THERE ARE A number of recent call-ups and additions from June’s draft who are beginning to make their presence felt around the Carolina League as the schedule heads into its home stretch.
First-rounder Brandon Finnegan already has come and gone from Wilmington. Drafted by the Kansas City Royals, the TCU product toyed with his opponents to such a degree (5 inning, 1 hit, 2 walks, 13 strikeouts) that the Royals moved him to Double-A with an eye on possibly sticking him in the big club’s bullpen next month.
Salem Red Sox third baseman Carlos Asuaje is a mere 14 games into his promotion from Greenville, but after collecting three hits Tuesday evening, he’s batting a solid .328. This after starting his Salem stint 1 for 13.
What of the guys who have stuck it out all season? How to the individual statistics races stack up as the schedule dwindles? Let’s have a look. Keep in mind, though, that some of these leaders are no longer around, but as of now still qualify in their given category.:
Michael Burgess (FRE) .315 – We’re going to see a lot of Burgess in this report, so we won’t dwell on his batting average too much, other than to point out he’s got a 13-point advantage over No. 2 on this list. He’s not going to get any worse – Burgess was promoted last week to Double-A Bowie.
Jerrud Sabourin (CAR) .302 – Sabourin had a failed stint at Double-A, hitting .152 at Akron. Back in the Carolina League, he’s hitting .333 over his past 10 games and carries an eight-game hitting streak into Wednesday’s contest.
Shawn Pleffner (POT), Reed Gragnani (SAL), Nick Williams (MB) .298 – For a time, this race was Gragnani’s to lose. Well, he lost it. Gragnani was hitting .326 at the All-Star break. Since then, it’s .239 and over his past 10 games, Gragnani is managing a measly .114. Pleffner has been somewhat steady, batting .312 before the break and .283 after, but hit exactly .298 in July before kicking it up a notch to .313 in a small August sample. He’s hitting .317 in his last 10 games. Like Gragnani, Williams is suffering from the summer fade. The Rangers farmhand dazzled in May (.356) and June (.348), but has wilted ever since. He has hit just .175 over his past 10 games.
Joey Gallo (MB) 21 – You, of course, remember this guy. Nabbed all is fence-busters in 58 games prior to the All-Star break. The promotion to Double-A Frisco has barely slowed the premium power prospect. In 48 games, Gallo has 16 swats, giving him 37 overall. His batting average is down 53 points (.323 to .270) and he’s striking out like crazy (83 in 178 at-bats), so his fast-track to Arlington is going to stop for inspection.
Courtney Hawkins (WS) 17 – The White Sox’s No. 1 prospect in 2013 lost some of his luster when he had to repeat at Winston-Salem, but all in all, it looks like his redux will be sufficient for advancement in 2015. His average is up 77 points (.178 to .255) while his power numbers look to be steady (19 in 2014). His strikeout rate remains flat to last year, but his walk rate is up and his defense has made gains. Can he catch Gallo? It will be fun to watch.
Oscar Tejeda (POT) 16 – Tejeda won’t be a threat to Hawkins as he earned a promotion to Double A at the end of last month. His power numbers are a career best by a wide margin (11 was his previous high) and are a good sign to the Nationals organization after he mustered just two in an injury-marred 2013 split between Double-A and Triple-A. He has been knocking around since 2007 but he’s still just 24 years old.
Michael Burgess (FRE) 15 – Told you he’d be back. Again, no threat to Hawkins, but he’s still looking for his first knock in the Eastern League.
Jason Coats (WS) 14 – Coats was putting on a Rob Deer imitation in May with a .180 batting average to go with six home runs that month, but ever since he’s been stroking. He hit .330 in June with another six bombs but in July, despite hitting .321, managed just one knock. In all, he’s hitting .329 after the All-Star break, but has just four home runs in that span.
RUNS BATTED IN
Jorge Alfaro (MB) 73 – Slow and steady was winning the race for Alfaro up until yesterday … when he made his Double-A debut in Frisco. So, he’s likely done in this particular race. Alfaro also was lurking on the fringes of the home run derby with 13 homers. His final High-A numbers are very similar to his Low-A stats from 2013, so there’s every reason to believe Alfaro won’t be overmatched at Frisco in 2015.
Courtney Hawkins (WS) 71 – This race is likely going to come down to Hawkins against teammate Jason Coats (get to him in a bit). As you know, this particular statistic, while demonstrating a hitter’s predilection for delivering in the clutch, is more dependent on the rest of the lineup than any other statistic. With the Dash neck-and-neck with Myrtle Beach for the South Division second-half title, it’s pretty clear Hawkins (and Coats) are going to be surrounded by motivated teammates eager to keep their season going well into September.
