Thanks to the great work done at MiLB.com, some great stories are passed along that might otherwise go under the radar. One of these stories is the first complete-game shutout delivered by 30-year-old righty Derek Hankins, currently with the Toledo Mud Hens (DET). Hankins, a 6-foot-4 righty who was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 10th round of the 2004 draft and has pitched with three organizations (Pittsburgh, Texas and Detroit) and has never pitched in the major leagues. This year has been a bit rough for the Illinois native as he’s got a 5.22 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 39 2/3 innings but has only walked six batters and struck out 16.
27-year-old lefty Charles Leesman earned the pitcher of the week award for an outstanding performance against the Buffalo Bisons, going eight innings and allowing just four hits and two walks with nine strikeouts. Leesman has been excellent in Charlotte after a rocky start with Chicago White Sox: he’s thrown 37 innings with a 1.70 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP and 31 strikeouts and 13 walks.
Matt Carson, a 32-year-old outfielder in the Indians organization, won the Player of the Week award as a member of the Columbus Clippers. Carson’s line this week was pretty good: he slashed .550/.609/1.050 in six games, going 11 for 20 with six extra-base hits including four doubles and two home runs. His overall stats are a career best for him, with a .307/.395/.465 triple slash line after 120 plate appearances.
Not much has changed at the top of the divisions. The Buffalo Bisons (TOR) lost several games over this past week to the Gwinnett Braves and have slipped into a virtual tie with the Pawtucket Red Sox (BOS) for first in the International League North Division although the Bisons have a lead based on percentage points and own the best winning percentage in the IL (.600).
In the South, the Durham Bulls (TB) are in the lead with a 22-17 record but Gwinnett is just one game behind. In the West, the Indianapolis Indians (PIT) have slid to a 3-7 record over the past 10 games and, combined with the Columbus Clippers (CLE) going 7-3 over that same span, have seen their lead dwindle to just a half-game in the division.
Glimmers of Hope
In this segment, we’re going to look at the best players on some of the worst teams in the league.
The Norfolk Tides (BAL) and the Charlotte Knights (CWS) have the worst records, going 13-24 so far and are both eight games out of the lead in the South Division. The best every day player for the Tides is Ivan De Jesus who is hitting .306/.423/.412 with as many walks (18) as strikeouts. On the pitching side, Kevin Gausman is pitching very well with a 2.08 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in 26 innings. He’s just returned from a bout of pneumonia and struck out six in 4 2/3 innings in his last outing.
For the Knights, if you go by batting average, the top hitter is Carlos Sanchez, the White Sox’ #9 prospect (on our own list) who’s hitting .282 with a .364 OBP and .344 SLG. Catcher Josh Phegley leads in OPS at .804 while Andy Wilkins leads in home runs with seven despite a .197 batting average. The top hitting prospect on the team, 3B Matt Davidson, is struggleing to the tune of a .174/.240/.321 line. Charlie Leesman, the IL Pitcher of the Week is obviously the staff ace while Erik Johnson has been outstanding since his demotion from Chicago, striking out 17 and walking just two in 19 innings.
The Louisville Bats (CIN) are also struggling with a 16-21 record. Ruben Gotay is leading the club in OPS at .895 and has a strong .300/.359/.536 slash line with 16 extra-base hits that includes a club-leading eight home runs for the 31 year old Puerto Rican third baseman. Felix Perez and Kristopher Negron are the only two other regulars with OPSs above .700. Big league vet Jeff Francis and 26-year-old Josh Smith lead the club’s pitching staff. Francis has a 3.33 EAR and 1.32 WHIP with 45 Ks and 12 BBs in 48 2/3 innings while Smith has better numbers in his rate stats and slightly worse in his K/BB stats (45 1/3 IP, 2.58 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 17 BB, 36 Ks).