Hi everyone. Two weeks into the minor league season, seemed like a good time to do a little update on how things are going down on the farm.
Brett Wallace is off to a great start, hitting .303/.395/.697, with 4 home runs already. He also has 5 walks and 7 strikeouts in 38 plate appearances, so his approach is very sound and his comfort level at the plate appears high. Brian Dopirak isn't off to an awful start, but his .286/.316/.514 line (2 HR) isn't good enough to get him a callup ahead of Wallace. Chris Lubanski is another guy off to a strong start, batting .269/.345/.577 with a couple of home runs and 2 doubles. Who knows, maybe this is the year that the 25-year old conquers AAA. On the other hand, J.P. Arencibia isn't off to a great start. While the catcher has an encouraging 3 walks already, he has yet to get his first extra-base hit of 2010 and is hitting a lot of popups.
On the mound, Brad Mills has been fantastic his two starts out, compiling an 18/1 K/BB ratio in 11 innings and giving up only one run. I'd take him over Tallet in the rotation, even if we want Cecil to get more development time in AAA and before anyone jumps on me for basing too much on two starts, I'm not - I said the same in spring training. Speaking of, Brett Cecil has also been excellent, winning his first two starts with a 2.45 ERA and 11 Ks over two walks in 11 innings. The rest of the rotation, Reidier Gonzalez, Robert Ray, and Lance Broadway, have been mediocre, though Ray has only had 1 start and he escaped relatively unscathed despite giving up 5 walks and 5 hits in his 6 innings. In the bullpen, Rommie Lewis has been closing and he's been relatively sound. Josh Roenicke has been excellent in middle relief, with 5 scoreless innings, 4 Ks, and no walks so far. David Purcey has had 4 innings without an earned run, which sounds good until you see that he has walked 4 and struck out only 2 in those innings, so he's not made a seamless transition to the bullpen yet.
Brad Emaus is the standout offensive player for the Fisher Cats so far, hitting .375/.500/.583 with a home run, a couple of doubles, and, get this, 6 walks and only 1 strikeout. He could be out of AA pretty quickly with numbers like that, but unfortunately he has apparently picked up a leg injury running the bases. Hope it's nothing serious. I've heard good things about his defense at third base as well and he hasn't made an error. Adam Loewen is off to a decent start with the bat too. Darrin Mastroianni, David Cooper, and Eric Thames have started more slowly.
On the mound, top prospect Kyle Drabek has been a bit erratic in his two starts, but has managed a 10/4 K/BB ratio over his two starts (10 2/3 innings). Zach Stewart was very good in his first start, but scuffled in his second, so we'll see how he bounces back. Luis Perez only made one start but, as we know, it was a gem. The other starters haven't performed particularly well, but Tim Collins, Zach Dials, Adrian Martin, and Danny Farquar have been a very good bullpen foursome.
No doubt the big bat for the D-Jays has been Travis d'Arnaud, and I'll just take this opportunity to just one time gloat that I was about the only one excited about d'Arnaud as a return in the Roy Halladay trade. d'Arnaud is hitting .429/.432/.743 with 3 home runs and a pair of doubles. While we don't expect him to slug like that all season, we do know he has very solid pop in his bat and good contact skills as well. Those two things, coupled with his fine defensive skills make him a guy to continue to watch. It's only 15 plate appearances, but Justin Jackson has gotten off to a decent start with the bat too, while his fellow 6-holer Tyler Pastornicky has struggled thusfar as has Jackson's fellow draft classman John Tolisano. Actually d'Arnaud and Yan Gomes, Dunedin's other catcher, have provided most of their offense thusfar.
Pitching-wise, Charles Huggins has had two excellent starts and Henderson Alvarez, one good one, but after that things get a bit murky. Joel Carreno, Ryan Page, and Andy Liebel haven't been awful, but haven't been great either. Carreno has allowed a jaw-dropping 20 hits in under 11 innings, though he has strong K and BB numbers.
Ryan Schimpf is off to a decent start for Lansing, hitting .235/.350/.412 with three extra-base hits so far. His double-play partner and fellow 2009 draftee, Ryan Goins, is hitting OK (.259/.324/.355) but has already made 4 errors. None of the other notable guys -- Sean Ochinko, Balbino Fuemayor, Kenny Wilson, Mark Sobelewsi -- are doing much yet.
On the mound, Chad Jenkins has been doing things right (8 Ks and just 1 walk in 11 innings and a ton of groundballs with hardly any line drives) but the results haven't fallen into place yet in his two starts, though his second start wasn't bad. His rotation mates: Dave Sever, Matt Fields, Ryan Shopshire, Ryan Tepera -- haven't gotten off to great starts. Dustin Antolin, Aaron Loup, and Brian Slover are pitching well out of the bullpen.
Title from "I Coul'da Been a Contender" by the Gaslight Anthem. Good luck, lads.
Update: unfortunately, I've learned that Justin Jackson will be sidelined for the next two months or so with an injury. Shame, but let's hope he gets back out there soon.