Friday, June 19, 2009

Notes from Wilmington

Our Wilmington Blue Rocks correspondent Jason Kaul provides us with another 
update (and some pics) on the Royals minor league team. He wrote this last week but I am just now finding the time to post it. Apologies to Jason.
Looking at the Northern Carolina League standings and noticing that the Rocks are in 3rd place is a bit deceiving.  Really, if it were not for Pedro Alvarez and the red hot Lynchburg Hillcats, the Rocks would be in a very tight pennant race.  They have a better record than the entire Southern Carolina League, yet are still 5 ½ games out of first place in the North. But, that’s why they split the season up into two halves I suppose.

The hitting has been decent, as the Rocks have 4 guys batting over .275, and 3 guys with an OPS over .800.  But the real story has been the pitching.  Rocks pitchers have combined for an all time team record of 38 consecutive scoreless innings (and counting) and 4 consecutive shutout games.  I knew Duffy was going to be good coming into the season, but Everett Teaford REALLY caught me by surprise.  He has emerged as the ace of the staff leading the starting 5 in Wins (7), ERA (2.39), WHIP (0.98), and K:BB ratio (4:1).  He’s a workhorse too, leading the team in innings pitched.

Teaford was one of four Rocks named to the Carolina league All-Star team (only the Fredrick Keys, with six, will send more players to California).  The other Rocks that were voted to the team were Duffy, Moustakas, and David Lough.

Speaking of David Lough… He really seems to be a player that is flying under the radar of a lot of prospectors.  Right now he’s leading the team in BA (.316) and OBP (.372), and has a good glove (only committing one error).

With the good, also comes the bad.  I can’t for the life of me figure out why Paulo Orlando continues getting playing time when he is struggling just to stay above the Mendoza Line.  Also, Geo (Johnny Giavotella) has come back down to earth after really impressing early.  Currently, he’s batting just over .200 and is second on the team with 11 errors.  One has to wonder if Brian Rupp has been putting him in the lineup because he has no other options at 2nd base.  And speaking of errors in the infield, Moose really needs to step up his defense if he is going to continue being streaky at the plate.  He leads the team with 13 errors, and has recently been pulling some DH duty (presumably for that reason).  What’s especially disconcerting about his numbers is comparing them to first baseman Clint Robinson.  They are nearly identical in every offensive category (Runs, Hits, Doubles, HR, RBI, Total Bases, Walks, Strikeouts, OBP, Slugging).  What
 separates them is Clint is batting 15 points higher, and has committed 9 fewer errors.  Plus, Clint has just as cool of a nickname as Moustakas (He’s been dubbed “The Alabama Hammah”).  I say he has just as much of a shot at the big leagues as Moose.  And for what it’s worth, he’s a good human being too.  (Not that I’ve ever seen Moose turn down a kid for an autograph… But, I’ve never seen him stay after a losing game for nearly 20 minutes signing like I saw Clint doing last week).

In closing… These are the guys to watch for: Teaford, Duffy, Moose, Lough, Clint Robinson, and Jeff Bianchi.

Bianchi scoring the winning run in extra innings.

Moustakas at the bat.

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