We’ll kick off our coverage of the International League’s third week of the season by congratulating the winners of the league’s respective awards.
Greg Smith of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (PHI) threw seven innings of four-hit ball with six strikeouts this week, chalking up a complete game in a seven-inning half of a double header. The 30-year-old journeyman who hasn’t seen the majors since 2010, is off to a great start to the season with three runs allowed on nine hits and three walks in 11 2/3 innings of work, striking out nine.
On the hitting side, 26-year-old left fielder J.D. Martinez of the Toledo Mud Hens (DET) took the award, smashing an insane six home runs and hitting .318. His slugging percentage was 1.182 this week: yes, all of his seven hits were for extra bases (the seventh was a double). Throw in three walks and just five strikeouts (a very respectable percentage for a slugger like Martinez) and what do you get? A promotion to the major leagues. The 2009 draft pick was released in March by the Astros but signed just two days later by the Tigers who are looking to reap their rewards. Congrats, J.D.
Pawtucket Red Sox (11-8) lead the North division, the closest (and most mediocre) division in the league. No team is more than three games above or below .500 and none are on a winning or losing streak longer than two games. Last place Syracuse is only three games behind Pawtucket.
Durham Bulls (14-5) have the best record in the International League and have a two game lead over the Gwinnett Braves. The Tampa-affiliated Bulls are dominating on the road with an 8-1 record and are 8-2 over their last 10. The Rays must be preaching patience at the plate because the Bulls lead the league in OBP and walks on the way to their leading OPS. They’re also able to mash with the second most home runs and second best slugging percentage. The Bulls also have the best WHIP in the league, the second best ERA and have a gigantic lead in strikeouts. Good pitching plus good defense equals a whole lotta wins.
Pittsburgh-affiliated Indianapolis Indians (12-5) are leading the West division and have the biggest lead of the division leaders (three games over Louisville). Indianapolis also has an outstanding record on the road (8-2) but they’re in the middle of the pack when it comes to pitching categories. While they’re not hitting home runs (they only have seven in 17 games), they do have the second highest batting average and on-base percentage in the league.
Buffalo’s Bobby Korecky is the winner of the “who’s gone the most innings without allowing a run” competition. Korecky’s 14 innings for the Bisons makes for an intriguing line. He’s given up ten hits and five walks and has 14 strikeouts.
Gregory Polanco and Philip Gosselin both are still hitting over .400 for the season. I’m sure you’ve heard about Polanco, but Gosselin, 25, seems to collect hits in bunches. Over the past week, he’s only hit in three games but collected a total of six hits in those three games.
Durham’s Vince Belnome is now the owner of the league’s worst batting average at .129. He does have 11 walks to give him a .260 OBP and he has three hits in the last week.