2011 Kannapolis Season in Review

The Kannapolis Intimidators just missed out on the South Atlantic League playoffs, losing on the last day of the season to come up a half game short. Despite that disappointment it was a decent year for Kannapolis. The Intimidators had a winning record in both halves, going 37-31 in the first half and 39-31 in the second for a respectable 76-62 overall record.

Kannapolis was given a decent number of highly rated White Sox prospects to start the season. Trayce Thompson, Jacob Petricka and Addison Reed were all in the top 10 of our 2010 postseason rankings and Ryan Buch, Matt Heidenreich and Mike Blanke were elsewhere in the top 25. Petricka, Reed, Buch and Blanke each earned promotions and will be talked about more in season reviews for other teams. Other notables included the team’s top 2011 draft pick, Keenyn Walker, catcher Miguel Gonzalez and pitcher Steven Upchurch.

Offense (team ranks out of 14 teams)
Team stats: .263 avg (6th), .729 OPS (6th), 5.05 runs per game (5th)
Top hitters: Brady Shoemaker (.319/.399/.493), Dan Black (.286/.354/.496), Juan Silverio (.289/.341/.459), Trayce Thompson (.241/.329/.457)

In a park that leans towards helping pitching, the Intimidators’ offense did fine. It all started with Dan Black. The 24-year-old led the league with 41 doubles and 98 RBI. He’s probably just organizational filler, but the Purdue product was extremely valuable. Shoemaker, who was repeating the level, won the SAL batting title and was promoted in late June.

Thompson, 20, showed massive power with 24 home runs, good for third in the league, and led the league with 95 runs scored. Unfortunately he also had a league-high 172 strikeouts. Thompson showed progress in his plate discipline, drawing 60 walks. Hopefully next year the contact will improve to make Thompson a complete prospect because power like his at 20 is rare.

Kannapolis lost a few hitters to promotion and the draft helped to restock the team, filling the lineup with a number of intriguing players. Keenyn Walker, 21, had a frightening strikeout rate after joining the team from Great Falls. It might be early to hit the panic button, but needless to say 64 strikeouts in 180 plate appearances is a red flag.

Marcus Semien (6th round pick), Carlos Sanchez (US debut), Collin Kuhn (17th round pick) and Rangel Ravelo (6th round pick in 2010) joined the team in the second half and each some some level of potential. Semien and Sanchez each put up one good and one rough month from the middle infield. Semien, 20, got off to a hot start, but hit a wall in August while Sanchez, 19, went the other way after struggling upon his arrival to the SAL. Sanchez’s overall numbers aren’t thrilling, but he was the youngest player on the team. Kuhn, 22, is an athletic outfielder that showed good power and discipline while Ravelo was kind of the opposite, showing a very high average (.317 with Kanny) but little else. At 19, Ravelo is definitely one to watch if he can develop some pop.

Infielders Ross Wilson, 22, and Drew Lee, 23, also had decent seasons before injuries and the arrival or Semien and Sanchez limited their playing time. With all these players having average or better seasons in Kannapolis, it will be scary to see what they can put up in Winston-Salem’s hitter friendly park, especially Thompson.

Pitching
Team stats: 3.67 ERA (3rd), 1025 strikeouts (t-9th), 399 walks (10th), 4.33 runs per game (3rd)

Top pitchers: Spencer Arroyo (3.70 ERA, 130 K, 41 BB in 170.1 IP), Matt Heidenreich (4.32 ERA, 101 K, 31 BB in 154.1 IP), Jake Wilson (1.47 ERA, 62 K, 25 BB in 49 IP), Terance Marin (1.99 ERA, 38 K, 11 BB in 49.2 IP)

Once Buch and Petricka got promoted to Winston-Salem after eight starts each the Kannapolis rotation became a merry-go-round of pitchers. Only two starters remained in the rotation for the entire season, Arroyo and Heidenreich. Both right handers had ten wins to lead the team.

24-year-old Paul Burnside had a dominant stretch in late May into June before an injury ended his season. Upchurch had an inconsistent season before winding up in the bullpen in the second half when Phil Negus filled his spot. Dexter Carter, on his second stint in the organization, wasn’t able to find the magic he had with the Intimidators in 2009.

Jon Bachanov, a supplemental pick of the Angels in 2007, joined in July with decent results (3.12 ERA, 31 K, 14 BB in 40.1 IP). At 22 there is still hope for him to hone the talent that made him a high draft pick out of high school.

Wilson and Marin were among the highlights of the bullpen. Chris Bassitt, drafted in the 16th round this June, earned a promotion from Bristol and posted the best peripherals on the team (1.75 ERA, 30 K, 7 BB in 25.2 IP). Nick McCully also was valuable out of the pen.

The Intimidators had a lot of guys that could become prospects, but aren’t quite there yet. Some of the pitchers had good years, but don’t excite scouts. On the hitting side there is more potential, but every player had a major question mark. There is no sure fire top prospect there, but there could be sleepers like Ravelo or Sanchez. Expect the winning record to translate similarly in Winston-Salem.

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