We’re now ten days in for the minors and we have that lovely convergence of our #1 prospect getting hurt [Forrest Gump voice] again while our #2 guy is filling the void and raising expectations, which is almost always inversely proportional to how the big club is doing.
This is new territory for me, as I wanted to do something for the Natmosphere this year like I did for MASN last year, but without the pressure of a set schedule. So I can’t promise how often I’ll post, but I can almost guarantee it’ll be written on the weekends (a.k.a. when I have a bit more time on my hands, though I’m not fond of bar stools or talking like a damn fool).
For the first post, I’ll take a swing through the affiliates–from AAA to Low-A–and make some observations. Obligatory reminder: IT IS EARLY and these sample sizes are tiny.
Since 2015 or so, the Chiefs just have not been good. Nine games in, they’re 6-3 and tied for first place in the I.L. North. The pitching, aided by the chilly weather, has been league-average but a couple of age-appropriate guys have stood out. Austin Voth has not gotten shelled in his first two starts (after an extremely disappointing ’17 at 4-12, 5.94 across AAA and AA) and has 15 K’s in 10 IP. Erick Fedde has also pitched well, but not quite as effectively (12H, 2BB, 7K in 10IP).
The hitting has been carrying the team (3rd in the I.L.) but it’s been the AAAA brigade of Alejandro De Aza, Chris Dominguez, and Moises Sierra. Andrew Stevenson (4-for-29) and Jose “Orange” Marmolejos (8-for-39) have struggled early.
The Senators are breaking even at 4-4 but have had two postponements already; both due to the cold. Consequently, just three pitchers have made more than one start. Jefry Rodriguez, added to the 40-man last November, was bad in his first start and good in his second; both starts were against Bowie, so there’s not much to really take away.
All four of the BA-ranked position players (Daniel Johnson, Drew Ward, Osvaldo Abreu, and Kelvin Gutierrez) currently on the roster are either on the interstate or barely hitting their weight. Johnson has already stolen five bases despite a .256 OBP. Again, it’s early.
The P-Nats are over .500, thanks in large part to their league-leading offense (57R through the first 10G) but the pitching has been roughly league-average. Like AA and AAA, the roster skews older with just five players who won’t turn 23 before the season’s end and eight who will be 25 or older.
Blake Perkins has looked great, both in the field and at the plate, while Carter Kieboom has homered three times already but has just five RBI (i.e. just one not on the longball). Jakson Reetz is both missing a “c” and the ball at 2-for-16, though defensively he’s been fine.
Yesterday, I made it up to Frederick to see Wil Crowe pitch and he did not disappoint, except perhaps that he was lifted after just 56 pitches in five innings. After not allowing him to pitch more than three innings at a time last summer, it would appear that they are still being ultraconservative in managing his innings pitched despite being more than two years removed from TJ surgery.
Unlike years past, the Suns are starting very, very slowly (3-7). Even F.P. can tell you why: The starting pitching has been awful — a combined line of 6.00/3.64/1.69, lowlighted by 21 runs allowed by the Jacksons (Tetrault and Stoeckinger) across 16 IP and four starts combined.
As aforementioned, Juan Soto has been tearing the Sally League
a new one up with four HR’s and eight XBH’s for a line of .361/.489/.861 with 10 walks, seven runs scored, and 19 RBIs. Unfortunately, the production drops off sharply after that. Teenagers Yasel Antuna and Luis Garcia are both struggling, piling up the K’s (18) and the E’s (5).