Season in Review: 2015 Kannapolis Intimidators

The Kannapolis Intimidators were 64-74 and finished fifth in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division.

The big hindrance to Kannapolis’ success this year was an overall good thing – many of their top players were promoted. Towards the end of the year, the Intimidators’ offense became rougher and rougher. All in all, they improved from 2014’s 62-75 record, but it was an otherwise unremarkable year for Kannapolis.

OFFENSE

Eddy Alvarez was far and away the best hitter for the Intimidators this year, with the shortstop hitting .285/.408/.409 in 410 plate appearances before he was promoted to Winston-Salem. For Kannapolis, Alvarez struck out 68 times, which is made even more impressive when you learn the former Olympian walked 69 times. Fans can expect to see him make a small jump in Future Sox’s post-season prospect rankings.

Brett Austin was the other All-Star this year for Kannapolis. Austin is probably most famous for being Carlos Rodon‘s battery-mate in college, but it will be a long time before they’re reunited on the diamond. Austin hit .201/.284./.317 in 335 plate appearances while striking 74 times and walking 35.

Mason Robbins and Louie Lechich led the team in plate appearances and put up very similar numbers by hitting  .253/.305/.361 and .263/.281/.340 respectively. Lechich led the team with six home runs and 71 RBIs.

Christian Stringer was limited to 249 plate appearances, but he hit .288/.356/.767 in that time frame. The 24-year old left the team in June due to injury and did not return.

PITCHING

The Kannapolis pitching started off the year very strong, highlighted by Jordan Guerrero‘s pure dominance to begin the season. Guerrero struck out 60 batters to 10 walks in only 55 innings while sporting an stellar 0.94 WHIP. Guerrero, and his 2.28 ERA, was inevitably promoted to Winston-Salem, along with some of the other rotation stalwarts.

Spencer Adams pitched well after making adjustments early on. Adams had a WHIP of 1.22 and only struck out 6.6 batters per nine innings, but he out-dueled last year’s No. 2 draft pick Tyler Kolek a number of times in regular season match-ups. Being 19, everything that Adams provided statistically was encouraging, including his low walk total of 11 (in 100 IP) and ERA of 3.24.

Yency Almonte was the third big-name pitcher to get promoted from Kannapolis during the season. Almonte had an ERA of 3.88 in his 16 starts for the team and he struck out 6.9 batters per nine innings while sporting a WHIP of 1.27. The trio will likely form the core of Winston-Salem’s rotation going into next year.

Thaddius Lowry and Luis Martinez started the most games for the Intimidators with 26 and 24 starts respectively. Both struck out roughly five-and-a-half batters per nine innings but from there Lowry had far more control. Lowry had a 4.48 ERA with a 1.31 WHIP and a pretty high 2.35 strikeouts per walk. Martinez was worse in each category – 5.38 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 1.30 SO/W.

Matt Cooper had a great year closing games for Kannapolis with a 1.59 ERA in 39.2 innings pitched – striking out 64 batters with a huge 14.5 K/9 and 7.1 strikeouts per walk. He also had a stellar WHIP of 0.73. He too was deservedly promoted to Winston-Salem during the season.

Zack Erwin was a late-season promotion from rookie-ball and delivered big in A-ball. The 2015 draftee only allowed four runs in his 19 innings of work, had a WHIP of 1.00 and struck out 7.1 batters per nine innings.

David Trexler, who made the back end of our top prospect list last year, fell off with a 4.93 ERA and 1.514 WHIP as he walked 4.8 batters per nine innings, though he did strikeout an impressive 9.9 batters per 9.

All-in-all, it was a disappointing finish to the year for Kannapolis as their best players kept getting promoted. Fortunately, they’ll be getting some fresh blood next year from the champion AZL White Sox and Great Falls.

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