Feb 20, 2014; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Ismael Guillon (74) poses for a photo during Photo Day at Cincinnati Reds Player Development Complex. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Week in Review: Midwest League Week 4

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While weather has been wreaking havoc on many schedules throughout the minor leagues, the Midwest League is still getting the majority of their games in.

League Awards

Venezuelan lefty Ismael Guillon had a terrific outing for the Dayton Dragons last week, allowing just two hits in seven innings while striking out 11 on Wednesday. Despite giving up three runs (two earned) in his most recent outing against the Lansing Lugnuts, Guillon still has a 1.59 ERA with a 0.78 WHIP and 31 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings on the year. The only real blemish is a 3.8 BB/9 ratio although that is far below what he did last year in the same league (7.0 BB/9).

A 23rd round pick of the Houston Astros in 2013, Thomas Lindauer earned the Player of the Week award for the Midwest League. Lindauer, who played in the Appalachian League and New York-Penn League last season has been dominating so far this year, getting a late start to his season but hitting .346/.346/.654 in his six games, hitting two doubles and two home runs for the Quad Cities River Bandits.

Division Leaders

The Dayton Dragons now top the Eastern Division with a 16-9 record and a 1.5 game lead on the Great Lakes Loons. Dayton is getting the job done with the best pitching in the league, posting a 2.52 team ERA through 25 games, followed closely by the West Michigan White Caps. While they don’t strike out the most batters (that honor belongs to South Bend), they are near the top of the league in WHIP (1.20) and have allowed the fewest runs in the entire Midwest League.

In the West, the Kane County Cougars took a 7-3 run in the last ten games and have the Midwest League’s best record at 18-7. The Cougars are sitting near the top of the league in offensive categories but they are by no means an elite team in that regard. Their pitching has been strong, with a 3.26 ERA (fourth best in the league) but, again, are not particularly impressive in any single area of the game. They’re actually outperforming their pythagorean record of 16-9 by two games at the moment.

Individual Accomplishments

There have been several pitching performances over the past week including six one-hit innings from Cedar Rapids Kernels’ Kohl Stewart, eight three-hit innings from West Michigan White Caps’ Kevin Ziomek, six scoreless from Taylor Williams of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and 6 2/3 one-hit innings from Blake Perry of the South Bend Silver Hawks.

With Kendall Graveman now in High-A Dunedin, Nick Petree leads the league in ERA at 1.29. Aaron Blair of South Bend is tied for the lead in strikeouts with 43, shared by Buck Farmer of the West Michigan White Caps. Farmer has hit that number in two fewer innings and has one fewer walk. Kohl Stewart has the best WHIP in the league at 0.75 in 20 innings while Jacob Faria of Bowling Green has a 0.77 WHIP in 27 1/3 innings with a 1.98 ERA.

On the hitting side of things, Clinton catcher Marcus Littlewood leads the league in hitting with a .379 batting average although he has almost 50 fewer at bats than his closest competitor, Great Lakes’ Joey Curletta, hitting .368. Mitch Garver (Great Lakes) shares the league lead in home runs with Eric Haase of Lake County; both have five home runs. Clint Coulter leads the league in OPS at 1.065 with Garver trailing by 24 points. For those of who who love the stolen base, Malcolm Holland of the Great Lakes Looks has a clear lead in that category with 21 (and only 2 caught stealing) despite a .220 batting average. His 23 walks (tied for the league lead with Sebastian Elizalde of Dayton) gives him an excellent .387 OBP despite the low average.

Turning Things Around?

The hottest team in the Midwest League is the Lansing Lugnuts who are 8-2 over their last 10 games and are charging hard, sitting just four games back of Eastern Division leading Dayton. The Lugnuts’ are righting the ship after a slow start that can be explained by the youth of their core players and how the young prospects are starting to adapt to better competition in their first exposure to full-season baseball.

The Lugnuts have one of the most prospect-laden rosters of any in the Midwest League with  eight of MLB.com’s Top 20 prospects including Alberto Tirado, Mitch Nay, Tom Robson, Chase DeJong, Jairo Labourt, Adonys Cardona and Dawel Lugo. This group has had a slow start and has seen Labourt sent back to extended spring training and Cardona go on the DL. DeJong has three solid outings in a row under his belt and Robson had his best start of the year yesterday. Nay is hitting around the .300 mark and hasn’t even hit a home run yet despite his elite levels of raw power. Lugo, only 19, started off very slowly with the bat but has begun to turn things around in the past week while D.J. Davis has shown flashes of his speed, power and defense.

Even more young players will get a chance to help out the Lugnuts with the promotion of former MWL Pitcher of the Week Kendall Graveman to High-A Dunedin. Joining the roster are LHP Shane Dawson, RHP Adaric Kelly and RHP Yeyfry Del Rosario. The Lugnuts added last season’s Northwest League MVP to their roster on Monday, getting the big bat of L.B. Dantzler to further thicken an already potentially explosive lineup.

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