WHEN MYRTLE BEACH opened the 2014 season with four consecutive home losses against Salem, the Pelicans did not panic.
They simply woke up.
Specifically, uber-prospect Joey Gallo opened a lumberyard.
As a result, the Pelicans are in first place in the Southern Division of the Carolina League after rattling off seven consecutive wins. They were tied with Lynchburg for the league’s best record entering Tuesday’s games, most of which were canceled due to weather.
The Pelicans remain somewhat in the middle of the pack in terms of offensive and pitching production, but Gallo has carried the offense on his shoulders, putting together a week without peer. He is riding a six-game hitting streak. In that span, he is batting .429 with five home runs and 11 runs batted in.
He was the primary reason why the Pelicans repaid their debt to Salem with a 4-game sweep at LewisGale Field.
He undeniably was the Carolina League’s player of the week. Here’s a look at some others around the league who made waves … for good and bad reasons:
Glynn Davis (Frederick) – A close second to Gallo, for different reasons, is this undrafted outfielder. Davis has hit in every game this season and leads the league with a .458 batting average. In this very small sample size, he has yet to show a significant weakness. He is batting .500 against lefties and .450 against right-handers. He’s batting .452 at home and .471 away. And how about this? He had two or more hits in five of this past week’s seven games.
Erik Gonzalez (Carolina) – Here’s another non-drafted free agent who is putting together a reasonable facsimile of Davis. After starting the year with a .154 mark, Gonzalez is riding a seven-game hitting streak that has boosted his batting average to .319. He is batting .400 during the streak.
Courtney Hawkins (Winston-Salem) – Gallo wasn’t the only player who lit up Salem this week. Hawkins was 6 of 15 with two doubles and a mammoth home run against the Red Sox, driving in eight runs, including five in one game.
Christian Binford (Wilmington) – On an absolutely loaded Blue Rocks squad, you can be forgiven if you lost track of Binford among the glare of the team’s star power. He was front and center this past Saturday when he dominated Winston-Salem to the tune of seven scoreless innings of no-walk, 10-strikeout music. He has yet to be scored on this year while compiling a 0.67 WHIP.
Dylan Baker (Carolina) – The native Alaskan channeled the greatest player ever to emerge from that state during his first start of the season a week ago against Frederick. Posting numbers that would make Curt Schilling proud of his fellow northerner, Baker tossed six innings of no-hit baseball, walking none and fanning four before hitting his pitch count.
Bubba Starling (Wilmington) – His make-or-break season is not out to a good start. He did rip a three-run homer during this past week, but nonetheless was heavily criticized by ESPN’s Keith Law, who was in attendance that night. He had just two hits in seven games this past week and has four total, for a .103 batting average. The 15 strikeouts in 39 at-bats also does not bode well for the former first-round draft pick.
Brian Johnson (Salem) – Arguably Boston’s top prospect in Salem, Johnson has been wildly erratic to open the season. In two starts this past week, Johnson failed to get out of the fifth inning. He coughed up 11 runs on 15 hits in those 8.2 innings, ballooning his ERA to 7.24 . On the bright side, he leads the league with 20 strikeouts
WEIRD PERFORMANCE(s) OF THE WEEK
There are two contenders for this one. First up is Potomac starter Nick Lee. Against Carolina on Sunday, Lee recorded just five outs, but four were by strikeout. He allowed just one hit, but thanks to five walks, he was tagged for five runs in the Nationals’ 12-2 defeat. Next up is Myrtle Beach starter Cody Buckel. Perhaps showing just how hot the Pelicans are right now, they defeated Wilmington 6-5 this past Thursday despite Buckel failing to record an out in the second inning. He faced three batters, walking all three and left the game with six walks total in one official inning of work. Amazingly, only one of those free passes turned into a run.