Michael Burgess (FRE) 68 – Good on Burgess for his promotion, but don’t you sort of wish he was allowed to stay in the Carolina League for a shot at a triple crown?
Jason Coats (WS) 67 – With his dive in power numbers, so has Coats’ RBI totals dipped. After driving in 27 in June, Coats managed just 13 in July and has 2 so far in August.
Andrew Faulkner (MB) and Ryan Merritt (CAR) 10 – Faulkner is done after compiling a 10-1 mark with a 2.07 ERA in the Carolina League. He picked up his first Double-A win over the weekend. That leaves Merritt (10-3) with a two-game cushion. He has lost just once in his past 10 starts. Still, he’s coming off a shaky July in which he went 2-1, but posted a 5.11 ERA.
Kyle Hansen (WS), Shawn Morimando (CAR) 8 – Hansen was a vulture, compiling his 8-4 mark in 31 relief appearances. He has since been promoted to Double-A where his reverse-split ways (he’s a righty who gets lefties out) are beguiling Southern League hitters. Morimando (8-3) was promoted for good in the middle of last month and is 1-3 in the Eastern League. While with Carolina, no starter was as stingy allowing hits than Morimando, who permitted just 72 in 96 innings
Jarrett Miller (LYN), Luis Parra (MB) 8 – Miller (8-7) picked up his latest win Tuesday night with a mediocre outing during the Hillcats’ 13-5 win at Salem. Still, he’s 5-1 with a 3.23 ERA over his past 10 starts. On July 19 against Carolina, Parra failed to get out of the fifth inning, coughing up 10 hits and 11 runs. Yet despite a season ERA well over 5, he’s 8-6. Thanks, Pelicans offense!
EARNED RUN AVERAGE
Glenn Sparkman (WIL) 1.46 – Qualifying for the ERA crown requires 0.8 innings pitched per game. Sparkman began the season as a reliever before sliding into the Blue Rocks rotation in May. It has since just been a matter of time before he popped into first place in this category. He has been stellar all season and a premium model of consistency (1.47 ERA over his past 10 starts). He has been nearly as stingy as Morimando in hits allowed (71 in 92 innings) and is averaging nearly a strikeout per inning (86). With just 17 walks allowed, Sparkman boasts a ridiculous 0.95 WHIP.
Andrew Faulkner (MB) 2.07 – Faulkner seems to have carried his successful ways to Double-A, where he has 15 strikeouts in 11 innings, and uptick from the 100 punchouts he compiled in 104 innings with the Pelicans.
Jonathan Dziedzic (WIL) 2.42 – You want a snake-bit pitcher? Look no further than the kid teammates call “Eye Chart” for his unusual last name. In his past 10 starts, Dziedzic has posted a 1.90 ERA. His record in that time? 0-3. Overall, he’s just 5-6 in 20 starts despite sterling metrics across the board.
Ryan Merritt (CAR) 2.59 – Though his ERA is a full run higher, Merritt matches Sparkman in WHIP with significantly more innings pitched. Merritt has permitted 97 hits and 23 walks in 128 innings for a WHIP of 0.94.
Justin Haley (SAL) 2.82 – Like Sparkman, Haley was a reliever who slid into the rotation once a spot opened. He earned an all-star nod and was recently promoted to Double-A.
Parker Bridwell (FRE) and Sean Manaea (WIL) 109 – Well, this is a race that will come right down to the wire. Bridwell and Manaea are in the lead at present but this category changes nightly. Of these particular two, though, it is interesting to note Bridwell has compiled his total over 115 innings while Manaea has needed just 89.
Jarrett Miller (LYN) 105 – Miller will fall behind Ryan Merritt by Thursday morning, since he pitched on Tuesday (Merritt is up Wednesday evening). Miller’s best month was July, when he punched out 36, but his start Tuesday didn’t go so well (2 over 5 innings).
Ryan Merritt (CAR) 103 – Merritt has collected at least five strikeouts in 9 of his past 10 starts. What more can we say about this guy? He’s been as steady and sterling as anyone in the Carolina League.
Cole Sulser (CAR) 103 – Sulser is a bit of a mystery. He’s 4-10 and seemingly getting worse with each outing (2-5 with a 7.01 ERA in his last 10 starts). After averaging slightly more than a strikeout per inning, he has managed 8 strikeouts over his past three starts (in which he’s survived the fifth inning just once).