What kind of velocity has Shirek been hitting?

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